Sunday, March 13, 2011

Taking A Break While Writing Reports by Shirley

I am in the middle of writing 6th grade humanities reports, and suddenly realized how lucky I am at PDS to be able to reflect and get to know each of my students so well. I know in other schools teachers have to grade tests and write reports based on test results. At PDS we don’t grade and don’t give many tests. Assessment is so much more than a number on a piece of paper.

My students recently completed an end of trimester reflection that asked a few questions about how they feel about their learning. I was quite surprised to find that many of them wrote that their best work was a collaborative project where they worked in pairs to plan, organize and teach a lesson on a topic about ancient Crete. They then had to create a Wiki page, using all the teaching tools they had used in their lesson, and link wherever possible to other students’ pages. Each separate class had decided that they would assess each others' work by using a rubric. They were far more rigid in their comments than I would have been, but at the same time very helpful with their comments and suggestions. Each group, then had the chance to go back and revise their Wiki to make changes, which they all chose to do. Why would I need any kind of test to see how much they know about ancient Crete? Their knowledge is all there on our Ancient Greece Wiki Site for everyone to see.

I am enjoying my report writing this year, and I’m finding that using Google Docs, our class blog and our Ancient Greece Wiki is making my job a lot easier. I have online access to every piece of writing each student has composed this year. All their collaborative projects are either on the blog or the Wiki, so I don’t have to carry papers, notebooks, lots of notes, or try to remember little pieces of information about each student. I have everything I need online to assess each student’s progress in all areas of their learning, and I really feel I have gotten to know these students much more in depth than in previous years. All of these web 2.0 tools have helped me write more individual reports with lots of examples and quotes from each student. I am only half way through the report writing, and look forward to writing the other half, about these creative, passionate and hard working students.

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