It’s probably a pretty obvious statement, but knowing what’s expected of you helps you make sure you do that expected thing, right? Sure, of course. So why don’t I spend more time chewing on rubrics with my students? Why do they sometimes feel like the expectation for the end of the unit is a surprise to them? Well, the simple answer is that we should spend more time looking at rubrics. Together. Often. Before, during and after learning happens. And it’s my goal (but not my resolution!) to make that happen more this semester.
So fast forward to last week and the beginning of our focus on summarizing and main idea in Readers’ Workshop. We started by checking out the rubric together. I gave kiddos a copy of the rubric to chew on in pairs. Along with the expectations, I also asked some questions, and had them look for certain things in the standards that would help them make sure they were doing what was expected. Together we read, discussed and highlighted. Our board (and their papers) looked like this when we were finished:
I think it was important work that happened here. I kept asking the what and why questions as we chatted. I had them repeat the verbs. We talked about the fact that these are understandings they need to demonstrate more than once. And we focused on the reason behind why you need to know how to do this: to help you better comprehend your text, not because your teacher says you should.
Now we talk about this almost every day. Before we begin anything reading, we review the words in this rubric. We use the words. We reflect on whether we’re identifying, distinguishing, supporting, referring and demonstrating. And this image will hang in our room to help us remember what to do–and for a visual person like me, that’s an important step. So many times things are out of sight, out of mind. This way they will not be.
And so after this work in reading, we did the same thing in math with the beginning of our decimal unit. And during that conversation I had another (saddening) aha moment. As I handed each kiddo at my table the rubric book that is usually reserved for parents and teachers, I wondered why I didn’t give one to each STUDENT to have. To read. To digest. To reference and keep at the front of their minds (and binders!). Why had it never occurred to me–in all of these years of teaching–that my STUDENTS are probably the ones that most need that book?? They are the ones, after all, that are responsible for making those things happen, right? Man. Humbling thought right there.
Moving forward I pledge to do more to make my students aware of their learning. Don’t get me wrong–we talk about these things and I believe I am making them aware of our goals, but there is much I can do to make it more visible for them, so that they can take more of an initiative in their own learning. Nothing here should be a mystery, and the outcome should not be a surprise. And I’m vowing to take steps to unveil some of these things for my kiddos. I only wish I would have done it a long time ago…
What do you do in your classroom to make your students aware of standards and expectations? How do you involve them in the process? What “aha”s have you had regarding these things? I’d love to hear from you!