First blog post

First blog post

You’ve spent a week working on the lesson.

You’ve taken into account individual student need for creativity and diversity.

You’ve spent more hours than necessary choosing just the right fonts for the instruction sheet.

You stand at the front of the room quivering with anticipation. You are excited for the knowledge journey upon which your students are about to embark.

The learning that will take place will be joyous.

Finally, with a great smile and sigh, you wrap up the opening presentation.

In the charged atmosphere of great learning that is about to commence a student waves their hand in the air, reaching their body out of their seat, so motivated by your intro that they are practically begging for theirs to be the first question answered.

You smile benevolently, and point to their outstretched arm.

“How many marks is this worth?”

Cue the screeching tire soundtrack as it all comes to a crashing halt.

This scene played out too many times in my classroom.

I’ve decided to write this blog because I have found a path that combats this focus on marks.

A grades free classroom, concentrated on feedback and the opportunity to re-do assignments has drastically changed the learning and motivation in my classroom

I am by no means an expert, but I invite you to join me on this journey as I struggle to change how we have taught and learned for generations. Through this blog I hope to share some of the techniques and experiences that have changed the way I look at teaching and, I believe, how my students experience learning.

Here’s how I began:

Have you ever gotten to the point in your teaching career where you just didn’t think you could teach one more year?

About four years ago, after teaching for over 20 years, I began thinking that I might need to look for another job. I was not inspired by my students, I was pretty sure I wasn’t inspiring them, and I just couldn’t find the joy I had always had with teaching.

On one afternoon after handing back a stack of essays and watching my grade 12 class collectively look at their mark, compare it with the people around them, and then shove it (some of them quite literally) into their binder, I decided I was done. I had spent a good part of my weekend making comments on their papers, fixing their grammar errors and making suggestions for future writing. They didn’t care; why should I?

I went home that afternoon and started Googeling “Jobs for teachers that aren’t teaching”. In case you’re wondering I didn’t find much under that category. But somehow through some convoluted search from site to site I came across Alfie Kohn’s article “The Case Against Grades,” and my life was changed.

I started doing more research on this idea and found Mark Barnes and Starr Sackstein and started putting together ideas on how I could implement these changes into my own classroom. I was inspired.

I asked my principal if I could take my one grade ten essential class and not grade anything, just give feedback and see what happened. I came prepared with articles to back up my claims and I think I talked non -stop for five minutes on how great and epic these changes would be.

Amazingly, he agreed. We decided that I would conference with the students and still come up with a mid-term and final number grade because that is how our system functions. With that, I was off and running on the path to grades free teaching.

Within the first year I had a teaching moment that convinced me that I was on the right track.

“Seth” was a tenth grade repeat student. His attendance was spotty, he had a child with his girlfriend, and he was less than motivated to improve his writing and reading skills. I had taught Seth in grade nine and his unsuccessful attempt at grade ten. I had seen him shut down when I returned his, usually incomplete work, so I knew I was in for a challenge.

On this particular afternoon Seth and I sat down to conference about his work. He answered my questions and had a good understanding for his first set of tasks. But when I asked him about the second task I got his standard shoulder shrug and mumbled answers. I kept up the questioning until I discovered he didn’t understand one of the words in the question.

We discussed its meaning and then I asked, “why don’t you go and finish that question and then when you come back you’ll have met all the expectations?”

He sat for a minute and said “like, go and do it now?”

“yes”

“uhm…Ok. I’ll be back in a minute.”

The old me would have taken his work, assessed it, given him a failing grade on question two and we would never have talked about it again. He would never, on his own, have asked for help or admitted he didn’t understand the question.

But the most beautiful part of that day was that not only was Seth successful on his own tasks, but he stopped the student beside him on his way to conference with me and asked him if he had done question two. His friend laughed and said no. Seth said “well, she won’t give you ‘met’ then” and the two of them sat together and worked on the question until they both had a good answer.

At the end of the day I realized how much I had failed Seth, in the past. I had been more concerned with getting my marking done rather than taking the time to think about how that mark was affecting my student. Feedback and conferences, and not grades, is the way to encourage learning in our students.

I’d love to tell you that Seth was successful that year and that he continued to help his peers and develop a love of learning.   However, that’s not often how it works in real life is it? Other life issues got in the way for Seth and he eventually stopped coming to class. But in the years following I have met other “Seth’s” and have witnessed them achieve success because the threat and anxiety of a number on a page was removed.

One small change, but a big reward. Have you thought about going grade less in your classroom?

