My professional inquiry project this year is all about assessment, what I do, how I do it and most importantly, why. Why do we assess? I went back and forth on what this project could be but knowing that assessment is something that can always be improved, I knew this would be a great place to start.
But where do I start on such a massive concept? By looking at where you are within it.
I had to recognize where I was in my own assessment journey. While I was excited to be taken on this journey; I knew I would be in for a tough road of reflection. I knew I could do better, but how? Thanks to my favorite professional learning app, Twitter, I started to research and look for ideas on how to improve my own practice.
I checked out Dylan Williams’ book “Formative Assessment”, I took PD on assessment with Andy Vasily and luck would have it, Trevor MacKenzie released a book on assessment called, “Inquiry Mindset: Assessment Edition”.
All of these tools were so helpful in identifying practices I was already doing but also helped to identify ways I could improve. One strategy in particular would be to co-create learning intentions with students. I immediately started to think, “How am I going to support 100 different individual student intentions?”
This is my journey
First Checkpoint: Explore
3rd grade came in with a picture of a figure walking up a set of stairs and I asked them, “What do you notice?” Students talked about the stairs, the person, how many steps, the colors, bottom of the stairs and the top of the stairs. I asked whether or not this person was done climbing the stairs and they said no because he was at the bottom.
At that moment, we went into the hallway where we have a rather long 3 floor staircase and I said is this bottom step more or less important than the top step?
More, because it’s the first!
Less, because it’s the lowest!
I said, “I want you to think about how you’d get to the top step if these first steps weren’t here…”
Students started to really think about their idea on whether that bottom step was more or less important.
We came back into the classroom and I showed them a different picture of a circle with “Beginning, Developing, Proficient” with “Rhythm” in the middle. With the question, what is important here?
After several minutes of discussing what was important to everyone and why I asked “How does this connect to our discussion with the stairs? A few students shared how the beginning of the cycle could be the bottom step but after you get to the top step you are starting at the beginning again.
I asked, “Why do you think that?” Students: Because proficient isn’t the top!
Second Checkpoint: Creating
After this provocation of proficient not being the “best” and the actual end goal, we looked at a blank levels of understanding chart with our rhythm standards underneath. I asked students to think about themselves as a learner in all levels and to write down some ideas on 3 things.
- What would you as a beginner/developing / proficient in rhythm look like?
- What would you as a beginner/developing / proficient in rhythm feel like?
- What would you as a beginner/developing / proficient in rhythm sound like?
After several minutes of discussion, there was a buzz in the room of what learning means to us. ‘We created a whole class level of understanding, however, I asked students to create their own levels of understanding and post it to Seesaw. This would be there for their reference to check their learning. When they believe they have reached proficient level, they will ask, ‘what else could I do to continue my growth?’
Third Checkpoint: Planning
After we created our own levels of understanding it was time to start putting it into practice but we weren’t just going to go at it from every angle, we needed a plan. So once again, I put it back on the student, what and how:
- What is your goal for rhythm during this unit?
- How can we accomplish this?
We looked at these two questions, sharing our ideas with partners and came up with a variety of individual goals. With even more ways of how students could work on it.
Students reflected on their journey at the end of each class period while lining up. They did this by looking back at their levels of understanding and looking where they are in relation to their own understanding, keeping in mind that it isn’t the end.
4th Checkpoint: Sharing
I am really excited about this inquiry project of mine and have been working on it for 2 years now. I have been documenting the journey through the Padlet, which can be found here! Being a lifelong learner myself, I’d love any feedback or suggestions. I am so excited to be at a point to share this journey and be able to document my growth as a student centric educator and how I am trying deeply to empower student learning and agency. Thank you so much for reading and hope you have a fabulous day!