Following up on previous posts, I have continued pulling students out to do one-on-one conversations at the beginning of each term for over a year now. These conversations open the door for students to share their interests, issues and concerns about life and school. It also creates a trusting and honest relationship where they can see my actions addressing their concerns from these conversations in class and around the school. From there, it is time to expand the conversation and allow the students to take ownership and shared control of their assessment.
I started assessment conversation using major summative assignments and the “Mastery” standards below. Students would first self-assess after modeling and explanation of the standards from me. They then use the standards and highlight or check mark each bullet point where they feel they are on the standard. The key to this that students comment on is that it is all “I can” statements. Therefore they are forced to be honest with themselves in their self-assessment. Once they are done self-assessing they meet with me one-on-one and the conversation starts something like this:
Me: so where do you feel you are overall with this assignment
Them: somewhere around _______________
Me: Okay, teach me about this topic
Them: explain as best they can
Me: okay, show me, using the assignment, why you believe you are there
Them: I can do (this)…..I can do (that)…etc. etc.
After this, I go through the key parts of the assignment and provide immediate feedback and allow them to make corrections (if needed) or show them why I agree or disagree with where they have themselves on the scale. At the end, I ask them, okay so do you still feel that you are _____ on the scale? Most of them bumped themselves down or said they were a blend of the lower level and the level they felt they were at.
I took this to a new level this term by having term grades conversations. All 188 of my students (grade 8s and 12s) created blogs/portfolios and were given time in class to update them (every Friday) and they were expected to update outside of class. Some entries are brilliant and others scratch the surface of what my expectations are. The point is all my students use their blog, note books and self-assessment sheets to negotiate a mark with me for term 1. Using the same Mastery Standards, students would place themselves overall for term 1 and defend the position using evidence from their blog and growth of learning in class assignments. For the most part the students were bang on for this conversation. I also had my own evidence of marked work and if there was a disagreement I would use my marks book plus their lack of blogging or growth in learning as my proof of where I felt they were. At the end, no one settled for a mark, rather they took ownership through their negotiation in the conversation. Students were again provided with immediate actionable feedback to improve their understanding/learning moving forward. Furthermore, students also wrote a portion of their own report cards by giving me a one sentence goal for term 2. They typed it directly into MyEDBC. Finally, none of my grade 12 students received percentages on their report card for term 1. They knew this going into the class and understand that we are moving towards a culture of learning instead of achievement with marks. Yes there were a few concerned students going south or east for university but I told them we would also negotiate a percentage that would be given to the counselors at the school to put into their transcripts when they needed them.
Having these assessment conversations took a lot of time….to do all of them at the end of term took 8 days. I had to plan student driven assignments for this week and was physically drained at the end of every day. However, the reward for the students and the learning and skill development they have gotten from this process outweighs my exhaustion!
If you want to try these conversations, I would recommend starting small…do it with a group project so that you can get through them in a class and it doesn’t drag on. Some of my colleagues are trying these now and come to me saying how much time it takes. They are getting discouraged based on the TIME, however, my advice to them is stay the course. In the end, student learning and engagement will and has increased as a result and the TIME invested is paid back over and over as the year goes on!
Any questions or comment please let me know.
-I can explain and/or teach the concept/content/skill in numerous ways
-I do not need any prompting because I have a firm grasp on the concept
-I can apply my learning to a variety of different situations to show my complete understanding
-I can make numerous connections to other learned concepts to show my complete understanding
-I can explain and/or teach the concept/content/skill as I learned it
-I do not need any prompting because I have a good grasp on the concept
-I can apply my learning to different situations to show my understanding
-I can make connections to other learned concepts to show my understanding
-I can explain and/or teach portions of the concept/content/skill as I learned it
-I can expand on my understanding when prompted
-I can apply my learning to similar situations to show my understanding
-I can make some connections to other learned concepts to show my understanding
-I can explain portions of the concept/content/skill as I learned it
-I can expand on some of my understanding when prompted
-I can apply my learning to similar situations as I learned to show some of my understanding
-I can make one or two connections to other learned concepts to show what I have learned
-I am working towards showing an understanding of what I have learned
-I am working towards understanding a few more details when prompted
-I am working towards applying my learning to similar situations as I learned to show my understanding
-I am working to make one or two connections to other learned concepts to show what I have learned
Not There Yet
-I’m not there yet but I am continuing to work to gain an understanding of the concepts learned/discussed in class