Friday, 4 April 2014

Co-Constructing Criteria with Students

An amazing group of teachers have been coming together monthly to explore classroom assessment. It has been great to be involved in the conversations as we collaborate and share ideas about how to use assessment to improve students' learning.

Last night, we discussed how to set and use criteria with students. Research strongly supports involving students in the assessment process. Setting criteria with students is a great way to begin involving students. When students understand what the learning target is, and they understand how to get there, learning improves. This holds most true for our learners who struggle (Davies, 2011).

In Making Classroom Assessment WorkAnne Davies shares her 4 step process for setting and using criteria with students. This is a process I have found particularly powerful in my own work, both in working with students, and when working with teachers in setting goals for improving student learning.

The process is:
  1. Brainstorm 
  2. Sort and categorize
  3. Post a T-chart
  4. Revise and refine
We made paper airplanes, and set criteria for assessing our work by using this process.

First we brainstormed a list, and then sorted and categorized. If we were working with students, some of the criteria on the list, particularly around "teamwork" would have to be further unpacked, as some of the language is vague.

You can see how we colour-coded the like-criteria into categories.

While participants went about using the criteria to build their planes, I went about transferring our criteria to a t-chart. As you can see, the criteria needed further discussion and refinement as we discovered that some criteria were either not applicable, difficult to measure, or incompatible with other criteria.

I love the iterative and reciprocal nature of this process as we work through it with students in the classroom. It is messy and takes dialogue, negotiation, and much consensus building. The fact that it is messy, to me, is the best reason to engage in the process. As a teacher, what better opportunity is there to model how we think about and work with multiple perspectives and sources of information?

What are your thoughts? What do you do to involve students in the assessment process? What do you want to try? Who do you have who can help you, that you can reflect on the process with?

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