Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Showcasing Student Work

Imagine this...your students have just completed a major project. After days, or weeks, or even months of research, collaboration, teacher-student conferences, and revisions, the projects have been presented, reflections have taken place and a final teacher evaluation given. You feel confident that your students have not only learned, but mastered the content. You're proud of their accomplishments as well as the fact that you resisted the multiple urges you had to put the kibosh on the entire assignment because it was getting out of hand. In fact, you already have ideas of how to adapt the project for next year's students.

And walk past the garbage and see the projects carelessly discarded. Wait! What?!?! Who would throw it away? It represents the figurative blood, sweat, and tears (maybe literally) of your students. Why? Why would they just throw it all away? Did it not mean anything to them? 

At one point or another, this has happened to every teacher who has dared to do a major project with their students. And we wonder why do the students not want to take their work home and keep forever and ever. 

I'm guilty of the following practice: teacher assigns the work, students work on the assignment, student presents to the class, teacher grades the work, teacher hands back the work, class transitions to a new concept rarely to ever consider the task again. Am I the only one? I took so little time to think about how to showcase my students' work. Maybe it's because I didn't explain how their work would be displayed to the public as part of the introduction to the project that students simply tossed their work in the trash after it had been graded.

In retrospect, grading should not be the last part of an assignment. Showcasing student work should be the final piece. Here's why:

  1. It gives purpose to the task. 
  2. It can often raise the quality of work produced.
  3. It builds community between the learner and their audience.
What should be displayed? How about anything that represents what your students are currently working on. Showcasing student work should not be limited to the art teachers. But we can take lots of cues from them. Every day we are asking our students to think like authors, scientists, mathematicians, and historians. And as such, we need to proudly showcase their efforts.

And now I'm going to make a bold statement...If your students are not producing work that is worthy of being showcased...your lessons need revision. 

Every.single.strand of the new 2016 ISTE Student Standards has at least one component that has something to do with students producing a demonstration of what they are learning. Review the standards for yourself and see if you agree or not. 

Now that I've gotten that off my chest...Where do you display student work?
  1. Does your school have a place to showcase student work? Maybe it's in the front office, maybe it's in the library or media center. If you have bulletin boards or display cases in your hallways, take a few minutes a month and have your students check out their peers' work. Go the extra mile and have students write Wow! notes to the artist, author, scientist, mathematician, and historian expressing appreciation and admiration. 
  2. Work with your local community centers to showcase student work. Your public library is a place to start asking. Your town's other public offices might also appreciate brightening up their offices with student creations.
  3. Ever considered assisted living facilities to showcase your students' work? Residents are always appreciative when they know that others are thinking of them. 
And let's not forget social media! 
  1. Do you have a blog or teacher website? Does your school? Photos of student work can easily accessed and more importantly shared to a larger audience.
  2. Posting student work on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram can spread the message that what students are doing in your classroom is important and valuable. It builds community with your followers and you are more likely to have support when you really need it if your family and friends and followers know not only what students are learning, but how they are learning.
  3. Take videos of student work and post them on YouTube. Take still shots of students' work, set it to music and viola! Instant showcasing availability!
Our students need to know that the work that they are doing is worthwhile. There is no better way of communicating this message than by showcasing their work. But let's not wait until the big projects are in motion. Get started today by posting what your students are doing - even if they're quietly taking an assessment, be proud enough to let your community know how hard your learners are working on showing what they know! 

Offering my BEST to you!

How often do you showcase student work?
What kinds of things do you showcase?
Why do you think the practice of showcasing student work is not a standard among educators?

Directions for posting a comment:

1) Choose "Comment As" first. If you don't have a Google/Blogger account, you can choose Name/URL and type in your name, then place the web site that best describes you in the URL (i.e. Or, you can choose "Anonymous".

2) You may need to press "Post Comment" more than one time.

It is always wise to copy your comment before pressing "Post Comment" just in case something happens. 

3) Type in the word verification.

4) If you did everything correctly, it will state, "Your comment has been saved and will be visible after blog owner approval." If you do not get that message, please try again. 

5) Many thanks to Tracy Watanabe for these directions to post. 

And thank you for commenting!

No comments:

Post a Comment