Friday, March 29, 2013

Turning it over to them - Success in the making!

image used from flickr

I mentioned in my last post about my struggle with too much social/not enough learning focus happening in our classroom and that I'd share what we're trying out. After 2 weeks down, we've been able to celebrate some success!

Here's what we're trying:

1) We identified as a class the three main behavior areas we struggle in: on task, voice level, and caring/respect toward others.

2) We made a rubric to score these behaviors.
  • I divided the class into three groups and they each started with what a secure classroom might look like, then went up from there for exceeding and down for beginning and developing.
  • Then we came back together as a class to share out and make sure the language and numbers matched up for the whole rubric. 

3) We identified the 3 key times in the day that students struggle most: math, Words Their Way, and independent reading.

4) I chose two students per day to assess the class during those times. Those two students had a quick discussion after each of those subject areas, came to an agreement on how to score the class, and reported their assessment to the class. We did this for four days and then looked at the data and set a goal.

5) I compiled the data by assigning one point to a beginning score, up to 4 points for an exceeding score. The first four days, students scored 65/144. Many were able to see that it was below 50%, and that an average of 50% would be all developing scores. Then we set a goal for the next four days. The class agreed that we should shoot for 50%, so 72/144. Different students continued to assess and report to the class each day.

6) At the end of the four days (yesterday), I compiled the rubrics again. Good news! They exceeded their goal! They got 78/144 - 54%! We set a new goal for next 5 days. Students decided on this goal and are aiming for a little above 50%. We'll see how it continues.

Here are a few questions I would ask someone if I read about this. If you have more, feel free to comment and I will get back to you!

Where did this idea come from? I shared my struggles with one of my building administrators. She came in to observe and noticed I was working a lot harder than the students. We sat down and brainstormed some ideas, and this is the one that stuck and felt like the responsibility was being passed over to the students.

Are we seeing classroom behavior improvement? I'd say somewhat. There are still areas we struggle with that aren't necessarily during the three times students assess with the rubrics, but we can't do it all, all the time. Plus, we've just been doing this for two weeks!

Are students being honest with their assessments? Yes. I even noticed that when a few of my more off task students had their day to score the rubric, their behavior was better because they were focusing on their work and the rubric.

Why do I have students do the assessing? It turns the responsibility over to them. The idea that the students should be working harder than the teacher wasn't happening before this. I was the nag, the reminder, even the babysitter at times. Now they students get an honest reflection about their behavior from their peers and some of the pressure is off me.

Doesn't this take a lot of time? To begin with, yes. It took us a few hours as a class to come up with the rubric. I have to copy rubrics and plan who is going to assess the class. We have to take a minute to report at the end of each of the three subjects, but things that are worthwhile do take time. If this helps the learners in my classroom focus more, it's totally worth it!


  1. I wonder if you will see a correlation with them doing better on work because of environment or if their work will decrease in quality because they have become obsessed with how they act. Hmmm, will be interesting to see over the course of time. Very nice and original idea!


  2. This sounds like a great way to get the students more involved in the classroom! I feel that the students who are being assessed will be more focused on the lesson and participating in class. This will definitely make them more aware of their actions. My only question would be about the students who are assessing the classroom. Is it possible they will be more focused on the classroom behavior than the lesson being taught?

  3. Your project is time consuming but amazing! It promotes better classroom behavior and definitely motivates the students to become engaged in classwork. Keep up the good work! By the way, turning the responsibility over to them is awesome because they are our future leaders.

    1. Thanks, Sherri! I missed seeing how it worked for the rest of the year because of maternity leave, but it's definitely something I will start the year off with next year!

    2. It's awesome that you still want to do it. Good luck and post more about it!

    3. I'm sorry, but I forgot to mention that I am a EDM310 student.

  4. Hello,
    My name is Amber McQueen and I am an EDM310 student at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed your post and I found that the three main areas of struggle were right on point. This project seemed very helpful to your class. It taught them many things. I enjoy picking up skills for my future classroom. Great post.

  5. Hey Ms. Becky Goerend,

    My name is Haley Torries and I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama. All of the struggles that occurred in your classroom happens in most classrooms. The initiative you took to fix the problems in your classroom is amazing. This project turned out to be very effective for your class. I enjoyed learning from your progress in this post.

  6. Hi, my is Chris Perry and I am a student in edm310 at the university of south alabama. I think that this project was a great idea. I think getting your students involved with their own assessing of themselves is an ingenious idea. It gets the students more involved in class, and keeps them focused on their work just as your data was and is showing.

  7. This looks like it would be very effective in a diverse classroom and would capture the students attention and respect. I think that students learning about their own behavior sets the tone of the classroom for respect and gives them an outside look on who they are and how others see them and their behavior. I also think that it would help their environment outside of school, which could in turn help with their progression and attitude towards the work they need to complete. Great effective idea!

  8. What a great idea! I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama, College of Education" and I plan to use a similar technique in my classroom. Such a cool way to great the students involved and held accountable for their actions.

  9. I find this idea to be a very good way to enable students to police themselves. I find it is harder for a person to let down his /her team than to let themselves down. In using this method, your allowing students to hold each other accountable. As a student in EDM310, we are constantly asked to evaluate ourselves. This makes us learn to critical of ourselves and in collaborative work, we have to be responsible for the success of our entire group. I love your idea here. I look forward to seeing how it grows with time.