A few weeks back, I wrote a bit on the Radical talking about Unit Overview Sheets — a strategy that I use in my classroom to help students assess their own progress towards mastering important outcomes.
My core argument is simple — AND researched based: Regular opportunities to assess their own progress towards mastering important outcomes builds confidence in learners — particularly those who have traditionally struggled in schools. In the words of Rick Stiggins and Jan Chappuis, teachers can use student self-assessment to rebuild hope in the hearts and minds of struggling learners.
Several primary teachers stopped by in the comment section and asked me for samples of what student self-assessment might look like in the primary grades.
Well, Mason Crest Elementary in Northern Virginia has the BEST sample I’ve ever seen.
Check it out here:
The idea is super cool: Students have rings full of “learning cards” that they use to track their progress on essential outcomes. Each card details one essential outcome in student friendly language and includes several different tiers of performance.
As a student demonstrates mastery — maybe through an activity in a center or through some kind of task completed with a teacher — they use a star-shaped hole punch to mark their new achievement. Over time, students end up with a set of cards showing different levels of mastery for different objectives — creating opportunities for both reflection and celebration.
Can’t you just see a kindergartner sitting with their parents during a student-led conference and using their learning cards to talk their way through their current levels of performance? THAT would be an awesome example of student self-assessment in action.
Does this all sound good to you?
If so, here’s a template that I whipped up based on Mason Crest’s work that you can use to make your own learning cards right now.
And no pressure, primary teachers, but we are counting on you! If self-assessment is ever going to become a regular part of the work that we do in schools, it HAS to start when kids are young. By middle and high school, kids have already learned the rhythm of schools: Kids turn in work. Teachers grade it.
More importantly, by middle and high school, many kids have given up on the notion that they can be capable and competent learners.
That has to change.
Interested in more ideas about how to incorporate student self-assessment into your classroom practices? Then check out Creating a Culture of Feedback — the book I wrote a few years back with my buddy Paul Cancellieri. It’s a short read full of practical ideas.
Related Radical Reads: