Guideline 6 of the Universal Design for Learning Guidelines is to provide options for executive function. Specifically, the Checkpoints look at supporting students in learning to engage in appropriate goal-setting (6.1), planning and strategy development (6.2), managing information and resources (6.3), and increasing capacity for monitoring progress (6.4).
Honestly, prior to this past summer, I had only ever done this sort of goal-setting and planning with my students on a sort of accidental basis, rather than deliberately and systematically. For example, when I checked homework after a review night, I might casually ask students to discuss what they were thinking for their review work moving forward, but I never really approached it formally.
So, when my colleague Irene Witt and I were doing our annual “what do we want to revise” summer work, we looked for ways to build in this sort of self-assessment more systematically. One way I have started doing that is through the use of padlet, an online program that allows students to post their thoughts as a sort of sticky note, as you can see in the example below:
Because I ask students not to share their names, the anxiety around discussing areas that need improvement is lessened (Checkpoint 7.3 Minimize threats and distractions), while building a culture where students publicly acknowledge that they have work to do still. Most of us, as humans, believe that everyone around us knows what is going on better than we do; this sort of anonymous-but-shared goal-setting and self-assessment helps model that this misconception is not true.
Self-Assessment on a Continuum
Irene Witt and I also designed what we call “Topic Reflections” that we assign to students on key topics, such as identifying proportionality in tables, graphs, and equations, central concepts in the first part of our Module on Proportional Relationships. These Topic Reflections have a continuum on them where we ask students to identify if they “get it,” are “working on it,” or “need help.” We have both noticed that students are fairly accurate and honest in these self-assessments; from my point of view, most of the students who can’t identify their own areas of need at first, give us sufficient information in their responses to help us see that they need support.
I will write more in a future post about the success we are experiencing as we use these Topic Reflections in conjunction with more formal formative (graded) assessments. For now, as always, my thanks to my colleague, Irene Witt, for being the better half of my brain.