Reflections Part II: The Standards

9 May

The other reflection that students complete after each round of activities is about their progress towards mastering the standards. Like the EQ reflection, it allows us to see what successes students are having, and it allows us to help our students through the frustrating early stages of the inquiry process. When one of my students wrote, “I really dislike this reading standard, because I feel like it would go a lot better with poems than with texts,” I was able to step in and remind her of a full-class DIDLS activity we did for Matthew Arnold’s “The Definition of Poetry.”  She could then reattempt that standard with a clearer focus and direction.

By requiring this reflection, students are forced to keep the standard and all its components in mind as they complete their activities. Another student of mine reflected on how an analysis tool helped him work through a poem and meet his standard:

My reading standard asks to analyze the way the authors writes, rather than what it means. This means going in depth and looking at why the author chooses certain words or themes and how their sequence affects the text. A TPCASTT accomplishes this standard because analyzing tone and connotation really analyze word choice–which is a key part of this standard. Also, the paraphrasing and title steps in the process analyze why the author chose those words–another major part of the standard.

It also allows the student and teacher to see growth over time. When our students work through the ILP, they aren’t only experiencing the inquiry process to answer their EQ, but they’re also experiencing it as they figure out how to fulfill their standard. One student wrote:

Before I thought I had to attempt the writing standard by writing something each round. I gained more clarity at the beginning of this first round and now understand that I can first annotate an example writing, next write a detailed outline, and finally write a full piece to complete the standard during the last round. It was my first time annotating an example that I want to emulate later in my writing standard and I think I focused on the standard and examined the excerpt.

By reflecting on what she has learned, she has gained some clarity about the standard itself and can now determine what she wants to do next. So, after completing her second round of activities, she wrote:

For my writing standard, examining a text first seemed to really help. I had more direction [for what] to write in order to complete the standard; however I still see that I need to add more to what I wrote and refine it to have more description and emulate Charlotte Bronte’s exquisite writing.

As teachers, we are able to see where our students are lacking and what they need to improve upon, but how incredible is it to see them understand why they’re taking the actions they are and what they need to do to improve? It’s reflections like these that make us realize the value in letting go so that our students can truly take control of their own learning.

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