Ask your colleagues how their students are involved in organizing and collecting evidence of their learning in relation to standards or outcomes. Think about the evidence your students need to produce and what you want the audience to learn about as they view the evidence collection. Record your thoughts. Consider them as you design the ways your students will collect, reflect, and share in their learning with others. Once your plan is complete, put it into action.
In this chapter Davies explores how collecting, organizing and presenting evidence is no longer solely the responsibility of the teacher; instead the student must also be accountable when it concerns evidence of learning. Davies describes accountability for students as “Learners need to collect and organize their evidence, in relation to the learning destination, so they know that they are learning. . . be involved in gathering and creating comprehensive collections of evidence – that is, products, self-assessments, and recorded observations” (73). Through actively participating in collecting evidence students will have a better understanding of their knowledge base. Davies claims that gathering and creating evidence is worth while for students for several reasons: “[it] prepares students for life. . . [it] help[s] improve the quality and specificity of communications. . . [and] teachers and parents [will know] what [students] know and what they need to learn” (74). Presenting proof of understanding allows students be prepared for a future workplace situation while communicating their learning, as well as show teachers what might need more instruction to reach mastery. The process for recording knowledge should be simple and not time-consuming, this way students will understand why they are keeping the assessments and add to their collections regularly.
After consulting several colleagues, I have a few ideas for getting students involved in organizing and collecting evidence of their learning in relation to the course outcomes. One idea from a colleague was to have the teacher and students con-construct rubrics or checklists for assignments. Another person found success using portfolios, performance tasks, tests, and various projects that all connect to the outcomes of the course. I have been a part of both of these ideas as a student. In several university classes we have established the rubrics and criteria for assignments. I have also used portfolios to show progressive work and best work in different courses in high school and university. Performance tasks are those which are purposeful to an outcome. I have completed these in the past through writing papers, journal entries, diaries based on characters from a novel or play, inquiry projects, poster projects, dioramas, etc.. This chapter includes several sample assessment graphics and a sample letter to send home to the parents and/or guardians so that they understand how their child’s work has been reviewed. I plan to use these graphics but make a few changes to make them appropriate to use in my various classes. I think that using the graphics from this chapter will help my students understand what they have learned in a quick summary. There are two one-page list of questions that students can answer about their learning and help them to remember what they have accomplished, as well as self-evaluate by saying what mark they feel they deserve on the project. I would also use the portfolio suggestions provided by taping together two folders with flaps to create four sections: learning, reading, writing, and speaking, all of which I think is vital for students to experience in school work and plan to use these ideas as sections in my class. In other words, I will have specific time to work on reading, writing and speaking skills to improve student learning. To use this type of portfolio, I would consider using it as a progressive folder and have students individually select pieces that reflect growth in their learning. Another way to use the portfolios is for students to only select their best work. One way I have thought about using this is through an assignment I mentioned on a previous blog. I would like to have my students write three (or more) different styles of essays to be handed throughout the semester and only provide constructive feedback in my assessments instead of a grade. The students would make the changes and then pick the one they like best to hand in to be graded. I could make the “best work portfolio” work in different ways. One is that I would conduct a similar process of providing feedback to various pieces in other writing processes during the semester (i.e., poetry, prose, dramatic monologues, short stories, journal entries, etc.) for them to revise and select one to include in the portfolio. Another idea is to allow the student to submit all of the three revised essays as a collection of their best essays. Through the portfolio method students will be involved not only in creating their evidence of learning but the selection process as well. I like both ideas and I think I will try both for different courses to compare how well this method works. I think a creative writing class would work best to try a “best work portfolio” of various writing processes and any other English Language Arts course could easily complete a “best work portfolio” of a collection of a specific kind of writing, like the three essays.
My question to you: in what ways do you intend to or already store student evidence of learning? Are there other self-assessment or self-evaluation graphics or tools that you use to help students be involved in the process and summarize their learning?