Building Student Motivation – Using Reflections

I read somewhere that having students write down one or two things they remember about a lesson helps “make it sticky.”  I think this is probably from a book I haven’t read yet, but have heard spoken about, called Make It Stick: the Science of Successful Learning.

Since I teach middle schoolers, I also want to show that I value their opinion and voice.  Many haven’t been asked what they think about a lesson.  I hold a personal belief that simply asking people for their feedback helps to create motivation and buy-in in a class (I mean, “class” as shared experience as opposed to “class” as a particular lesson or subject).  Part of the battle, particularly with all the baggage students bring in about math, is getting them to buy into both me and my class, without even thinking about it as math.  Just associating positive experiences and willingness to try and learn with the physical space and group.

All this is a long-winded way to say that, as a result of the thoughts above, I began giving students daily (we’ve been good about averaging 3-4 per week) reflection sheets.  (I use these: feedback form).  They’re half pages, and I just keep a stack lying around.  I’ve been into icons this year.

So far, there’s only been positives to this endeavor:

  • Students ask questions – both about what they don’t understand or something they’re now wondering.
  • I see what salient things they remember from the lesson – this can be very interesting, and often surprising!
  • They’re feedback is often heartwarming.  A student even said, “another great lesson!”

To be honest, this is coming late as a post because I was going to post some samples.  I still want to do that, it just escapes me every day as it moves to the bottom of my to-do list.  So, that’s a goal for this week – some images of the feedback!


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