Archive for January, 2009

Don’t Leave Improvement to Chance

I offered my college writing students the opportunity for a one-on-one so that I could help them with their papers.

About three students in each class wanted a one-on-one. I was trying to give them a choice. I realize that I should have made their  improvement a requirement. A mandatory one-on-one would have allowed me one last chance to see their graphic organizers before they began to write; I could have helped them improve.  Although the students  had peer reviewed the graphic organizers, many students at the early stages of writing (and other learning) need the most feedback.

How often do you allow students choices when, in fact, their continual improvement, should be a requirement?  How often do you build “mandatory”  formative assessment into  their learning?  Do you just hope they will get it right or do you carefully monitor them and redirect them so that they will be successful?

Responding to students: Our Real Emotional Message

In a previous post, I emphasized that students need an abundance of positive comments before they really believe that what they have done is good.

Likewise, when we examine our comments to students in the margins and at the end of their papers, we may discover that  the messages that we think are positive or neutral appear to the students as negative ones.     For example, in “Good topic sentence. Follow it up with more evidence”   the message seems to us to be a positive; however, the second sentence deflats the praise. The previous examples strikes students as a “set up and slap down” comment.

Students may see our statements or questions as direct commands rather than suggestions. “Can you think of other possibilities?” can easily be translated as “You dummy, why can’t you get a good answer?”

When we write on students’ papers, we have to promote a positive tone since many students will read any non-positive statement as a negative one.

If you are interested in implementing  formative assessment in the classroom, my book,
Formative Assessment: Responding to Students is available through Eye-on-Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Be more positive than negative

Do you use a positive or negative mentality in your class? Do you focus on pointing out the positives of students’ learning or do you concentrate more on the negatives?

Tom Connellan, “Inside the Magic Kingdom”, pgs 91-95 asserts that

If students see…………………………….they perceive it as

1 compliment, 1 negative………………negative

2 compliments, 1 negative…………….neutral

3 compliments, 1 negative……………positive

I almost agree.  I think that students need an abundance of compliments before they really believe the comments are positive. I think that 3 to 1 is borderline positive. I would argue that a 5:1 ratio is needed for students to feel that they are doing positive work. If they feel that positive about their work, then they are willing to make formative changes.  If they do not feel very positive, they will not attempt the changes.

Try the 5:1 rule and see the change in your students.

For any one who is interested in implementing formative assessment in the classroom, my book,
Formative Assessment: Responding to Students is available through Eye-on-Education.

Reponding to Your Students


RSS Education with Technology

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