Today, I am here to talk about the scariest part of personalizing learning - allowing kids to create their own assessments.
I say "scariest" because to give up control of how students how mastery is REALLY hard. For a long time, I told myself I was the best person to assess their work because I knew every facet of the test and standards, but let's face it: They're the expert on themselves. Not me. I had to let go of that little ego trip.
Now, I anticipate the argument that - as the teacher - you have the training and content knowledge to support the kids. That's fair. However, that same training and content knowledge can be used to guide them to the desired outcome. Guiding them to their own discovery is always going to produce more meaningful results. Period.
But it is scary. Terrifying, in fact, for a Type A person like myself. Before I jump into how I do this, I want to clearly something. In my previous series posts, I have talked about the many reinventions of personalization in my classroom. From ugly to bad to alright. It wasn't until my most recent iteration that I was courageous enough to attempt student designed assessment (and, as I mentioned in my last post, I am still assessing them on my terms in the "I Check").
As I've said. Personalization is a spectrum and a process. Start small (choice boards, options, reflection) and then jump into the really scary stuff.
So, if you're ready, let's jump in...
For starters, simpler is better. The first step needs to be prioritizing standards. I have talked about this previously when writing about standards based grading, but I cannot express how essential it is for student designed assessment.
I say this because... I did it wrong. (#oops). As I mentioned in my primary post about personalization, I paired standards so that students needed to analyze and develop. In my head, they would use this as a way to analyze a mentor text and then compose their own. In reality, they ended up just creating two products for each unit. In hindsight, I'd narrow to one standard. Lesson leared.
So Step 1: Prioritize Standards and Content.
The next step is to facilitate the design process. I created a template for students which they fill in and submit for approval. I check them off - either approving the initial submission or adding feedback.
As we've navigated this process, I feel that it is 100% more successful if I just sit and talk with the kids. Therefore, I plan to use an "elevator pitch" in the future where students give me a short proposal for their assessment and we have a discussion after. Without this discussion, I felt they were just choosing the first assessment that came to mind whereas when I talked with them, we were much more intentional about choosing something that interested them.
More fodder for the next go-around.
Step 3 is to consider assessment. This is something I have a lot of room to grow with. As you'll notice, the template has a place for students to create a rubric of their own - which was great in theory, but failed in practice. They needed more examples of proficiency levels to really do this step. Let's be honest: They needed a lot more everything to successful with this step.
Having dropped the ball in a very obvious way, I am brainstorming ideas for the next iteration. Here are some ideas bubbling around in my crazy mind:
I am excited about tackling this on the next time around. For now, we live with what we got. Ha ha.