 

What We Learned

What We Learned

We have completed our first full year of Feedback Centered Learning in the English Department and are ready to start our second year. I thought I would take the time to post our notes of what we learned and what we hope to improve on in our second year.

We learned a great deal in our first full year of running a Feedback Centered Classroom and are excited to continue this growth.

Hopefully this reflection will help if you are planning to start your own Grades Free Classroom.

Note: We teach in Ontario, Canada and are using our provincial expectations.

Feedback Centered Startup:

  • Start the semester with a week of community building, and mind set activities.
  • Have discussions/lessons around learning and how our brains work.
  • Consider individual forms or inventories to discover learning styles, and familiarity and comfort with feedback centered learning.
  • Set up Freshgrade and/or Google Classroom and get students familiar with how you will be sharing their feedback. Have students practice responding to your feedback.

 

Using the Expectations:

  • At a minimum, use the 3 overall expectations for Oral, Reading, Writing, and Media to create your personal bank of course expectations. Feel free to add more specific expectations to your bank as you see fit, but remember not to overwhelm either yourself or your students. Re-write the expectations in student friendly language (preferably using I Can statements). We have found this is better than having the students re-write the expectations.
  • Invite students to interact with the bank of expectations. Have them individually and in groups decide which assignments would help them meet which expectations.
  • Show and/or Post examples of how students have explained their understanding of how they met the expectations in past years. Draw student’s attention to how a good explanation gives examples of what the student did to meet the expectation.
  • If possible show examples from previous students (see other teachers for examples as well), if not create your own exemplars.

Giving Feedback and Re-Do’s:

  • Remember that not all feedback needs to be formal. A one-on-one conversation with a student constitutes feedback.
  • When giving more formal feedback attempt to balance positive and constructive feedback. Note the students you are working with; some students can handle several suggestions at once, while others will need fewer suggestions at one time.
  • Using Google’s Keizena (oral feedback) can save you time, but remember to make short notes in either the Google document or Freshgrade, so you don’t have to re-listen to your feedback when talking with students. When you conference you will want to remember the overall “big” issues you pointed out.
  • You can also add oral feedback using Google Read and Write. Students can use this to send you a message as well. For example, you might ask students to make a brief comment on something they would like you to take note of. “Mrs. Locke please look at my thesis, it is really good or I’m still having trouble with the topic sentence, is this one better?

Reassuring students and Discussing Progress:

(We still must give grades at mid-term and final, which is why students still wonder about their grade)

We have found that it is important to periodically stop and touch base with students regarding their progress. Because this is new to most of our students, and us, they need more reassurance that they are on the right path. There are a number of ways to do this. Remember to reinforce that it is their learning that is important, not the speed at which they complete work or a collection of “blue stars” (from FreshGrade). We would suggest doing this between the progress report and midterm and then again between midterm and final. You may find that individual students need this reassurance more often than others.

  • You can create a quick Google forms survey asking students how they think they have been doing on their recent work. Your last question can be “What letter grade would you give yourself right now and why?” You can then quickly touch base with each student or just the ones who aren’t on the same page as you.
  • You can give students a sticky note and ask them to write down a grade for themselves on one side and one or two reasons why on the other.
  • You can have quick conferences with each student and ask them what they think their grade is and why. These conversations can also be filmed and added to their Freshgrade portfolio.

Student / Teacher Conferences:

  • Give students specific guidelines for each conference. Tell them what you will be looking for and how they need to be prepared BEFORE they come to the conference. If students are prepared and you know what skills you are looking for you will be able to complete more conferences during a period.
  • Give students graphic organizers to prepare for the conference or have them create their own. If they are prepared, students should be able to run the conference themselves. When you sit down together resist the urge to lead. When they say “what do you want to talk about?” toss it back to them and say “I don’t know, this is your conference where do you want to start?”
  • Students should be telling you which expectations they were working on and which ones they met. They should be able to tell you why they met the expectation with examples from their work. Not meeting the expectation is just as valuable.
  • Ask students to discuss an expectation they have not met and how they are preparing to meet it. Allow students the time to express their ideas, try not to ask leading questions. For example: “When did you use inference”? As opposed to “Did you use inference when the brother got in a fight with the main character”?
  • If using Freshgrade, have it open on your screen while you conference and take a few minutes to make notes while the student is talking. Take a few minutes at the end to write your comments and give next step feedback. This way you can give the feedback right away, save time and you don’t have to transcribe any notes.
  • Be ready for the student who is not prepared. Conferencing is part of their learning; don’t hesitate to tell them they are not ready and to come back when they are prepared. (Some students may need more guidance on how to prepare). At the same time, give yourself a bit of slack. You are also learning how to conference. You will learn what questions to ask that will give you the information you need.

Final Thought: This is a major shift in pedagogy; give yourself and your students time to adjust.

Have you used any of these techniques in your classroom?

Do We Really Need a Final Exam?

Do We Really Need a Final Exam?

In his article in the British Newspaper The Telegraph titled “Intelligence cannot be defined by exams,” Peter Tait argues that, “The problem of measuring intelligence per se is that it is an inadequate guide to human capability, and that many of the ways we use to measure working intelligence are woefully inadequate.”  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationopinion/11678216/Intelligence-cannot-be-defined-by-exams.html

I would argue that one of these inadequate measures is the final exam.

I listen to teachers in the staff room complain about students who think the final exam will dramatically change their mark.

Yes, it occasionally happens, but more often than not a student’s mark is essentially the same before and after the exam.

Other teachers wonder what to do with a student who performed poorly on the exam, but demonstrated excellent understanding throughout the semester.

And yet, we are still required to give exams at the end of the semester.

Or administrators who, in an effort to help with the end of semester time crunch, encourage writing the report comments before the exams are done because, “you basically know what their mark will be.”

Yes, I basically do. So why am I required to give an exam at the end of the semester?

After teaching a no-grades classroom for a few years I decided this dilemma was untenable.

I spend all semester conferencing; giving feedback and generally promoting learning over marks only to turn around at the end of the course to administer a formal final exam. Following rich conversations about world news, student opinions on indigenous issues in our county, discussions about the relevance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, I find myself sitting at my desk, alone in my classroom, deciding if a student’s answer warrants 3 points, or 5.

Surely this is “woefully inadequate.” Surely there is a better way.

At the start of this school year I presented my principal with an option to the traditional exam. Could our English department have students make an end of the year presentation where they discuss their strengths, challenges and next steps using examples from their work throughout the semester? He agreed to let us try.

For this exam reflection we allowed students to organize their presentations however they saw fit. The requirements were that they had to choose three expectations from our four categories (Oral, Reading, Writing, Media) and explain their strengths, challenges and next steps for each expectation. They were required to provide examples from their work to support their explanations.

I was so proud of my students. They really took the time to reflect and show their learning.

Below is an example of one of my students’ strengths for the expectation “Reading for Meaning”. The picture on the left is her first attempt at annotating while the one on the right is one of her later annotations. In her presentation she discussed how she eventually colour coded her annotations (you can see her legend at the top of the page) and how she used the feedback she received to help make adjustments and improvements to subsequent annotations. She went on to talk about how learning to properly annotate has helped her to engage more fully with the text; leading to a deeper understanding of the characters, themes and literary devices than she had previously known.

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-7-16-32-pm

 

This students’ self-reflection at the end of the semester was meaningful to her. She was able to look back at her semester and genuinely evaluate her learning.

It was interesting to see how students organized their content. The following grade nine student organized his thoughts into charts supporting his ideas with oral examples of his work from the semester. In his Weaknesses/Challenges section he even reflected on the exam process itself.

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-7-19-36-pm

 

We have discovered that one of our challenges with this format is to ensure that students provide both an example of their work and an explanation of how the work demonstrates understanding of the expectation. We believe this will become easier as we curate examples of past reflective presentations. Concrete examples should help students visualize their own presentation.

This issue can be seen from the example below, where the student has given an example of the work he is discussing, but has not specifically addressed the expectation. He is ostensibly discussing the writing strategies he used, but has only said that he is good at them and that he discussed them with others. Unlike the previous student, he didn’t add his examples orally, but had to be prompted for examples.

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-7-24-25-pm

 

Our department also found the exam reflections to be useful when talking with students who were unsuccessful in meeting the expectations. One teacher talked with a student who had done very little work all semester, but who said she could meet all the expectations. The teacher replied that she had no doubt the student could meet the expectations, but where was the work from the semester to support her claim? It was a light bulb moment for the student. The student agreed that there was too little evidence of the expectations and that the teacher could not allow her to advance to the next course level. The onus was put on the student, not on the teacher.

If teachers and students routinely had this type of reflection at the end of each course, less time would have to be spent assessing student knowledge at the beginning of the new year. The commencement of the next course could simply start with a look back at the reflection and a setting of new goals. Teachers could easily group students by goals and need.

