I have been giving my ninth grade students listening tasks recently. After each task, I measure a component of student learning, either the amount of notes they took from the lecture, the number of questions they can write about that content, the number of quiz questions they can answer correctly, the number of words they can write on the subject, the number of facts they include from the podcast, and etc. I have found my students respond well to goal-setting strategies and look forward to seeing how their performance as an individual and as a whole class compares to their peers. For one task, 153 students listened to this excellent description of Russia’s February 1917 Revolution and scored 6.8 questions correct out of 10 question quiz immediately after. Next, 153 students listened to another lecture on Russia’s October 1917 Revolution, yet answered only half the questions correctly. After several of these tasks and a mini-lesson on how to make parenthetical (in-text) citations, I assigned the following writing assignment to measure their knowledge of the Russian Revolution as well as test their skills in making citations.
There were a total of five documents to use during this task, two were audio lectures, one was an interactive video lecture, and two were traditional texts. Students were given two class periods to write this essay, as I anticipated adding the citation requirements would slow down their writing speed. On average, students reported writing 383 words, using 2.16 documents, and making 7.97 parenthetical citations. The next day, students conducted a peer review protocol and advised each other on how they could improve their drafts. One of the elements that jumped out as a raging success was the number of students who took the time to come up with interesting titles. A selection of clever ones follows below:
Positives – Creative Titles
- You Shall Not Fight
- The Comings & Goings of the Russian Revolution
- Peasant Revolution
- The Bloody Revolution
- What Sparked The Russian Revolution?
- Recreation of Russia
- Russia Has Just Begun
- Russia In Danger
- Rise, Revolt, Russia, Results
Negatives – Failure to Meet the Deadline
The final component of this project was designed to give me some insight as to how students would plan a revision. Students were given 6 days to complete the following assignment.
Run your work through at least one of the following robo-readers: Grammarly claims to find and correct ten times more mistakes than a word processor. The Hemmingway App makes writing bold and clear. PaperRater offers feedback by comparing a writer’s work to others at their grade level. Explain how the comments from these programs and the comments from your peers helped improve your writing.
Remember to document how you are improving the quality of your claims and explanations in a 1-2 page revision memo. Here is an example of a revision memo that you may use to guide your reflections. When you have finished, you will email the revision memo to me.
Unfortunately, only 8% of my students completed this task by the deadline, another 12% turned in something for partial credit, and 80% turned in nothing. Teaching 9th graders often leads to these moments, when faced with ambiguity, students do not ask for help, they merely do nothing. What should a teacher do when that many students fail to complete a task? Try, try again, I say. My next post will offer clarification on what makes a good revision memo.