Compass Points

Teaching during the 2020 Election?

This resource is part of our Election 2020 collection, designed to help you teach about voting rights, media literacy, and civic participation, in remote and in-person settings.

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Especially when learning from home, it is important that students have regular opportunities to communicate what’s working and what isn’t so their teachers can help them get the support they need to feel successful. This routine provides a structure for students to give positive feedback about the class, offer ideas to support their learning, and communicate their needs and worries. The compass points on the handout represent the following categories:

N = Needs

S = Suggestions

E = Excitement

W = Worries

Face-to-Face Learning

Pass out the Compass Points handout and let students respond to the questions. Students can share their ideas in small groups or in a class discussion. Focus first on what Excites them and their Suggestions for improvements in the class. If you have established a strong classroom community, students might also feel comfortable enough to share Needs and Worries, but it shouldn’t be required. Collect the handouts and look for patterns in students’ feedback. In the next class, strategize about solutions with your students (without mentioning names). Follow up with individual students as needed.

Remote Learning

Project the Compass Points handout or have students access it from their devices. Have them respond to the questions on the handout. Then project a Google Doc version of the Compass Points handout and have students add ideas to two compass points of their choosing. Debrief by talking about one compass point at a time. Focus first on what Excites them and their Suggestions for improvements in the class. If you have established a strong classroom community, students might also feel comfortable enough to discuss Needs and Worries, but it shouldn’t be required. 

You can read the suggestions out loud and have students write ideas in the chat for how to implement them. Or you might notice a pattern of feedback that you want to address in the moment. Have students submit their individual copies of the handout so you can look for patterns to address with the class or one-on-one. 

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