Even though some students did a better job than others in their reflective presentations, each student did think and reflect on their learning.

I was pleased to hear students admit that sitting beside their friends was maybe not their best choice, and that they would think about that in the future. How much more effective is this reflection coming from the student themselves than in a comment written by the teacher on a report card?

I had many students mention that they were proud of themselves for adding more to classroom conversations, and others who discussed how they had applied their feedback to other courses and would continue to apply their learning to future English courses.

As I reflect on the changes we will make the next time around, whatever our inadequacies, I am at least comforted that we are permitting students to reflect on their own “human capabilities” and not randomly tying a number to their “intelligence”.

What do you think? Would you try this kind of reflection in your classroom?

 

Adding Student Voice to the Classroom

Adding Student Voice to the Classroom

I have found that naturally flowing from the grades free curriculum is a desire to give students more autonomy over their learning. I have only just begun to explore the idea of giving students more, and sometimes all of the control, over their assignments, assessments and evaluations.

A few weeks ago, I had a fabulous conversation with my grade 10 class. I asked them to imagine that they were going to read a novel together with a small group of classmates. I asked them to tell me what they would want to do to show me their learning of that novel. They had interesting ideas. Some wanted to make movies of their understanding, other suggested creating a time line of events using QR codes that could be posted in the hallway, while others advocated taking the themes of the novel and relating them to real world events. I had asked them to think of ideas individually, but after I collected their notes they casually started to discuss their ideas with their classmates and I could hear ideas changing, modifying and growing.

I gave this hypothetical scenario to my grade ten’s after a discouraging conversation with my grade 11 class. The grade 11 class in question is unfortunately a traditional grades based classroom. I do create a bit of a hybrid by allowing re-do of assignments and giving as much feedback as possible, but in the end I must give marks. The response to the “what would you like to do” question was markedly different in this class. They listed activities like, I could re-draw the cover of the novel, I could answer some novel questions, I could make a diorama of one of the novel scenes. “Really?” I asked, “This is what you WANT to do?”

The difference in these two classes is not that my grade tens are more creative or more academically thoughtful; it is that my grade elevens have not been given the opportunity to question how they learn. Sadly, they have been trained to take the teacher created assignment and do it without asking questions.

In contrast, since the beginning of the semester I have been asking for input from my grade ten class into the assignments that I create for them. They have embraced the idea that we are on a journey of learning together and that I not only welcome, but seek, their input. Consequently, they are excited to think about new ways of doing things.

The grade ten class read “Maus” by Art Spiegelman. A graphic novel detailing the true life story of Vladik Speigelman’s life in WWII Poland. I wanted them to develop an understanding of genocide so I created a layered assignment to help build their general knowledge and work towards a larger understanding of the concept. Since our earlier hypothetical conversation had gone well, I asked them to think about what they wanted to learn about genocide and how they could show me their learning. My only stipulation was no Power Point, which seems to have become the standard “go to” for most of my students.

The ensuing conversations were fabulous! Many groups spent time discussing the purpose of the assignment. They questioned why they would want to know more about genocide and would knowing about it be useful knowledge for them to have. When I mentioned there were other genocides besides the Holocaust they were shocked. Which started a whole new level of questioning! Some of my students became quite annoyed that this was the first time they had heard of some of these atrocities.  I loved listening to them.

In the end, students agreed it was an important topic and argued for more class time, turning the assignment into a larger project than I was originally envisioning. It is hard to argue against more learning.

Their final projects were great. One group did use QR codes and had the rest of the class go on a scavenger hunt around the school to discover what had happened to gypsies in Russia. If the lesson had just been assigned by me it would have been a lot more sedate and a lot less fun.

As I have mentioned before, these are my early explorations into increasing student involvement, but I only see myself amplifying students’ voices in the future.

 

 

 

 

Being Student Centered

Being Student Centered

If you’re angry, count to five before you say anything, they say. I’ve found it also works if you’re trying not to say anything at all.

People who know me might find this hard to believe, but in high school I never spoke in class. OK, if directly asked by the teacher I would answer, but that was it. I never put my hand up to ask questions and if I had to actually speak to the teacher it took me at least three days to build up the courage to go and talk to them.

But somewhere between high school and becoming a teacher I have found my voice. I love talking in class. I have anecdotes and stories to illustrate any point you could possibly need to make. I have funny stories, sad stories, thought provoking stories, childhood stories; I am ready for any situation.

