I’ve written a lot about Kelly Young, who provides extraordinary training in instructional strategies, plus great curriculum, to schools throughout the United States.

On one of the pages of his Pebble Creeks website, he gives a short overview of the primary instructional strategies we use at our school, and at the other ones with whom he works.

We recently completed a lesson he developed where students describe each strategy after having spent two months using them. We then have students explain if and how it helps them learn, and then they make a poster out of what they’ve written.

This year, I had my ninth-grade students convert their poster into an essay and post it on our class blog. There are twelve or thirteen essays there now. I always find it interesting to see what students have to say — it helps me see if I have done a good job at helping them see how it’s in their self-interest to do what we do in the class. One of my goals this year was to make a priority of helping students see the “why” behind what we do, so these essays are a good indicator on how successful, or unsuccessful, I’ve been. This kind of metacognition on their part should contribute to their becoming better writers and readers.

Of course, students can always write what they think I want to hear instead of what they really think. But I hope I contribute towards a classroom culture where that isn’t the case.

But I don’t think I can ever know for sure…

Either way, I think the essays are worth a look.