Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Improving The Quality of Student Work Through Reflection

 Dear Teaching Friends,

School's out and a lot of us can finally get back to blogging.  Yay!  I am looking forward to time spent blog-stalking.  Leave me a comment and I'll stop by your blog! 

Teaching Blog Traffic School
I just joined Teaching Blog Traffic School, have you?  It looks like a great way to connect with other teacher bloggers.  Have a look here at TBTS.

Goals
Summer goals...  do you have them?  Are they too many to count?  One of mine is organizing my teaching files on my computer.  How do you organize your files?  By year?  By grade taught?  By subject?  I have tried many different ways and now I need to consolidate.  In the process, I thought I could share some of the things I have made over the years that you might like to use with your students.

Rubrics/Self-assessments
By now, you may have realized that I love rubrics and self-assessments. Is anyone else like me in this regard?  I like creating forms, using forms, manipulating forms and coupled with my love of assessment, means that I have a lot of those to share.   (Well after 16 years of teaching, I should have, shouldn't I?)  Here's one...



So, this is a rubric I used when I taught 1st grade, although it could be used for any grade.  My students were incredibly obsessed with being the first one done with assignments, sacrificing understanding and satisfaction of a job well done for timeliness.  Sound familiar?  So, to get the students to slow down, start thinking about, and evaluating their own work I would have them reflect on the quality their work and understanding, and highlight this rubric accordingly.  I would photocopy two rubrics per page, cut them in half and then after filling them out, the students would staple them to their work.  Then I would look it over and give my opinion, only after they had given theirs.

The Results
Children can be incredibly accurate and I always find it better to have students evaluate their own work first.  Students learned quickly that I valued quality or quantity, that they could let me know they didn't understand something, and that honestly looking at their work helped them to know what they needed to do better.  I firmly believe in having high expectations for students and that it is okay to help them see when their work could be improved. 

Organization
Work was collected for the week and then evaluated on Friday morning when the students would sort through their work and reflect on the quality of it.  They sorted their work into two piles.  One pile for Portfolio Worthy work and one pile to go in their Friday Take Home folder.  I had a set of cubbies (see the photo above) and I assigned one to each student. The Friday Take Home folders also remained here. The cubby held finished work.  Unfinished work stayed in a color-coded folder for each subject in their desk.  One aspect that I really liked is that I never had to worry about no-name papers and at any time and I could look over what each student had completed that day or that week at any time without rummaging through their desks.  However, most importantly, I saw a difference in the quality of work and thinking that went into their assignments. 

Changing Times - Sustainability
It is funny to think how times have changed over the years.  I now am very conscientious about the amount of paper I use.  If I were to do this again, I might have one copy laminated for each student and taped on their desk to refer to as they evaluate their assignments. 

Can any of you use this?  Do any of you do something similar?  I'd love to hear from you.

Cheers,
Kate

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