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View Full Version : getting students to think and participate



nlk
Jan. 18, 2010, 12:24 PM
What do you all think of giving your students "homework" something along the lines of a synopses of the lesson (is that the right word:() or having them make an entry into a notebook before they leave on things they need to work on for the next lesson?

Thanks!:)

blackcat95
Jan. 18, 2010, 12:34 PM
I'm not a trainer but I'm a student and I already do that, just in my head. I used to write things down on my own, but I would always not have time, so I just sort of file things in my head that I need to work on so when I'm not lessoning I can work on them. It works, and I think most riders do that automatically because what's the point of lessons if you can't remember what you did last time and the trainer has to reteach everything?

The Centaurian
Jan. 18, 2010, 12:35 PM
Depending on the age of the student, you an suggest 1-3 things to work on "until next time." Little kids can practice "heels down" on a step or curb, for example, and older kids can manage more complex/vague tasks like "work on getting her on the bit" or "work on your transitions in x gait." Adults may need a lighter touch, many would not appreciate "assignments" but would possibly welcome "something to think about." I personally keep a riding journal for my own memory aid, but I would balk at anyone TELLING me to keep one.

TrakeGirl
Jan. 18, 2010, 12:40 PM
A show barn I used to be at actually sold lesson notebooks.

She took 3 ring binders and personalized them to the farm. Then made xerox copies of personalized pages - it was a form and there was a page for each lesson. Date, time, horse you were riding, weather, indoor/outdoor - you filled in all the various lines. Then I think there was a spot for - what we did...warmup...flat...jumping...what I learned...things to work on...etc.

It was not mandatory - she found compliance was much better in folks that actually WANTED to buy the thing and do it.

I bought it for when I was working with my trainer breaking my 3 yr old and it is SUCH a valuable resource now. Documents the steps of our training from point A (never been worked with)...through ground training...through point B (getting on him for the first time) and then all the early mounted lessons. I stopped doing it when I traded barns...but now you bring this up again...

It would be really good for me to start again! Gives some focus to what you are doing. (Especially with students that free ride between lessons vs the once a weekers.)

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 18, 2010, 12:47 PM
Office supply stores sell these little reporter type notepads that are perfect for homework assignments. I use them frequently with employees to help keep them focused. AND they are small enough to fit in your breeches pocket!

smm20
Jan. 18, 2010, 12:58 PM
This is a great idea for children. I took several years of ballet lessons, and the instructors had us keep notebooks at the studio. At the end of each class, we would pull out our notebooks and write down the terms that we had learned that day (jeter, chasser, plie...etc). Obviously, this was necessary because many of the terms were in French and none of us spoke French. The instructor needed to make sure that we all could visialize the word that she was saying and knew what it meant. At the beginning of the next class, we went through our notebooks and reviewed the terms so that when we heard them, we would know what to do.

This can easily be adapted to riding. Although many of our terms are in English, they do not always have a clear meaning. How many threads do we see on here asking for a proper definition of "half-halt"? In addition, we are introduced to new terms as we trot around the ring, in the wind, with no stirrups, and two other horses/riders to avoid. Sometimes following your trainer's instruction is like playing telephone. I think children would benefit from a notebook containing terms, as well as exercises that they completed and how to do them on their own.

Lucassb
Jan. 18, 2010, 02:31 PM
I received a riding diary/notebook as a gift many years ago, and have kept up with the practice ever since. It has become a great resource over the years. When I am struggling with a problem, I'll often pull out my old diaries and look through them to see what worked before on similar problems, or just to get a little perspective... sometimes reading through the lesson notes from a time when getting clean transitions was difficult makes it a little less frustrating to work on perfecting something more challenging!

I personally would not care for the diary to be mandatory nor public; they are my own riding notes and I don't want to censor them for public consumption, lol. And especially this time of year, I wouldn't be able to do them AT the barn, even if I wanted to hang out in the dark/cold, as I am always in a rush to get home at a decent hour. But I do fill them in at home when I have a few minutes and I've done it religiously for a couple decades now. I think offering them as a suggested resource as gifts or for sale is a good idea, though. At the end of each lesson you can ask the student what the salient points of the lesson were and encourage them to write them down when they get home.

nlk
Jan. 18, 2010, 04:12 PM
Thanks everyone! I was looking at a few groups I have of older teens-younger college age students. Although planning on adapting to my other classes as need dictates. this is what I was thinking

I gave one class in-particular the job of coming up with the courses each week. Each student was in charge one week. they brought in a written course and had to set it up while thinking of strides technical difficulty etc. It worked great.

