Keeping Kids Accountable

One of the skills that I feel teachers often forget to get students to build on is metacognition. This it the ability of a student to be aware of his/her own progress. This could include analyzing one’s ability to learn (e.g. do I learn better when I listen? when I write things down? see a video?) or even seeing how much progress has been made (e.g. after I studied, I did very well on my chemistry test).

What I noticed was that students often don’t understand what a test score means. They could very well get a score and it means nothing to them. It might as well have been a German phrase. I got the notion of transcribing these grades onto a bar graph, after I saw something similar on a TeachersPayTeachers resource. While I had this idea in mind last year, it wasn’t until this year that I got it going.

All my students are now given calculators when they get a quiz or test back. They are asked to calculate their score as a percentage. Their numeracy skills are so poor that most kids, even after having done this once every week for the past three weeks, still do not know how to calculate percentage. Many of them don’t know when to divide or why we are dividing. A few of them are getting the hang of it though.

The next step is to colour in their “Progress Tracking Sheet”. I give them a clear plastic sheet protector just to stress how important it is and that we will be using it throughout the year. Most students won’t even react to seeing the fraction 20 out of 50, because they do not connect it with the fact that they bombed a test. You might think that I’m working with Grade 2 students. Nope! These are 14-year-olds, 15-year-olds. Some of the secondary 5s are 18!

When they finally plot it as a coloured bar graph, it’s at this moment that they realize what their score actually means. In fact, some of them don’t even get upset until they get to this step!

As we use this strategy more and more, I’m seeing students care more about their marks. This is how I make them accountable for what they do.

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