Grade. Assess. Feedback

feedbackisthelearningkey

Ross Cooper asks a great question: Should the 4Cs be graded?

Should communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity be graded?

Remember that assessment is for learning, feedback for improvement, but grading is an evaluation of the moment.

Read Ross’s post and think about his ideas.

Rubrics can be created for anything, but are best created together with students, with a focus on what is proficient, rather than filling in the whole rubric with qualifiers. Just know what is proficient, to strive for, to exceed. Those criteria will change over the year as students’ starting points change and they nudge forward in their expertise.

What do students think critical thinking is?  or creativity?  Is there a common language from which learners can have a conversation?

For all the 4cs,  that’s the big question: is there a common language understood about the expectations? After having that conversation, students can identify where they use the skills, and how well they apply them. The criteria to me would be a living document, and may, if learning is truly the goal, be personalized for each student along a continuum. And the progress made certainly would indicate to the student his success and next goals.

But what about the more visible communication and collaboration skills?

Should we grade communication and collaboration? I think both should begin with a conversation and development of expectations with students. They should observe and assess where they are, and then choose improvement goals.

Communication and collaboration are part of the Common Core State Standards so learning targets of proficiency could develop from those.

However, in my real world of students, I’m thinking about success, and that means that the proficiency goals for students would be personalized. Some of my students are stretching towards college level goals, and some are still putting words together. If I want learning, then proficiency is a continuum, setting new goals together to reach the next level based on feedback on what was done well and where improvement is needed. Feedback from students themselves, peers, and the teacher. Feedback as conversation, whether in conversation face-to-face or in conversation on a collaborative document. But feedback is the key to learning.

Any “grade” must be fairly decided by criteria and conversation of achievement of that criteria. It must be a fair representation of the student’s progress, and that representation will change over time.

Ross shared a great truth by Rick Wormeli:

“Students can learn without grades, but they can’t learn without timely, descriptive, feedback.”  ~ Rick Wormeli

Because I think the learning will come from the doing, and the reflection on what helped and what didn’t will better guide next steps than a grade would, I would have that feedback conversation with kids during their projects and together decide what and if to grade – for all the 4cs– what and if to grade as a conversation.

 

21st Century for Families #immooc

architectscreateexperiences

Teachers: Always Learning– Communicate to Families

As I strive to become a better teacher, coach, and learner, I search for resources that help me grow, offering ideas that I can adapt to my situation. In changing my teaching to meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s worlds, I need to share with and bring parents and families into the journey. After all, they were taught the old, factory model way; it’s all they know. Teachers today take the best of yesterday and move it forward.

One of the resources I review is the P21: Partnership for 21st Century Learning.

I discovered there two important resources for families, so they can understand why schools are moving to more collaborative and connected lessons and projects:

Education for a Changing World: What is 21st Century Learning and Citizenship?

Family 21 Century Citizenship Tips 

I found these blog posts:

Blog Post with parent resources: What is 21st Century Learning all about?

Blog Post on Thinking Classrooms and Student Self-Assessment: How to Build An Empowering Classroom Culture

What about the basics?

What about the 3Rs?  We still teach the foundation, but in different, more personalized ways with the help of technology, and include the 4C’s –the 4Cs — critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

Learning today, fully sixteen years into the 21st Century, includes the three ‘Rs’ of reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic, but also focuses on skills now essential to a connected world, essential for the adult world of our students: the 4Cs — critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. Here’s how we’re moving forward:

Instead of standardized, sequential lessons completed by oneself, students learn by doing, by asking questions and working together to solve problems and present their learning in ways “above and beyond” the paper and pencil strategies of last century.

Of course, that means 21st Century Learning is as much process as it is static information and final product; it’s more than anything “google-able”: it’s a whole lot of risk-taking, questioning, struggle, and feedback from teachers and peers to guide the process so students achieve success.

Feedback rather then grades?

Feedback is not a grade, it’s a guide. Feedback is a guide much better than a grade because the feedback shows what is done well, and what steps would lead to improvement and success. It truly is no child left behind, and without the need for tests.

But if there are no tests or grades, how do we show our students are learning?

The Journal: Panel: Ditch Grades Now: Focus on Student Learning shares the work of Mark Barnes:

Instead of grading students on their work, Barnes had “a conversation” with them. He used an online gradebook, but instead of applying grades or points or percentages, he recorded feedback and discussions with students. Instead of judging his students’ abilities at an arbitrary point in time by assigning a score, he guided them through a checklist that was designed to help them progress to where they needed to be. [emphasis added]    ~Mark Barnes

With a checklist and a conversation, students can self-assess their work, discuss with peers and teacher how to improve, and therefore, build their success. In the same article, an explanation:

“We have something far better than scores when report card time rolls around,” he explained. “We have artifacts and feedback that provide a clear picture of learning. When a teacher reviews the body of work from a student and asks, ‘Where does this fit on a traditional grade scale?’ the student understands and provides accurate responses in almost every instance — at least as accurate as a traditional grade can provide.”  ~Mark Barnes

Many schools still give grades, but it’s not an average, or filled with zeros for unfinished work, it’s based on high expectations personalized to students in conversation with students and teachers. It’s rather like your supervisor or team member at work explaining what is needed, checking that your work fits, and offering suggestions when needed — so that the product is as expected and needed with quality. That’s much better and more realistic than a one-time test or assignment; it honors the goal and the student; it is good teaching.

For an example of how that works in the classroom see “Idea for Rubrics.

And think about it, how do we really learn? We talk to others and share after we try. We keep trying until we get it. The research supports this, especially with feedback. To know what to expect, here’s an article on how to give feedback by John Hattie, the author of Visible Learning, where Tony Buzan’s work is also included:

eminent psychologist Tony Buzan points out, practice only helps people to repeat what they are doing. If what they are doing is incorrect, people internalise the wrong thing. Feedback lets students know how they are doing while there is still time to adjust and perfect their efforts.[emphasis added]

The great part of this is student understanding of the process, the content, and the purpose. So when grade time arrives, students can share their work, explain what they did well, how they revised, and what could still be done to improve. As your child explains this, listen. You will hear knowledge and skills, content, confidence, humility, pride, and a command of their own learning.

So, to our families, we invite you into our classrooms to see:

  • projects and work wrapped in foundational skills in process and basics with authentic  purposes and audiences
  • the four Cs: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity
  • checklists and steps to guide success, personalized for students
  • ongoing feedback from peers and teachers [and families] to guide success
  • mutual grading from student and teacher founded in expectations learned and developed with feedback
  • an open door for families to visit and volunteer, offering their own feedback

I think, if families think back to those school days remembered most, it will be the times where people worked together, a project, a collaboration. That’s the goal everyday: to have authentic learning with deeper learning.

I hope this clarifies the transformation of classrooms for families.

If you have comments, questions, or any other resources, please share below.

Musings on Innovation for #immooc

 

change

What are some examples that you consider innovative?  How is it new and better than what previously existed?

An example of a change in practice that is innovative in the classroom and becoming more so is that of the commenting feature in Google Apps so that I can give ongoing, synchronous or asynchronous, feedback to students, and they can give feedback to each other. We can have an ongoing conversation that leads the student to their success in more ways than a simple objective. With Kaizena, I can even give voice feedback, although I’ve found the written feedback to be more effective.

In addition, students can use their voice in Google Docs to type their work, which is so beneficial to some students whose great ideas somehow cannot get from their brain through their fingers onto the paper.

In the past, I’d have to gather the documents on flash drives, a shared drive, or on paper, provide written or typed feedback and send it back. Not nearly the smooth process we now have using Google Classroom with Google Docs.

