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by • January 29, 2015 • Inquiry, Integrative Thinking, Knowledge Building, Problem SolvingComments (7)2393

Allowing students to deeply understand assessment.

Make sure you make it to the end of this post to see the rubrics students create.

For most students, assessment can be a bit of a mystery, which is really unfortunate given how much a student’s future depends on how a teacher assesses his or her achievement.  In Ontario, we’ve been working hard to make assessment explicit to students and parents.  One of the expectations is that educators and students co-construct success criteria and rubrics so that students have a thorough understanding of what is expected of them.

As part of our inquiry into grit, tenacity, perseverance and resilience, we’ve been spending time on a side inquiry: what does it mean to be assessed?  What is quality work?  What is the value in giving and receiving feedback?  Where do marks actually come from.  We’ve been doing a great deal of reading and writing this week as students develop their thinking and been using their writing to reflect on what makes a strong argument and how work could be assessed.

I began by displaying and discussing the Ontario Achievement Chart put into kid friendly language.

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This was eye-opening to all students.  They had no idea that so many things went into a mark.  Comments included, “I thought you either got something right or wrong.”  “Now I get why some kids can get a good mark even though their work looks bad”, “This means you could be really good in one part but need to work on the other.”

Next I gave them a written response to a question. Students haven’t read the story, only this answer.  They know that answers should be so well written that the reader can understand what is going on in the story.

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Students then worked in partners to consider the student who had written the answer.

1.  What did the student who wrote this actually know and understand?

2. What thinking did the student do to write this answer?

3. What does this student understand about communication?

4. How has this student applied his/her knowledge and skills?

There was rich discussion and superior thinking as partners considered what must have gone on in the brain of the person who had written this text.

After the charts were finished, we did a gallery walk.  Students examined the thinking of their peers.

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It was interesting observing students move through the class. Once they realized how different each chart was, they became absorbed in reading the charts, giving feedback and then, unexpectedly commenting on the feedback and observations being made.

As you read, notice how the students have internalized our classroom discourse.

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Below students get into a post-it discussion about the feedback.

 

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What you can’t hear are the voices of the kids when they came across really great thinking.  My fav? “Oh, I didn’t even see that this was a one-sided answer!”

We sat down to discuss the feedback. What did they really like?  Students were pleased when the feedback was actually useful – when hey were told something that would allow them to improve their work. They didn’t like “nothing” statements or when they couldn’t tell what point the author was making.  This allowed me to hone in on terminology: vague, clarity, precise etc.

Now students are working in partners to co-construct success criteria for open response.

This student created a causal model of how a mark happens.

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… including recognizing the weakness of getting a “mark”.

 

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Note the undersanding of weak vs. strong evidence.

 

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Note the references to system 2 thinking and the ladder of inference.

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There are no words to describe this grade 6 students level of thinking.

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Knowledge and understanding

Level 1

Low level quotations, evidence and facts from the text. None or little amount of timelines, ideas, definitions, etc

Level 2

Poor quotations ,evidence and facts from the text. Some timelines, ideas, definitions, etc

Level 3

Good quotations, evidence and facts from the text. Good examples of timelines, ideas, definitions, etc (They have included enough of them)

Level 4

Very good quotations, evidence and facts from the text. They have thought deeper about examples of timelines, ideas, definitions, etc (They have included extraordinary examples of them of them)

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Thinking

Level 1

Did not use the ladder of inference. Did not work through their problems to find the answer. Did not ask questions.

Level 2

My have related to the ladder of inference. Started to work through their problems but still did not get an overall answer (Because they did not work and think through the problem or gave up). May have asked some minor questions.

Level 3

Used the ladder of inference to explain their ideas and thoughts. thought through their problems and found an answer to any questions, problems or misconceptions. Asked knowledgeable questions about the topic.

Level 4

Thought deeper into using the ladder of inference to explain their ideas and thoughts. Greatly thought through their problems and found an answer to all questions, problems or misconceptions. Asked knowledgeable questions about the topic and thought how to question all of these ideas.

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Communication

Level 1

No clarity and there grammar and punctuation is very poor. Very difficult to others to understand.

Level 2

Some clarity and there grammar and punctuation is poor. Difficult to others to understand.

Level 3

Clarity is included into their work and there grammar and punctuation is Good. Easy for others to understand.

Level 4

Extreme clarity is included into their work and there grammar and punctuation is Perfect. Very good for others to understand and read.

______________________________________________________________________________

Application

Level 1

No or little application skills around their learning.They are unable to create something good from there learning

Level 2

Some application skills around their learning. They are able to create something through their learning.

Level 3

Plenty of application skills around their learning. They are good at creating something through their learning

Level 4

Thought deeper into application skills around their learning. They are easily able to create something from their learning

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7 Responses to Allowing students to deeply understand assessment.

  1. […] Allowing students to deeply understand assessment. […]

  2. Love this! So real to make assessment a topic in this way. Thank you Heidi for doing this and for blogging it out for everyone to see.

  3. Josh Bower says:

    Great examples of best teaching practice!!!

    You may attend the PDS workshop on Monday, February 9th, 2015, in Toronto, on Student Engagement Through Assessment. Visit pdseminar.com for further details and registration.

  4. Thanks for this! I will use it asap. I have yet to do the ladder of influence etc. because I don’t feel quite prepared yet (I’m sure I’ll be prepared after your workshop!). I think I can use this anyway though as it fits in very well with our inquiry into character. Where did you find your example of the question? I would love to have sources for questions like that one.

    • Heidi Siwak says:

      Hi Erin,
      It makes me happy to read comments like this. The Torren question? I wrote it and the response based on answers I typically see.

  5. So did they conclude this was a fairly good answer? I can’t see all the charts so it’s hard to follow their thought processes. What other POV are they talking about? Have they already learned what an antagonist is?

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