When I first commenced working at a school that followed the International Baccalaureate, I don’t think that I grasped the depths of methods to encourage student learning. I came from a traditional school background and had no idea about the latest in technology as well as student voice and choice. Looking back now, I wonder how I ever thought there was another way!
Since I was a fresher to the system, my coordinator organized a series of workshops for the newbies to acquaint us with the latest systems in modern schooling. I was especially intrigued by the assessment system as it was very different from the grading system that I was used to. The words ‘rubric, ‘checklist’ and ‘peer/self-review’ came up frequently and I was intrigued to know more about these assessment tools.
As I started teaching, I realized the significance of formative and summative assessments and the need for both in a classroom. Formative assessments gave me rich insight into whether my teaching practices were effective and whether my approaches required tweaking. Summative assessments reflected how well my students had grasped the concepts and by combining the two I was able to comprehend how to build assessment ready learners.
As we began going deeper into student agency as a collaborative team, rather than creating assessment criteria for the students, we were determined to give them the liberty to generate their own. We launched the inquiry process by introducing them to the topic and encouraged them to investigate and research independently. Once they had established a deep knowledge of the topic, they were able to recognize the standards which the assessment task would require them to achieve.
Learners were already well acquainted with assessment tools such as checklists and rubrics as the International Baccalaureate learners in the PYP are not given grades or marks, rather they are assessed on their level of understanding with comprehensive feedback on how to improve. While undertaking a unit on ‘Senses’, we noted that the young ones were ready to take the next step in becoming assessment ready. The students had enthusiastically contributed to planning their learning engagements and assessments, so the facilitators asked them to create a rubric for the formative assessment chosen by them in the form of a ‘Take and Talk’. The students had to speak about a sense organ for a specific amount of time and could use visual aids to support their presentation. Once they understood what was expected of them during the evaluation, they were raring to get to the task. They broke into collaborative teams and pinpointed the areas on which they would be assessed and were able to come up with suitable criteria. They also wanted to add their flair to the rubric and decided to add interesting artwork to each header.
Since they had designed the assessment tool by themselves from start to finish, the learners cultivated a profound understanding of the prerequisites of the task and worked hard to achieve the highest level as it was within their grasp. Click on the link to know more about the student’s planning process-https://reviewmirror.in/2021/05/12/student-agency-developing-the-why-and-how-of-learning/
Similarly, the learners in our classroom also co-constructed checklists that transcended subjects. they were able to astutely gauge criteria for their formative assessment and created checklists that displayed their comprehension of the concept. It was also invigorating to see that the checklists were grounded with achievable goals that spoke to the creativity of the collaborative teams of students that were creating them.
It was not long before we as educators began to let go of controlling the assessment process and encouraged the learners to peer assess or self-assess themselves. Students would upload their work on the channels on Microsoft Teams and practice giving feedback that was constructive and mindful of their peer’s emotions. Tools such as Parley Ideas and Eduflow gave us tremendous opportunities in the virtual space to inspire students to engage in assessing each other’s work and therefore increase their awareness of how they could improve upon themselves.
Every time the students take on the task of assessing someone else or creating an assessment tool, they take ownership of their learning journey. The genuine assessment lies in the creation of these assessment tools itself, as it validates that the child has grasped what it takes to shine and has been reflective enough to recognize what he needs to do to develop. I have seen tremendous growth in my students along with the sense of maturity that accompanies trust. As educators, we need to trust our young ones to carry their tasks to fruition and we will see great works from them in the future!