In my teaching, I’m always looking for ways to help each student be successful. For instance texts on the Mac can be read to students who may not be fluent enough to read more difficult text. They know to highlight the text, click command-option-escape, and listen to the text as often as they need to understand and come up with their own questions and understanding, in their Google Doc with voice. In the past, a partner or myself could read it to them– but now they are in control. In fact my students know how to use rewordify.com to paste in text and select an easier reading level.  I’m always asking, “What does this learner need?”

In thinking about Language Arts and the tools of communication, inquiry, collaboration, design, and publication, I also understand that my goals need to represent today and tomorrow — the evolving world of interconnectedness, analysis and curation of constant information, and development and publication of one’s own ideas. Therefore, our essential questions reflect those goals:

essentialquestionsrelevantt

And our tools support our learning: Google Apps for Education, Thinglink, Padlet, blogs and blog buddies. It’s not that we’re using the tools, but how we use them as publishers, editors, designers, authors that makes us — students and teachers — innovators.

designendgoalindividual

In my life, I’m still figuring out how to innovate what was my teaching career into some other avenue. I’ve continued my Twitter conversations and connections and still participate in things like #clmooc and #immooc. I am a forever learner.

What has changed in our world is our instant connectedness, which is a good and a bad thing. So it is necessary for our student to be discerning viewers and creators of content — to do so to better the world.  That’s a mantra to keep emphasizing — to better the world. Some of us have that as a gift, others are so traumatized that survival precludes them from thinking of others. So we must share how to innovate to get beyond survival to be in control and making things better for oneself and others — to do something amazing.

IMG_0438

If I were to design a school, I’d think about these:

Design A Schoolsre.jpeg

Based on Connected Learning theory [#clmooc]:

Connected Learning

By innovating with the tools to which we have access today, much of this we can accomplish as learner-centered experiences: interest-driven, peer-supported, shared purpose, production-centered, and openly networked to meet our personalized academic goals and essential questions for learners, today and tomorrow.

architectscreateexperiences

In examining the eight characteristics of an innovator, I thought in terms of my students. How could we be innovators together?

I could ask them:  Imagine a world where you are in control, where you find creativity and contentment, passion and province, connections and community? Imagine this together. What would it look like? We can think of this journey, and prepare our minds to succeed:

Be an innovator, someone who believes that ability, intelligence, and talents are developed,leading to the creation of better ideas — a better world.

Let’s start asking ourselves these questions:

innovatorsworldsre

I started that journey with my students with collaborative tools [GAFE and wikis], blogging, and student choice for their voice in a community of learners, and now I have a way to introduce them to an innovator’s vision of and mindset for the world.

How did you start your journey?  What questions did you ask?


Images:

Change by @gcouros #immooc

Quotes created with Notegraphy

Design A School by Sheri Edwards in Keynote

Innovator’s World in Keynote

Connected Learning theory

Reflection #immooc #digilitsunday

 

changeisanopportunityimm

Today’s DigiLitSunday topic is reflection. That’s an amazing word. I see my reflection in the mirror. I see my work reflects my efforts. I see my mistakes reflect I tried. I see my successes reflect I learned well from others. I see my students’ [staff or kids] failures reflect my chance to find another way. I see my students’ [staff or kids] successes reflect my adaption that supported their needs.

I have successes and failures. I feel I did not do enough for my staff; I never gave up on my students. But always, I strove to understand and meet the needs of those under my care, to allow each the opportunity to find their path to success and understanding. It’s not easy to teach open, in ways that allow all learners to meet their goals, but it’s a choice that had to be made. I had to change to do something amazing, even when the amazing didn’t always happen.

Reflection had to happen before I even started a lesson or professional development session. I had to know who I was teaching and what was needed — by each participant. I had to know the vision I had, and know that that vision may change according to what we eventually did together.

If we were learning imagery, the vision was a piece of work that exemplified a sensory description. And once we, my students and I, started on that journey, an audience or audiences were chosen and students chose the way to share: an Animoto, slides, document, comic. And what was shared? a poem , story, a song, an annotation. And in each, imagery.

