Adding YOU into Your Educational Story

Last week I did a blog around the fantastic experience my high school students had at U of S’s Synchrotron, as a part of the CLS Light Source program and how important they felt to be a part of that project. Today I’d love to reflect on another story of successful engagement I heard about at the elementary level.
Last Friday we had parent teacher interviews in our district, which means that elementary students were given a day at home so that teachers were available to speak with parents. While most students were home relaxing, one grade six student was very excited because he had been asked to go into to school to write an exam.
What was that you ask? A sixth grade student was happy to go into school on his day off and take an exam!?!
Well, when I heard this I was curious and I asked him what his exam was about.
“Oh I’m a SCHOOL SAFETY PATROL” he announced, “ I was nominated to take this exam”.
I could definitely hear the pride in his voice. He felt proud to be able to demonstrate his knowledge, and privileged to be able to take a test. I decided to do a little investigating to see if I could learn any tips or tricks for inspiring kids to excel.

Welcome to AMA School Safety Patrol
You are an important part of a team that has been keeping children safe since 1937 – that’s a really long time http://www.ama.ab.ca/community-and-ama/ssp-patrollers

One of the first things I noticed when I went onto the Alberta Motor Association website was their choice of language. Instead of just stating that the school partrol is important, they informed the students that they were important (valued) and a part of a team (community oriented). This language invites the student in to become a part of the process.

AMA School Safety Patrol Quiz
To be an AMA School Safety Patroller, you need to know the facts.
Take this quiz to see if you have the smarts to be an AMA School Safety Patroller.
For more information, check the Patroller Handbooks in the patrollers’ corner section.
https://www.ama.ab.ca/forms/school_patrol_quiz

When AMA asked the students to do their initial assessment, they encouraged students to try their best rather than simply doing the quiz out of necessity.

Safety Starts With You
Tell us what you’ve done to make a difference. Eligible projects can be as simple as increasing the number of pedestrians that use “Point, Pause and Proceed” or physical changes to crosswalk or signage. http://www.ama.ab.ca/community-and-ama/ssp-contests

The projects and assignments invited students to self reflect. Asking for the student’s ideas and opinions also demonstrated that what they were doing was valuable and worth recognizing. – Very similar to the ideas that I saw with the high school age students last week.

Although this was definitely not a formal or comprehensive review, I feel that I still gained a few affirmations around assessment in education:
1) Show the student that they are important.
2) Show the student that what they are learning is important.
3) Allow students an opportunity to shine as the expert.

Thoughts?
ps- on a side note the image I used is through the creative commons. If you would like tips on refining your image search to only CC items check out the following link: http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/15691

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