Intel Designing Effective Projects : Projects to Engage Learners

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Recognition of Learner Work

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Recognizing Learner Work

Give learners recognition at the classroom and school level.

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Learn About Recognition of Learner Work
Can you remember a time when a peer, teacher, or coach recognized the work you did as being valuable and important? How did that make you feel? The power of recognition has an overwhelmingly positive effect on learners but unfortunately, doesn’t happen as often as it should. Once a project has been completed, are learners recognized for a job well done? How are they given an opportunity to share their work with others, receive recognition for their effort, and showcase the finished product?

Educational reformer, Dr. Phillip Schlechty best defines affirmation of performances as, “Persons who are significant in the lives of the learner, including parents, siblings, peers, public audiences, and younger learners, are positioned to observe, participate in, and benefit from learner performances, as well as the products of those performances, and to affirm the significance and importance of the activity to be undertaken” (2002). Giving learners an opportunity to have their work affirmed and recognized by others makes learning authentic and worthwhile. Some learners may engage in the work from the start because they know their work will be affirmed by important people at the end.

Recognition in this sense should not be confused with praise or other kinds of extrinsic rewards. Although, praising learners for the work they are doing is important, recognition is far deeper than that. Schlechty states that to “affirm or recognize learner work is not to approve or disapprove; it is to declare that what happened matters and is important. Affirmation suggests significance and thus attaches importance to the event or action” (1997). Teachers hope that learners take their projects home, share with their parents, and possibly save them in a portfolio. But the reality may be that learners’ work never makes it home, and all the hard work and effort the learners put forth is never shared or recognized. By making the work visible to others the learners get that opportunity to hear, “Job well done.”

Make it Happen in Your Classroom
Recognition of learner work can take place in many different ways across all grade levels and subject / learning areas. Providing learners simple opportunities to display work in the passages of the school or on a notice board in the classroom displays exemplary work to peers and school staff. Holding Parent and Community Nights, inviting experts into the classroom to see the work learners have completed, and sharing work with younger and older buddy classes are all significant ways in which learners can be recognized for their hard work and effort. Not only do learners share the work products but the important learning that took place as well.