one year of #sbar: reassessments

I've noticed that when I have conversations with people about implementing standards based grading, they really get fixated on the NO PERCENTAGES! part of it.  I hear people becoming really enamored with my system of laying out the evidence for mastery, and then giving students feedback on how close to mastery they are.  It's so transparent, they gush!  I can say exactly why this student has a B and not an A!

And that's true, and that's great and all, but I don't often hear teachers gush about the next step.  Ah, I say, but what if they demonstrate mastery at a later date?  Then what do you do?  This is where it gets sticky, because ... well, because reasons.  We all got our reasons why we can't do reassessments.  Here's how I got around two of the most common reasons I hear about reassessments.  

1. time. 
Some teachers restrict reassessments to a certain day of the week, but I was a lot more generous.  Mostly because I teach ninth grade and as they grow more independent, I feel they should have many options to contact me, within limit. So I published a live calendar with all of my free time between 8 am and 4 pm, with the ability for students to make 20 minute appointments with me.  You can see how it works here: elizabethzodda.youcanbook.me and set up your own here: youcanbook.me.  It does not allow a student to make an appointment for RIGHT NOW and then show up saying "but I booked you!"  Appointments must be made at least a few hours in advance, so I know when to expect a student and when I can count on using that time for myself.  There are some sacred times, for example, a student CANNOT book me during my lunch time.  I like food more than I like my students, and if they want me to be a good teacher they need to respect my need for food.  Fortunately youcanbook.me allows me to block off things like lunch times.  

2. material.
I didn't really fret about making up new test questions for students during reassessment meetings.  The first assessment for any objective is always a traditional style unit test.  If they are meeting with me for a reassessment, I don't want to give them more of the same with another paper based test.  I will always use the time to probe their understanding and find a way for them to demonstrate their understanding.  For some students, a chat with me makes a nice oral assessment.  Others present written explanations, drawings, videos, or math solutions.  Sometimes we'll spend the meeting time deciding on a proper reassessment type, and then the student will complete that assignment on their own time.  I love using google docs for reassessments because I can give feedback in the marginal comments, and then track all of the revisions the student makes.  It also gives students the sense that this learning is a process and I'm with them on their way. Students will even use google presentations for more visual demonstrations, and I was surprised to find that I can still comment on individual slides and items.  

what I would change:  
Some students were unprepared for their reassessment meetings.  I think they might have talked with some of the students for whom a chat was a good oral assessment, and heard "it's easy, you just go in and talk to her and she raises your grade!"  When they sat down to talk, I would find that they didn't have a lot to say or weren't prepared for a successful and independent demonstration.  I would gently tell them that this would be a good review session for the two of us, but would not give me the evidence to raise their grade.  At this point I would request that they make another appointment when they feel they are better prepared, and give them some more practice options.  In the future, I will give students the option of "review" meetings and "assess" meetings.  Do you feel  lost and confused?  check the box for a review meeting.  Do you feel ready to demonstrate independently?  check the box for an assessment meeting.  

and after they've reassessed? 
I add an assessment for that objective in ActiveGrade.  One reason I chose ActiveGrade over my own excel spreadsheet was the ability to retain the assessment history for an objective rather than overwriting it.  This was crucial for me when it came time for writing semester comments, which I hope to write about in a later blog post.  I'm also split on whether to use the best assessment or most recent assessment, and I'll discuss that in much more depth when I write about my final exam journey.  

a grasshopper.  just because it was on my window yesterday. 

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