And although imagery was the target, the learning was so much more, depending on the personalized needs of each student and the content, context, and product they chose, sometimes in collaboration with others, and always with feedback from myself and their peers.

Reflection occurred during — this is what I’m trying to do.  Even I would sometimes start a lesson with that. Feedback acknowledged the parts done well and suggestions for ways to improve. We grew together, one student helping another.

Reflection occurred after — this is what I learned. And the learning was more than imagery: it was collaboration, critique, helpful feedback, a tool, a way to create, etc.

That was the plan, and for some it worked well. Others needed models, and their peers helped. Time prevented some from final reflections in writing, but we found time to talk.

We couldn’t follow the process every time, and I do believe we need to slow down, and spend more time in the process on bigger projects where students design an organized project, in whatever grouping they choose [individual, team, partner].

For the past two years, I’ve focused on essential questions and a few larger projects:

  • How do researchers investigate successfully?
  • What strategies and processes do collaborators need for success?
  • How do readers and writers determine and develop relevant, accurate, and complete topics?
  • How do publishers design and organize content for their audience and purpose?
  • Why and how do editors and speakers use
    and edit with the rules for standard English grammar and language ?

Each year, I provided a better focus on those questions in our work. If I were teaching this year, I would start each week with a conversation based on what each student was doing. I’d slow down the process just enough for this reflection, building on what we learned each week to develop our authorship, and providing voice to the developing authors and publishers and researchers as they acknowledged their new skills, tools, and processes. I love how Esther Wojcicki shapes her journalism classes, giving power and agency to her students. This was my goal, and it was growing towards it.

For my staff, I had not the opportunities to create such a learning environment, although I tried to model it in the format of the sessions, with choices rather than mandates. For some, that provided the autonomy to thrive, for others it brought uncertainty. Change is not everyone’s strength.

And although I tried share-out documents in sessions, and over the years taught blogging, modeled Twitter’s PLN building, encouraged collaboration in Google Apps, and suggested small ways to share out the classroom stories, I found a small group with whom to share and collaborate, encouraging their access and inclusion of collaborative tools. However, I alone could not move all staff forward.

I think now, though, I have an idea that may help.  More on that later.

In the introduction of the Innovator’s Mindset book by George Couros, I enjoyed and agreed with so many ideas, such as building on the strengths of our students and staff, and encouraging curiosity, rather than extinguishing it with traditional worksheet / workbook / online skill learning. George reminds us of our responsibility, “spark a curiosity that empowers students to learn on their own.” I think this is the key responsibility as teachers and learners, and is why I chose those Essential Questions for my Language Arts classroom: it created an authentic focus with real-content context and projects for students to be authors and publishers, designing with their content and analysis publications for their audiences.

With the focus more on feedback than on grades and specific skills, it allowed students agency and voice to be authors. It was a choice, a change in small ways with the help of Google Apps for Education and other tools that allowed for ease in our communication, research, feedback, revision, and publication. We weren’t perfect or prolific, but the students became owners — and evaluators — of their own work. And our student-led conferences engaged families in their learning, excited that their students were learning skills they wanted to learn, or that they themselves were using in their work and education.

George Couros says:

change

And a small step by each of us begins that journey to amazing.

That’s the idea: I think now, though, I have an idea that may help engage staff members, especially for you who are in the Innovator’s Mindset Mooc, course in Innovation by George Couros [#IMMOOC].

So I would share the Change poster, and ask of my staff, “Are your students learning on their own? engaged in each of our classrooms?” and “What will I — and you — and we– change to do something amazing, to empower student engagement and learning on their own?”

Areyourstudentslearningon.png

What are examples of small changes?

 

One simple counselor strategy by Susan Spellman Conn:

Or a teacher who uses SnapChat for Book Chats with her PLC Book Studies — Tara Martin:

IMG_6792taramartinsnap.jpg

And, join the #immooc:

Sign up for the Innovators Mindset — the IMMOOC here.

