As teachers, we are constantly reflecting. But as the semester winds down, we devote a particular attention to grades. That’s not to say we do not notice the successes and less than of our students throughout the semester, but we are more in tune with the trends within the grading system as the semester nears its end.
This year I noticed a striking oddity when it came to my particular gradebook for World History. The lowest category across all of my classes was reading. Now that’s not to say that my students cannot read, dislike reading, or just avoid it altogether. But perhaps there was a flaw in the way we were assessing it OR in the strategies students were using to be successful.
As a result, I have made it a personal goal to incorporate more document-based work in the classroom this semester. I am doing so in the hopes that students experience growth in their reading skills and confidence. Furthermore, it will also require that they become engaged in historical inquiry. The usage of documents forces students to ask questions, collect evidence, and produce claims about the past. The difficulty with document-based work is that it can be extremely complex and time consuming. The benefit, as I have already seen, is that the students have become more engaged in the process and their learning has become more authentic as we continue to practice this skill regularly.