When one adopts an “Assessment-for-Learning” instead of an “Assessment-of-Learning” approach, he makes an in-it-for-the-long haul decision because it takes time. A lot of time. And so, it becomes a difficult decision, for time is precious, but it is a commitment to using time, spending time (the cost) to meet each kid where he is (the benefit) that makes the difference down the road.
I have a lot to learn about learning. It is such a complex and varied undertaking. And while I am learning much from Hattie (Visible Learning), I am also learning a lot from my kids. Granted, they have not written any books on learning, but they have spent the majority of their young years in the learner’s seat, so they have some credibility when it comes to helping me understand how they learn, and until I better understand that, I cannot make the best decisions for how to teach each. So, I have to go to the kid. I have to sit down with her and seek to understand where she is so I may meet her, so I may teach her. With nearly 90 souls to meet in my 180 classroom, that becomes quite the task. Time, indeed.
Our current assessment for learning is our performance task, an argumentative letter to the school board regarding the issue of the Holocaust movies remaining in the curriculum. We have taken a step-by-step approach to composing our letters, placing process at the center of our work, a process that has helped produce the product that the kids will complete today. But the process continues, the learning continues. Now that they have had the time and support to perform, it is time for us to sit down and assess their performances, an assessment that will give them direct, face-to-face feedback on what they did well, what needs work, and how they can continue to grow in this arena. 90 souls. 90 conferences. A long road. A lot of time. But it’s worth the walk. Every step of it.
It will look a little like this. The performance task is modeled after the type of performance task that the kids will encounter on the SBA this spring. I have used it as vehicle to introduce them to the argumentative format and scoring criteria that will be used on the state test. As I sit down with each kid over the next several days, I will take them through the SBA Argumentative Scoring Guide and how their product matches up with the very criteria that will be used to score the SBA. Unavoidably, there will be some judgment of course, but that judgment simply provides an opportunity for feedback. And that, I believe, is where understanding begins. And once understanding has begun, then the teaching can begin. Gonna be a long road. But that’s okay. I will be in good company.
Happy Tuesday, all.