Sharing assessment strategies that help students learn
Educators exploring ways to practice AFL in their classrooms will often find some parents and students a little confused as to exactly why teachers are doing what they're doing. Unfortunately, over the years schools have conditioned people to view grades as summative in nature. Many parents and students do not understand how to use feedback from a score or grade in part because they have not been given the opportunity to do so. The feedback they received wasn't formative - it wasn't provided as a way to guide learning but as a way to determine a final grade. The AFL practitioner, though, understands that students need to use feedback to guide and improve their learning. Therefore, the AFL practitioner must be very explicit and intentional in how he or she trains students to use feedback and in how he or she communicates with parents about classroom expectations.
Recently, Jenn Shannon, a math teacher at Salem High School, shared with me an email she sent home to parents about one of her AFL practices. I think it's a great example of intentional communication intended to educate parents about how AFL practices can help their children learn. With her permission, here is a copy of that email:
I gave each student a rubric on Tuesday to help them self-evaluate how they are progressing in the given unit. We have worked on filling in the rubric during class, but I encourage you to ask your student to see their rubric. Students know that they should be striving to have mastery in each area on the rubric by Tuesday, November 1 (test day!)
I have attached a copy of what this rubric looks like and how they are assessing themselves.
I hope that this rubric encourages the students to take responsibility for their learning, as well as provides them a tangible way to know whether or not they are really prepared for their test.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
I believe that we all have something to learn from a simple email like this. Let's not underestimate the potential benefits of involving parents by communicating with them very directly.
On top of being a great example of AFL communication, Mrs. Shannon's rubric is also a great example of how to get students to assess themselves. It's very similar to Anika Armistead's use of a science review sheet as it lets students know up front what they will be required to know and then gives them a means to assess their progress. Here is a copy of Jenn's rubric in case you would like to use it in your classroom as well: