Friday, 16 December 2011 21:50

Empowering Moments (4th in an Occasional Series)

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Empowering Moments (4th in an Occasional Series):

We are all familiar with the expression “teachable moment” that refers to those times in class when something happens that offers us an opportunity to impart a valuable lesson to our students. Recently, I first heard the expression “learnable moment,” which basically refers to these same opportunities, but focuses on what the children are gaining, rather than what the teachers are sharing. I love both of these expressions, but I have to say that I prefer the latter because of its emphasis on the student’s perspective.

In this blog series I introduce the expression “Empowering Moment.” An Empowering Moment is a classroom occurrence that affords teachers the opportunity to develop character, foster independence, and build students’ capacity for the future.

 

Taking Goal-Setting and Self-Evaluation to the Next Level

As more and more students brought in their goal-setting sheets to share with the class, new ideas continued to emerge about how we could make this process more effective. In what I like to call “Stage 1,” many students simply listed their personal learning goals on a sheet of paper and attached those sheets to their desks. In Stage 2 several kids created more ambitious sheets that included the goals along with space for a daily self-evaluation. As I mentioned last week, reflection and self-evaluation are incredibly powerful strategies when trying to develop positive habits in children.

It was clearly evident after a short period of time that students who were evaluating their progress on a daily basis were making rapid progress with regard to each of their goals. One day, though, as we were discussing this process as a class, a new idea emerged that enabled us to take our goal-setting and self-evaluation to a new level.

As one student was describing his sheet, we came up with the idea of evaluating our progress not once but several times per day. I asked if I could borrow his sheet, and in front of the rest of the kids, we divided the boxes he made for his daily self-evaluation into four smaller boxes. Now, rather than evaluate his progress only at the end of the day, he would assess his performance four times: before recess, before lunch, before afternoon recess, and before the end of the day.

Frequent self-evaluations help children keep their goals fresh in their minds throughout the day. In addition, collecting this data allows us to analyze whether performance remains consistent throughout the day, improves, or weakens. Furthermore, many interesting questions and critical thinking opportunities arise as we analyze this data.  

Below you will find pictures of the sheets my students brought into class. These pictures represent the various stages I previosuly.described.

Currently, all the kids have either a list of goals on their desks or a thoughtfully developed self-evaluation sheet, which they look at or complete at least once per day. I’m not requiring students to complete any specific type of self-evaluation. I have tried that in the past, and though there were definite benefits that resulted, I now prefer a more voluntary, grass roots approach where improvements arise more organically and students commit themselves because they see the value in it, not because they have to do it.

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