You've designed an awesome, super-engaging, scaffolded and developmentally appropriate unit! Congratulations! All is well, except...a third of your students bombed the summative assessment! What is to be done? In this lesson, students use Mastery Learning strategies (Mastery Learning in Science: Students as Teachers) to review their assessments, discern between what they understand and don't and reflect on what they could do differently next time or in a re-learn and re-assess opportunity. This practice in self reflection encourages students to think critically about their own work, while identifying areas of challenge and success. Self-assessment is being touted as one of the most critical skills of effective learners which translates to the workplace. Providing opportunities in middle school to practice this process skill might just make it habitual! For other resources, visit these sites:
While this lesson illustrates how to self and peer-assess performance on a summative assessment specific to MS-PS2 Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions, the framework could be applied to any unit. This lesson is linked to Forces and Motion Assessment Choices - a lesson that provides students an opportunity to choose what kind of summative assessment best fits their learning style and learning preferences.
In order to ENGAGE students in this lesson, students are confronted with this photo (yes, this is me in middle school!):
Students ponder the following prompt:
How is taking an assessment like picture day?
At our school, we have an assessment culture that supports relearning in a standards-based grading system the utilizes the Teaching and Learning Cycle. For more on this topic, read this section's reflection: Teaching and Learning Cycle. Students make the connection between assessments and picture day that in both circumstances, there is the opportunity for a retake!
The EXPLORE stage of the lesson is to get students involved in the topic so that they start to build their own understanding. To help students explore their performance on the assessment, follow these steps:
1) Students are strategically placed in groups. These groups need to have at least one student to act as "tutor" who was proficient or advanced on the assessment. The smaller the group, the better!
2) Students who are "students" during the process collect their assessment and a red pen.
3) Students who are "tutors" meet with me to receive instructions. For more on this conference, view this video:
4) Tutors join their groups armed with rubrics (Science Portfolio Rubric and Complete Experimental Design Rubric) and the Forces and Motion Final Assessment Rubric and Review Presentation.
5) Student groups work together to complete the steps provided on the Assessment Reflection Instructions.
Teacher Note: Setting the tone and setting the norm for this activity is critical. Self and peer - assessment can be a vulnerable process, so it is important to have trust established as part of the classroom culture. The norms for this activity include: be open to learning, treat your tutor with respect - they are trying to help you and actively participate. To help solidify these expectations, I had students rate their own participation and the participation of their tutor (if they were a student) or their student (if they were a tutor). This strategy helps build in personal accountability for the process. Also, be sure to work the room, visiting each group, to further instill the norms. Groups can easily self-destruct without guidance!
The EXPLAIN stage provides students with an opportunity to communicate what they have learned so far and figure out what it means. As groups complete the reflection process, students move on to the Assessment Reflection.
Don't leave out this part! This personal reflection is meant to help students explain their successes and challenges while providing structure to help students be critical of their preparation techniques, test-taking skills and choice of which type of assessment they had chosen. The questions guide students toward making a decision about whether they need to relearn and re-assess and what their plan for that process will be. For examples of student reflections, view this gem: Assessment Reflection Student Example.
The EVALUATION stage is for both students and teachers to determine how much learning and understanding has taken place. At this stage, students make a decision about whether they will relearn and re-assess or if they are ready to move on. If students decide to relearn and re-assess, they make a plan on the Assessment Retake Form. Students identify the time-frame, the relearning process and how they would like to re-assess on this form. If students are re-assessing, it is necessary to provide re-assessment options. This might take the form of an alternate test: Forces and Motion Final Assessment Retake, doing test corrections with explanations, verbally retaking portions of the assessment or making revisions on a portfolio or experimental design.
Teacher Note: Re-assessment is best practice, but it is also demanding on time and energy. Helping students take responsibility for their learning by supporting the relearn and re-assessment process takes patience, a culture of trust and guidelines for how long the process lasts. For my own sanity, the relearn and re-assess process doesn't last longer than two weeks. During that time, I offer students extra help, open lab and access to advanced students for additional help. While there may be some time in class to do this relearning, students are also expected to make time at lunch or before/after school as well since the majority of the class is ready to move on.