Linear assessment keeps me awake at night, and every day that passes feels like a lost opportunity to prepare students with the coping mechanisms that they need to function in the big, wide, real world. Here are a few ways of ensuring that the children that enter your classroom stand a chance if left to their own devices:
Mentor roles. The most rewarding and empowering thing that you can offer a student within the classroom. This does not have to rest with your more able student, but can simply be responsibility within the classroom. I find roles a fantastic way of ensuring engagement- administrators, class leaders, board writers, mentors that oversee tasks, annotators for whole class exercises using Word review. Everyone likes to have a moment in charge.
Student voice- regularly use google forms to take feedback. You can gauge the temperature of the previous term, get valuable ideas from the students (hwk suggestions, lesson planning) and again, empower them to take ownership of their learning. I like to open the new term with ‘You Said, I Did’ slides that show their responses, and how I have incorporated that within planning and assessment for the term ahead.
Student-led learning- they create the learning objective, they set the task that will help them achieve it, they assess their progress, they decide on the next steps. You facilitate, rather than instruct. Ideally, you just sit in the space of whoever has taken on the role as teacher.
Challenge yourself I encourage all students to create their own tasks, create questions linked to the learning objectives, add words as we read or discuss topics to the word wall within the classroom to stretch vocabulary. These aspects are now embedded that Y7 particularly are trained in the routine of seeking out the answer for themselves.
Create an independent classroom- students should have the resources available to help themselves; I have now set up an unstuck corner for both reading and writing, where students can fetch help cards that will assist them with their particular task or improvement during DIRT lessons. Again, by establishing routines, students are now equipped to seek out ways to improve without my input.
Provide the stimulus- especially at GCSE, non fiction texts are so alien to students, that the concept of formulating a report, or news article is incomprehensible. GCSE classes are now bringing in non fiction on a weekly basis that interested them, or they would like the class to discuss- this is usually an online blog, or news article. The only requisite is that they compile a question to accompany the text as a starting point. We are collating all of the texts to use during revision sessions at a later point in the year- again, students need to take ownership of the direction that they are heading toward.
Consolidate- each term, the final homework is to find a way of consolidating the learning that the student has experienced for that particular unit. We have explored different ways of achieving this- Prezi, a Ppt, a scrapbook, revision tool, mindmap…. whatever works. I have set the expectation that we will call upon this in Y10, and Y11 to see how skills have developed, what we could add or improve, or how the tool helps us to recall the specific skills in question.