When students are more involved in monitoring their own learning, learn how to provide constructive feedback, and are given opportunities to grow, the learning is better and more meaningful. That’s the message I’ve been trying to convey to my students this year.
Last week, I wrote about my efforts to move towards more Student Reflection & Self Assessment, sharing the form I used for students to evaluate their progress so far. I explained that while I hoped to learn more about ways to provide effective feedback and change my grading practices, for now I was committed to renegotiating the power of the grade by engaging students in the process.
Now, it’s a week later and my students have completed two reflection forms. And their responses were thoughtful, interesting, and generally accurate. I’m thankful for that. It means that I have a strong foundation to build from in helping students develop their skills, meta-cognition, and self/peer evaluations and feedback.
Let’s take a look at what they said.
Here, I listed our classroom activities and asked students to evaluate their performance. Students were definitely honest here, reporting back fairly accurately.
This pie chart shows the variety in the grades the students argued for. They ranged from 65-100, with an average grade of 91. My sophomores are mostly doing great so far (and it had only been a week or so of school), so this didn’t surprise me.
Then, they were asked to justify their scores. Here are some of their responses:
- I believe that my work is good but not great but I really don't think i deserve less than an 80 because my work has been up to task and pretty good if i say so myself.
- In all honesty, I know I can do better than what I have shown you so far and I'll be sure to show you what I am capable of.
- I believe that i earned that grade because everyday i come prepared and ready to work. I'm always on task and engaging in class discussions and I feel like I was collaborating good with my class-mates on the breakout challenge. Also, on the community, I wrote my responses thoroughly and with a great deal of evidence and I even attached a link with work I did last year relating to out topic.
- I participate in class, I'm always here on time I complete my work within the time you give us and during the breakout edu event I helped unlock one of the locks and my summer assignment was on time but the Kahoot was not my best work.
- I believe that for every assignment I have done in this class I have done the best I could have possibly done. The responses that I wrote were my best writing and for my summer assignment I constantly was editing and revising it; my mom even read it over to help me fix my mistakes. In class for the pre-assessment I used my knowledge of writing skills that I learned last year and I wrote to the best of my ability. I think I have participated and worked well with my classmates so far in the school year and I feel that I earned a 100 for my classwork so far.
- I don't think I did amazing for the King Speech, but I think I proved myself in discussions during class. I really enjoyed the BreakoutEDU and I contributed a whole lot to that, trying to find creative ways to get out of our situation. I even e-mailed Father Vint! Anyways, for the pre-assessment, I found strong evidence and it was even a literary element. I placed second for Kahoot :) I feel like I know how to research very well, which is why I am confident of the work I put on the community. Plus, I think I raise my hand to try and contribute something to discussions, which is why I think I deserve a 98.
- Not only do I try hard to think critically about text I'm reading or information I obtain, but I genuinely love finding the deeper meaning of what is initially said. When I am given a longer amount of time to analyze and interpret my work I try my best to perform this task, which has been included in every assignment we have done so far.
These responses made me proud. They made me happy. And they made me hopeful. Sure I want my students to perform well, but I also want them to be able to think and reflect critically. These students showed real thought and reflection throughout, defended their choices with specific evidence, and found meaning in our time together.
When asked about the most meaningful activity of the year, most wrote about #BreakoutEDU, focusing on collaboration and team building. Some wrote about writing and our Google Community, which surprised me, too. Here’s one response to playing Time Warp with #BreakoutEDU: “The most meaningful learning activity was the BreakoutEDU. It helped show me that when learning or doing an assignment, it is important to utilize all of your resources, and it is acceptable - and sometimes necessary! - to ask for help from others. (These were things I already knew, but it helped give me a real life basis for the concepts, and a positive learning experience.)”
For changes in the class, students asked for more discussion, creative writing, and fun learning opportunities. I hope to oblige.
This was an enlightening and powerful exercise for me. I want to do more of it and get better at how we respond to each other’s work and ideas. Tomorrow, I’ll be sorting through my students’ self-evaluations again, this time focusing on their writing and analysis of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech. I’m curious to see how their reflection and thought translates to the academic skills of the English classroom and how I can continue to push students to reflect and grow.
What are your favorite strategies for using student feedback and reflection in the classroom? Share in the comments below or on Twitter.
cross posted at www.aschoenbart.com
Adam Schoenbart is a high school English teacher, Google Education Trainer, and EdD candidate in Educational Leadership. He teaches grades 10-12 in a 1:1 Chromebook classroom at Ossining High School in Westchester County, NY and received the 2014 LHRIC Teacher Pioneer Award for innovative uses of technology that change teaching and learning. Read more at The SchoenBlog and connect on Twitter @MrSchoenbart.