However I am having trouble with one of my advanced jump classes. All good students per-say but not thinking and making mistakes that are stupid and that they know better etc. for about the last month. So I am trying to get something to get them to focus.

My thoughts: A note pad at the end of class where each rider jots quick notes on what they liked and didn't liked or what they would like to work on. This helps improve my teaching but also allows me to know what they want to work on.

there is going to be a strict no talking rule while other riders are on course. They need to pay attention and learn from others mistakes.

Also not sure on whether or not to keep them on the same horse all the time unless they are borders. I'm getting a lot a of attitude when I switch them of horses they've been riding for awhile, basically I feel like I have a group who doesn't want to work and improve their riding.

I don't want to have to yell or be mean to get them to pay attention. But I am coming to the conclusion they all need a good swift kick in the rear!

nlk
Jan. 18, 2010, 04:14 PM
I should add that I know this group does want to get better and improve. We had one girl a while back who was whiny and lazy and it all seemed to rub off so now I'm just trying to get them out of their funk~

preciouspony
Jan. 18, 2010, 07:19 PM
Back when I took lessons I would keep a jornal about what I learned each lesson. I would also go to clinics to audit and take every note I possibly could. I think this is what helped me the most and still helps me because I can look back at previous problems and solutions to help me now.

When I rode in group lessons we would all watch eachothers course and then the person would come in the middle and each rider would say one good thing and one bad thing about the course. That would help figure out who is paying attention and not.

Whenever a student wasn't paying attention to the other persons course or wasn't listening to what the course was in the first place they would have to do the course without stirrups. My trainer would use no stirrups as a punishment for sassy girls. If they have an attitude about that, you can always take the stirrups completely off their saddle for the next lesson!

As for them not wanting to switch horses, I used to ride in groups and our trainer would line us up in the middle, everyone would dismount and move over to the next horse. The rider at the end would go to the first horse in line. Sometimes we would go a whole lesson and ride the course 4-5 times on a different horse each time. That really makes you pay attention to the horse!

Good luck with your students! It can be a real pain to have to teach someone who acts like they don't want to learn.

In_
Jan. 18, 2010, 07:29 PM
I always end my lessons with one of the following questions/a combination:
-One (or two) things you did well - emphasis on *you* so its not a 'we had a nice course' but a 'I relaxed and stopped over-riding, which let Fluffy judge his stride.'
-One (or two) things that need to improve next time

We go around one by one, through the group. Takes three to five minutes for six riders and has been immensely helpful. They have to judge the lesson and their own skills - plus it helps because they watch each other ride and then hear riders' own feedback...helps develop an instructor eye!

klmck63
Jan. 18, 2010, 07:32 PM
I should add that I know this group does want to get better and improve. We had one girl a while back who was whiny and lazy and it all seemed to rub off so now I'm just trying to get them out of their funk~

What about mandatory horse switches every second lesson or something like that? (Assuming they don't own or lease the horses).

I remember how possessive we used to get about which was "our" horse. Of course, we were seven. :lol:. If they're teenagers you might want to sit them down and have a discussion.

I love the idea of a notebook to record your ride. I would encourage it! I woman at my barn writes notes all the time about her horse and her ride and I've been toying with the idea of following suit.

I wouldn't mind if the instructor planned on reading the notebooks, but I wouldn't necessarily want to share it with other students.

My old coach had us fill out goal sheets every year. We made short term (a month or two) medium (by the end of the season) and long term (ie the olympics) goals. She and we reviewed them (and changed them if necessary) every once and a while. It helps keep everyone on track and keep everyone on the same page. We also had to plan ways to achieve the goals. I found it really useful and would definitely recommend it!

Lone
Jan. 18, 2010, 08:24 PM
I don't know that I would mandate they keep a journal (I know when I was a teen I would have *hated* being forced to do something like that).

But, maybe ask more questions during the lesson to make them think? Ask them to critique their course- and not just 'oh, it was okay', but actual, detailed, thoughtful critique and discuss exactly how they're going to improve on the next course/movement/whatever

kashmere
Jan. 18, 2010, 09:05 PM
*synopsis :)

Writing down key points from a lesson is a great way to internalize and remember them. It's also often a trigger for questions that one might have had during the ride, but failed/forgot to ask due to any number of circumstances. I am an advocate of journaling.

nlk
Jan. 18, 2010, 11:00 PM
Thanks again everyone!

Kashmere~ that's how I spelled it and spell check told me it was wrong and gave me that:no: *sigh* I have the worse luck with computers!

As far as having them tel you what they did wrong, where they need to improve etc. they ALL do that very well!!! It's always been one of my tricks for getting a class to pay attention! These girls tell me what they do wrong as SOON as they do it! I'm talking a huge chip and they land off the fence going "I know I looked down" or "I know I didn't have good impulsion" etc.etc.etc.

