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Getting Students to Access and Engage With Resources

Fractions in PBL

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The following post is written by and a contribution from New Tech High’s 5th period PLC team.  The team consists of the following teachers: Lisa Gottfried, Digital Design, Estevan Perez, Math, Jon Southam, Math, and Cecilia Guerrero-Gopar, Spanish.

How to get students to access and engage in resources in the room?

Problem of Practice

Teachers spend a lot of time curating learning resources for students and can often feel frustrated that students do not make use of those resources when they need them. Our PLC reviewed our own assumptions about why students don’t access resources and our thinking was eye-opening.  In some cases, we were right on the nose about what we were seeing and why it was happening. In other cases, we learned that our assumptions were off and indicated a place where we could address our own teaching practices to solve the problem.

We decided to have students create educational posters in Adobe Spark that included a QR code that, when scanned, played a video of the student explaining the poster concept.

Surveys can Shed Light into Student Needs

We assumed that students who do not look at the educational posters around the room, or who do not access the teacher notes, their own notes, or the digital resources online, were just being lazy and wanted the learning to be spoon fed to them.  

Although the students did admit that there is some truth to the “lazy” theory, they also were much more engaged with resources after a simple discussion about why they were not accessing those tools and notes as well as after poster making.  Students were excited to create their own educational posters that showcased the information they decided would be most helpful for THEM.

A simple survey provided to the students helped to spark the discussion about why they were not accessing the resources. A more detailed survey can be found HERE, as was based on advice from a UX (User Experience) designer who works with how people access information online.

Fractions in PBL


We were really surprised at how such a simple and short activity could re-engage the students in owning their own learning. We found that students in Spanish class wanted to make posters about things they most struggled with and didn’t choose the easiest topics, but rather the ones that would most help them in their learning.  6 out of 36 students did not turn in a poster on time but, were insistent that, even though they would not get a grade for the project, that they were going to still turn in the poster late for no grade, because they wanted to see their poster on the wall. Math students who made posters to explain a mathematical definition were more invested in explaining how the definition worked rather than just using it procedurally, showing deeper thinking. Understanding of their math definition was required in order to make their explanatory video.

Toolkit- A free tool

Want to try this in your classroom?  Here is the toolkit complete with exemplars, video tutorials on how to use Adobe Spark and QR code generators and how to assess final product.

Extend your Learning about Use of Posters and Notes in the Classroom

¿Cómo involucrar a los estudiantes a utilizar los recursos del aula?

Durante una semana en la clase de español exploramos el uso de sparks.  Todo comenzó con una pregunta ¿cuáles son los recursos visuales necesario para completar las actividades de la clase?  Junto con los estudiantes se revisaron los pósters que se encontraban ya en el aula y se llegó a la conclusión de que eran necesarios algunos específicos de vocabulario y gramática. Los estudiantes durante este tiempo dieron ideas de cuales eran los temas en los que ellos se sentían atascados y por tal motivo no lograban terminar sus trabajos u obtener una mejor calificación en ellos.

Una vez que se tuvieron los temas necesarios, ellos comenzaron a elegir cuáles eran los temas en los que necesitaban trabajar para crear su póster.  Sorprendentemente, los estudiantes comenzaron a elegir los temas o vocabulario con los que presentaban una mayor dificultad. Para hacer que esta actividad fuera más interesante y a la vez compleja para el aprendizaje de los estudiantes, se agregaron “QR codes”.  Para esto era necesario que los estudiantes realizarán un breve video (menos de un minuto) en donde explicaran el tema de su poster. Por ejemplo, si el estudiante tenía el tema de ¿cómo conjugar verbos irregulares en pasado? Era necesario que el estudiante primeramente comprendiera el tema para después explicarlo a quien usara el “QR code”.

Sorprendentemente, los estudiantes estuvieron participativos e interesados en realizar la actividad.  Algunos de ellos aún cuando ya había pasado la fecha de entrega pidieron poder entregarlo pues ellos deseaban que su póster se utilizará en la clase.  Como reflexión de dicha breve actividad, se puede destacar la importancia de involucrar a los estudiantes en los recursos del aula, así como la importancia de que ellos tengan voz en lo que desean hacer.  

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