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Learning Is More Than a Number

Exam time seems to be all about quantitative data.  Teachers are determining how many points students have, percentages are being translated into letter grades, quarter grades and final exams are being weighted and combined to determine that all important final percentage which will determine that final letter grade.  That letter will give us some idea of how well the learner mastered the course outcomes.  In addition, students are using online grade calculators to determine the minimum level they need to perform at in order  to earn the grade they desire.  Yes, final exam time is about arguing for the grade you deserve, but I feel that there is room for more. I always feel that final exam time should be just as much about reflection on learning as it is about expression of learning.

It is in that spirit that I am hoping to shift the focus of what goes in student portfolios in my courses. I currently ask students to do some reflection, but it seems minimal at best.  Over the course of the last term, students were asked to do brief reflections about strengths and challenges at the end of each instructional unit and present that in their portfolio.  At the end of this term, I asked students to present a strength in each area of the UDL model: access, engage, and express.  In the future, it is my hope to make this reflection process deeper without being seen as simply a hoop for students to jump through.  What follows are some examples of these reflections:

Reflection AL.png

Reflection BG.png

Reflection CC.png

Reflection DT.png

Reflection JO.png

Reflection MN.png

Reflection MO.png

Reflection NVH.png

Reflection OB.png

Reflection RT.png

Reflection SB.png

As I continue to try to give my students the agency to become learners, the reflection process takes on more meaning.  They need to understand their strengths as learners (we’ll get to challenges in my next post). As an educator, I need to know who each learner is and what tools are proving effective and why.  Reflection is a learning process.  I am privileged to have these learners with me for another 9 weeks.  This simple process has shown me who they are outside of a number or a letter grade.  It will help me be a better guide for them in their learning process.

It is my hope to ask my learners to do more reflecting on their learning next term than I currently am.  

I would love to hear how others have learners reflect on their learning and just as importantly, how you follow up on those reflections and make them actionable.

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