Teaching Tips

Trying something new

So yesterday I decided to let my students decide what their discussion expectations were going to be.  Normally I have a rubric that tells them my expectations and how I want the discussions to look in class, but I had a notion to try something new by having them create a list of expectations they wanted for their peers.

First, I had the students write down their own list of expectations.  I wanted them to think about how they believed everyone should be treated, behave, and be graded.  They generated their own list on a piece of paper. Then I had them post their lists on the whiteboards so all of us could view them at once.


After everyone wrote their ideas on the board, I had them spend some time reading each other’s expectations to find commonalities.  From their lists, they were able to come up with a unified list of expectations that include the following:

  • Trust in the discussion
  • Take risks and share ideas
  • Be prepared
  • Respect other’s ideas
  • Let one person speak at a time
  • Be honest and compassionate

After they created that list, we had a discussion about how this should (and could) be graded.  After some ideas were generated, we decided to have the students self-reflect on the discussion and how they upheld the expectations.  We also discussed that they would grade themselves and explicitly explain why they feel they deserved said grade.

While I am not sure what this will look like in practice, I am excited to see how they use these expectations that they put forward.  I am looking forward to continuing to build our classroom community and discourse as well.


What is something new that you have tried? Let me know in the comments section below!

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