Last week, I wrote about the assessment strategies I was using to get students to take more responsibility for their learning, thanks to ideas shared by assessment guru, Sandra Herbst. My students and I worked to develop success criteria for a paragraph on theme. I gave them a model paragraph and then they worked together to do a group one. Using the criteria we had developed, they gave feedback to their peers.
I was thrilled with what I saw (for most of them). Across the board, it was the best done assignment this year. Even students who normally get below average marks, were getting high ones. There were, of course, students who put minimal effort into the process, and their work and grade reflected that. However, the overall results illustrated that the activities were successful: the kids knew exactly what was expected of them, and their peers helped me with good feedback before the final copy came in.
Another experiment was successful too. After I assessed my students' persuasive essays, I had them choose two areas that they would revise again, based on my feedback. They had to choose something significant and not just add a comma or fix a run-on (I told them to find the area of the rubric that they had scored the lowest on). They submitted their changes on Google Classroom, and had to highlight where they made their changes (they also passed back the original copy that I marked, as well as the rubric). Finally, they had to comment on their document to explain why they made the changes.
I have been reluctant to offer chances to redo in the past, as I was always afraid of the extra marking. However, this was very quick to assess. I found the highlighted sections, compared them to the original, read the student's comment and decided if they deserved a higher mark for that section of the rubric.
This is not the strongest group of writer's I've ever taught, and many of them are lazy thinkers. However, by requiring them to use the feedback they got on their essay, they were able to not only improve their mark, but they were also able to continue the learning, something that would not have happened had I just passed back the rubrics and continued on to the next thing.
My experiments continue, as I search for that Holy Grail of English teachers: freer evenings and weekends. The best part of all of these things I'm trying is that, once I get my stride, it will take less time. More importantly, my students will have to do more work, more thinking and more learning.
My assessment checklists are available HERE, if you'd like to check them out.