“Miiiiisssssss? Why do we need to do this?”
I hate to admit it, but I heard this question from students more times than I woud have liked.
Instead of disregarding this question however, it made me think more deeply about my teaching practice. Why were my students completing a particular assignment?
Of course I knew the answer. I had spent time reflecting on the standards and carefully identifying the best way to teach my students to build on their foundation of knowledge. I spent time thinking about ways to make each assignment relevent to the students’ current lives and relevent for their futures.
So, why was the purpose of the assignment unclear to them?
I always had the focus standard identified on the front board. Student learning goals and objectives were clearly posted above the daily aganda. Yet, I still got the questions about purpose.
Before most assignments I would have students write the state standard into student friendly language and share with a partner. Yet, I still got the questions about purpose.
Something was getting lost in translation and it needed to be found.
Identifying a purpose for learning increases student engagement, the quality of work, and completion rate. Therefore, helping students understand the reason for learning is essential.
As teachers we spend a lot of time reflecting on the standards. We see the standards covered in the grade below and above ours. We have vertical alignment meetings. We also have the benefit of life on our hands. We can see how the dots are connected. We can see how learning and growth in certain areas contributed to later success.
So,I decided to add a destinctive reflection component for my students.
For each unit of study I added a pre assignment reflection and a post assignment reflection. Reflection before beginning an assignment allows students’ to activate prior knowledge, identify areas of weakness, and set a purpose for learning. Pre reflection addresses the questions, what am I learning and why am I learning. Any time a student forgets, I have them pull out the pre reflection sheet.
Post reflection allows student learning to be solidified. Students think about what they learned and why. Students think about how they will apply this learning in the future. It gives students an opportunity to reflect on the areas in which they found success and the areas that caused them to struggle.
Not only is this a great way to set purpose, but it keeps students accountable for their learning. This type of student reflection also allows teachers insight into the areas that students need reteaching.
It is a win/win for everyone!
If you are ready to get started with student assignment reflection, check out the pre and post reflection sheets I have already created!
Cheers to intentional teaching and student reflection!
Looking for a deep dive into purposeful reflection for both teachers and students? Check out the Intentional Teaching Series.