I guess I am just trying to get them more involved so they don't make the dumb mistakes, they know better! When we're preparing for a show these girls are awesome and really push, It's just like we're in a winter lull.......

Again thanks and thanks again! Keep the suggestions coming please! there is always something to be learned or something that will remind you "hey I haven't done that in a while!":D

joiedevie99
Jan. 18, 2010, 11:34 PM
Why not bring the discussion into the lesson? Make them all responsible. I went through many years of Pony Club and it was a way of life.

Try it for a few lessons and see what you get.

Start with everyone in the middle, ask them each what two goals they have for their warm-up and what exercises they can do to achieve those goals. Then give them 15 minutes to go out and do it. Bite your tongue and say nothing for those 15 minutes. Keep a note pad with you so you don't forget things you wanted to say. Call them all in after 15 minutes and go around again. Ask them what their goals were, what they did to achieve them, and how well it worked. Do a regular warm-up (with coaching) over fences so that you can tweak things that they didn't concentrate on, or didn't accomplish very well.

Then start the process over. Come up with a course and tell it to them. Ask them each to make a plan and tell you 3 things they are going to do right/improve on. Let them go and do it, and don't critique until they come back to you. It puts the responsibility on them to fix it while they are out on course- not for you to wait for you to tell them.

I wouldn't do it the first week you try this, but after a few lessons, let the other students stand with you while you watch someone do the course and discuss whether the student is meeting the objectives she set for herself, or if there are any other glaring errors that the students think you should point out to the rider when she finishes.

Something about them identifying their own goals for the day, knowing you aren't going to be telling them what to fix while they're out there, and knowing their friends are going to be watching, and then hearing the critique, really makes people learn to be thinking riders in the moment.

SmileItLooksGoodOnYou
Jan. 19, 2010, 02:27 AM
Why not bring the discussion into the lesson? Make them all responsible. I went through many years of Pony Club and it was a way of life.

Try it for a few lessons and see what you get.

Start with everyone in the middle, ask them each what two goals they have for their warm-up and what exercises they can do to achieve those goals. Then give them 15 minutes to go out and do it. Bite your tongue and say nothing for those 15 minutes. Keep a note pad with you so you don't forget things you wanted to say. Call them all in after 15 minutes and go around again. Ask them what their goals were, what they did to achieve them, and how well it worked. Do a regular warm-up (with coaching) over fences so that you can tweak things that they didn't concentrate on, or didn't accomplish very well.

Then start the process over. Come up with a course and tell it to them. Ask them each to make a plan and tell you 3 things they are going to do right/improve on. Let them go and do it, and don't critique until they come back to you. It puts the responsibility on them to fix it while they are out on course- not for you to wait for you to tell them.

I wouldn't do it the first week you try this, but after a few lessons, let the other students stand with you while you watch someone do the course and discuss whether the student is meeting the objectives she set for herself, or if there are any other glaring errors that the students think you should point out to the rider when she finishes.

Something about them identifying their own goals for the day, knowing you aren't going to be telling them what to fix while they're out there, and knowing their friends are going to be watching, and then hearing the critique, really makes people learn to be thinking riders in the moment.

This is something my trainer does consistently with us...

Sometimes she shouts out one or two things while we're on course "Look!" "Pace!" as little reminders if she senses a train wreck coming. Or she'll make a small note like "good spot" or "nice turn" as we ride. Usually these notes are shouted across the arena, and elaborated on to the rider and the rest of the class after the rider finished the course.

Wonders12
Jan. 19, 2010, 03:17 AM
College student here!

I like the idea of synopsis or assignments, but it really depends on your students. I only get to ride two days a week, but I really try to be a "student" of riding and horses 7 days a week. So I would love something like that. However, I know fellow college riders who would hate it. Also, if it's a homework type assignment, allow the student to miss one every so often without consequences. Life gets in the way for us too.

As for switching horses... as soon as you start to really like a horse, my instructor puts you on a different one. It's such a critical part of learning to ride, and it might make them pay more attention since they can't rely on their horse to cover the same mistakes the other horse did.

Finally, the winter funk is hard. Honestly, it sounds like they might just be bored, and its become routine to them so they don't pay attention.

Can you do a bareback lesson? Complicated gymnastics? Riding without reins? Depending on the number of students, a lunge lesson? (4 students= 2 pairs- 1 at each end of the arena- then switch.) What if they show up one day and you say "Guess what? Today we're playing _____ game!" How about a gamblers choice, but they don't get points for chipped fences? Or do a drill team lesson or pairs courses?

