Friday, May 10, 2013

Putting My Students in the Driver's Seat of Assessment

One of my goals as a teacher is to make sure my students know that they are in the driver's seat during the year. I try to be the teacher who rides in the passenger seat to help provide directions, offer input, and of course hit the brakes if they are ever steering out of control. I want them to realize that their achievements are earned and not just given for jumping through hoops.

A few weeks ago I lived up to that goal, more than I have in the past. I gave up the control of a traditional assessment and left the design of a project to my students. Over the course of two days, they came up with the parameters, requirements, and content of a project covering the respiratory and circulatory systems.  It all started when a group of students approached me about doing a project to help them study for exams. They weren't looking for bonus points, just an opportunity to use the iPads to explore ways to help them study. This then manifested itself into a project for the current chapter rather than a paper and pencil test. I must say, I was little apprehensive at first. I didn't want my students to think that doing a project would be an "easy A" or simple task.  I have never completely replaced a test with a project. However, I figured I would give it a try. So I put on my seat belt and off we went!

Class discussion lead to brainstorm lead to replacing chapter test with iPad project.

Here are five suggestions if you ever decide to take the same risk....

1. Set guidelines, but not rules. The more specific the details are, the more likely your students will have projects that resemble one another. Had I said that everyone needed to use the same app or work on the same topic, the results would have been much different.

2. Give time in class to work. Since I have a shared iPad program, students can only work on filiming the projects at school. I have been very flexble to having a "working deadline" that was not set in stone. Some kids needed extensions for athletic dismissals, coordinated study hall time, or to add more to the project. I had kids asking for more time because they wanted to make their projects better. 

In the project featured above, extra time was given to make an iPad holder out of ring stands

3. Regardless of the project style, capture it on the iPad. I loved the fact that boys were dancing, girls were sculpting, and kids who are usually quiet in class were proud to show what they learned.


4. Provide a solid rubric for grading. Shawn McCusker's blog post, "Blow the Top Off Your Rubric" was a fantastic starting point for me. My favorite suggestion that he gave was to allow for failure and correction. When my students brought their projects to me, I often said, "This is good, but how can you make it great?"

5. Be patient, anticipate roadblocks and be amazed.

Bottom line, the projects were awesome. I am still amazed at the results. I have learned that whatever bar I set for my students, they will measure it and jump higher.....every time.

To learn more ways in which I am using technology in my classroom, follow me on Twitter @eglassman757.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing the examples of your work. I love seeing what your students have create. That's some amazing work.