Study after study has shown the benefits of student reflection, and that’s why SowntoGrow is one of my highly recommended sites to use in the classroom.
But instead of me grading the work and then giving the score to students to reflect upon, I decided to switch the order. Instead, students first reflect upon their work, and then I share my thoughts and reflection with their score.
If the student reflects first, he/she isn’t influenced by my thinking. Instead, I get a better idea of what they’re proud of or what they want more work on. I’ve often found that if I put my grade and comments on a work first, they simply regurgitate what I told them as their next goal. That doesn’t lead to their ownership–it’s just putting down what I think they should put down and moving on.
I can then read not only the student work but also his/her thinking. Most of the time we agree, but occasionally our scores are far apart OR their future goals of improvement are different than mine. This becomes a great entry point for a conference.
I also like how easy it has been for my students to use. This process only takes students a few minutes to log into the site, reflect, and move on to the next task at hand. After the first few times, students can do this own their own as part of a self-paced system or a blended learning classroom, and then I can conference with them after perusing their reflections. Most of all, I’m excited for them to review their work at the end of each semester and see how much they’ve learned and grown!
One thing I tend to overlook when I teach writing is titles.
We get through revisions and formatting, and then all of the sudden, my students want to know if they need a title. “Yes,” I tell them, which inevitably leads to, “Well, what should I title it?”
For once, I finally created a lesson solely based on TITLES.
Inspired by The Quiet Year, I created a “title prompt” for each card in a playing deck. For cards 2-10, I simply gave a title of a book or essay and asked students to tweak it to make it their own. For Jacks-Aces, I gave a prompt or challenge, such as “Think of a song that could double as a title for your essay.”
I gave each student a deck of cards, and they drew ten cards from the deck. They looked up the prompt for each of their cards and wrote down potential titles. Ahead of time, I warned them that some of the titles would be worthless–and that was OK! As writers, we don’t always write Pulitzer Prize winning material the first time. This warning is important so students don’t get caught up on making each title brilliant. This activity is about quantity, not quality.
Finally, each student took a highlighter and rotated around the room, reading everyone else’s titles. They marked their favorites with a dot from their highlighter.
By the end of the activity, every student had at least two quality titles for their essays. A few days later, when it came time to prepare the essays for publication in our literary magazine, not one needed any help with a title.
Finally, after weeks of learning our routines, our technology, and the expectations of our classroom, we ventured into our first week of flex learning.
It was also Homecoming Week, golf districts, cross-country conference, the school blood drive, and two away games for volleyball, so it was a good time for students to move at their own pace since each day there would be a few students missing from classes.
To celebrate the first week, I dubbed it Mission Impossible and used the narrative for each of my three classes. Inspired by John Meehan’s Break-In games, I set up a slide deck with all of the “missions” of the week and the links to each of them. Each day I tracked student work using a traditional clipboard checklist to ensure that everyone stayed on track.
On Friday, everyone who completed all the missions on time rolled a 20-sided die to determine how much XP they earned (so 1=100, 20=2000).
The best part of the week were the hidden code words. Students could find up to three code words. I’d created JPGs of each of the codewords–mammoth, parka, and czar–and how they are words we’ve gained from the Russian language. I stored the JPGs in my Google Drive and linked them to images in the slidedeck and assignments. If they found the words, they earned a piece of candy, 20 HP, or 100XP.
Here are the slide decks below:
Applied Communications 12: