Teaching and Documenting and Personalizing..Oh My!

As I’ve mentioned before, we often ask students to write a reflection on their work and encourage them to set goals for themselves. But do we actually teach them how to look at their work critically?

As I’ve been learning, documenting FOR learning can be really helpful for students to see and compare their work over time, to see where they have grown, and what patterns they’re able to uncover. Sometimes though, reflecting on one piece of work is important too, and it is a skill that needs to be taught.

As a Language Arts teacher, I believe strongly in providing useful, detailed feedback for my students. I’ve spent hours creating rubrics, provide comments and tips throughout their work, and hand them back in the hopes that they will read what I’ve written, take it to heart, and then apply it to their next writing piece. And what happens when I hand back a graded assignment?? The students flip right to their mark, ignore all the comments, and then tuck their work into the depths of their locker, where it turns into a crumpled mess, only to reemerge at the end of the school year when we clean out their lockers!

I tried a few new techniques on my last writing assignment. The first was inspired by Jennifer Gonzalez from The Cult Of Pedagogy, around the #SinglePointRubric. I created the rubric below for my grade 5 short story writing piece.

As you can see, I also added a link at the bottom of the document. This linked to a Google Form to scaffold the reflection process for the students. I got this idea from Emily Aierstok from Read It, Write It, Learn It, who also gave me the idea to highlight areas where editing needed to be done, rather than correct it myself.

With these three additions, the students had much more interaction with their work than they normally did in the past. They actually had to read my comments to understand why something was highlighted, they actually had to make edits to their work, putting into practice right away what they needed to work on, and they then had to think about their learning and then write about it to make their learning visible.

With this grading format and editing procedure, I was also able to personalize the feedback and goals for each student as well. While some need to work on sentence fluency and figurative language, others are still working towards properly punctuation and capitalizing their sentences. With the digital rubric, I was also able to link to tutorials I created for different skills on EdPuzzle.

So now what? At this point, all the work I’ve done with my students around documenting learning have been isolated lessons that relate to each other, but aren’t all living in one place. I think at this point in the year, the easiest thing would be to create Google Documents for each student, where they will add their work so far, and then continue to add as we do more work and practice around documenting their learning.

 

4 Comments on Teaching and Documenting and Personalizing..Oh My!

  1. Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
    13th March 2019 at 5:42 pm (5 months ago)

    @Melissa
    Absolutely am enthralled with this post, as an artifact of evidence of your moment in time, in terms of documenting, feedback and reflection of your own learning, as you are thinking about your students’ writing process.
    This post does not only dig deeper into your thinking process, your experience so far, your breadcrumbs of where you have been to learn more, but also serves as a resource FOR the learning of educators around the world, grappling with the same issues like you regarding meaningful feedback for students and HOW we get them to use it to grow their learning.

    Why not start directly their digital blogfolios instead of Google Docs?

    Reply
    • melissat
      20th March 2019 at 3:34 pm (5 months ago)

      I considered Google Docs because the students are so familiar with it and I thought it could be a quick transition to keeping everything in one place. But as Jon commented as well, the blogfolios are already created so I will explore that option more! Very excited.

      Reply
  2. Jon Mitzmacher
    18th March 2019 at 1:22 pm (5 months ago)

    Two additional thoughts: Have you / should you think about cross-posting this (or some version of this) for your parents? I happen to be one, but I think all the parents would appreciate knowing how you are thinking about personalized learning. The other thought? We already have the architecture for student blogfolios set up…even if they remain private (for now), you can begin playing with what it would look like by populating them with these kinds of artifacts.

    Reply
    • melissat
      20th March 2019 at 3:33 pm (5 months ago)

      Yes, I definitely need to cross post. In terms of blogfolios…I actually didn’t know these were created already. Excellent news! I’d love to chat more about keeping these private or open, and how to approach parents about it.

      Reply

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