This week my class was supposed to learn about the phases of the moon. I knew they had very little experience with them, perhaps they could identify a full moon but not much else. I decided that this was a great opportunity for me to assess if my students were able to take information without direct instruction and use skills I have been teaching them all year to learn the eight phases.
I briefly introduced the students to the eight phases and then gave them 2 links to do research. I told them that the I would assess them on the eight phases of the moon the next day and that they would have to be able to match the phases with their graphic representations (pictures).
I gave the assessment on Tuesday, 3 students identified all eight phases correctly. Let me say that again 3 students out of 60 that took the assessment! I explained to the students I had conducted this assignment because I wanted to see if they could (or would) learn the material. Obviously, they didn't. After the explanation, I told the students they would be retaking the assessment Wednesday. We then discussed different strategies they could use to learn the material.
Wednesday the students took the assessment again, and most of the students showed considerable improvement. Before they could start the assessment, they had to write what they did to prepare for the test. Many of the students chose to teach a member of their family the material, a strategy I encouraged on Tuesday.
I don't believe they need direct instruction to learn, I think they are still more comfortable with that style of teaching. Even though I would love to think I have prepared my students to learn without me, I see that they just aren't ready.