One thing I learned from years of being around Benchmark teachers is that in order for learning to be most effective you have to save time for reflection. It’s a simple concept, but one that can easily be forgotten with all the pressure to learn more content.
That’s why even though I have had my student’s feature articles printed for a week I didn’t tell them they were ready. I promised myself that if I didn’t have time to reflect with them, I wouldn’t hand them back.
On Monday we had the reveal of the papers; printed in color ink with graphics and cool fonts, just simply handing them out to the kids was a celebration in itself. Ooos and Ahhs were heard around the classroom as writing partners and friends looked around at everyone’s finished product. Before we did anything else, I had the kids read their own article, you could have heard a pin drop in the room as every kid read through the words they had so carefully chosen.
Here’s where I switched it up. I’ve been reflecting with these kids since September now, which means I’ve been asking them questions about their writing and they’ve been thinking hard and answering. This time all I said was, “It’s time to reflect. What’s going through your head?” Then I got my marker out and wrote out their questions as fast as I could.
- Does it make sense?
- Are all the sections in the right order?
- Do I see editing mistakes I could have fixed?
- Did I pick the right colors?
- Is there too much open space?
- Is the font too big/ too small?
- Would someone other than my mom want to read this?
- Did I have the right audience in mind when I was writing?
- Is my information accurate?
- Is anything missing?
- Does everything belong in this article?
And my personal favorite . . .
12. Am I proud?
I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I was proud. Proud of them for jumping into a new genre of reading/writing. Proud of them for going through countless revisions and edits. Proud of them for internalizing the process and knowing what questions to ask in reflecting. I am proud.