I have set a standard with my students this year that I will complete the same assignments that I ask of them. We have a classroom Kidblog account where each student is expected to post about their reading each week. So in an effort to keep my promise, I need to do the same. This helps me be a role model for my students as a reader and a writer and also helps me realize the amount of work I am asking of my students and how engaging the work truly is.
One of my goals on our teacher evaluation system this year is to help build student ownership of learning. I was happy to see this was an option because it was something that I already wanted to focus on in my growth as an educator. I have been talking with my students a lot this year about how I make instructional decisions based on evidence and research, so I have spent some time reading articles on student feedback, self-assessment, and student choice and motivation.
In the articles, Assessment, Choice, and the Learning Brain, the authors suggest that students should be given more choice in how they are assessed. Instead of multiple-choice questions that require recall of information that is quickly lost after the test is finished, we need to include more alternative assessments that require students to actively reconstruct what they know. They suggest using Tic-Tac-Toe assessments (sometimes called Choice Boards) that give students some choice in how they show their learning. You can find some examples here.
John Hattie’s work around influences on student achievement seems to show up each time I search for articles on student motivation and grading. While his work is not without criticism (see this post with links at the bottom), I do feel like his research can help guide us. At the top of his list of practices that positively influence student achievement is self-reported grading. This is something that I have been contemplating for the past several months. Do I have time to teach students how to be reflective about their own progress? Will this be beneficial for them in the long run? While it may take some time right now to set up the process, I do think this is something that will help my students become reflective learners and move them towards a growth mindset.
I started last week by having my students grade their own blog post using a rubric. It turns out that they do a pretty good job of evaluating their own work. Of my 25 students, I had less than a handful that were too easy on themselves. Most of them were spot-on or graded themselves harder than I would have. The best part was they could look at their own work and use the rubric to find areas to improve. While looking over their posts, they could see if they left something out or if they needed to provide more detail and support. An important part of the process for me is allowing them to go back and fix their mistakes so that they see their grades not as simply an endpoint, but as a way to see where they can continue to grow as learners.
I am still working out some kinks in how I am going to use self assessment this year. I stumbled upon this post, Feedback, Driven by Students, where Leo Blundell from Lansing, Michigan, is using Google Docs and Forms with his 3rd grade students to have them self-assess on a weekly basis. I would love to incorporate some version of this into my classroom – both with my homeroom students in their reading instruction and with my four writing classes. I developed a Google Form this weekend, and am considering starting it this week with my 5th graders using the form below for writing.
My students have to end their weekly blog posts with a “thick” reflection question related to their weekly reading. So the questions I pose to my readers are:
- Do you think self assessment can help increase student achievement? Why or why not?
- How do you use self assessment in your classroom?