AnnaMarie Houlis
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A teacher's job description might read that they're responsible for preparing educational lesson plans, teaching in the classroom and during after-school tutoring hours, assigning homework, creating and grading tests, documenting progress and, perhaps, working with the board to cultivate the best possible atmosphere for the students. Usually, teachers instruct a specific subject in which they've specialized, and they may be expected to have a certain number of years of experience in that field.

But what all of that boils down to is simple: A teacher's job is to instill knowledge in and guide their students so that they flourish. And they can do this by both helping their students to reflect on their learnings and achievements, as well as helping to open their students' eyes to where they still have room for growth.

That's why using glow and grow reflection charts is super helpful in the classroom. But what is a glows and grows reflection chart, what are some examples of them and how do you create one yourself? 

Let's dive in.

What is a glows and grows reflection chart?

A glows and grows reflection chart is a simple concept: It's a chart that shows a student's successes on one side and their areas for improvement on the other. These charts are typically intentionally colored, with bright yellows (to symbolize glowing) and greens (to symbolize growth).

"Similar to stars and wishes, the 'glow and grow' strategy is a perfect tool for my students to use when reflecting and assessing their own, or a peer's work, or for me to use during formal or summative assessments," says teacher Jen Runde on her blog, Runde's Room. "Basically, students (or teachers) use a 'glowing' highlighter (we use bright yellow) to show what was done really well, and a 'growing' green highlighter to show areas that could use some improvement."

So a teacher can fill out these charts about their students' work, or students can reflect on their own work and fill out these charts themselves. After all, a glows and grows reflection chart is about ruminating on strengths and weaknesses, which isn't necessarily easy, but it's an effective practice for students of all ages across all disciplines.

Some teachers also choose to use this same color scheme to use highlighters to grade papers and tests — they highlight pieces of students' papers and tests in bright, glowing colors like yellows and oranges to show that areas where they did well or demonstrated an understanding of the assignment, and they highlight other bits of the papers and tests in greens to show where students could do better. Instead of using red, which symbolizes that the student is merely wrong or incorrect, a green color tends to be more motivational and inflicts a sense of inspiration to try harder and do better the next time around.

What is the importance of a glows and grows reflection chart?

A glows and grows chart is important in that it helps to show students how they're performing. If students fill these out for themselves, they can also help students practice recognizing their own strengths and weaknesses.

For one, understanding what they're doing well is key because it leads to positive reinforcement. When a student is told that they've done something correctly, they're more likely to continue to do it correctly than if they aren't sure.

Similarly, understanding areas for growth is important because it shows students specifically how they can improve. This is encouraging, as opposed to simply telling them that they're wrong. Also, sharing explicit examples of where they can do better is healthy, constructive feedback, as opposed to mere criticism that doesn't necessarily lead to growth.

What are some examples of glows and grows reflection charts?

Here are five examples of printable glows and grows reflection charts — with feedback from real teachers who've used them to work with students and parents in their classrooms, too.

1. Simple Glow and Grow Boxes

These boxes are intended for students in PreK, Kindergarten and first through sixth grades for the subjects of English Language Arts, Writing-Expository and Writing. Of course, they're still applicable for students of all ages, however, and they can be used for students across all disciplines, as well.

One teacher who reviewed these boxes said: "Really great idea, as glow and grow is a huge push in my school. The kids looked forward to these and it was very helpful with the administration as well."

2. Glow and Grow Report

These report cards are intended for students in PreK, Kindergarten and first through fifth grades for all subjects. Again, these reports are also applicable for students of all ages who are studying any subject, as well.

One teacher who reviewed these boxes said: "Excellent way to keep track of thoughts to review with parents."

Another added: "I taught summer school, and it worked so well there that I will be using it during the school year, as well."

And another shared: "A fun way to communicate to students and parents their 'glows' and 'grows.' Thanks for sharing!"

3. Glow and Grow Cards

These glow and grow cards are intended for students of all ages across all subjects. The product is designed for students to fill out themselves to reflect on their own areas of achievement and needs for growth. That said, teachers can also use these cards to assess their students' work and share that information with them, as well as with the students' parents.

One teacher who reviewed these boxes said: "This resource was easy for my students to understand and write on."

4. Glow and Grow Page

This glow and grow page is neither grade- nor subject-specific. The product "was created to use at parent-teacher conferences to show off some ways your students 'glow' and a few ways they could 'grow.' The first page also includes a space for their reading level." That said, these pages can be used in the everyday classroom, as well. Teachers can use them to assess their students' work, or students can use them to assess their own work.

One teacher who reviewed these boxes said: "Great resource... Helped me get my thoughts organized for conferences!"

Another shared: "A helpful resource for preparing for parent-teacher conferences. I loved using this page to with parents!"

And another left this review: "This helped me tell parents the good things my students are doing at conferences."

5. Glow and Grow Sticky Notes

These sticky notes "provide effective and efficient feedback to students through the use of printing 'Glow' and 'Grow' comments. They "provide feedback of strengths, as well as areas of improvement for students through their work." Teachers and students alike can fill these out and leave them stuck to the classroom walls as gentle reminders of successes and areas where growth is possible.

"I used this tool at 'Back to School' night," one teacher says of their review. "I had parents use them to give me an idea of the areas they thought their child excels and where they wanted to see growth."

Another teacher says: "Easy to use to print Glows and Grows for bulletin board feedback."

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.

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