I have greatly underused the power of reflection in my teaching. Typically I would write comments on a rubric, let them read it, and then we move on, thinking that was sufficient. I was SOOO wrong. Now I’m incorporating reflection as a nice chunk of time, usually one class period, for them to reflect using the following strategies, forms and activities.
My (BAD) Excuses:
- No extra time to “waste” on that
- I HAVE to cover a certain amount of units
- They can’t give good feedback like I can
- I have too many students with different needs
- They don’t care
All bad excuses. SMH…
What I’ve Learned:
- No extra time to “waste” on that -> It’s NOT a waste!
- I HAVE to cover a certain amount of units -> I’m only using 4-6 days on this out of 185 days. I need to PLAN for it.
- They can’t give good feedback like I can -> They can IF they get to learn/practice it.
- I have too many students with different needs -> Stations and some creative grouping can solve this.
- They don’t care -> They really do, especially when it’s focused on growth more than perfection.
If they know what is expected BEFORE they do an assessment, they generally do a better job. And if they are the ones that come up with what is expected, they perform even better!
I prefer to have THEM create what is required to complete the task before I suggest it. Example: If they are creating a movie review vlog, it should include… info about the actors, story line, don’t give away ending, a rating, etc. This is where lots of authentic resources during the learning process models what they should do and don’t do. I let them brainstorm alone first, then with partners/small group, and then as a class. I used to think I had to do all this for them, but I’m finding there’s more value in them doing this. Real world connection: Bosses expect good employees to figure out how to complete tasks and goals.
On a second list, again I like for them to think about those other skills and details that would improve the task, but I do not grade them on this. So if it is a movie review vlog, it’s nice if it has… pictures of the movie poster and/or actors, a movie trailer or clip, speak in a slow voice, add inflection, eye contact, emotion (funny/dramatic), etc. They only get a grade on the language proficiency, but I want to encourage them to improve these skills for the real world.
This following quote came from a faculty meeting and I’ll never forget it.
So now here’s what a one-class period feedback/reflection lesson can look like after assessing an assessment.
- I keep the rubrics with my marks and comments to use later.
- I return the assessments to the students (usually they have it already on Edmodo to reference).
- I let them self-assess on their own proficiency rubric and self-reflection sheet (like pic above). Sometimes I have them self-assess on the proficiency rubric before they turn in the assessment to save paper. I like to let them identify their own strengths and weakness before I make a suggestion. Think about yourself, are you more likely to improve if you pick the goal or someone tells you to do it? I especially like for them to think about what actions they will take to improve.
- Then they peer-assess and have a conversation. I prefer for them to have at least two different partners to go over the checklist details they made before the assessment with one and to go over how they are doing with the language with another. It doesn’t hurt to go over this with more partners, especially if each partner is evaluating something new. I ask them to take notes on all of this while they are chatting. Additional idea: At an ACTFL session by Jane Shea and Greg Shields, they suggested that one partner read aloud the writer’s paper so the writer can hear it to make their own reflections.
- Once they finish these prior steps, they can start on their own suggestions of how they want to improve. If they are consistently making the same mistake, then they need more INPUT. I have given them activity ideas before to help them out.
- While they are working on the peer reviews and self-assessments, I pull them into small groups. I usually make the group by choosing students that are at a similar proficiency level or making similar errors. This is where I may give some 5-minute grammar lessons or suggest that they find a youtube video about it. I’ve found grammar lessons help more AFTER they have tried to communicate.
- To finalize, they graph their progress on graph paper. They color-code it based on the mode/skill and put the assessment/topic at the bottom (this is a really generic example above). They get so excited to see how they are growing! There are some other versions here if you want another option: JCPS Proficiency Progress Documents
Let them reflect and grow… It’s worth the time!
How do your students reflect on their progress?