Click for video about documenting growth.
success is the best way to build confidence for future success.
Educators need to take every opportunity to help students document,
and thus recognize, their growth.
What to Do...
Individual charts that students
keep in their desks are a great way to document improvement. Many
teachers have students make line graphs of their progress. Give
students frequent opportunities to update their progress. You might
have the student in this study graph how many homework papers she
completes each week.
Student journals are a useful
place for students to consider what they have learned each day.
Periodically provide students with time to review their journals
and reflect on the progress they have made. If the student in this
study does not enjoy writing, consider using the calendar option
Student portfolios are increasingly
used for students to monitor their progress and to help them become
reflective evaluators of their work. Students might also select
a sample of their work each week and keep it in a larger envelope
in their desk. After a periodic review of past work, they may be
surprised at their growth and how much more complex their current
work is when compared to a month, or even a couple of weeks ago.
The same principle can be used to create time capsules at the beginning
of the year. Later in the year the capsules can be opened and students
can view how much progress they have made.
A simple monthly calendar
is also a convenient way for students to record their daily progress.
At the end of each day, the students make a note on their calendars
of what new material they mastered during the lesson. If they have
not mastered anything new, they record something they did well.
For the purpose of this study, ask the student you are working with
to indicate something he did well in the content area you selected.
Print the January, February, March, and April calendars and have
the student enter something every day. At the end of each day, reserve
a minute to review with the student what he recorded on his calendar.
Do not overlook the obvious.
Sometimes we concentrate so much on a student's underachievement
that we overlook the progress the student is making. When
a student misspells a word, commend him on the letters he used correctly.
“Look, you used five out of the seven letters correctly. Let us
see if we can fix the other two.” Students often view mistakes as
fatal instead of fixable. A computer programmer does not throw away
her computer program when it does not work correctly. She finds
the errors and fixes them, because she knows that what is correct
in the program is a lot greater than what is not. The same message
can be applied to school work.
||Pitfalls to Avoid
Beware of the counting game. An individual
chart showing the number of correct spelling words each week
may not accurately depict the student’s cumulative progress.
If a student drops one week from 20 correct to 18 correct, the
students has not lost ground; she still has learned to spell
18 new words. A cumulative chart, which shows how many words
have been correctly spelled thus far, can be more effective
in calling attention to the skills the student has developed.
Avoid class charts where
individual progress is displayed. While it is human nature
to make comparisons, situations which encourage students to
rate their progress in relationship to others can have a detrimental
effect on the self-efficacy of those who do not progress as
fast or as far as others. Students may fail to appreciate
their own accomplishments if they focus on how well others
have done. Class charts that laud the collective achievement
of the class, such as the collective number of books read
this week or the number of words correctly spelled this week,
are more appropriate for classroom display when you are trying
to increase self-efficacy. One popular teacher uses the heading,
“Watch the Stars Come Out,” and stars with student names on
them on the classroom ceiling. Each time a student shows improvement
he receives a star. Eventually all of the students have stars
on the ceiling.
Check Your Understanding
- Classroom competition between students
provides extra motivation for underachievers and increases their
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Students Set Goals
c. 2000 - Del
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