Assessment done with students, not to students

I strongly believe that assessment is something that should be done with students, not something that is done to  students. So this year, being back in the classroom, I wanted to put that belief into practice. We have just finished our first Unit of Inquiry and here is how our summative assessment went.

  1. An open discussion about assessment

As a class we discussed the difficulty of trying to measure a human’s learning and I shared that there are many different approaches to trying to figure out what a student has learned in school.

2. Trying out multiple approaches

We discussed a handful of approaches for measuring learning and then we tried each of them out within the context of our unit.

Students showed how their thinking changed throughout the unit by completing “I used to think… Now I think…”

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-7-29-35-am

Students synthesized their own big idea from the unit by completing the VTR “Headlines”

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-7-29-42-am

Students added new knowledge to their transdisciplinary concept  time capsule

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-7-29-58-am

Students applied the concepts learning in our unit to their own life

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-7-29-49-am

3. Self-Assessment

I’m also a strong believer that the learner themself best understands what they know and don’t know, so it was important to me that they had the first opportunity to assess their own understanding. Students took the four different assessments they had completed and using those learning artifacts, marked on the rubric where they felt they were on our learning spectrum.


4. Teacher Assessment

The students then gave me their 4 summative activities and their self-assessed rubric and I looked through the same learning artifacts and I added my perspective to the rubric.


5. Summative conference

Then, I conferenced with each student individually…


and one of three things happened. Either we had the same perspective and that became their final mark for the unit. 


Or if we had different perspective, we chatted to figure out if they new more than they were able to show on the activities, or if they thought they new more but after our chat discovered they actually had more to learn. And in some cases I needed more information because I felt I was unable to assess their understanding based on the activities they completed, so we we chatted about the concepts in the unit and the central idea to find out if they knew more than they showed.


For students who had a competent understanding, we talked about how to extend themselves next unit. For students who were still developing their understanding, we reflected on what blocked their learning this unit and set goals for next unit. For some students that meant changing some learning behaviours (where they sit, who they learn with), for other students it meant applying more effort, and for other students it meant organizing time in addition to class time, for extra learning support from me.


6. Share with parents

After the conferences were complete, I sent home to rubrics so the students could share them with their parents. I also included information about our summative process on our class blog. Parents were also invited to set-up a three-way meeting with me and their child if they wanted to discuss anything about this particular summative.

 

All in all, it was a great process! I think my students felt empowered to have a voice in their learning and in the measurement of their learning. I think students felt their perspectives were respected and valued. I think that going through this process after the first unit of inquiry will have positive impacts on the learning that happens in our second unit of inquiry.

And on a personal level, it felt much more humane and much more like a partnership in supporting their learning journey!

Advertisements

How Back Channelling Transformed Our Class Read Alouds

During class read alouds it is not uncommon for us teachers to shush our students, redirect them to raise their hand, ask them not to shout out, move their spot on the carpet if they’re talking, give them a hand signal that means stop…

Yet the very thing students are “shouting out” or talking to their friends about, are the very things we are trying to get them to do as readers! So we incessantly shush them when they are organically making a prediction, connection or inference about a story… then later on in the day or week we give them inauthentic reading comprehension activities to try to illicit the very skills we shut down earlier!

So when I started the year this year I vowed not to shut down the thinking that was being shared during a read aloud, but after the first few times refraining from shushing and redirecting I realized 23 students sharing their thinking out loud at the same time made it very difficult for everyone to hear the story.

Then I remembered a post I read about back channeling in the classroom so I decided to give that a try. I was transparent with my students and told them I wanted them to be able to freely share their thinking about the story we were reading, but in order to do that in a way where everyone can still hear the story we will be communicating our thinking not with our voices, but through something called a back channel. We tested out back channeling in a low stakes way by chatting about our Eid vacations.

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-04-23-pm screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-04-55-pm screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-05-14-pm

Once students were comfortable with back channeling, we tried it out during a read aloud. The results were amazing!

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-05-53-pm

Students shared their personal connections:

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-07-06-pm

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-08-07-pm

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-08-51-pm

Students shared their connections with other texts:

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-13-14-pm

Students shared their opinions:screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-07-20-pm

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-07-25-pm

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-09-16-pm

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-10-59-pm

Students shared predictions:screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-07-49-pm

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-09-21-pm

Students shared inferences:

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-08-20-pm

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-09-34-pm

Students shared their questions:screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-08-29-pm screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-08-38-pm

At the end of every day I would go through the back channel and document the learning that had taken place. After a few days I had learned SO much about my students as readers:

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-7-07-14-am

Outside of sharing their thinking about stories, it was also great to see student interacting with each other:

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-14-14-pm

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-16-10-pm

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-17-19-pm

And communicating their meaning with multimodalities – not only words, but using emojis too:

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-06-47-pm screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-06-21-pm

Now anytime we do a class read aloud, students hop on the back channel! We have also branched out to using a back channel when watching films and analyzing photos. It has been amazing way for student to share their thinking with one another and an amazing way for me to capture their thinking in an organic, authentic way.

I shared this openly with my students. I told them the back channel was allowing me to learn so much about them as readers that we would probably never have to do a “reading comprehension activity” this year.

They cheered.

So did I.

Less Marking. More Documenting.

A few weeks ago I shared my plan to inquire into my students as people and document what I discovered about them. Then I wondered why stop there?  So drawing inspiration from early year educators, I decided this year to also dedicate time and energy to looking for and documenting learning.

To make this happen, I started the year with a Google Sheet that had all of the students’ names and a tab for the Learner Profile, attitudes, ATL skills, UOI concepts, Literacy and Math.

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 7.42.21 AM

Throughout the week I would add to it when I noticed evidence of something. This could be at recess, while students were playing, while students were setting up the classroom… anytime, anywhere!

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 7.35.20 AM

I tried to pay close attention to what students were saying and asking before, during and after our read alouds or when we were testing out our new classroom library for fun…

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 7.48.04 AM

I analyzed any writing samples I came across – report cards I asked them to write for me, feedback forms about setting up the classroom, thinking post-it notes, letters they wrote to me…

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 7.38.44 AM

Of course there were days where I didn’t have the time or opportunity to sit down and reflect on what I had seen or heard throughout the day, so at the end of the week I scrolled through the pictures I had taken which helped to jog my memory of things I may have forgotten.

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 7.37.46 AM

The best part is that if you asked my students if we did any “school work” this week they would all say “no!”. Yet because I was looking for learning in anything and everything I learned so much already about their attributes, attitudes, approaches to learning, understanding of concepts, reading, writing and math skills.

This is a practice I hope to continue throughout the year, and eventually invite the students to participate in too!

If it works for KG teachers… why not Grade 4 teachers?