I have been really focusing on instructional clarity this quarter, being intentional about ensuring my students understand what is happening in our classroom – what we are doing and why.
As the end of the second quarter approached, I was looking at the student data I had gathered so far. None of it was new to students – I had shared all my feedback with them when I had returned their summative work after it was assessed. But, what I hadn’t shared was the conclusions that I had drawn based on the accumulated feedback from the quarter. I wondered if that information might be helpful for students to see before it is posted to their report card.
So, while students were working on an in-class activity, I met with them individually to talk about the report card comment I was preparing about them, outlining the specific areas of interest/concern I had identified. Then, I decided to take this a step further – I decided to encourage them to really focus on making a difference in the identified area in our upcoming final culminating project for the quarter.
For instance, one student in particular really struggled in the area of language conventions in their writing, specifically with the use of capitalization. I challenged this student to review the rules about capital letters and then really re-read their work carefully when they finished it. I told the student that I wanted to change the existing report card comment from something like “Struggles to use capital letters accurately in his writing” to something like “Has shown some growth toward the end of the quarter in the use of capital letters in his writing”.
I liked how proactive and positive these conversations were. Students liked the idea of seeing specific areas to target and especially liked the idea of providing their parents with a comment that was more positive and growth-focused.
I think that we gather a lot of information about our students and much of it is used to meet our own needs. Why not make learning truly visible and transparent – show students what we are gathering and the conclusions we draw from it? Students will see how the choices they make, or the struggles they face, impact how they are perceived. An open discussion about our student data might clear up misunderstandings or provide students with greater clarity in terms of their growth.
Let’s be clear about that!