Teaching Students to Self-Evaluate

I am always thinking of ways to improve my craft as a teacher. At the end of each two-week unit, I reflect on my teaching. I determine how successful my instructional strategies were by analyzing student data. I also talk to my students to determine the teaching strategies they prefer for me to use. It is impossible for me to plan the next unit of study until I reflect on the successes or failures of the previous unit. Taking the time to reflect is a critical component to my teaching. In recent years, I thought reflection was a good practice for students to learn. Here are some of the strategies that I use:

Emojis – I use one of my dry erase boards as a self-assessment board in the classroom. I teach three math classes – 6th, 7th, and 8th grade math. Each math class has a specific color that I use for the board. Each student’s name is on a small strip with magnetic tape on the back.  At the beginning and end of each class, students have an opportunity to move their names to the emoji that best describes their understanding of the lesson. (Actual classroom picture coming soon.) My students really like this form of self-assessment, because they often relay how they feel with emoji when texting their peers.  At the end of the day, I take a picture of the board to see how students have progressed.

Journaling – I give students journal prompts to help them reflect. I ask most reflection questions on the weekly homework assignment sheet. Some of the questions include:

  • What vocabulary words do you need to know to solve today’s math problems? How often do you review Frayer Word Cards to help improve your understanding of the vocabulary? Do you feel you need more help understanding the vocabulary?
  • Do you feel like you could teach this math concept to someone else? Why or why not? How would you teach this math concept to someone else?
  • Do you feel the test was fair? Why or why not? Were you taught everything that was on the test taught? What more could your teacher have done to help you prepare for the test? What more could you have done to help you prepare for the test?
  • Select a question from the test that you did not get correct. Use your notes to determine where you went wrong. Explain what you could have done differently to get the question correct.

Online Gradebook Analysis – All students have access to the district’s online grading portal. Every five weeks, I have students analyze their math grade  by category of assignments – class work (20%), homework (10%), quizzes (20%), participation (10%), and tests/projects (40%). I give students a form to complete to help guide their analysis. Students examine each category to determine their opportunities for growth. Afterwards, I give students a list of strategies they could adopt in order to improve their math grade. Students, then, select the strategies that they think is best to meet their needs. Students use these forms to have a conference with me and a discussion with their parents.

Math Goals Analysis – My school district uses NWEA MAP to evaluate student growth. For 6th – 8th grades, the four math goals are: Operations and Algebraic Thinking, The Real and Complex Number System, Geometry, and Statistics and Probability. In my series of Print and Go Daily Math Practice products, I include a Student Math Goals Tracker. With this tracker, students are able to determine their strengths and growth opportunities. This reflection can help them focus and grow.

Please share how you reflect and how you encourage your students to do the same.


  1. Using the magnetic name tag and allowing the students to place their name on the emoji that show their understanding is a great idea. Absolutely love it.

  2. I love the idea of emojis as self assessment. Kids love them & they’re very non-threatening. I always have my students self-assess and set goals also; so important!

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