Students as Co-Creators to Improve Their Achievement

Laura Stott

History teacher Laura Stott from Madison Public Schools, Conn. is part of an innovation project to experiment with personalized learning throughout the year with Allison Zmuda.


The element that stood out to me most powerfully from my review of the first chapter of Students at the Center was the concept of student as co-creators in personalized learning. To have a student walk beside you and shape their learning— not behind you, following your lead.

As I’ve sought to implement personalized learning in an classroom which must also meet the requirements of an AP course, I found the idea of student co-creation to be heady and exciting, but simultaneously intimidating and perhaps unattainable. A small step turned out to be the most effective method to start moving co-creation into the fabric of my courses.

Working with Allison and Mike Kiefer, the instructional technology specialist at our school, we developed and adapted a simple reflection form for students to complete before redoing or rewriting the assignment. Students reflect on what elements of the rubric they plan to revise or rewrite, analyze the problems they encountered, articulate what they plan to adjust, and then determine a reasonable deadline for submission.

Improvement Plan Form

This form will help me to understand what you want to focus on for your rewrite/redo, or your next assignment in our DBQ process.

Please be sure that you DO NOT DELETE ANY COMMENTS/ RUBRICS if this is a rewrite/redo. Otherwise, I cannot see how your work has improved!

On which area of the rubric would you like to work? You may select more than one.

  • Thesis
  • Broader historical context
  • Specific Examples/Evidence
  • Worldview
  • Alternate Perspectives
  • Primary Source

What is the problem in this area/these areas? Why are you struggling or why did your response not meet the criteria? (Answer this while looking at your work. Be specific and give an example if possible.)

What is your improvement plan? What should I be looking for when I read your rewrite/redo or next DBQ?

If this is a redo/rewrite, what is your deadline for your new work?

Several students expressed surprise when I introduced this improvement plan.

  • “When is this due?” My response: Consider your schedule and commitments in order to determine an appropriate deadline within my boundaries.
  • “Can I rewrite even if I only had a problem in one area?” My response: Of course. Why wouldn’t you want to show mastery in all areas of the rubric?
  • “Can I rewrite if I messed up every area?” My response: Of course, though perhaps you should focus on one area at a time to improve, and resubmit in several phases.

Just as I did, the students found co-creation exciting and intimidating, surprising and a little anxiety producing. The students have the ability to make choices about their own improvement, to help me create a plan for their improvement, to take more ownership of the AP rubrics and requirements. Though they are taking small steps in simple ways, they are acting as co-creators. I am excited to see where our co-creation journey takes us!

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