EU does not stand for the European Union–the E and U in our classrooms mean effort and understanding. The connection between the effort a learner expends to how much that student learns and understands is what we are after here.
I will tell you now: it’s freaking unbelievable how much your students will grow when you take the time to develop their understanding of these concepts.
Try this simple approach:
1) Display a rubric for students to begin to understand and work with the ideas of how their effort affects their understanding.
2) At the beginning of EVERY lesson, have your students rate their understanding of the lesson’s objective.
3) At the end of EVERY lesson, have them rate their effort during the lesson and their new level of understanding created by their effort.
At first your students will be tempted to be dishonest about both their understanding and their effort. The more you stress the connection between effort and understanding, and how they control whether they learn and how much they learn, the more they will value the connection and begin to make a more honest assessment of their own E&U. It takes my classroom usually a few weeks to get the hang of the relationship between E and U and to respond openly and honestly from their best selves.
When kids take charge of their own learning, they are self-motivated. They see how much they understand when they ask questions, participate in discussions, and complete assignments. It’s AWESOME what happens after only a few weeks. Try it and let me know how it works with your class!