Friday, November 16, 2012

Make Learning Visible - Part 2

I know it's hard to imagine, but I have students who will try to do nothing on a Flashback Day (a Flashback Day is a day where I allow the students to practice and reassess on previous outcomes).  Last year I had this student who made it well known that he was intent on earning exactly a 70% in my class (the lowest possible passing grade in our district).  That pissed me off.  However, instead of directing my anger at him, I thought maybe the other students in the class could get on his case.  

I told the class that once every single student is proficient in every single outcome for the first quarter, we would have a party.  I didn't care how long it took for this to happen.  If it happened in May, then our party would be in May.  

The next time we had a Flashback Day, nothing changed.  That student still did nothing and his classmates didn't care.  I reminded them of my promise, and still nothing.  

That afternoon after school I created the following chart.  It is numbered 1 - 60.  Why 60?  That's as many numbers that would fit on my cabinet door.  I made a magnet for each class and placed their magnet next to number of outcomes they still needed to be proficient in as a whole.  For example:  If there are 20 students in a class and a total of 7 outcomes in the first quarter, that's a class total of 140 outcomes to pass.  

When the students came in the next day, they knew I meant business.  Not in a "She's mad, let's do some work" kind of way, but in a "Oh, she's really going to let us have a party." kind of way.  The next time we had a Flashback Day, the students did not let me down.  Peer pressure is such a great thing.

I'm happy to report that last year, all of my classes earned at least one party.  The class with that lazy student, earned two parties.  That class was totally proficient in every outcome for the first two quarters.  The lazy student earned a 78% for the year, not what he's capable of, but better than 70%.  

Lesson learned:  You can say it all you want, in any tone of voice you want.  But until you make it visible, the students won't believe you.  If you're committed, they're committed.


  1. I love this idea! Can you clarify how 26 relates to the 140 outcomes needed? And congrats on your 78% student!

    1. 140 outcomes: Each of the 20 students has to pass 7 outcomes. 20 * 7 = 140 total outcomes.