Students Self-Assess Skills

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

I remember loving elementary school from the very first day that Ms. Bloom opened the Kindergarten doors of Forest Avenue School and invited us in to a big, bright classroom full of possibilities for play and learning.

I also remember many classmates “hating” school as the years passed by after that first day. Those kids sometimes acted as if they were being punished from Monday through Friday of each week, suffering souls!

Guess my course was set early, like many people who are drawn to the profession of education. Like me, you may have faced the challenge of teaching children who act as if education is something that is done to them, something that happens in classrooms.

What if we could help those children, as early as fourth and fifth grade, feel more like partners in their own education and less like young people pressed to attend school?

I got to thinking about creating learning alliances where students self-assess their progress, including their attention skills, and I came up with a four-step strategy. I recommend implementing these steps toward the end of a school day.  In my mind this strategy is most effective when it’s implemented on a regular basis. For some teachers that may mean daily, for others, weekly or otherwise. Here’s a nutshell summary of the four steps:

STOP – Give students a “heads up” ahead to let them know that everyone will be asked to stop their end-of-day activity soon to allow time for a self-assessment of their learning progress and attention skills over the time since the last assessment.

REVIEW – When you have the class’ attention, invite your students to silently think over what they’ve accomplished in school that day or week. Review time may also include reading over a list that you’ve posted with a  schedule or objectives, etc. In addition, you may offer students review questions to guide this part of the self-assessment. Better still, you may work collectively with your class to come up with effective review questions for them to use. This option will help your students develop strong organizational skills as well as strengthen the class’ learning alliance.

REFLECT – Reflection is personal so you will likely want to leave this part of the self-assessment open-ended. However, it may help students to have some guiding questions for this most creative part of the process. Questions may include, for example, “What did I do especially well in school today?” “What activities were most difficult for me and why?” “Did I work hard to stay on task during math, reading, writing time, etc.” “How can I be a better listener and a better learner?” “Did I contribute to my own goals and those of my classmates?”

RENEW – You want your students to feel energized by the self-assessment so that they are renewed for the day or week ahead. Some children enjoy singing after quiet, demanding work. Others enjoy physical activity like stretching to music. Every teacher has her or his own methods for sparking a sense of joy in children. Conclude the self-assessment in a way that will help students feel ready for more learning.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next week,

BarbaraThe Lovable Poet

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