Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chapter 7-Learning Targets Helping Students Aim for Understanding in Today' Lesson

Learning Targets--Helping Students Aim for Understanding in Today's Lesson
By Connie M. Moss & Susan M. Brookhart

I highly recommend that you read this book. It will really help your understanding of what Learning Targets are and their importance.

 *I found used copies on inexpensive to purchase  ISBN  978-1-4166-1441-8

I'm going to highlight the important points that I've taken from each chapter throughout the next few weeks so I hope you follow...

Chapter 7:  Using Learning Targets to Foster Higher-Order Thinking

*All learning targets should be judged according to how well they fit with curricular aims and how appropriate for students. It is particularly worth exploring learning targets about thinking skills.
We will review how to establish and communicate learning targets that incorporate thinking skills in student-friendly terms and how to use formative assessment and differentiated instruction to help students reach thinking-skill targets.

*Learning Targets about Thinking Skills

Defining Higher-Order Thinking-
Understanding higher-order thinking will help teachers incorporate thinking skills into their learning targets for students.
Students use higher order thinking when they:
-Identify questions, assumptions, or issues to investigate.
-Systematically collect, analyze, and interpret evidence from a variety of perspectives.
-Develop coherent descriptions, inferences, predictions, explanations, evaluations, or arguments that are evidence-based, logical, and in context.
-Regulate and appreciate the cognitive effort required to substantiate claims to knowledge.

*Establishing and Expressing Learning Targets about Thinking Skills
Before you can share learning targets about thinking skills with your students, you need to make sure that your instructional objectives incorporate thinking skills. The conventional way to incorporate thinking skills into instructional objectives is to use taxonomy of thinking skills such as Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy or Webb’s Depth of Knowledge levels, often used for state test alignment studies. There are other taxonomies of thinking skills, too. What they all have in common is that they aim to help educators ensure that instruction and assessment go beyond memorization and recitation.
The hierarchical nature of these taxonomies has led to the terms higher-order thinking and lower-order thinking. Lower-order implies that there is something “low” in value about knowing important facts, vocabulary, and concepts. There’s nothing wrong with learning important facts.
What matters is that learning doesn’t stop there. Students should be able to use the facts and concepts they know to reason, figure things out, solve problems, write research questions and hypotheses, and so on.

Brookhart (2010) has organized aspects of higher-order thinking this way:
-Functioning at the “top end” of a taxonomy of thinking skills.
-Using logic and reasoning.
-Using sound judgment.
-Identifying and solving problems.
-Being creative, seeing new patterns and putting things together in a new way.

*Communicating Learning Targets about Thinking Skills
Instructional objectives describe complex processes; it is not enough just to preface them with “I Can”. You need to show students what the objectives mean for them. All potential activities and assessment should serve the learning target. Not all students will learn exactly the same content details and process skills (writing, speaking & representing), but at the end of the lesson, they should all be able to say “I can” do whatever the learning target is. If they cannot do this yet, then they should know what to do next.

*Articulating Criteria for High-Quality Thinking
The success criteria in your learning target is based on instructional objectives. The instructional activities all serve these criteria, but they differ in their specific emphases and in the processes and products they require.

Page 121 is a Sample Rubric (7.3) of Performance-Level Descriptions Added to Success Criteria. This rubric is for a sample lesson that the book goes into great detail.

*Understanding Higher-Order Thinking across Readiness Levels
Many people have a misconception that “higher-order” thinking is necessarily more difficult than recall. Another common misconception is that students have to first “learn” facts and concepts before they can learn to apply them. Neither of these ideas is true. Level of difficulty and level of thinking are two different aspects of learning targets. The best learning involves students in acquiring and using facts simultaneously. Applying new knowledge helps students see the purpose of learning it in the first place. Educators who hold either of these misconceptions risk shortchanging young students and low achievers of any ages. Students who must slog through recall and drill assignments before they are deemed “ready” to do higher-order thinking will learn that school is boring. And they will not learn to think well.