Join the #immooc Google Plus Community by Kevin Hodgson @dogtrax  for posts and conversation. Read his recent reflection and learn his “change” with feedback and modeling revision [great video there].

Follow the Twitter hashtag #immooc

Join the Voxer group by Emily Clare  — how to here.

Changeisanopportunitytodo.png

I have more to change and more to learn.

What will you change?

 


Margaret Simon hosts

#DigiLitSunday

This week’s post topic: reflection

digilitsunday.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Idea for Rubrics: Feedback #140WC #C4C15

140wc_quotes_hattie_homework.013

Just wanted to share this great idea for rubrics and feedback from Jennifer Gonzalez.

Instead of a rubric that describes each level, simply write the section that is “proficient.”  On the left side, provide feedback for what is needed, and on the right side share feedback of what exceeded the standards. This explicit feedback provides more guidance than a rubric filled with words the student may not even read.

140wc_quotes_rubric_feedbacksre.015 I have been writing feedback on student work using the “I see / I suggest” format. This is simple and quick and allows the student to revise.

However, I like the idea of having the standard in the middle to be more specific for both student and myself, with the comments about “I see/ I suggest” on the sides [see above image]. This makes so much sense, doesn’t it? Often the student does excel in some places, meets the standard in others, and could use improvement in other areas of their work.This open rubric allows for precise and clear feedback on successes and concerns in student work. With these as a model, students can begin self-evaluating their own work as well. Jennifer’s rubric is a model for metacognitive reflection that students can learn from the feedback that is modeled, and it is a focus for learning from the feedback provided.

I developed the rubric below for my classroom based on Jennifer’s ideas:

Be sure to read the post by  Jennifer Gonzalez for more information.  I love this idea.

P.S. This comment is a part of the #C4C15 project. Find out more here: http://bit.ly/C4C15

WC: 205

Please join the 140WC challenge — see sidebar.

 

#140WC Homework

140wc_quotes_hattie_homework.013

Is homework a valid strategy?

Many schools in their effort to transform education are researching homework and its effectiveness. Some may turn to the work of Robert Marzano, due to his impact on teacher evaluation systems. Education “experts” once loomed large in the halls of academia — universities and journals; now they lurk in their own research, which may not be the best. For instance, Mark Barnes writes about the Marzano homework research, and concludes “his evaluation of the homework research is flawed.”  Especially notable is this quote about the work of John Hattie, educational researcher and author of two books Visible Learning and Visible Learning for teachers:

Hattie measures more than  130 areas that affect academic growth and homework is number 88 on the list!

The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss provides Alfie Kohn’s summary of the most current research on homework. In elementary school especially:

  • Homework does not improve grades or scores
  • Homework does not improve character development

Kohn provides an excellent explanation of the study — and how to look at a study — to understand its implications, which also address Mark Barnes’s ideas:

First, no research has ever found a benefit to assigning homework (of any kind or in any amount) in elementary school.
“Was there a correlation between the amount of homework that high school students reported doing and their scores on standardized math and science tests?  Yes, and it was statistically significant but “very modest”:  Even assuming the existence of a causal relationship, which is by no means clear, one or two hours’ worth of homework every day buys you two or three points on a test.  Is that really worth the frustration, exhaustion, family conflict, loss of time for other activities, and potential diminution of interest in learning?  And how meaningful a measure were those tests in the first place, since, as the authors concede, they’re timed measures of mostly mechanical skills? ” and “There was no relationship whatsoever between time spent on homework and course grade, and “no substantive difference in grades between students who complete homework and those who do not.”

Resources:

 Review of Current Research Study

 The Most Current Study

A Study

Alfie Kohn 2006

Research

Joe Bower’s Homework Posts

ASCD 2005

 Suggestions:

North Carolina

Face Poverty

— this is one link, but the key idea from many sites: to face and accept the realities of poverty. Focus on school work.

