Two More Ideas for Student Self-Awareness

Student Self-AwarenessNow that school is underway, how well do you know your students? While that may be an important question to answer, what may be even more important with today’s focus on student collaboration and higher-order thinking is how well do students know themselves?

A great blog by Terry Heick at TeachThought – 26 Questions Every Student Should Be Able To Answer – outlined some ideas designed to get students to understand who they are as learners. Taking a look at these 26 questions immediately gives you an understanding that insight into a student’s answers can provide valuable information on how they learn, what they like or dislike about certain things, and what motivates them to gain knowledge. In other words, it tells the student (and teacher) where they are in the spectrum of learning, and this “self-awareness” is a key cog in the gears of a good education.

1. What do I need to know about you?
2. What do you need from me more than anything else?
3. What does success in the classroom mean to you?
4. What do you know about how people learn?
5. What’s the most creative thing you’ve ever done?
6. How can technology be used for learning?
7. What does it mean to understand something?
8. When was the last time you solved a problem?
9. How do you respond to expectations?
10. What is your proudest moment?
11. What do you want to learn about?
12. Are you a picky reader? What are your strengths as a reader?
13. What is your personal philosophy?
14. When do you write best?
15. What’s worth understanding deeply?
16. What are your best habits as a thinker?
17. What’s most important to you in life?
18. What is the relationship between learning and #17?
19. Where does your inner drive come from?
20. Who are your heroes or role models?
21. Why study (insert your content area here)?
22. What are you good at that nobody knows?
23. What do teachers sometimes misunderstand about you as a learner?
24. What does it mean to study?
25. How do you respond to complex texts or digital media?
26. If I get out of your way this year, what will you be able to do?

While getting this information at the start of the school year is of value, it’s not necessarily realistic to expect students to honestly answer them from start to finish. I think Terry provides a nice list of techniques – many of them formative assessment tactics – to elicit this information, and I think there are certainly any number of formative assessment strategies that can also ascertain the answers. Gathering the answers to these 26 questions over the course of the school year – or perhaps even the first semester – can arm both the student and educator with valuable information on how best to move learning forward. And even support the student’s transformation into a learner.

A couple more formative assessment techniques that can help get these questions answered:

1. Exit Tickets – Have each student answer two of the questions each day as they leave the class. The teacher can compile the student’s answers and after 13 school days provide the answers back to the students. Students can then gather in groups and share their answers with each other.

2. Think-Pair-Share – Students are given time to answer a question and then they are paired with another student where they share answers. Teachers can mingle and take part in conversations as they see fit.

These are just two more from a list of formative assessment strategies that educators can use to get the answers to these questions. And these same tactics – if you’ve been following our blog– can be used to elicit evidence of learning and help teachers understand where students are in their learning and make adjustments as needed.

What other techniques do you think would help students answer these questions? Share them below.

Photo credit to Brad Flickinger.


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