Encouraging Students to Have Pride in their Work. (Part 1)

My 8 yr old (Aubrey) created a home design on floorplaner.com.  Her 6 year old sister (Sydney) was clicking around and switched to one of her previous revisions.  Aubrey was furious because she thought she had lost all her work.  She was yelling at Sydney.  As I tried to calm her down and said we don't need to yell.  She said "Dad I know, but you don't know how much hard work I put into that!"  It dawned on me, because she created it and had ownership of  it she was extremely proud of her work.

One of the biggest problems with my class was that to often kids didn't take any pride in their work, they didn't care.  Why would they?  It is hard to care about their 845th math worksheet in their academic career or their 397th math test.  There is no personalization, BORING. 

Now that we have switched to project based learning and have students create presentations and present them, I am seeing a change.  They get to create their own presentations.  We give them many choices and have very few requirements or restrictions.  They get to be themselves.  By having them present their work they take ownership of it.  I have had numerous students want to present their math journals to the other kids.  They put the time in to make it good.

The math teacher in me every once in awhile rears its ugly head and I wonder if I am doing enough "math" problems.  Then I see a presentation or have a conversation with a student who is interested in what they are doing and it reassures me of this, taking pride in your work and wanting to be their best can't compare with a repetition of problems.  Before they would leave their graded test on the floor, now they are asking to present work to their classmates. You can argue the old school way of teaching is better for standardized tests, but I'm not going back. Never will.

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