*Higher-Order Thinking and the Learning Process
Higher-order thinking enables students to regulate their own learning processes. Metacognition, or “thinking about thinking,” requires reasoning about abstract concepts (like considering, “How well am I understanding this part?”), which is necessary for student self-assessment.
Goal setting and other aspects of self-regulation require higher-order thinking, specifically the acts of coming up with and then carrying out a plan that the student can reasonably expect to lead to improvement. In a real sense, “how to learn” becomes a learning target in its own right.
The higher-order thinking skills involved in self-regulated learning can be organized in several ways. Boekaerts’s (1999) model is used in much self-regulation research and also has clear implications for classroom instruction and assessment.

She describes three types of strategies that self-regulated learners need:

-First, self-regulated learners need cognitive strategies. Students use cognitive strategies to deal directly with the knowledge and skills they are learning. Cognitive strategies include rehearsal (copying, underling, and repeating facts); elaboration (paraphrasing and summarizing material); and organization (outlining and problem solving).
-Second, self-regulated learners need metacognitive strategies. Metacognitive strategies include planning (deciding what to do and in what order and with what resources); monitoring comprehension and performance; and evaluation the quality of one’s learning.
-Third, self-regulated learners need motivational strategies. Students need to have the expectation that they can learn the content or perform the skill to be attained. They need to value the learning, seeing the knowledge or skill as important; either in its own right or for its instrumental value in getting to some other goal—as, for example, a student who wants to be an engineer knows that it is important to learn calculus. Students need to have positive effective responses to the learning—interest, enjoyment, or some other positive emotion.

Page 127 7.5—Sample Learning Targets and Criteria for Success for Some Self-Regulation Skills

*Creativity in Learning Targets

Creativity is about defining problems or tasks in a new light and putting ideas together in new ways. Creativity is not being cute, artistic, or even interesting. The misconception that creativity means making things appealing—whether visually, as in a beautiful report cover, or verbally, as in a tug-at-the-heartstrings story—often leads to the assignment of “points” for creativity in work that is not, in fact, creative.

Students who are creative…
-Recognize the importance of a deep knowledge base and continually work to learn new things.
-Are open to new ideas and actively seek them out.
-Find source material for ideas in a wide variety of media, people, and events.
-Look for ways to organize and reorganize ideas into different categories and combinations, and then evaluate whether the results are interesting, new or helpful.
-Use trial and error when they are not sure of how to proceed, viewing failure as an opportunity to learn.

Aspects of these skills can become learning targets. Students can learn to look for what is “new” about the work of authors, artists, scientists, historians, and mathematicians. They can learn to try for “new” applications or cross-references in their own work. We shortchange students when we communicate in our words and in our assignments that creativity means visual or verbal pizzazz. True creativity is what moves society forward, and students will not develop their creativity unless they aim for it like any other learning target.

If you want students to be creative, assign work that requires them to produce a new product or reorganize existing ideas (not just facts on a poster or bulletin board) in a new way. Make creativity an explicit learning target. Allow or even require students to find and use source material beyond a set of assigned readings. Above all, make sure that the generation of new ideas—whether in writing, speech, illustration, or construction—connects to the rest of the content that the student is supposed to be learning and not to something tangential like the cover or the format of a project.

The teacher needs to have complete directions for the assignment. We are mostly concerned with the learning target and the criteria for success expressing to students, in terms they can understand, what creative work should look like.
**To further communicate the learning target and criteria for success, the teacher might draft two or three examples of varying quality and have students discuss how the examples meet or don’t meet the criteria.

Looking Forward
This chapter and the previous have shown that every step of instruction and formative assessment should be grounded in a learning target. But at some point, instruction must end. At the end of the instruction, it’s time for summative assessment—time to ascertain and report what students have learned. In most classrooms and school, that means grading, which is the subject of Chapter 8.

As I’ve said each week, this is a great book with a lot of examples, tables and charts that I’m not including in the post. I highly recommend that you purchase a copy of the book for further information and study.

Until next week…

*STAR* Teacher--April Cole

Norman Elementary's new *STAR* Teacher is...

April Cole

Me and my class celebrating 100’s day--we are 100 days Smarter!

How many years have you been teaching?
12 years- I taught preschool for 11 years. This is my first year in 2nd grade.

What is your best memory?
I’ve had many over the years. In preschool you build close relationships with families. It is always nice to have parents and former students come back to visit, say thank you or ask for advice. This year, I had a student of mine say to me “Mrs. Cole our classroom is like a home. It smells so good and we are like a family.”  It’s the little things like this that keep you going.

