My experiment with the Nightly Text, this unit’s ongoing homework assignment, has been a major success.
Reading’s up, homework’s up, and the quality of discussions is up, too.
One additional benefit of the Nightly Text is that it’s been great for formative assessment.
Too often as teachers, we wait too long to find out that our students are falling behind. We spend so much time developing engaging culminating projects and daily lessons that we don’t recognize how important it is assess whether our students are making solid progress.
That’s where formative assessment comes in, and that’s how the Nightly Text is helpful.
When I receive a text, I get a quick snapshot of a student’s understanding. If a student is off point, I can intervene immediately instead of waiting until the next day.
Here’s an exchange I had tonight with a student (about The Awakening). Part of the homework was to write an analytical question for tomorrow’s Socratic seminar.
Student: Do you think women are still under men’s control?Me: Maybe a good question for a social studies class, but there’s nothing in the book that will help you answer that. Text me back.Student: Why do you think Kate Chopin decided to write against women’s gender roles in society?Me: You’re getting closer, although this question relies heavily on speculation rather than textual analysis. Try to ask a question about the last 2 pages. Text me back!Student: On the last page, Edna hears her father’s voice and her sister’s voice. Why do you think she hears her family’s voices and not Robert’s voice?Me: OK, that’s good.Student: Yes!
My student’s first question, although interesting, was not appropriate for a text-based discussion. His second attempt was closer — by centering on a major theme in The Awakening – but it was too broad and wouldn’t encourage his peers to delve into the text.
After a little direct prodding, however, my student was able to write a question that — although not perfect — will be a solid one for tomorrow’s discussion.
Sure, I could’ve checked his question tomorrow, but that would’ve been last minute. My student would’ve gone into the discussion without confidence.
Now, both my student and I can rest comfortably. He feels prepared to contribute, and I know that every student will have at least one solid question to ask.