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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