What is the funniest memory?
This year two colleagues and I were talking in the hallway. All of a sudden she loses her crown (tooth) before you know it the three of us were crawling around in the hallway to find it before the kids came in for recess. This just shows you there is nothing we wouldn't do for each other.

Reading Strategy/Best Practice
Partner/ Peer reading, popcorn reading, literacy centers, weekly AR goals, comprehension games.

Math Strategies/ Best Practice
Math Centers, peer grouping, drill and skill practice, minute math, timed tests.

Advice for teachers coming in the field
Teaching is far more than reading and writing these days. Most days you are mom, dad, nurse, and counselor. Don’t lose sight of what is important in a child’s life. Provide an environment that is safe and nurturing and the rest will fall into place.

Favorite Quote:  I call my students “my kids” because in our year together they aren't just kids on my class list, they become a part of my heart.

Last year when I was told I would be leaving preschool and moving to 2nd grade I was in heart failure. I was comfortable and confident in my position and truly felt that is where I belonged. The fear of the unknown consumed me, and I was scared to death. Stepping out of my comfort zone was not easy.

Looking back I have realized many things. If you truly love teaching- you can teach any grade. I also realized that as educators we become stagnant and a new grade level provides new challenges and opportunity for personal growth. I have learned so much about myself both personally and professionally. 

Pictures from April's Classroom

 *Classroom Environment*

  Classroom Expectations “Camp Rules”

Classroom Reading Corner

Classroom Library- Theme “Camping”

 Literacy Center Word Family Practice

 Literacy Center (Reading- Rebuild a Poem)

Literacy Center ( Word Work)

 Literacy Center (Writing)

 Literacy Center ( Sentence Building)

 February Literacy Menu for Literacy Centers

 “Oh the Places You  Will Go” a map showing where our Flat Stanley’s have traveled.

Valentine Writing

 Literacy Link 
Example “Jamaica Louise James”
            Chalk Art: Our Big Idea

Literacy Link 
Example “Stranger in the Woods”
            Torn Paper Art and Egg carton snowman

 Adjective Assembly Line
Our room was made into a factory assembly line. Each child was given a heart. Like an assembly line we passed the hearts around.  Each child wrote one positive adjective for each person in the class. We talked about how they felt when they read the positive comments from their peers and how they would have felt if all of the comments were negative. We talked about the power of words and related it to bullying.

STAR Goals bulletin board.
            In my class students create SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. These goals are created by the students and focus on what the individual student is working on. For example- 100% on spelling test, 5 AR points, completing all work in work folder, some students create behavior goals if they feel they need improvement or if there is an issue. These goals are shared with parents so they can help with meeting these goals. Once a child meets their goal, a new one is created. 

Thank you for sharing your advice, stories and "kids". As a member of your 2nd grade Team, I have to say that you have done an amazing job adjusting to a new grade, curriculum and Team. You are excited about teaching 2nd grade students and that excitement overflows into your lessons,  your classroom environment and into your 2nd grade teaching team.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

*STAR* Teacher-- Jo Knack

Norman Elementary's New *STAR* Teacher is...

Jo Knack
 Title 1

How many years have you been teaching?
I have been teaching for five years, however, I have been with this school district for 18 years working with children from K-12th grade. 

My best memory:
My best memory is remembering the feeling that I get each and every time a child starts to succeed.  It is a feeling of great joy and excitement and I love feeling that way. 

My Funniest memory:
Last year, I received a 5000.00 grant from General Mills to start a book program.  My mission was to get current literature into the hands of the children and give them the opportunity to take a book home to share with their families.  Therefore, once a month,  I  go into each kindergarten classroom dressed up as Buzzy the Bee and share my love for reading with the students.  The funniest thing is that the children really want to believe that I am a life size BEE.  It is so funny when they say to me, “You’re not really a Bee are you?”  I just giggle inside and leave it up to their imagination.

Can you share a reading strategy/best practice?
According to Brain Based research emotion plays a big role in learning.  If a child doesn’t feel emotionally connected or if a child feels unsafe that child will not be able to attend to what is being presented in the classroom.  Therefore, my first strategy in reading is to get to know each child.  Make a connection with each one of them, so they feel safe and comfortable.  Then the child can start to make the connections that are necessary to become a reader.

