Margin Notes

Try This Tomorrow: How Sure Are You? (Uncertain to Certain Line)

Oct
20

Research shows that students already know up to 40% of what we teach them.

Let’s sit with that fact for a minute…40%.

To me? That’s a lot of wasted time. A lot of time we don’t have to waste! 

So, it is really important that we take time figuring out a way to determine what our students already know, before we teach it to them anyway. 

In the book “Developing Assessment -Capable Visible Learners: Grades K-12” by Douglas Fisher,  Nancy Frey and John Hattie, they describe many wonderful activities to help us create assessment capable learners. One of my favourites is the “How Sure Are You?” strategy.  

 

 

Here is the strategy in a nutshell:

  1. You draw a line on the white board like this:

2. Then, depending on what you are introducing, you give the students a term, question, or statement to define or answer on a post-it note.

3. Then you ask “How Sure Are You?” and have students place their post-its on the line. Here are some grade 6 students answering the question “What is poetry?” and putting their post-it notes on the line.

This is what it looked like when they had placed their answers.

You can see they are all over the place! Some students were certain, some uncertain and some in the middle.

Important information gleaned from this 5 minute activity:

  • Most students said something to the effect of “poetry has to rhyme”.
  • The majority of the students were uncertain or thought their answer was probable.
  • Some of the students who were certain, really weren’t!

I gleaned all that just from reading their post-it notes quickly as students were transitioning to the reading corner.

Later that day, the LA teacher and I debriefed and decided to focus on poetry mentor texts the next day. I brought in a crate full of poetry books and we had the students read widely. They wrote down what they noticed about the poems. Then, we co-constructed a list as a class.

Here are some of their thoughts:

  • Can tell a story
  • Is descriptive
  • Can be emotional
  • Poetry has a form
  • Can be written in shapes
  • Does not need punctuation
  • Rhymes (or doesn’t)

 

 

Without doing this quick check-in activity, we wouldn’t have known what the students’ confusions and misunderstandings were about poetry.

Try it tomorrow!

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