Students rarely recognize how much progress they are making over the course of a semester or school year. Their school days tend to be a blur of information, assignments, and activities. However, if students do not appreciate their growth over time, it may be harder to understand the value of the work they are doing or stay motivated.

I encourage teachers to dedicate class time to an exercise that requires students to compare two pieces of work from two different moments in time using the Google Document below.

The Google Document guides students in selecting two pieces of work to analyze and reflect on. The goal is to get students thinking about their skills and how they have changed or developed over time.

When I have done this exercise in the past, many students exclaim, “Oh my gosh! I cannot believe I wrote this!” They are genuinely shocked by their growth. I remind them that the purpose of our work together is to help them develop as readers, writers, thinkers, speakers, and creators.

I’ve found that this simple exercise helps students to recognize the value of the work we are doing. It can be particularly powerful to engage students in this exercise mid-year or at the start of the second semester. It is also a great way to end the year so students can appreciate the impact that a particular course has had on their development.

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