Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Talking Self Assessment .....

Recently, I have been becoming more and more interested in self assessment in regards to the SOLO Taxonomy work that I have been doing. Link here
After the last CoL meeting where we had to look at what we had done and where we were going, I decided that I wanted to go and see teachers in other schools who were using self assessment in successful ways.
My first stop for this was this morning when I went to see +Robyn Anderson who works at Panmure Bridge School.

My key take outs that I can use with my classes from today were :-

  • Critical friend - as well as working and analysing all together in the class communities, I will look at having them working in pairs to analyse each others work based on pre prepared levels.
  • Build the success criteria in from the start at the project planning stage.
  • One step at a time, oral feedback and assessment is ok depending on the students.
  • Building the academic language into the assessment slowly with explanations as you go.
  • Structuring the open / paragraph questions for student feedback into smaller parts with openers, key words and starters, or give them a list of points to work through on their feedback.
  • Work through the self assessment (in whatever format) with the students, maybe with an example to work with.
  • Self assessment can happen at any point in the process of the task and be supported in a number of different ways. It can also say how they have done for the whole task or guide them in how they are doing throughout the task.
  • Put much more support stuff on the wall for the duration of any particular task.
It is great that I went thinking that I was going to be talking about a very tight, specific, at the end of a task "self assessment" topic, but I came out with a huge amount of ideas of where I can add support and self assessment / awareness into the whole process.
Thanks Robyn and your fantastic Year 8 students who came to talk to me too. I learned such a lot today.


I had shared the questions with Robyn the day before I went so they were not not a surprise on the day. The notes below are a combination of what Robyn had prepared and what we talked about on the day.

Questions for the teacher ….

What format do you use for student self assessment?
Docs, forms, ……..

  • Forms or docs for end of term evaluations - we ask what the students liked/didn’t like - they evaluate how they think they are going as well as work wise.
  • Rubrics are level dependent. Some lower level support is done orally and not on a rubric, and it is done on a student by student basis.
  • Modelling books - these are done in pairs and teams. This can then be referred to again by the students to see how they had done something and also for them to see how much progress they have made. The groups are based on the strategies that the students are using, so they can give each other support. They can also look at these and verbally state what they need to do to improve.
  • Critical friend conversations
  • Written as: ‘You will have done this correctly if you have…’ - these are written on the board for individual tasks and are also on the wall for topic structure.
  • Thought about in long term plan but co-constructed usually on whiteboard with students then discussed/unpacked. This gives them a focus for peer feedback and a key to know what it is they need to do. All the assessment / support structure is embedded at the planning stage in each task that the students will be doing. All the success criteria are there from the start then the students are guided into structuring it for themselves.
  • Embedded in lessons - depending on group a lot is done orally
  • Hyerle’s thinking maps eg: donut circle what I know now...what learnt etc
  • Strategies used for a task are highlighted at the end of a session by asking the students questions about what they have done and how they did it.

Do you “student speak” it?

  • Yes - often use their words after all it’s their learning we are assessing
  • Needs to become routine 
  • Student speak is set up to access the academic language needed for individual tasks. This is built in so they students can access the topic / subject specific language as they go.

How do you lay it out in terms of ….
Colour, columns, images, font style and size…..

  • Forms uses paragraph answers if evaluating
  • Columns for rubric - eg: speeches
  • Otherwise we use bullet points that can be ticked or highlighted with examples eg: DRAFT
  • Structure the open questions into sections. Focus the sections. 
  • Give them lists of points to work through.

Do you use the same self assessment for more than one class / group or do you tailor them to specific groups?

  • Term evaluation/PMI same for whole class
  • Subject specific is up to individual teacher and tailored to suit the particular group.

How much preparation do the students need in order to use a self assessment sheet?
  • You have to unpack it to get buy in and/or accurate use
  • Familiarisation is the key eg: ‘You will have done this correctly if you have…’
  • They need lots of preparation and need the material to be gone through thoroughly in order to understand what it is they have to do.

Do you make self assessment sheets targeted for specific task / projects or do you aim them for broader things like key competencies for example?

  • Subject/task specific is what we usually link to
  • KC’s identified separately (eg: group participation/camp) - CARE awards cover and reinforce KC’s
  • Pictures in PE of self v professional athlete - draw comparison lines in (idea from Jason Borland MIT 15)

Useful Links

Do you get feedback from the students about how they find using the self assessment that you set them to do.
  • Sometimes. This is a different challenge every year depending on the level of my groups. Most is done orally in pairs or groups to put a positive spin on the learning. This breaks down the ‘hard’ and shows them how much they do know
  • Focus is put on where they are and what they have achieved, rather than where they should be as this can be a little demotivating at times.

Does your whole school do this or is it optional for individual teachers?

  • All classes use own format - age/ability dependent eg: Juniors use pictures whereas we use words 
  • My rubric was simplified for juniors so language is consistent across the school
  • Some teachers use hand signals
  • Some like me use PLI - where students identify their own next steps
  • Using a consistent format means the kids really understand and strengthen connections to where they were.

Do you show the students the self assessment before they do the task so they know what they are looking for afterwards?
  • Yes - we do this together before the lesson.
  • Formats are consistent so the students understand them quicker and easier as they are already familiar with them.

Questions for the students …

I got to speak to a fantastic group of Year 8 students today

Do you like being able to see for yourself where you are in your work without the teacher always having to tell you?
  • Yes - this first answer was due to the terrible way to phrase the question from me. After Robyn came in and got them to explain why, we got more depth.
  • You get to see what you "did good" and you you need to work on
  • Set a goal for yourself
  • What you need to improve on
  • Prefers the teacher saying as it is easier to understand and make connections.

How easy is it for you to do self assessment? - I also asked the what type they liked.
  • Yes
  • Grids
  • Critical friend - helps to improve - gives honest opinion on what to work on
  • Feed back and feed forward

Do you understand what you are doing when using a self assessment sheet and do you know what it means for you? 
  • No, not if Ms did not go through it first
  • Ms always goes through it so we understand

Does it make doing the task easier if you know you are going to assess it yourself at the end?
  • Yes
  • Learning intentions are clear at the start
  • Side prompts and scaffolding in the task help as you go along
  • Unpacked in pairs or with teacher so we understand it

Here are some photographs from the displays of support material that is on the walls.

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