Jan 27

1st Semester Assessment

Peer and self assessment are both strategies used in Assessment for Learning (AfL). When it comes to assessment time, midterms and end of semester I survey all my students to get some insight into how they are learning, what they are learning, and if they need anything different from me. One thing I’ve learned over the years from surveying students is that no one thing works for everyone. And no matter how great I think something is, I can’t guarantee that everyone will like it.

I have built-in assignments asking students to read each other’s work and give each other feedback. This practice of peer assessment happens at different times for different students throughout the year. Self assessment happens mostly at midterms and end of terms as students answer questions I put together for them using Google Forms.

Here is some of the data that I’ve collected as the 1st semester came to an end. I wanted to see how many of my students were into Science and I also wanted to get them thinking about assessment and how they want to be assessed.

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This is what I’m working with this year. Out of 122 students, 47 took the survey that generated the above data. Of the 47 who took the survey 24% consider themselves Science geeks (chose either an 8, 9 or 10 out of 10) while 38% do NOT consider themselves Science geeks (chose either a 1, 2, 0r 3 out of 10). Of the 47, 26% chose a five out of 10 for Science geekiness. Luckily, 69% of students rated their learning of Science this year at a 6 or above out of 10. And for the majority of students Science is going well this year. So using 3D GameLab, gamifying my courses, having a 1:1 technology environment, having students blog and use discussion forums in addition to regular Science activities and labs has not been working for everyone all the time. A few students have mentioned that they prefer a more structured class experience and a few have even requested to read Science out of a textbook instead of searching for and reading websites and watching Youtube videos. Here are some responses to questions about Science learning and their experience:

How is Science going for you this year?
It is fun, and not overly challenging. I’m ahead of every one and I’m where I’m suppose to be 🙂 Well it’s great because most of its independent but some of the work is hard but I get help and it gets finishedI don’t like doing all my work on the Internet Im trying to catchup but i don’t know how to do some of the stuff i missed back awhile ago.its kinda funI am just having troublebecause it is fun and i learn everything is not that funIt’s been going well with some difficulties. Because there are some quest’s that get and are fun but there are others that are very confusing and i just do not get it.

How you’ve been learning in Science.
I have previously taken 8th grade life science, just not this exact class. I said a nine because Im still trying to understand more on how different life cycles work I think it’s a 9 because I learned a lot because I learn usually learn something new a day. I don’t like it. Mr. Gonzalez is a great teacher and has some great points and what i have learned i learned easy and fast. not really learnng My group isn’t very helpful. because i like to learn. cuz we are playing games. I’ve worked hard and accomplished everything i’ve wanted to despite difficulty. Because sometimes i feel like i’m learning things.

What has been happening in Science that is helping you learn?
Mostly WoW. My teammates because they help me if I need help we do group work together and it’s nice because there in my team. We have been working with Microscopes and seeing little bug things and we have and We learned about living and nonliving and tissues and vocabulary about it, biomes. My friends World of Warcraft has been helping me. my ea is helping me. Asking a lot more questions. listening and doing my work. idk. I think that the quests have been helping me learn more than something like textbook has let me. my table because when i miss something i ask them and they tell me and that helps me.

What else could Mr. G do to help you learn Science?
go into more advanced topics. Have me stay in my group and help me with some questions. I’ll have and you do bolth so you amazing. Well nothing I can think of. Nothing anything that 8th grade has coming at me. go around and help people. Have more people actually work instead of them playing on there phones. explain things a bit more. idk. Nothing much, maybe faster loading on 3D Gamelab but that’s just a minor thing that wouldn’t make it that difficult. nothing. Telling me what to do in science today. A web site called 3d game lab. Not much, if there could more time in a class period that would be nice.

Here are some more data that I collected specifically on assessment to get my students thinking about how they are assessed:
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8th graders were pretty much equally divided over how to show their understanding and growth in Science (students were able to choose one, two or all three). They can show growth by the class levels/ranks and experience points (XP), by how they understand the standards and learning targets or by the work they’ve done as evidenced in their blogs, discussion forum replies, responses on 3D GameLab, and/or notebook work. A few did choose other and added things such as behavior.

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6th grader leaned more towards class levels/ranks and XP slightly over the other two choices.

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8th graders prefer to have their behavior(s) included in how they are assessed. 38% of my 53 8th graders chose to be assessed on what they learn instead of how they behave.

