Principal News and Notes

The Friday Focus - November 14, 2014

The Return of Friday Focus

I was just sharing with a colleague that I was shocked that we are well into November. Believe it or not, before too long we will approach the holiday season (the recent barrage of holiday adds also lets us know this). Some of us already have a gift list or purchased gifts (over-achievers J).

Have you thought about the greatest gift you can give to our students? I challenge you to empower them with the ability to participate in the assessment of their own work. Educational Researcher Jean Stenmark (1991) believed that one of the greatest gifts students can receive is the capability and willingness to assess their own progress and learning. One way to work towards increased cognitive engagement is by guiding your students’ development of metacognitive strategies by creating self-assessment opportunities that make them reflect upon their own thinking. These opportunities can occur during student conferring, small group instruction and even in the hallway as they wait in line for the bathroom. This should be an ongoing process embedded in the content area being taught. This allows students to participate in an ongoing process of reflecting and improving upon their skills throughout the year. Creating opportunities for your students to self-assess requires students to use their work, demonstrate, or use classroom artifacts to show proof of learning and understanding and by making their thinking public; invite other learners to participate in the assessment process.

It also allows teachers and other learners to take an active role in giving academic feedback to the learner. Ultimately, your students become assessors and thinkers about their own work.

Over the past few weeks I have observed most of our probationary teachers and have seen excellent incorporation of self-assessment in lessons. One teacher had multiple learning targets and at the end of each lesson segment revisited the learning target with the students, asking them to assess where they were in understanding the “I can statement”. This gave her a quick assessment of where the students were in learning meeting the target and allowed her to adjust and modify her Guided Reading groups in a timely manner. It also required students to become assessors of their own engagement and learning.

As we head towards the end of trimester one reflect on what role you would like your students to play in the assessment process and how this strategies can increase cognitive engagement and learning in your classrooms. Give your students this gift—the ability to take the lead in their learning and their assessment.

Have a great weekend,