Building a Model: Part 3 – Weekly Reports

Week 2 of the advanced workshop was quite busy! In addition to talking about alternate problem types, we also talked about a useful tool called weekly reports. Weekly reports were developed by Eugenia Etkina and are outlined in her paper “Weekly Reports: A Two-Way Feedback Tool” (2000). The purpose of weekly reports is to make students’ thinking visible and consists of 4 questions (I edited the original wording a bit):

  1. What do you think you learned this week?
  2. How did learn the things you named above?
  3. What questions do you still have or what is still unclear to you?
  4. What questions do you expect the teacher to ask you tomorrow about what you have learned?

The point of these questions is to get students to actually verbalize what they think they have learned which is often different than what the teacher thinks the students have learned. The use of standards-based grading and clear learning targets should help students understand what they are expected to learn each week.

The questions in the weekly report get progressively more difficult for students to answer. The “what” question is pretty straight forward but “how did you learn it” is more difficult to answer. This question forces students to think about how the model was built. The next question, “what is still unclear?” makes students think about their weaknesses which is often more difficult than thinking about strengths. Students may be tempted to answer “question 2 on the homework was difficult” instead of identifying a particular concept. The last question is probably the most difficult to answer because the student must think like the teacher. The purpose of this question is to see if the student can identify the most important concepts learned that week.

A lot of diagnostic information can be drawn from weekly reports but my first thought as a teacher (and the thought of many others in the workshop) was “that sounds like a lot of work!” The question then becomes, how can you streamline this process?

I started by making a Google Form with these questions and embedding it in my website. This way all of my student’s responses will be dumped into one spreadsheet which is easier to sort through than a pile of papers. I may also distribute the first weekly report through Doctopus so I can give feedback easily. Another way to cut down the work on these weekly reports is to not make them weekly. A bi-weekly report might be more fitting in a high school setting.

I’m going to jump on the weekly report train next school year and try to work out the bugs along the way. Progress posts to come!

P.S. Wouldn’t it be great if I could change the name to TPS reports? Summer project: work on that acronym!

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