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6th graders, on the other hand, had 56% out of 122 choose to be assessed on what they learn instead of how they behave.

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Strangely enough even though only 38% of 8th graders chose to be assessed on what they learn instead of how they behave 69% of them chose to have a grade based on their understanding of the topics and learning targets alone (instead of things like work completion and behavior).

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A majority of 6th graders want their grades based only on their understanding of the topics and learning targets. They don’t want their grades to be based on whether or not they do homework or get all their work completed on time. Sounds like standards-based grading to me.

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And even though 69% of 8th graders want their grades to be based on their learning only, 79% said they should be assessed on how hard they work. Students want recognition for hard work. This is why rewards, awards, and certificates are so popular in schools. Kids like being acknowledged.

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A majority of 6th graders, 75%, also agree that hard work should be taken into account when assessing them. I admitted to all my students that determining how hard an individual works isn’t all that easy or clear cut. Just because someone turns in all his or her work doesn’t mean he or she is working hard. And just because someone doesn’t get much work turned in doesn’t mean he or she isn’t working hard.

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I wanted to know what 8th graders thought about what kinds of things should be included in a final grade (and to show them that we are putting way too much information into one letter or one percentage). See the next question.

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Here’s what 6th graders chose with the same question as above.

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And here’s what 8th graders chose to be included in a grade (they were able to choose as many or as few as they wanted). Very few chose to have none of these things included in their grade. So if we were using standards-based grading maybe a few extra categories, not standards based, such as effort and participation would satisfy this need. I was surprised to see so many kids choose attendance. They want credit for everything they do (we’ve trained them well). As for effort and participation, the top choices, I strongly believe those need to be self-assessed. I don’t see the whole picture and students need to learn how to honestly assess themselves.

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Slight differences for 6th graders with effort and participation still highly chosen.

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I threw this one in there out of curiosity and to tell kids that I don’t believe formative assessment should be part of a grade, nor do I believe practice should part of a grade. A majority of 8th graders agreed they should be assessed after learning something.

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A majority of 6th graders also agreed that they should be assessed after learning something.

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8th grade – I asked this question to show students how this varies from individual. In a results-only learning environment students can progress at their own pace but some of my students are bothered by that. They say they aren’t working as much as they would in a class where everyone moves through the curriculum at the same pace. I feel for them but students who work quickly should be able to keep learning more just as much as students who process slowly need more time to learn. I want to provide my students with what they need and I can do that with a 1:1 tech to student ratio and using 3D GameLab.

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6th grader results.

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8th grade – I included this expecting a majority to want to choose what they are assessed on. I’m not sure how to do this in my class. I wonder how we can do this?

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6th graders had more students wanting to choose what they are assessed on.

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I put this question in there to see how many students in 8th grade had met the minimum required guidelines for beating the game of 8th grace Science for the 1st semester. In a gamified classroom, just as in a game, there are XP required to level up and to win. 44% of 8th graders did not have the required XP to win and another 23% were close but still not there yet. I really expected many more students to reach the minimum of 950XP by the 1st semester. Thirteen of my 53 8th graders have over 1,000XP, three of whom have over 1,300XP. That tells me that the minimum of 950 is possible for more, many more.

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6th graders are doing better than the 8th graders overall. 28% did not have the required XP to win with another 35% close but still not at the 850XP needed to beat the class. Twenty-three out of my 122 6th graders have over 900XP and 10 have over 1,200XP with five of those having over 1,500XP and two of them having almost 2,000XP! Again, that tells me that the 850XP minimum is very doable.

I also asked students to tell me what letter grade they want and to explain why they want it and include what evidence they have to justify it. I had some discussions with many students, especially those whose self assessment did not match my observations nor did they have the evidence to justify their decision. I also asked students how they feel they understand the learning targets and which ones they feel they know the best so I will also have standards-based progress reports for them. I have found over the years that with a simple, letter grade to reduce the semester very few families look at the standards-based report. Luckily, our principal is having us pilot a fully standards-based reporting. Three of us, myself included, will be visiting a middle school that has been using standards-based reporting for a few years now so we can try it out next year. Then the rest of our school will switch to standards-based reporting. Since our primary and elementary schools use standards-based report cards it should be a good switch for the middle school. I’m looking forward to it.

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