Saturday, August 31, 2013

Spark Student Motivation-Graph Yourself

It's Saturday! I honestly believe I forget how glorious Saturdays are during the summer (probably because almost every day feels like a Saturday.) So when back to school hits I remember that there is something so sweet about sipping a cup of coffee and catching up on my blog reading on a Saturday morning!

In yesterday's post, I shared that my students graphed themselves, and I received quite a few comments and questions about it so I wanted to elaborate a little bit more today. The activity is very motivating for my kiddos (and for me) so I am going to link up with the fabulous Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching.

Those of you that have read my blog for a little while know that my school is big on differentiation. Earlier this summer I briefly shared about the graphing activity and the book that it came from, you can check it out here.
It is a quick and easy activity that really allows your kiddos to get to know each other, and for you to get to know them quickly. I start by giving giving each student a piece of graph paper that has been set up to create a bar graph. Along the Y-axis I have the graph numbered 0-10. Along the X-axis I have the following subjects written down; math, reading, science, social studies, writing, spelling, and art. I also have three blank spots where students can fill in activities/subjects they would like to add to their graph.

Before I allow the students to make their graph, I graph myself. I model my thinking and explain why I scored myself a 7 in math, a 10 in reading, and a 4 in spelling (I was an awful speller as a kid and it is still my weakest area.) The kids are always surprised that I score myself so low in spelling. (I'm also low in art, I give myself a score of 2!) The fact that I am honest in my graph with them encourages them to be more honest about their graphs.

I have them silently graph themselves, reminding them to be honest about where they think they are on the graph. 10 being really strong, 1 being very weak. As they graph, I walk around and get a quick look at where they think they are in the major subject areas.

When everyone is finished I have them share with the entire class their two strongest categories (normally at least one of them is one that they added-which lets me quickly hear and see something they really enjoy doing.) Once everyone has shared, I ask the kids what they notice-they normally notice that everyone has different things listed as a strength.
Not sure if you can see it, but this little boy wrote help under his two weakest areas.

We then share our lowest two (I don't ask them to share the number they gave it out loud, just the name of the subject.) These are normally both academic subjects. I ask the kids what they notice again once everyone has shared. Everyone has different weaknesses is normally what we are able to come up with.

At this point, I ask my students what should I do as I teacher? How should I teach them if some of them are strong in one topic, but others are weak? They normally tell me that I need to spend time working with the kids that struggle a little more than those that don't. They also come to an agreement that they may be doing different assignments than the person next to them based on their ability! This is where I talk with them about how important it is to be kind and encouraging in our classroom. I remind them that we are a family and we need to support each other. We will never laugh when someone makes a mistake, because our classroom is a place where it is "Okay to be wrong." After our discussion I collect the graphs so I can get a good look at them.

I like doing this activity so early in the year because it really lets me get to know my kids, and it establishes the tone for our classroom. This activity helps them understand differentiation at an age appropriate level, and helps them understand that fair isn't everyone doing the same thing, but it is everyone getting what they need.

Do you have your students share their strengths and weaknesses with each other? How do you build your community at the start of the school year?

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  1. Oh my gosh, I love this! I am totally doing this in my advisory class this year!!

    Fifth in the Middle

  2. I looooooove this idea! I'm totally stealing it (I hope that's ok!)!! Great idea for a little self-evaluation and a lesson about differentiation!! Thanks!!

    Collaboration Cuties

  3. Awesome! I love this activity!

  4. Such a GRRRRRREAT idea! We've been in two weeks, but I love the fact that they "see" their different strengths and weaknesses and understand others may need more help! I'm totally stealing your idea for Tuesday!
    Thanks for sharing, linking up, and giving me an opportunity to win an amazing giveaway friend!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  5. Thanks for this amazing idea - I am stealing it for sure to do next week - maybe even the first day!! Off to get my graph paper ready :)

  6. AWESOME idea, Bethany! I already wrote my plans for next week (our first week) but I'm going to redo them because I HAVE to do this. I really like the constructivist approach as well where the kids come to their own conclusions. THANKS so much for sharing!!!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  7. This is a great idea. Thank you for sharing. I love the visual of strengths and weaknesses.

    Fit to be Fourth
    Follow me on Bloglovin

  8. What a fantastic activity! I absolutely love the idea and the conversations you will be able to have with the kids. I may need to do this with my group to help them be more kind and understanding of each others' differences. Thanks for sharing such an inspiring idea!

  9. Love this activity. I teach math to all three 5th grade classes. This is perfect for our first day together.

    Quinnessential Lessons

  10. Gotta say, I think the sharing part is just as important and I'm glad you have the kids do so. I think this whole thing is pretty cool.

    Digital: Divide & Conquer

  11. I most look forward to greeting my students on the first day in my first classroom.

  12. I LOVE your graphing activity. It's a great way to gauge your students abilities. Me, I can't wait until the first day comes and goes -- I get so nervous.

  13. I love this graphing activity and am pinning it for later! What a great lesson. Thanks!!
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  14. This is a FABULOUS graphing idea. I do have my kids discuss their strengths and weaknesses with one another because we work in groups always. I love that the little boy wrote help under his! He wasn't afraid to admit he needed help. I always tell my kids that they have to tell me if they don't get something because I'm not a mind reader. I tell them there is no way I'll know. I try to get them over their shyness.
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  15. Hi! I'm not a teacher, just a parent, and I love seeing activities like this. It gives me hope! Thank you!