Critiquing my Performance

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Students will be able to reflect on how well they performed on a graded report about chemical bonding.

Big Idea

Students should use graded work to reflect about areas for improvement in their academic performance.


In this lesson students receive their grades for the Bonding Report that is covered in this lesson. They then are asked to make corrections using a template and to reflect on why earned the grade they received, and how they might do better in the future.

This lesson aligns to the NGSS Disciplinary Core Idea of HS-PS1-1. Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms because the report is a culminating project that compares how ionic and molecular compounds are constructed. This construction is directly related to differences in valence shell configuration of the bonding atoms.

It aligns to the NGSS Practice of the Scientist #8, Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information, because students are tasked with evaluating the information they provided on their original report.

It aligns to the NGSS Crosscutting Concept of Patterns: Observed patterns of forms and events guide organization and classification, and they prompt questions about relationships and the factors that influence them because it challenges students to make sense out of the patterns that the periodic table represents.

In terms of prior knowledge or skills, students should have already completed the report found in this lesson. However, the activity itself could lend itself to any student work that a teacher would like students to analyze.

There are no special materials needed for this lesson.




Do Now/Activator

10 minutes

Do Now: To start class I ask students to read the Chemical Bonding Report Revision Assignment with the goal of understanding what they need to do in order to improve their grade on their papers.

I constructed this assignment with two objectives in mind. First, I wanted students to go back and do some thinking about the mistakes or omissions that they made when writing the report. I think this is important because I felt when I was reading student papers that students did not put as much thought into their work as they could have; in my opinion the gaps did not reflect what I had seen them able to do in class.

Rather than tell them this, I wanted them to experience it for themselves. By doing this work not only would students get a better handle on the content, they would also spend some time thinking about the quality of their work. A common refrain afterwards was that students felt like they could have put more effort into their report and that they knew things that they did not get credit for. That is my rationale behind Part 1, and it flows nicely into Part 2. After students experience this opportunity for growth, I want them to name it and think and reflect about how they can become a better student.

I reason that this is a good way to start class because I want students to start thinking about their papers, and to wonder how they performed.

Activator:  Students receive their graded papers. Each student who turned in a paper also receives a A Chemical Bonding Report Grading Sheet.

I have chosen this approach because the lesson is grounded in student performance, and so they need to know at the outset how well they did.


Mini-lesson and Guided Practice

15 minutes

Mini-lesson: I begin the lesson by noting that I was disappointed with student performance. I felt that students had a basic understanding of ionic and molecular bonding, but the papers did not show this understanding. I note that we had four class days and homework devoted to the papers, and that the paper was in essence an open-notes test. Students were allowed to ask questions, get help from peers, and use their books to help them.

In this light, I explain, as I was grading the papers I wondered why students did not include the information that I was looking for. I tell them that I believe that as college-bound students they too would like to understand this, and that this is the point of today’s class.

I explain that students can get the assignment and the grading sheet from my website so they can have a template and not have to re-type all the grading criteria. I want them to spend a significant amount of time evaluating their work and reflecting about why they ended with the quality they ended with.

This instructional choice reflects my belief that the quality of the papers represents a teachable moment—students need to hold themselves, in many instances, to a higher standard. It is my hope that the reflection questions will help them to think about how they can be more responsible and productive students.



25 minutes

Student Activity: During this part of class students analyze their reports. Here is a video of one student who has carefully gone back and looked over his work.

During this time I have the chance to check in with students about their work. For most students, they can see that the level of detail that was asked for in the directions, and that I emphasized during critique sessions, was clearly missing from their work. Here is a video of one student explaining how he is analyzing his work.

When students are finished with their corrections, they move into reflecting about the things that led to the paper’s quality.

I want students doing this work because I want them to develop a more critical eye towards their own work. Post-game analysis is typical activity on sports teams, I tell my students, and this report was game day. By reviewing mistakes, it is hoped that going forward students will learn from the mistakes they made in these reports.

In student revision 2 the student did spend some time looking back on the chemistry on the content but he did not follow up with a reflection. This student represents a minority of students who are challenged to complete work. However, in student revision 1 and student revision 3 there is evidence of student growth both in terms of content and in terms of understanding about what they should do differently in the future. These were more typical of the types of work students handed in. In that sense, I am glad I spent time working with students in this way.

Catch and Release Opportunities:

Many students want to use my template but they do not know how to add rows. Rather than teach them individually, I stop class and show them using my projector.

Stopping class to discuss this is important because it is not a good use of my time to teach students independently; the goal for one-on-one time is to conference with students about scientific misunderstandings and their performance goals.



10 minutes

To wrap this lesson up I talk about how I care about my students. I tell them that I know what the challenges will be in college, and that being able to follow directions for a report is a very basic college skill whether you are in a chemistry class or any other class. I ask students to share what they have observed from the papers they turned in.

There are a number of themes that emerge. Students definitely name that they could have spent more time and effort on the reports. This includes reading it over, reviewing the directions, asking questions, and having someone else read the paper.

Ending class this way allows me to remind students that craftsmanship comes with effort and with attention to detail.