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Sunday, 17 August 2014

Preparing for the New School Year #3

Planning to Involve Students in Assessment in the Service of Their Learning

Involving students in the classroom assessment process is incredibly important in terms of engagement, building relationships, motivation, and ownership. It also supports learners as they move from co-regulation to self-regulation. It also teaches important executive functioning skills. All this while it provides opportunities for students to link to prior knowledge, analyze, synthesize, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. 

The principles, routines, and strategies of assessment for learning provide practical ways to accomplish it in today’s busy classrooms. Students are involved in the assessment process as they:

  1. Co-construct criteria to deepen their understanding of quality and improvement over time.
  2. Engage in self- and peer assessment in relation to criteria.
  3. Set ‘next steps’ goals.
  4. Collect evidence of their own learning.

Self-assessment is possible because, when students co-construct criteria with teachers' guidance, we give them the understandings of quality and the language they need to use as they self-assess. They begin to gain the experiences and the skills needed to self-monitor their way to success. These are teachable strategies based on sound principles backed up by a breadth of research.

Consider these three simple routines for involving students right from the beginning of the school year:

  • Co-construct criteria around behaviours and key products.
  • Have students use the language of the criteria to self-assess and peer assess.
  • Use the criteria as a goal setting strategy.

In this example older learners co-constructed criteria around working together. Then the criteria was used as a self-assessment and to set a 'next steps' goal.

When working with very young learners, the teacher supported the students to co-construct criteria around reading new texts. Then the criteria was used as a self-assessment and a 'next steps' goal.

You might also want to ask students to use the language of the criteria in their journals and reflections. It can increase their metacognitive thinking.
Teachers need to deliberately teach students how to self-assess in relation to the criteria so they learn to use the language of the criteria – the language of assessment and of learning – and become more specific. This helps them give themselves and others specific, descriptive feedback. This is an example of co-regulation leading to self-regulation. And it can save teachers huge amounts of time later as it prepares students to self-monitor their own learning and collect their own evidence of learning.

Three Ideas for Teachers' Next Steps:

1. Think about how you already involve students in assessment in the service of their own learning. What do you want to ‘tweak’ for the upcoming year? Make a plan.

2. Watch this video about co-constructing criteria.

3. Read Chapter 6 and 7 in Making Classroom Assessment Work. Pay attention to the ways students are involved in the assessment practice and consider how much they experience and learn in relation to curriculum goals and core competencies. Complete the tasks at the end of Chapter 6 and Chapter 7.

Three Next Steps for Leaders:

1. View this video so you can learn more about the process of co-constructing criteria as well as respond when people question the value of involving students in the assessment process.  
2. Join an online learning opportunity about this topic so you can support your colleagues' learning. We suggest co-constructing criteria, meaningful goal setting, and improving the quality of the feedback students receive.

If you need any assistance, please call our office and speak with our helpful staff. They will connect you to the resources and support that will best suit your learning needs.  

We will post the #4 in the next few days. We are looking forward to being in Edmonton, AB, very soon.

All our best, Anne and Sandra
PS If you have questions or need help, just call 1.800.603.9888 or 250.703.2920.

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