This is the second part of my series, Baby Steps to Personalized Learning. I’m using this series to discuss small ways to bring personalized learning into our standardized classrooms. Last week, we discussed An Easy Way to Personalize Learning with Student Choice. This week is all about assessment.
And that’s a bit more tricky.
Assessment in public schools has become increasingly standardized. My ideal classroom would be completely personalized–from learning to assessment. But as a public school teacher, I am obligated to prepare my students for standardized end of course tests. However, one necessity of personalized learning is that students should be reflective and take ownership of their own learning. This method requires them to do that.
Steps to Assessment and Personalized Learning in a Standardized Classroom:
1. The students take the test as they normally would.
2. Then they fill out a unit reflection sheet that asks them to:
-Summarize the Unit
-Describe the effectiveness of their notes and explain how they used them to study.
-Reflect on the assessment by
-noting their score
-explaining whether or not it’s an accurate reflection of their learning.
-stating whether or not they need a retest.
3. If they need a retest, they go to the next slide and list the topics they missed.
4. Then they visit a linked site that lists study methods and select two methods they will use to study further.
5. They then select a method for retesting from a list of choices. Choices include a traditional test, an essay, a project, a DBQ (document based question), an interview with the teacher, or their suggestion (with teacher approval).
6. Each student must select a target date for the retest. The onus is on them to arrange it with the teacher.
Tips for Implementing:
1. Keep it as simple as possible. Make it a part of your classroom routine. I have topic in Google Classroom called “Unit Reflections.” The reflections go here at the end of each unit and require students to fill out the first slide after every unit whether they need to retest or not. This encourages reflection over and ownership of their learning. It also gives me a digital record of their thought
process and how often students are taking the retest option.
2. Provide options for retesting, but only list retest options that won’t be difficult for you as the teacher. If you have access to a test bank, make the retest different, or at least scramble everything up so that it’s a bit different. If you suspect students are using the initial test to fail intentionally so that they can see what’s on it for the retest, take the traditional test off the table. I find that students generally choose a different method, anyway.
I put the DBQ on there because my school subscribes to DBQ online, so I already have one for most units. For projects, I have a choice board that I use. I alter the rubric so that instead of having a category for using class time productively, it includes a category that rates their exploration of standards they didn’t test well on.
3. Teach students to avoid magical thinking by stressing the importance of the reflection and purposeful study. Many of my students begin this process by hoping they will magically do better if they take the test again without studying. This is because they generally don’t know how to study. This method gives students tools for studying.
At mid year, your students may be ready to use this reflection before their summative assessment and then choose the assessment on the first go-around. If you use test prep questions with formative assessments, students will be getting enough practice with those. They’ll also need a rough timeline of when they should complete each unit.
How do you personalize assessment in your classroom? Leave a comment to let me know.
This is the second post in my series Baby Steps to Personalized Learning. I’m not talking about the completely automated methods that research has shown are not effective, but a blend of teacher, learner, and auto-driven personalization. My goal is for us to feel empowered as classroom teachers to engage in best practices despite a system that treats us like cogs in a machine. By doing this, I believe we can empower our students to reach their full potential.
With each post, I’m sending my email list a resource for their toolbox to help in the journey. Here’s what they received this week:
You can sign up for my Notes HERE.
And be sure to check out the entire series, Baby Steps to Personalized Learning.