Guest Post Written By: Lisa Marie Sturgeon
A brand new school year and a whole new community of individuals are gathered together for the purpose of learning. The dynamics of the class, and the stage that is set, relies greatly on the quality of experiences that children encounter. Experiences need to be real and they need to make sense. In order to start off on the right foot there are tools that teachers can use to make the classroom experience more meaningful to students. Personal inventories and self-assessment strategies implemented early provide critical information for teachers that enable them to create a classroom environment that reflects their new community of learners.
The Power of Personal Inventories
When children are provided with opportunity to reflect on their interests and opinions they become more aware of their own needs. This self-reflection helps them to make decisions about their learning needs and supports independence. Attitudes and interest surveys also give valuable information for teachers, about students’ beliefs and opinions of various subjects and topics. Teachers can search for personal inventories that are all ready developed or create their own to address specific areas of interest. Students can be asked to keep a Learning Portfolio that stores samples of inventories and journals gathered at different times throughout the year. A well-rounded portfolio of a student will include important information for a child’s social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive development.
Suggested Portfolio Contents
At the beginning of the year be prepared with a batch of interest and attitude surveys to give students. Students will enjoy the activity of being able to share their thoughts and ideas about themselves and the world around them. The information gathered is a great way to ignite classroom discussions and develop familiarity among students. One activity might be to have students share their portfolio with one another. Students can then be asked to say a few positive words to the class about the individual in the portfolio they read. This takes the pressure off students who may be reluctant to talk about themselves, but still allows class members to learn about one another.
Individualized Learning and Self-Assessment
The information gathered from the inventories and surveys at the beginning of the year gives teachers insight into how to individualize learning in the classroom. If a wide variety of students in the classroom enjoy skateboarding that is useful information for lesson planning. The next shared reading article could be about this very subject or the class library could be set up with a special display of books on skateboarding to motivate reading. The personal assessment that students do is also useful for their own understanding of themselves as a learner. It is important that students learn to use the information in their portfolios to help inform their decisions in the learning process and identify their strengths and weaknesses. With this meta-cognitive awareness into their own learning students are able to take responsibility and exercise independence in the learning process. This foundation helps to sets the stage for student success.
Lisa Marie Sturgeon is an enthusiastic writer, researcher and author. She has been an educator for nineteen years and has experience teaching children from kindergarten to grade eight. In recent years she has worked as a literacy coach supporting teachers in the classroom. Lisa Marie is the president of Learning Inspirations, LLC and is the author of a children’s picture book titled Shape Up With Jeremiah. She has also authored the teaching resource titled Simply Building Sentences that introduces phonemic awareness and letter sounds to early learners. Lisa Marie continues to pursue her passion for literacy with research and articles to support parents and educators with early learning strategies for children.