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Work: Project 180, Day 10

Today, we roll up our sleeves, grease our elbows, and get to work. The kids will complete their reading and writing stories; they will also have time to work on their essays of the week. Early on, I made a promise to them that I would build in class time for practice, so, currently, my plan for delivering on my promise is what I am going to call “Wednesday Workdays.”

And though I can’t always give kids all the time they need in class for practice, I will–when I can build it in intentionally–carve out time for them. One, when my kids are working in class, I am there to help. Two, it communicates that I am willing to give to get. It says, “This work is important. It is important enough to use limited time together. I am willing to sacrifice this precious resource.” Three, it acknowledges that my class is only a small part of my kids’ days, a small part of their worlds. It is not their whole day or world; they lead crazy, busy, stressful lives. If I can help reduce their stress, I will. I do. Happily.

Of course, the work serves a monumental purpose. It produces the necessary opportunities for feedback, both during and after. And that is my most important job in our shared experience. Learning requires feedback. But it also requires a realistic approach. I cannot read or give feedback on all the practice that my kids do. And I tell them this. Case in point, I introduced the Essay of the Week this week. See below.

Essay of the Week #1

Growth Mindset v. Fixed Mindset


  1. Legible
  2. 250 word max

Topic: Growth Mindset v. Fixed Mindset

Audience: Teacher

Purpose: Express and Reflect, Inform and Explain

Prompt: Express and Reflect about a time when a fixed mindset got in the way of your doing something. Explain how a growth mindset may have changed the experience.

Assessment Focus: Hook

3 Hits the Target:

·          The hook effectively gets the reader’s attention and creates context

·          The hook is present either explicitly or implicitly throughout the piece

·          The hook resurfaces in the conclusion, creating a “full circle” ending

2 Near Miss: close to target but does not effectively meet all criteria, needs minor work
1 Far Miss: misses the target, needs major work
0 Completely off target, unable to assess  

A couple of things to point out. First, I set a limit on the maximum number of words. 250. No more. It’s practice. I don’t want this to be overly burdensome on the kids, and I tell them that I only want them spending 15-20 minutes on it. Second, I tell them that it has to be a minimum of three paragraphs. Third, I tell them that I will not read the whole essay. I can’t. There’s not enough time. If my 100 kids all write the maximum, then that is 25,000 words. Not gonna happen. Doesn’t need to happen. Because, fourth, I tell them that I will give them an assessment focus each week for which I will provide feedback.

Please note the rubric. I no longer give criteria for anything other than the standard. It is the target. They hit the target or they miss. If they miss, it is either a near or far miss, and it is from there that I give the necessary feedback to turn their misses into hits. I have found this approach to be both efficient and effective. It takes a manageable amount of time, and it provides an opportunity for focused feedback.

I am excited to see what my kiddos produce today, to see how they respond to working for growth versus working for points.

Happy Wednesday, all.


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