It came as a bit of shock to realize that I talk too much. I realized it the other day when I told my story before calling on my student who had been waiting patiently. I just new my example was going to be better. To be honest, I was a bit shocked at my own arrogance.

My classroom is not a podium for me to share all of my life lessons. It is also not a place for the spotlight to shine down upon me as a regale my, always interested, (at least in my own mind) students with yet another tale from the Locke storybook. Sigh…..

We stand while our students sit. It gives us a sense of importance as we look down upon our charges. Although, let’s face it, at 5’2” I’m hardy looking way down. It’s a common side effect of teaching; this sense of grandeur. I’m trying to bring myself down. Dismount from my high horse, if you will.

I’ve vowed to let my students give the examples and provide the connections. At least most of them, I’ve never been good at going cold turkey. I’ve committed to not always having to add one of my stories to the conversation.

So that’s how I found myself last week counting to five when there was a break in our book talk conversation. It didn’t take long for a student to fill the gap, discussing a section of the novel they were interested in. It was a wonderful, interesting, deep and wholly student led discussion.

Too bad, I had a really good story….

 

 

Practice what you Preach

Practice what you Preach

So, here I am reflecting on my own learning.

This last week was conference week for my students. In the past I have had classes that averaged around 14 students so it was not onerous to meet and discuss learning with each student. I could easily fit all my conferences into 2-3 days. This year my average is approximately 22 students, and as a result, conferencing has taken that much longer. This semester I have only academic students; I expect more independent reflection from this group. This expectation may have caused me to overlook the needs of some of my students.

I realized I needed my students to prepare ahead of time, or I would need two weeks to complete all the conferences!

In Google Classroom I posted six of the overall expectations from the curriculum document and asked my students to assess themselves against it.

My instructions were to look at each of the expectations and ask themselves if they had exceeded, met or not met the expectation. I then asked that they find a piece of work or moment in class that would illustrate either their understanding or how they were improving.

The majority of my grade ten’s, and a strong contingent of my grade nines, came to the conferences prepared with notes, ready to discuss their learning. (Students are working on either independent or group assignments while I conference with their peers.)

For example, to explain how she is meeting the expectations for listening to understand one student said, “When I have questions about the story I am able to listen to the class talk about it and explain their opinions. When someone asked a question that I also had about the mom, I was able to listen to my peers and teacher to get the answer.”

My difficulty came when talking with students who either did not come prepared at all or who only reflected on their learning with minimal effort.

In answer to the same expectation as above, one student stated “I am able to understand people when they speak”. Uhmmm….. As a result, I had to spend more time asking the student questions and looking through their FreshGrade portfolio to find the evidence of their learning. It wasn’t that they didn’t have examples of their learning, they just weren’t sure how to organize and show their learning.

I could have done two things to avoid most of these issues.

1) The first time I asked my students to reflect on the expectations I showed them examples of what I was expecting. Obviously, this time not everyone needed this extra step, but some of them did. I could have posted examples on Google Classroom and invited students to check them out if they needed help.

2) I could have followed one of the hack suggestions from Starr Sackstein in Hacking Assessment.  She suggests creating an electronic form for students to fill in. I could have easily created a Google form to collect the information I was looking for. If I had done this, I would have only needed to touch base with those students who were still having difficulty. I could have given students a half class period to fill in the form, but also allowed students who needed more time to finish the form at home.

This would have freed up more of my in-class instruction time and provided time to concentrate on students who needed more direction. I would still need to talk with each student at some point, but it could be done at a different time. One on one conversation is so important for the student-teacher relationship, that it must never be skipped.  It just doesn’t always have to occur during conference week, especially if time is becoming tight.

In the end, I never feel that my time has been wasted when talking with my students. I learn so much as we discuss their learning. They honestly care about their progress and are eager to examine how they can make improvements in their work. I just need to make sure I maximize that precious classroom time.

Have you used an electronic form to conference with your students? Did you find it successful?

 

Somewhat Organized Chaos

Somewhat Organized Chaos

When I tell colleagues that students in my class can re-do assignments to improve their learning I often get a strange look. The look is followed by “how can you do that without drowning in a sea of marking?”

I won’t lie – this method takes more effort.

It has really been a few years of trial and error to find a system that works for me.

I have tried various spreadsheets, but found them to be too time consuming and cumbersome.

chart-example

I have also made several charts, and while I found that they worked for smaller classes, they are not really practical with larger numbers of students. Not to mention I was using a lot of paper.

chart-for-blog

I have finally settled on using FreshGrade and Google classroom so that both my students and I can see their learning progression. Fresh grade is a digital portfolio. It is both web and app based.

