As I approach the end of my first year of teaching, I am tempted to reflect on many of the units, lessons, and discussions my class did not have time to explore. I instead have allowed myself to celebrate the topics and activities my class became engaged into. But, at this time, I find myself asking what my students truly got out of their school year. Were they really able to take ownership of their learning?
It is difficult for students to own they're learning if they do not receive prompt feedback. When students complete an activity or write a test, they invest a great deal of their knowledge and ability into that task. If that piece of work sits in a hand-in box for a week, chances are the student will forget about that assignment. If the student is given an instant response they have the feeling that they did that work for themselves, or for others, not just for their teacher. This response does not have to be a grade, but any acknowledgement of student achievement.
This is where technology comes in. Yes, a quick mark, a brief comment, or hanging up work in the classroom, are great ways to celebrate student success. But, the 21st century learner seems to find relevance today in cyber space. Sharing work in class and on the walls of the school builds confidence and creates a sense of community, and should continue. However, publishing student ideas, creation, and reflection online creates an instant response they see as totally relevant.
When students see their work online they take pride in what they have created. They take ownership of their work and responsibility for the quality. After seeing or hearing something they have made online, they will strive to create something better. That is as good of self-assessment as there is. If teachers give students the power to own what they are doing, each learner will display there true capabilities.