My Experience Norming with Students

Last fall I started following Annabelle Allen aka La Maestra Loca (read her blog here) after seeing her present at ACTFL in New Orleans.  Recently I read her blog post about norming your class with your students and I decided to try it in my own classroom.

It is important prior to this activity to explain what a norm is, since many students aren't familiar with the term.  Our school has a saying that the principal says on the announcements every day, which is, "Be safe, be respectful, be responsible."  I explained that these are examples of norms.

Above is a student sample of a worksheet I had them fill in, following steps similar to those outlined in Annabelle's blog post.  First, they individually list their hopes and dreams for the class, citing one long term goal, and one short term goal.  Then they worked with one or two other classmates to generate three norms to help them achieve these goals.  It's important that students understand that their goals are outcomes and that their norms should be steps they can take on a daily basis to achieve them.  Some students were unclear about this at first and were putting things like "be fluent" as norms, but with further clarification, they caught on.  Eventually, they paired up with another group and pared down all their norms to four norms.

Once they had settled on their norms, one representative came up to the chalkboard and wrote each one.  Then, everyone took turns coming up to the board circling their favorite norms.

The chalkboard after one class finished the activity.

At the end of the day, I looked at which norms were written and circled the most and I generated a list of four norms to post in the classroom.  Here it is:

The beauty of this is, this pretty closely matches what I've always tried to instill in my students at the beginning of the year, but now that they've thought critically about this and come up with it themselves, it means so much more to them.  Thanks Annabelle, for sharing this wonderful idea!

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