An important part of Assessment For Learning is helping students know "what they know" and "what they don't." For younger students (K-1), this is certainly a challenge. What follows is a nugget worth sharing from The Daily Five by Joan Moser and Gail Boushey...As teachers are modeling a particular procedure or strategy, or after students have practiced a technique, teachers ask the students to gauge their understanding or performance in the following way: "Hold your fist close to your heart to show that what you're about to tell me is the truth that you know in your heart. Now, put your thumb up if you know you're understanding/doing your best work. Or just hold your fist tight to your chest to show me that you know you could improve or that you need more help from me to improve."This works well because the kids don't feel that everyone is looking at their response (since their fist is close to their body), but the teacher can gauge rather quickly how students feel that they are progressing.Such a simple tool for metacognition... but great practice for getting younger children involved in the assessment of their own learning!For the love of literacy,~Melanie~
Rubrics are a great way to help students learn from their mistakes and to assess their own knowledge (#5 and #6 of the 6 Key AFL Ideas).
In the typical high school setting, rubrics are most commonly used by English teachers to show students how they will be grading essays/papers. Other teachers will sometimes use them to show students how projects will be graded. Essentially these rubrics detail how the teacher breaks the assignment down into specific parts and then show how many points each part will be worth.
While there is nothing wrong at all with using rubrics this way, I would like to describe an additional way to incorporate rubrics into the classroom. The use of a rubric is a highly effective and easy to apply AFL strategy. In fact, I would contend that rubrics could be implemented into any content area and any classroom. If you teach content or skills then a rubric then you can use a rubric.
For just a moment forget about using a rubric as a way to show a student how he or she will be graded. Instead, think of a rubric as an overview of the key knowledge/skills that you will be teaching during a set period of time – whether it’s a month-long, week-long, or even single-day unit.
In this model, students are given the rubric – the overview of content – at the beginning of the unit. At regular intervals – perhaps daily, perhaps every other day, perhaps every ½ hour – students are given an opportunity to look over either the entire rubric or a portion of it and use it to assess their understanding. Students will look over the portion of the rubric to which the teacher directs them and will then rate themselves in one of three categories:
1. Category 1 – Content the student knows/understands and will not forget
2. Category 2 – Content about which the student has questions
3. Category 3 – Content the student still doesn’t know
One of the nice side benefits of using a rubric in this manner is that it helps the teacher stay focused on what is most important. Especially with a young teacher or with a teacher who is teaching a specific unit or class for the first time, it is very easy to get sidetracked. Sometimes the content plays itself out over the course of teaching the unit. Often by the end of a unit a teacher might look back and realize that the core content had not received the appropriate level of focus as compared to some less-essential knowledge. By creating a rubric that students get at the very beginning of the unit and by then referencing that rubric throughout the unit, the teacher will be more likely to focus on the key content and to create graded assessments based on that key content.
As students assess their understanding along the way, they become more aware of what they do and don’t know. Awareness of what one doesn’t know is a major step toward learning something. When it comes time to study for a summative assessment, the rubric becomes an excellent study guide. Students have rated their knowledge of the content and can spend their time focusing on the lower-rated items. While it is common for a teacher to hand a study guide to a student, it is less common - and much more effective - if a student has a personalized study guide that they have created and of which they have a sense of ownership.
So what might such a rubric look like?
Below is an example of how a rubric that follows this model might be used in a World History class that is learning about World War One:
(Click on the above image to download a pdf version of the rubric.)
Below is an example of how a rubric that follows this model might be used in a senior-level English class that is reading The Freedom Writers (thanks to Cammie Smith for her help on this one):
(Click on the above image to download a pdf version of the rubric.)
The teacher will have to guide/train students about how to use the rubric in this manner. Don’t expect magic the first time.
This will work best if the teacher provides class time for the students to use their rubrics.
The teacher might want to keep the rubrics in the classroom so that they do not get lost. Students might not take them home until the night before a large test/quiz/graded assignment.
Be very explicit with your students about the purpose of the rubric. Don’t let this become just another "thing". This could be yet another worksheet provided by a teacher but not effectively used by students. Instead help your students view self-assessment as a core learning strategy and something that they can apply to future classes/learning. Help them view the rubric as a key to success.
My school system - City of Salem Schools, VA - has undergone a lengthy process to determine what types of social networking should be available on our system's network. Until recently, all social networks were blocked by our filter.
After much discussion and exploration, it was decided that social networking would be open for all faculty members. Faculty members would be treated as professionals who are able to use social networking appropriately within the work environment. (Our Barracuda filter has made it possible for us to open up certain sites for a specific group within our system.)
We also decided that access to social networking in general is not necessary for students within a school setting. In fact, it probably could lead to more harm than good. However, social networking does have educational value if used properly. Therefore, we decided that Ning would be the one social network available for use by students. Teachers have been encouraged to create Nings for use in the classroom but to follow certain guidelines to make sure that Nings can be used in a manner that maximizes safety and educational value at the same time.
If you're interested in using Ning in your school system, you might be interested in checking out the guidelines that we are using. Here they are: Ning Guidelines
I'd love to hear about anyone else's experiences using Ning in the school setting.