Give Feedback, Not Homework: The work of John Hattie shows that learning improves with feedback that shows “where to next.”Perhaps we should spend the time providing and grading homework on providing feedback instead.  Mark Barnes recommends these four words to change education through feedback, which includes the “what next” suggested by John Hattie:

Source: Mark Barnes   See his TED talk.

In my class, the feedback loop is: recognize what was done, recheck what needs to be done, review where to find resources and lessons to this, and resubmit for re-evaluation.

Learning as Retrieval

Current research on learning focuses on retrieval — the ability to retrieve the needed information. We supposedly have used homework as a repeated practice to learn and have also taught study skills and required repeated readings. New research suggests that quizzes — frequent with staggered repetition over time, will help students retrieve — remember – better  [see also this abstract].

Some  teachers have blogged about their success with quizzes:

The Benefits of Regular Retrieval Practice | Class Teaching

retrieval practice | Reflecting English

Memory platforms | Reflecting English

In my mind, quizzes are questions, and if I want my students to be better retrievers of information, one of my tasks should be teaching them questioning strategies in which they quiz themselves and each other with student generated questions.

I’ve discovered and am implementing the Question Formulation Technique from the Right Question Institute. As suggested in the information on retrieval, we ask and evaluate open and closed questions. We review our work to refine our retrieval, which helps us deepen our understanding of the topic as the facts become more clear. The closed questions become the triggers for deeper discussions of the central topics, and how those topics are developed. Both are questions and our answers include feedback from peers and teachers to further develop the strategy.

Our question development is collaborative in Google Doc teams. Our quizzes [student and teacher questions] are given through Socrative. Our deeper learning is through collaborative team development of chosen projects on the topics we study using Google Apps and blogs.

Conclusion

Instead of planning homework and practice, perhaps we should spend our planning time providing better feedback, relevant quizzes, and questioning strategies, all if which will enhance learning and memory. Instead of homework, ask questions in quizzes. Instead of homework, provide more meaningful feedback. I believe these will help transform education and learning.

How has your concept of homework evolved? I know there are even more alternatives for both teacher and student time.

Diigo in Writing Class

How does Diigo help improve writing?

The Web 2.0 of Diigo’s highlight, annotate, and bookmarking abilities lets students personalize the information and punctuate their own online work with that information. For example: Here a student simply highlights the information she needs to review later in her document (wiki, MS Word, presentation, etc.) in order to analyze the information for her needs. (Note: Student names are pseudonyms.)

Student highlights research on poverty.

Student highlights research on poverty.

By gathering the information needed, the student is able to synthesize the ideas into his/her own connections— “I don’t know what i would do if i lived in Africa after living in a beautiful Vally between the hills with enough money to go places and have food.” This student began to notice and consider homeless people living in poverty in her own community; who knows what project would have developed with more time.

By saving the information to a Diigo group, students can connect with each other and share the important ideas for discussion or writing later:


diigoplanecrashWith the ability to share annotated bookmarks, students learn from one another and from differing viewpoints. Their sharing imbues the facts with personalized connections, allowing students to write with more voice and with connections that explain the facts. In short, students write from a deeper knowledge base.

In addition, after students write online (Google Docs, Wikis), the teacher can “Diigo” feedback. What was well done in the writing? What still needs improvement? This fifth grade student read the first annotation about the need to add examples. She added the details. Next, I recognized her addition, and added another suggestion:

diigofeedback1details

From the Diigo feedback, the student revised to include the details needed:

“Theres place were you could go shopping for baby’s. There are Cribs,Blankets and Shoes for babies.Now there is a store that is called Jewles.Jewles is were you could buy necklesses and bracelets and earring.Thats for girls of  corse” She emphasized the changes with bold herself.

Through individual or collaborative Diigo annotations, students connect to facts in ways that allow comprehension and connections that deepen their understanding.  Through Diigo annotations for feedback, students easily understand what aspects of their writing need improvement. Diigo is our friend in the writing classroom.

Note: Another Diigo Reflection here.