The Animal Research Report
"Assessment is always ongoing. Right through the process I am looking and taking notes and recording what I see and what I am not, what I need to teach specifically." Char Soucy
Monitoring student progress is integral to the success of the project. The Project Checklist stapled on the research folder shows students where they are in the process, and which steps they still need to complete. Char meets regularly with groups of students. Ongoing assessment provides information on instructional needs and additional support for small groups or individual students.
Project requirements are defined early and help guide the work. Students take part in defining the criteria for success. Char gives a description for the Satisfactory level and students describe higher and lower levels to develop the rubric for the flip book.
"I told them what a "3" looked like, and they told me what a 1, 2, 4, and 5 would look like. I had to tone them down because even I would not have been able to get a "5" with the criteria they wanted!"
Click image to see enlarged example.
Char wants students to understand how work is being assessed - what is important - and to develop the ability to value their own work. The rubric focuses on the important elements and provides feedback. Requirements are well-defined and attainable.
When the flip books are complete children use the rubric to assess their own work, circling the description in each area that matches their work. If there is a large discrepancy between her assessment and the child's, Char will talk with the child about why that number was chosen. A score of less than 3 is a "redo" and children follow through on sections that need additional effort. Failing is not a possibility "because we won't give up until it is right."
Sharing information with parents
The page with the child's scoring goes home with the flip books so that families can see the process of doing the work and self-assessing. Parents receive regular information on work and progress. Quarterly report cards provide information on the child's stage of development in reading and writing along a continuum, as well as areas of strength and challenges and comments specific to the child.
"I believe people learn best when they construct their own understandings through thoughtfully guided explorations. The key to long-lasting and meaningful learning is engagement. The many types of technology available today can facilitate creating a learning environment where students are engaged and excited about what they are learning. I am just as focused on the process as I am on the specific content of the lesson, which keeps me in the role of active learner right along with my students. The vast amounts of information available today make it imperative that people learn how to find information and discern the credible from the incrediblerather than just learn a body of facts pertaining to a given subject.." Char Soucy
Throughout their work children acquire content knowledge and develop reading and writing skills as they learn how to learn. When students create a picture, research information, or transfer writing from the book into the slide show, Char may ask, "Why are we learning this, what's the point?" They are accustomed to being asked about their work and the purpose of their learning. Class discussions encourage reflection on how the project is going, and how it can be improved. The tone in the classroom is that all children will succeed. With appropriate instruction, support, and attention to learning needs, they do.
Char is reflective about her own work. She strives to balance the call to reach standards with the importance of nurturing the love of learning that serves children well over time. She says, "There's always that pull. I have to get every kid to the standards and yet I have to honor where they are. It's too easy to turn children off of learning by forcing them to go too far too fast. That love of learning takes them much farther than we can take them with our skills practice."
Classrooms@Work is a product of the Northwest Educational Technology Consortium. These materials are in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission. The following acknowledgment is requested on materials which are reproduced: Developed by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Portland, Oregon.
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