This reflection was inspired by a recent departmental debate about a mandatory final in our first-year writing class.
Just for the record, I am opposed to any sort of on-demand writing test, including a final, for a writing class (a stance shocking to no one who reads my blog, see Stop Teaching On-Demand Writing). I am fine with essay tests for content-area classes, but on-demand writing has no place in the assessment of writing. I much prefer a portfolio or substantial project to demonstrate the learning that took place that semester. However, when I have been required to hold a final, I tend toward some sort of reflection about the process or lessons learned. In fact, I usually require a longer reflection for the fourth and final self-assessment assignment because I believe reflection is important to learning. This assignment usually takes two forms. First, my adaptation of the 3×3 method in which students reflect on what they learned, how they struggled, and how the class could be improved. Second, I ask students to write a letter to future students of that class offering advice, hacks, and tips to succeed. Both reflections are useful exercises for the students as well as offer lots of good information to me. Recently, I have also incorporated creative writing in my end-of-semester activities: specifically slam poetry and praise poetry. Both offer students important emotional and psychological support at a very stressful time of the semester.
This made me wonder how others wrap up their semester (or year).
Laura Gibbs asks her students to write a review of their college writing experience. I really like this idea and may steal it…
Dave Gooblar encourages instructors to have students assess themselves and their learning.
It should be no surprise that Two Writing Teachers blog offers many ways to end the year with reflection. Here are some of my favorites:
- End of the Year Reflection by Ruth Ayres
- Curating a Year of Writing by Tara Smith
- End of the Year Letters From Students to Me by Stacey Shubitz
- Ending a Year of Writing with a Group Reflection by Anna Gratz Cockerille
How do you wrap up your semester with writing? Can you think of other ways we can use writing to reflect, celebrate, and learn about our classes and students?