Reflection: Student Ownership In the Heat of the Summer: Recommendations for the D.A. - Section 6: Debrief


Ron Berger's, An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students, describes in detail how students want to produce work of which they can be proud. It highlights how they can do that through a process of critique, revision, and comparing their work with work that clearly contains excellence. The video Austin's Butterfly further describes this process in the elementary school level by tracing the story of students drawing butterflies that become more beautiful with each draft.

I opened up an email the other day that contained the latest draft from a student, and I found myself exclaiming "Yes! Yes! Yes!" as I read through her In the Heat of the Summer third revision. It still had some way to go, but it was clearly such an improvement over earlier drafts.

One of the challenges in doing a new unit is the absence of student work to critique. Next year, I will take my best samples of student work from this year and that will be the starting point. Students will get to see high quality student work, and they can critique it and set the bar higher, and this process can continue over several years. In the first year, I have chosen to simply show student work as it evolves so other students can see examples.

The peer critique process is an important part of creating high quality student work. I can look at a lot of work, but having peers look at work not only helps the person critiquing the work, it helps the person doing the critiquing by exposing him or her to new ways of expressing material, or by forcing the person doing the critiquing to clarify feedback which he or she then uses when looking at his or her own work.

In creating high quality student work, allowing time for feedback, revision, and examining quality work is critical.

  Student Ownership: The Power of Revision
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In the Heat of the Summer: Recommendations for the D.A.

Unit 2: Forensics
Lesson 6 of 6

Objective: Students will be able to write an evidence-based argument in the context of a forensics unit.

Big Idea: A major task in the work of the scientist is reporting results from experimentation. Scaffolding, critiquing, and re-teaching are key teacher moves to support student growth in writing.

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