I should add, that on top of all of this I would be having a conversation with them. These are young adults, and it would probably be good to call them out on their bs. That alone may change everything. You don't have to yell or get angry, but be stern and express your disappointment. They probably haven't even noticed their own actions. In this conversation I would ask them about their goals. Big goals (be able to jump a ___ ft course cleanly) and specific goals (keep left heel down) to help remind them why THEY want to improve during lessons.

Good luck! College student can be the best or worst, hopefully these girls will turn around for you.

Pandora1087
Jan. 19, 2010, 04:12 AM
I love the journaling idea. I think I am going to start doing that, especiall since I just started a baby last week. Thank you. Why not get them to come up with lesson plans, and/or get them to teach a bit of the lesson to each other. I wish I coulld get on losts of different horses. I know that I would learn more that way than just being on my one. Maybe try to get them to understand that getting on different horses makes them more well rounded riders. Get the kids that rode the horse the week before to give the new rider some pointers on their little quirks. Getting them more involved with the lesson process might help.

RyuEquestrian
Jan. 19, 2010, 04:34 PM
You could give them a similar test that I encountered in the USET finals and give them a time limit to create their own flat freestyle including x,y,z and then add their own flair taking into consideration their mount's strengths and then explain to go through their test and why they chose what they chose and what they thought they executed well and what they could have improved.

Also in the USET the year I went, they had various gymnastics exervises ranging from in and outs to cantering and trotting poles and again gave you a timed gymnastics freestyle, but you didn't have to do all of them and you could repeat as many times as necessary if they felt it necessary. I had great fun thinking both of these up and really had to think about what my strengths and weaknesses were as well as how my horse would react to certain elements and how i would best showcase the strengths. Hope this helps!

SantanaK
Jan. 20, 2010, 01:47 AM
I have a group of more advanced teens who seemed to be getting into a bit of a "funk" near the end of show season last fall. I came up with a plan that worked GREAT with this group!

Firstly, because this group was my most "advanced" group and were all competitive riders, I named their group the barn "Show Team". I made cool polo shirts that said "Barn Name H/J Team", which they all bought and wore with pride. Secondly, I explained that I now wanted them to work more as a "team" than individuals and this would be our focus through the winter.

I changed their lesson format to the following

1) Firstly I gave them all 10 minutes to warm up on their own with no coaching, and no talking amongst eachother. This kept them all focused on their own horses and gave them a chance to relax and focus.

2) Next I had them work on the flat with instruction, but incorporated some more difficult figures which sparked cooperation (think musical ride type of figures and patterns).

3) After a good flat ride, I would call all the riders in to the middle and explain what our first jumping excercise would be and what benefits and improvements I was intending them to get from the exercise. I would then send the first rider to ride the fence(s) while the other riders would watch. When rider 1 returned to the group, I would have each rider tell them one thing that they did well, and one thing they could improve next time. This made them pay REALLY close attention, as they all had to give different answers than eachother. Each rider would get to go at least 2-3 times so they could practice the advice of their peers.

4) After going through the exercise a number of times, I have my students switch horses and continue with the same system. This way not only do riders get to try the same exercise on a new horse, but they also get to watch their horses go through the exercise while they study and critique them.

5) Finally, I call the group in for a little "huddle" and have each student summarize what they learned, not only by riding, but by watching their peers go, and watching their own horse go.

I also love this format in the "off-season" as it keeps the lessons a little slower, the jumps a little lower, and the exercises a little easier for the horses giving them a much needed break on their legs.

Although I kind of took a chance with this "team" format, I found it has REALLY inspired, excited, and energized my students aswell as brought them closer and more encouraging to eachother. I do have a few rules for the group including:
-No talking during warm-ups
-Encouraging/constructive advice only
-Speaking in "positives" only (say "look up" instead of "don't look down")

Hope this helps :)

kashmere
Jan. 20, 2010, 08:29 AM
Kashmere~ that's how I spelled it and spell check told me it was wrong and gave me that:no: *sigh* I have the worse luck with computers!


Ahh, spellcheck-- such a frustrating tool! Synopses is the plural of synopsis. Maybe it was convinced you wanted more than one!? :)

nlk
Jan. 20, 2010, 09:12 AM
Ahh, spellcheck-- such a frustrating tool! Synopses is the plural of synopsis. Maybe it was convinced you wanted more than one!? :)

That's what I thought, but when you're stuck with kindergarten and 1st grade type words everyday you tend to forget your own education:) ( Don't worry I'm a mother not a teacher!) This is just a lesson that I trust the computer WAYYYY to much and I need to work on my own thinking skills:lol:

Thanks again;)