How's that for an unlikely title to a blog post, huh?
I mean, when was the last time you stumbled across a middle schooler who LOVED -- all caps on purpose -- ANY handout that had to do with school?
But it's true: My students -- who I surveyed last week in an attempt to gather some feedback about the unit overview sheets that my learning team developed together -- really dig the tool that we're using to give them opportunities to reflect on what they're learning.
At the beginning of every unit, I pass out a one-page handout that includes a list of every objective that students need to master written in student-friendly language. The handout also includes unit vocabulary and a few essential questions designed to spark thinking and start conversations.
You can see a sample of a unit overview sheet here:
We refer to this handout at the beginning of MOST class periods, reviewing the objective that we're about to study. Then, I'll have students rate their current understanding on the rating bar that appears below the objective.
When class is over, we return to the unit overview sheet and rate ourselves again -- and many times, I'll have them explain their individual ratings to partners, detailing the content in the objective that they think they know really well and the content that they are still struggling with.
Now, I LOVE this entire process simply because I know that having a clear sense of the objectives to be mastered is essential for any learner.
The recursive-ness of having my students review and rate and review again does just that.
But until last week, I'd never bothered to ask my students what they thought of the entire process. I had a few minutes after a test, though, so I thought I'd ask.
My question was simple: "How helpful are our unit overview sheets -- and the process that we use when looking at them -- you as a learner?"
Here are a few student responses:
Gabriella said: I think the I Can Statements and unit overview sheets are usefull because they help us see how we are doing in a particular lesson or unit.
I like how we can record our grades and see what we can improve on for better test grades. I like the vocabulary section so we know what words we need to know by the end of the unit.
I also like how we can rate ourselves on what we know to see our improvement and how much we understand something.
Carter said: I find the I Can Statement sheets very helpful when we’re able to actually see what we’re supposed to be learning and the progress of our knowledge on the topic.
It shows me as a learner how much harder I need to work at something and what I seem like an expert at.
I also like the simple questions at the top and vocab because it shows me what expectations the unit has so I can try my best to reach them.
Josh said: I really like the I Can statements handout. I like it because rating yourself on content helps to show yourself what you need to study, and what you are doing good on.
Also, I like the vocabulary bar at the bottom the most because when you check off a word you learned, you feel a sense of accomplishment.
I would like to change how the statements are written because when you look at the statement for the first time, you don’t get it 100%.
Ried said: I love the I Can Statements! They are super helpful because it helps me know what I need to know, what I know, and what I don’t know. But instead of a rating bar, I would put a 1-5 rating section.
You can read more of their responses here:
Moral of the story: Kids really DO appreciate opportunities to reflect on -- and keep track of -- what they are learning.
So what steps will YOU take that happen for the students in your building?