Things I do not want my students to struggle with:
- finding the homework ... so I always post videos in the same place
- watching the videos ... that's why I have been striving to develop the most accessible and viewer-friendly format
- knowing my expectations from the video ... which is why I post the key questions next to the embedded video, and those are exactly the same as my quiz questions
Things I do want my students to struggle with:
- developing their own answers to questions like "Who gets to be considered American?"
- overcoming the myths of American history, like "The American Revolution was about taxes."
- understanding multiple perspectives on an issue: Get out your own head!!
- stretching their abilities as class discussion participants
- making authentic life-or-death decisions (in the context of a historical simulation, of course)
As much as possible, I want to directly observe my students' struggles with those concepts and skills. That eliminates the variables of "time to do homework," "tutor accessibility," etc. By formally and informally assessing my students' efforts, I can more effectively intervene and advise them. And that's much more practical when I'm not the Sage on a Stage...'
Example: Last week, they had three nights for a video-based assignment about growing American nationalism in the early-1800s. Meanwhile, in class I set up two 20-minute student-led discussions about related topics like school spirit; we debriefed the conversations immediately afterward. Each student has identified a discussion skill for improvement (talking more, talking less, being more specific...). Outside the classroom they are learning the primary content; in my classroom they are practicing a skill.
I know this isn't perfect, and next year I plan to be more efficient with the homework-class time interconnection, because I have been forced to skip some favorite US history periods... That will be this summer's struggle!