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Assessment for a Culture of Learning

For those interested in shifting their teaching style to support the push for a culture of learning try these simply assessment “hacks” to change the mindset of your students.

More feedback

Try using the “review” function in Word to write specific comments and feedback on essays/outlines.  Students can then modify or revise and resubmit or at the very least have specific comments to look back on for future assignments.  Also, provide more verbal and immediate feedback during class time.  Feedback is more valuable than a number or letter grade.

More peer and self-assessment

This will take some time and modeling by us.  But once we get the students there, this will increase reflective practices of our students and force them to rely on their peers and selves and not us.  After a while, students will have the tools to edit and evaluate their own writing so there will be fewer corrections needed.  Finally, once we mark something the majority of our students never look at it again so there is more value in their own assessment.

Avoid Zeros and late penalties

A zero is not a reflection of a student’s learning, nor is taking marks off for late work.  We provide feedback on behavior by giving work habits on report cards.  Focus on “your” deadlines and use Flex, their own study blocks or before/after school to have them get caught up on work.  If this does not work, they will penalize themselves on the summative assessment for not completing the assigned homework.  Furthermore, we need to rethink our homework and why we are assigning it.  Is it busy work?  Will it further student learning? If it is that valuable why aren’t we doing it in class?  Yes, some students give themselves homework because they did not use class time wisely, or they haven’t handed in a number of assignments.  Even still they do not deserve zeros or late marks.  Students will do the work if they see value in it and can see how it will impact their learning (not their grade).

Allow redos/retakes

Only allow redos and retakes once all other work leading up to the assessment is completed.  For those who habitually don’t do the pre-work use your discretion to take away the privilege of the redo.  Also, have students complete the redo/retake form and have their parents sign it.  Ensure that parents contact info is included – either phone number or email so you can confirm that the parents are aware.  Finally, only allow the students to write it to improve their learning, not their mark/achievement.

Have students create their own final unit exams

This is a great way to have students practice picking out important information from a unit.  Also, it allows the students to have a voice in what they feel is important/relevant information that they learned/understand.  To assess this, pull out the student and have 1 on 1 conversations about the test, the questions and what they learned.  From this conversation come to a mutually agreeable assessment mark.  The anxiety level will go down and the student will be more confident in the classroom as a result.  Another benefit is it allows the classroom teacher to grow the classroom relationships with the students.

Term marks need to be a discussion

Students need to have a voice in their overall mark.  Teachers have a number in their gradebook due to mathematical weightings but is that accurate?  In most cases no.  So allow the student to have an equal say in their mark and either agree with it or average their say and your mathematical mark.  Students will have a 1 on 1 conversation with the teacher and use evidence of their learning.  This could be reflections on group discussions, tests, essays, projects etc.  The onus is on the student to defend the mark they want to give themselves.

No Percentages

The Ministry has stated that we do not have to give percentages at the Grade 8/9 level and that it is up to Districts/Schools to decide if percentages will be included.  Our School has decided that we are not providing percentages for Grade 8 or 9.  However, if we are truly pushing to a culture of learning we need to continue this into grades 10-12.  Yes, senior students will have a percentage on their term/final report cards, however, they do not need to know daily, weekly or monthly what their percentage is (unless they have good reason like self-reporting marks).

Work Habits Rubric

Started last year was the school’s push for a common work habits rubric.  This would be good to include at interim time with the self-reflection interim and a must for term report cards.  A final copy of this rubric will be provided at a later date.

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