Final assessment tips
Robert Marzano describes asking students to keep track of their assignments as the most powerful, easy intervention to impact student achievement quickly. He adds that it is especially effective if grade levels set a learning goal as an objective and get together once a month to discuss the results. That’s true for my students as well.
- Students take more responsibility for their grades. By walking through all the steps – from partner share to exit card to weekly letters to midpoint reflection letters - students understand the relationship between the work they do and their grades.
- Thinking reflectively is required in my state through all grades. Since students are not comfortable with reflection though, projects like these can show students how to think objectively about themselves. If done without risk of ridicule, the kids are enthusiastic about writing and delivering the letters.
- I’m glad I’ve found a way to excuse myself from reading every daybook page through projects such as these. I take the daybooks and letters home and enjoy reviewing them. Their letters are fun to read and so I look forward to reflection projects.
- I like that the students flag just a few daybook pages for me to read along with their letters. I find out what my students think is their best work. Actually, over time, the students think as they’re working and tell me, I’m going to be writing about this page in my next letter. I’ve seen pages where students have scribbled a note at the top, “Grade me!” They obviously start to self-assess through this process.
The idea seems simple, really, but it is not. First attempts are often lacking reflective thought, generalizations, and detail. Suggestions:
- Talk before writing and share models to improve the final products.
- Sharing your mistakes can help foster an environment where students are more willing to share.
- If you sit with students who struggle and talk with them, help them elaborate their ideas, and in some cases, even scribe for them while the rest of the group works independently, the strugglers will learn how to explain what they’re thinking from you.
- Also, your students need enough time, sustained time in school, to write these types of reflections. Teachers ask where I find the time. Because the results are so strong, I’ve dropped other assignments we used to do.
- Let students know that writing reflectively is hard. They may need to ask questions, lots of questions. Answer the questions over and over if you have to, one-on-one if you have to, because this kind of writing is new and they need our help.