There are so many ways to elevate student learning in your classroom without pulling out bells and whistles. You don’t need extrinsic rewards and prizes. The rewards and prizes come from your students’ excitement and motivation to learn something new. It comes from self-discovery that they can do something on their own or with a bit of support.
Part 4 in the Classroom Management Series
Everyone wants a little ‘reward’ for something. It’s like Pavlov and his dog back in the psychology class you likely took in university. I get it. I used rewards as you probably read in a previous post in this series. However, transitioning to rewards that began to look more like celebrations in class for hard work, dedication to learning, and positive behaviour was the key. This looks more like a real teamwork situation and more aligned with what each student’s needs and abilities are.
Let’s finish off the teaching journey story…
The Real Ah-Ha Moment!
It was during the moments of Genius Hour when the epiphany came. The teacher realized that through the classroom environment change and the student-centered learning focus the real magic happens.
Parents were visiting to help out and the students were conversing with the parents and excitedly telling of their learning discoveries. As with any good inquiry-type learning project, students began questioning things and looking for answers using the iPad and discussions with adults in the room. Their ideas began to morph and take new directions. They were using their acquired reading, writing and math skills to work on their projects. Not bad for 2nd graders!
The teacher noticed this and closely observed where they could add to their instruction the next week to enable students to fully embrace their learning with matching skills. They noticed that through the observations, they could see which learning standards they needed to focus on more and which ones to adjust to provide intervention to those who needed it. The beauty of it was that students were eager to learn something whether it was an intervention or a challenge to their current learning because it applied to their own project! One that they were truly interested in. That was a huge win! Students also were able to get that intervention or challenge lesson in a 10-15 minute mini-lesson because it was so targeted.
Assessment Takes Shape to Elevate Student Learning
The teacher was quite pleased with the way things were going and sent out a survey to ask parents what they thought of some of the personalized learning projects. The feedback was very positive. Parents noticed their children talked about school and what they were learning more with more specific details. That sure beat the “nothing” answer when parents asked: “What did you do in school today?”
It became quite evident that the final piece to the classroom management puzzle was assessment. The right assessment tools would elevate student learning through student motivation. Not only teacher assessment but self and peer assessment too. If the teacher could plan some rubrics for self-assessment based on the learning standards, students would know just where they were at all the time. Assessments weren’t just a report card 3 times a year. They discovered that using all kinds of formative assessments was not only fun for the students but empowered them and elevated their learning.
Teaching had come full circle over a few years. It takes time! The classroom that was once a teacher-directed (and exhausting) place became a real student-centred learning powerhouse!
This may be the end of this story but it certainly isn’t the end of the forward-thinking classrooms around the country and around the world in places like Finland.
Using Assessment to Guide Instruction
Fostering a love for learning and promoting a growth mindset are crucial elements in a child’s educational journey. One powerful way to achieve this is by integrating self-assessment and formative assessment strategies into the primary classroom. These approaches not only empower students to take control of their learning but also provide valuable insights for you to tailor instruction instruction effectively. Let’s explore innovative ways to elevate learning through self-assessment and formative assessment in the primary classroom.
- Building Self-Awareness Through Goal Setting: Encourage students to set personal learning goals. This not only gives them a sense of ownership but also instills a habit of self-reflection. Have regular check-ins where students assess their progress and adjust their goals accordingly. This process fosters self-awareness and helps them understand the importance of their efforts in achieving success.
- Student-Created Rubrics: Involve students in the assessment process by having them create rubrics for assignments or projects. This activity not only enhances their understanding of the criteria for success but also promotes critical thinking skills. Through this collaborative process, students develop a deeper appreciation for the learning objectives and assessment criteria.
- Peer Assessment and Feedback: Introduce peer assessment as a valuable tool for learning. Encourage students to provide constructive feedback to their peers. This not only promotes a sense of community within the classroom but also helps students develop communication and analytical skills. Peer assessment fosters a collaborative learning environment where students can learn from one another.
- Learning Journals and Reflections: Implement the use of learning journals where students can reflect on their learning experiences. Encourage them to document challenges, successes, and areas for improvement. Regular reflection time allows students to internalize their learning, promoting metacognition, and aiding in the development of a growth mindset.
- Interactive Quizzes and Games: Utilize technology to create interactive quizzes and games that align with the curriculum. Platforms like Kahoot! or Quizizz can make learning engaging and fun. These tools not only assess students’ understanding but also provide immediate feedback, allowing for quick adjustments in teaching strategies based on the real-time data collected.
- Formative Assessments as Learning Tools: View formative assessments not just as evaluation tools but as opportunities for learning. Use quick, informal assessments throughout lessons to gauge student understanding. Adjust instruction based on the results to address misconceptions and reinforce key concepts. This ongoing feedback loop enhances the learning experience for every student.
- Student-Led Conferences: Shift the traditional parent-teacher conference model to a student-led format. Provide students with the opportunity to showcase their work, articulate their learning journey, and discuss their strengths and areas for improvement. This approach promotes accountability, communication skills, and a sense of pride in their accomplishments. Read more about student-led conferences here.
Integrating self-assessment and formative assessment strategies in the primary classroom transforms learning into a dynamic and student-centered experience. Elevate learning in your primary classroom by embracing these innovative assessment practices and fostering a culture of growth and self-discovery.
If you missed any other installments of this Classroom Management series, you can find them below by clicking on the pictures.