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5-15 Reports :: Learning from our Students

Could 5-15 reports be used successfully by students and teachers in the classroom?One of my former colleagues recently posted this in our Facebook group. We used to use this technique to get our creative juices flowing vis-à-vis product development and corporate strategy in the educational software world.

I’m still a believer that the seeds of great ideas often come from places you wouldn’t expect. And, even though many of the recommendations were recycled time and again, there were nuggets that shone brightly with a little bit of polish.

Re-reading it, I couldn’t help but think…what if teachers used this technique with students in the classroom one or two times per quarter? What kinds of insights would school leaders get as to what’s working—and what’s not with regard to how we’re educating our kids? What if we took it a step further and discussed student insights and recommendations in our weekly grade level team meetings?

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About Jen Lilienstein - Founder,

Helping parents and teachers develop more intrinsically motivated learners by celebrating and embracing kids' unique multiple intelligence strengths, personality types and predominant cognitive styles.


6 thoughts on “5-15 Reports :: Learning from our Students

  1. Hi Jen, This is great! I love this idea. I’m going to use it somewhere! Thank you for this!


    Posted by Kirsten Olson | April 2, 2012, 5:22 pm
  2. I think this taps into a key part of quality education: uncovering students’ voices. In my opinion, students should be involved in the building of the class, the construction of the curriculum and generally the orienters for the whole course. Why follow a pre-set curriculum if it’s not allowing the students to learn the most out of the curriculum? Additionally, students are relatively mute in terms of how the school is presented. Students are recruited to pose as faces in a course catalog or in the best of cases, admissions help. However, most schools take measures to quench their students freedom of speech…maybe out of fear of hearing the “dark” truth. What if the students told the school about an unhelpful teacher, what if student feedback was welcomed in how the school was run? Sure, kids brains aren’t as developed as adults, but I believe we have more common sense than we are credited for. How far wrong could things go if the students had a say?

    I think if implemented in the classroom, this would be a brilliant way to incorporate student feedback into the curriculum.

    Posted by Tara S | April 2, 2012, 6:39 pm
  3. I love the idea of protecting time and space for adults to hear and listen to kids. In looking back at all kinds of self-assessment vehicles I’ve used with kids over the years (some of them very inauthentic), I wonder about questions like these:

    What criteria are the kids writing against? To put it another way: are the kids asked to report out on what they have set and accomplished for themselves, or are they asked to think about themselves as they imagine teachers think of them? Have folks begun using this – what are the reports from the field? Is twice a quarter too infrequent – what frequency keeps this from being a lag indicator?

    I’m curious about the implementation; I’m completely behind the impetus.

    All the best,

    Posted by Chad Sansing | April 3, 2012, 9:49 am
    • Hi there, Chad! Thanks for the response. I’ve only used 5/15s in a corporate setting, but thought it could be a great tool to use in a classroom/school setting. I’d almost go for typed (vs. handwritten) responses to protect the kids’ anonymity, but really it would be like a comments box for the teacher. What’s working/not working in the curriculum design? Teaching approach? Are there too many breakout groups? Not enough? If a parent or tutor was able to explain a concept to a child better, maybe their 5/15 could be a tip that the teacher could use with other students or in future years to better contextualize the lesson. Maybe the teacher has slipped (as it’s so easy to do!) into only utilizing their own learning preferences in instructional time versus rounding out their approach to aid the students who recall better/faster through different modalities.

      So many districts are using educational coaches these days to help identify ways teachers could do better. But I think we’re forgetting that we’ve got 30+ players in each classroom that have had experience with a wide array of teachers by the time they’re in the upper elementary grades and can complete this type of exercise…and the players (students) most likely have valuable feedback that could help improve learning outcomes–not just AYP related, but whether or not we’ve sparked a hunger for self-directed learning in our kids.

      There are a growing number of instant “how am I doing?” kind of assessment tools that track progress during a single class setting, so I was originally thinking of the 5/15 as a more big picture conversation starter about how we can shift our perspective/approach to meet the needs of more of our learners.

      Posted by Jen Lilienstein - Founder, | April 3, 2012, 12:40 pm
    • I think the best way would be to let the kids comment when they wanted to on what they wanted. By creating a criteria, sharing becomes a chore, kind of like required reflection. Leaving the sharing open, creates a sense of freedom and signals to the students that you believe in them to let you know about the good AND the bad when it happens. Maybe that’s just my point of view, but somethings are better left untouched. For instance, I enjoy blogging on my own and writing length-ily on my own… but slap a due date, a required topic and a word limit on there, and I dread it.

      I think it doesn’t hurt to try a hands-off approach initially if the idea doesn’t pique your interest totally that way. If the free approach isn’t “yielding the required results” then you could probably have a sort of questionairre.

      Posted by Tara S | April 3, 2012, 12:47 pm

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