Vignette #9 – A high school math teacher works to empower her students to take responsibility for their own learning and that of their peers by providing them with ongoing guidance and opportunities for self and peer assessments.
Aware that part of her task as a high school teacher is to ready her students for the more independent nature of learning in college, math teacher Eliza Park commits to creating an environment where her students become active agents in contributing to their own progress. She recalls her own high school experience where, in retrospect, she was overly dependent on her teacher’s praise and feedback. She admits that her transition to college was rocky without a constant “go to” for feedback on her work. While Eliza ultimately learned how to more independently assess her own progress and figure out steps she could take to improve, she wants her students to develop more of these skills prior to graduating from high school. She also believes that her students are more engaged in class when they have a higher stake in responding to their own work and that of their peers.
Through various stages of trial and error, Eliza has learned that in order for students to effectively and confidently enter the process of self and peer assessment, she must model various approaches and provide them with clear criteria and templates against which they can measure success. While she consistently models what it means to provide descriptive, non-judgmental feedback to student work, she also inspires her students to respond to each other and themselves. This comes in small moments, like during a class discussion where they are working out a problem together and Eliza creates ample wait time for students to think hard, ask questions, and respond to their own errors. Or through “exit cards” where students have the chance at the end of class to comment on what they learned and what still feels confusing. She also develops these skills with larger ongoing opportunities to reflect on work, as in the “learning logs” that her students start on day one and continue through the spring. With space for students to consider and write about what aspects of the classwork are going well for them and where they need help, Eliza not only creates an important document to assist her in knowing where individual students need more guidance, but also provides her students with a powerful space for them to determine how to reflect on their own learning. The learning logs have also become important tools to help foster meaningful dialogue about student work and progress at the parent-teacher conferences.
In her attempts to create class collectives where students come to value their roles in supporting each other’s work, Eliza has gone through numerous “iterations” of projects and work problems that contain elements of peer-assessment. While she admits that the chemistry of the class can contribute to the level of peer-assessment success, she has developed concrete strategies to provide the training and confidence that students need to take on feedback giving roles. By establishing clear, specific, and manageable criteria for students to follow, most are willing and able to engage in the process. Eliza has also found that providing various “feedback roles” (that create space for a range of student strengths) can help. In post project reflections in their learning logs, many students write about what they discover about their own work while examining and responding to that of their peers. By creating open space and opportunities for students to connect over their work processes, Eliza ultimately hopes to develop a lifelong respect for learning from themselves and others.
- Mid-Project Rubric Review – In this six-minute Teaching Channel video, a high school math teacher guides student groups through their mid-geometry project rubric review.
- This Comprehensive Assessment Research Review on Providing Feedback shares “research-based strategies for providing actionable feedback throughout the learning process.” In addition, the site provides valuable links to research and examples for practice.
- A “Descriptive Feedback Video Library” with five 5-minute video segments that cover why feedback is such a powerful tool, what constitutes effective feedback, the purposeful planning that goes into effective feedback, connecting feedback to learning goals and success criteria, and how to use feedback to develop students’ self-assessment skills.