Most of my students submit their work to me through Google Classroom.

I give the students their overall feedback, explaining what was done well and what their next steps might be. I either copy and paste this feedback from their Google doc into their FreshGrade portfolio or write the feedback directly into the portfolio.

I keep track of student re-submissions by creating a second or sometimes third Google drop box. For example, my students submitted a short answer to a question for the short story The Veldt. I created a “Veldt Answer” drop box on Google classroom. When I finished giving their feedback, I created a second drop box titled “Veldt Answer Take two”. Because Google classroom keeps everything in a digital folder it is easy for me to see who has re-submitted their work. Depending on the number of students re-working an assignment for a third time I will either create a third drop box, or just have them re-submit to the second drop box.

veldt-one

veldt-2

When I finish evaluating student’s re-submitted work, I make an updated comment on their FreshGrade portfolio. In this way I keep a running commentary of their work and improvements. When it comes time to conference, at mid-term and final, the students and I sit down together and look at their portfolio. It is easy to see where they are doing well and where they need to next concentrate their efforts.

Here is an example from one of my grade nine students. The red arrow shows where I have updated his feedback.

 

zack-work

This is by no means a completely smooth process. I do have to keep checklists of who handed in what so I know when to re-assess assignments. It is somewhat organized chaos, but it mostly keeps my head above water. By adopting the tools of the digital classroom, and spending some up front time and effort creating some organizing structures, you can organize your own chaos.

I’d love to hear how others organize their student submissions.

All opinions/ thoughts in this blog are 100% my own. I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.

Student Created Assessment

Student Created Assessment

In my previous posts I have mentioned that I am trying to show my students that we are on this learning journey together. To that end I wanted to show them that I don’t just make our learning goals or rubrics out of thin air.

I showed them that in Ontario, all teachers follow the curriculum documents for each subject and we get our direction and learning expectations for each course from these documents. Of course these documents are not written in student friendly language. To bridge the gap between curriculum documents and the students, I gave groups in each of my classes a list of the learning expectations. Then, for this exercise, I modeled how to re-word one of the expectations and asked them to change the rest to student friendly language.

Here’s what I learned:

  •  Randomly grouped students were not a good idea. I should have made the groups myself, as a few of the groups ended up wavering and struggling. I should have taken the range of student learning styles into account.
  • Giving students a list of more than 10 expectations was overwhelming. Smaller groups with fewer expectations would have been better. Groups of two working on 2-3 expectations would have been ideal.
  • I thought this would be quick and easy and would take no more than 30 minutes. I was very wrong…. It ended up taking a whole class period (75 min) and a half. (Even I was bored!) It mostly took time because I had to move from group to group re-explaining what I was looking for. I thought it would be easy because I do it all the time. I had neglected to take into account that my students had never looked at these documents before. Students needed considerably more scaffolding.
  • I had each group create their own Google doc and share it with me. I spent a great deal of time cutting, pasting and editing each groups docs to create the final document. I should have had the students work on their own small piece; then join together to create the final document.  This would have been more time efficient.

Live and learn.

In the end though, we did have some success. As an example, we ended up going from:

Writing expectation 1.5 “determine whether the ideas and information gathered are relevant to the topic, sufficient for the purpose, and meet the requirements of the writing task”.

To:

W1.5 I am able to figure out if the ideas and information I gathered are talking about my topic, will work will with my topic and meet the requirements of the writing task.

It could still use some “tweaking”, but students were able to tell me what it meant, so we’re running with it for now.

While I will definitely streamline the process for next semester, the end result was good. We have used these re-defined expectations to create a couple of rubrics together.

For the first rubric, students looked at the expectations document and then as a class we discussed the assignment and what we wanted to assess. I sat at the computer and copied and pasted the expectations into the blank rubric on the screen while we talked. When we were finished, I simply shared the document with everyone.

rubric-2-blog

 

For our next rubric, I choose to assess their grammar and punctuation, but left the first two expectations blank. Students then, individually, looked at the expectations and choose two that they personally wanted to work on. I also had them reflect on how they were going to meet their chosen expectations. From the feedback they have been receiving most students were very quickly able to determine expectations to pursue.

kayla-rubric

 

My next step with learning expectations is to have students choose two goals they wish to set for the next unit.

Have you been exploring student created rubrics? I’d love to here how it has worked for you.