Last Monday my school started its third trimester marking period. As this new trimester begins students were given time to reflect on the past trimester. While the students brainstormed what to write I gave each one their personal file.
For as long as I can remember teachers at my school have kept a file for every student in their class. This all-important file holds paper assessments, report cards and anecdotal notes taken throughout the year. This file is also what’s usually laid out during parent teacher conferences.
To the students surprise, I gave each one their own file for the reflection opportunity. Prio to handing out the files I made sure there wasn’t anything confidential in the files. Students were then asked to analyze all of their assessments and reflect on the second trimester. Students paged through their assessments and journal entries and filled out the sheet below.
I set aside about 30 minutes for students to look through their personal file and write their response. I wanted the students to analyze their own effort level. It’s interesting how students took on an ownership role as they took the file. They took this role seriously.
Some of the students took the entire amount of time while others needed more. When students finished they brought up their file and journal to discuss their views with me. I had a brief conversation with the students about their reflection and asked them questions related to their effort level. The students and I discussed how the statement below applies to what they produce in class.
Although there’s room for improvement, I feel like the class is making positive strides in being able to reflect on experiences without solely looking at the grade. During one brief conference I asked a student whether they felt like effort in math class eventually leads to achievement. The student responded, “Not completely, but effort level impacts my overall grade.” Sometimes I find this to be a perception battle of grades/points vs learning experiences. Providing students opportunities to reflect can help balance this perception.