Synergy 8 – Self-assessment: learning from and with students

In a post from first semester, Empowering and Guiding Students to Take Charge of Assessment – Synergy 8 Example, Bo and I wrote and cross-posted information about a primary component of our assessment plan.

The student learners take primary responsibility for preparing their reflections about their own learning and growth. The student learners initiate the communication of this self-generated progress report to their parents, their teacher-facilitators, their grade chairs, and their director of studies.

We continue this practice.  It is interesting to me that we call it practice.  We practice to learn, grow, and improve, right?  We are getting better at prompting these self-assessments, and our learners are getting better at providing rich details about their learning and growth.

Here is our most recent self-assessment reflection scaffolding and prompt.  We would love to know what you think.

Midterm Self-Assessment/Progress Report Writing

Step -1:
Re-read and review past blog posts…1st Interim forward.

Step 0:
Use Synergy 8 EL Gears and Rays of Light – Brainstorming and Finding Artifacts to pre-think evidence of learning and growth

Step 1:
Begin draft #1 Midterm Self-Assessment/Progress Report

Step 2:
Look at our current slidedeck resources and choose at least one slide to visually represent your sub-team’s contribution to the Alpha project progress.

Step 3:
Complete draft #1 Midterm Self-Assessment/Progress Report. Use Google Doc or send draft in Word or Pages via email to 2-peer review partners NOT IN YOUR SUB-TEAM and CC Mr. A and Ms. G.

Step 4:
Peer review (2x) Midterm Self-Assessment/Progress Report. Use comments feature of word processor to write to a) I like…, b) I wonder…, c) I want to know more about…

Step 5:
Work on draft #2 – Revise, edit, and re-write Midterm Self-Assessment/Progress Report.

Step 6:
By Friday 5:00 p.m., post Midterm Self-Assessment/Progress Report to wmslearns and URL to Schoology.

Blog Prompt:

On wmslearns.net, write a four-paragraphs post that tells your story of bright-spot learning, challenge, and alpha-project progress. When finished, publish your post URL [on Schoology].

In class on 03-13-12, you used a modified rubric to list some learning moments and quick write about each of the four essential learning “gear areas” of Synergy.

For this blog post…

* Insert at least one image of one of the slides from your Ignite-lite slidedeck to use as a visual representation of your team’s sub-project of our Alpha project.

  1. Your first paragraph should be a strong introduction to your sub-team’s focus for the Alpha Project and PARTICULARLY a preview of YOUR major learning from the project. This paragraph is an advanced organizer.
  2. Your second paragraph should be about your “bright spot” essential learning – the area where you are experiencing the most success. Supporting details and evidence are essential. Also include how you use your bright spot to advance the work of the alpha project we selected as a team.
  3. Your third paragraph should be about the challenges you face relative to this Alpha Project. These could be project implementation challenges, personal learning challenges, etc. Additionally, you should write about the support you need to help overcome these challenges.
  4. Your final paragraph should be a conclusion about how you see your Alpha Project concluding and wrap up about your bright spot and challenge.

*** Remember that good stories and strong writing contain a balance of general and specific details. Use evidence to support your claims, but do NOT simply describe activities that we have done in Synergy. You MUST describe your LEARNING from these activities.]

While you must have proper credentials to read our learners’ blog posts, I thought I could share a couple of my comments so that you might have a sense of what I am learning with and from our leaners.

Example 1:

I appreciate the journey your team has worked through to get to a project that is meaningful to you. I am interested in knowing about the observations your team made to reach the conclusion that people are forgetting to do KP rather than refusing to do it. Do you think that people forget KP because they have to hang back after everyone has eaten or because they do not remember it at all?

I think you are spot-on about your bright spot of Problem Solutions & ID. The divergent thinking of your team lasted a long time, which is great. This indicates to me that your team explored many different ways to identify and solve problems. I think using biodegradable tablecloths to make clean up easier was a very interesting solution to propose, but you did realize that this solution created additional problems.

I hope your team returns to the idea of finding a fun way to motivate people to clean up after themselves. If everyone would do his or her part, by cleaning up just their stuff, KP would be less of a chore. I wonder if you could use the idea of “paying it forward” or “taking care of your neighbor” to encourage people to clean up their stuff and one more person’s stuff. Cleaning up yours plus one other might make a big dent in the problem.

I understand how you feel about the Ignite-lite presentations. I need more practice too. I have now tried it twice, and I find it nerve-racking. I do think I’m getting better, and I am more confident. Just think how much better you will be at presentation building and making because you have started to practice now.

I am curious about your bright spot from last our interim assessment. Do you think that you have improved in it too? Do you think that your teams’ work has just highlighted your problem-solving skills?

I also want to know more about your team’s plan for the brightly painted KP tables where all of the supplies for KP will be found. Do you have sketches of how you want the tables painted to show Mr. Nash and us? Who is going to paint these tables, and when are they going to be painted? Do you have a plan to post who has KP on a given day as an additional reminder?

What do you hope to have accomplished by Thursday?

Example 2:

I agree, [learner], that your bright spot and strength is communication and collaboration. Look at all you have learned about the process of problem-solving. You said “It was incredible how many things could be wrong, too many words, wrong idea, too distracting, no permission, but finally we got it right!” It does take patience, persistence, and stamina to solve big problems like idling and carpooling.

Would you include an image of your team’s proposed business card? I’d like to see the current version. I’ve been thinking about your business cards, and I’m wondering if you want to create several different sets of business cards. What if you created a business card with an infographic to show the benefits of not idling? What if you created another card in your series with an infographic on carpooling? I think you want to have cards to hand out that raise awareness of idling and educate about the benefits to the environment if we would make the simple change to turn our cars off while waiting in the carpool line.

Has your team published the website? I would love to see the work you have done to date. I want to know more about the benefits and challenges of carpooling. I am interested in learning more about the benefits of not idling. I am much more aware, because of your team, of when I am idling, but I do not really know what I am doing to the environment while idling. Will it really save me money? How am I harming the environment? What can I do to raise awareness in others? (So you have made a difference in the number of people who idle.)

Do you have ideas to offer the ad campaign team? Are you looking for video ads or print ads? Have you had the ad campaign team look over your business cards to give you feedback from their perspective?

Do you have a dissemination plan for the business cards? How will your team hand them out? Will they be available before and after school? Do you plan to hand them out at the elementary school as well as the junior high?

I do want to encourage you to look in the mirror when you find yourself “challenged to find a leader when we needed one the most“. I see you as a strong leader in your team. Yours is a voice I hear moving the work forward. Your questions and determination lead your team. Remember, you do not have to have a title or designation to be a leader.

Bo and I remain committed to continuing to run some “pracademic” experiments in a number of areas, including assessment and student-progress reporting. We continue to put the student at the forefront of the assessment process.  Instead of an adult (teacher) writing a static comment to another adult (parent), the Synergy 8 students utilize moderated journaling to prepare their self-assessment reports.

From our October post:

They are precipitating virtual, student-led conferences when they send their reports to the adults who serves as guides and coaches. Unlike the database-housed comments of the past, these student-based comments stir responses from their parents and the adults at school to whom they write. During the course, we see growth and progress in EVERY student’s capacity to engage in such self-assessment and progress reporting, and we believe this is a critical skill to develop at this middle-school age.

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