Can you share a math strategy/best practice? 
When I work with children in math I like to do a lot of hands-on multi-sensory projects.  I also like to use mnemonics to develop the child’s memory.

What advice do you have for teachers just coming into the field?
This field is constantly changing so trying to keep up with the current trends in education is very demanding.  Read as much as you can, surf the net for current research and information, and go to conferences when they are offered.

Thanks Jo, for sharing your strategies, advice and most important...the love of reading with our students.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chapter 6--Learning Targets Helping Students Aim for Understanding in Today's Lesson

Learning Targets--Helping Students Aim for Understanding in Today's Lesson

By Connie M. Moss & Susan M. Brookhart

I highly recommend that you read this book. It will really help your understanding of what Learning Targets are and their importance.

 *I found used copies on inexpensive to purchase  ISBN  978-1-4166-1441-8

I'm going to highlight the important points that I've taken from each chapter throughout the next few weeks so I hope you follow...

Chapter 6:  Using Learning Targets to Differentiate Instruction

*Differentiating instruction is the process of matching students’ needs to the requirements for achievement. Differentiated instruction recognizes “students’ varying background knowledge, readiness, language, preferences in learning, and interests” and provides “different avenues to acquiring content, to processing or making sense of ideas, and to developing products so that each student can learn effectively”. 
In other words, differentiating instruction helps all students reach their learning targets.

*This chapter discusses two models for differentiated instruction:
1.       Tomlinson’s Differentiated Instruction (DI)
-DI arose in the general education context and emphasizes differentiating goals, materials, instruction, and assessment for all students.
2.      Hal, Strangman, and Meiyer’s, Principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
-UDL arose in the special education context and emphasizes minimizing barriers to goals, materials, instruction, and assessment for all students.

There is a great table on page 95 that shows a comparison on both models.

In a nutshell:
DI meets diverse students’ needs by: readiness, interest, learning profile & affect; Students are learning Standards & benchmarks and local curriculum goals & objectives; Methods used are content, process, product, learning environment.
UDL meets diverse students’ needs by: minimizing barriers and maximizing flexibility; Students are learning Standards & benchmarks and local curriculum goals & objective; Methods used are to support recognition of learning, provide multiple, flexible methods of presentation; to support strategic learning, provide multiples, flexible methods of expression and apprenticeship; to support affective learning, provide multiple, flexible options for engagement.

*Deciding When and How to Differentiate
Learning targets should help teachers decide how and when to differentiate instruction. The more directly a differentiation strategy leads to the learning target, the more important it is for learning.

-great examples on page 96 & 97

*Focusing Differentiated Instruction with Learning Targets
The learning target is central to planning good differentiated instruction right from the beginning. It is the reference point toward which your observations and assessment of students’ readiness, interest and affect, and learning profile need to point for you to plan effective instruction for that particular content or skill. 
The reason the learning target (the students’-eye view of the intentions for learning) is a better reference point than the instructional objective (the teacher’s –eye view) is that students will need to help you get the right information.

Figure 6.2 on page 98 lists some strategic questions you can use to focus your assessments of students’ needs on the learning target.

-Where is the student now in relation to the learning target?
-What portions of the learning target has the student already mastered?
-What lack of prior knowledge may be a barrier to achieving the learning target?
-What supplemental skills (reading, writing, speaking, drawing) are necessary for students to hit this target, and where is the student in relation to those skills?

Interest and Affect
-How interested is the student in the content and the kinds of thinking and skills represented in the learning target?
-What, if any, are the student’s personal connections with the content and the kinds of thinking and skills represented in the learning target?
-What prior experiences and feelings, if any, does the student have with the content and the kinds of thinking and skills represented in the learning target?

Learning Profile
-What are the student’s preferences for accessing content (hear, see, read), learning activities, and modes of expression?
-How do these preferences relate to the learning target?

*Differentiating Instructional Planning
6.3 page 101 Strategies for Differentiating Elements of Instruction

-Present content using multiple examples, in different media and formats.
-Highlight critical (to the learning target) features of the content.
-Use tiered methods so that students of different ability levels (with regard to the learning target) can interact with the content meaningfully.

-Provide diverse examples of skilled performance (different ways to hit the learning target).
-Provide opportunities for students to practice with varying amounts of scaffolding.
-Provide descriptive feedback.
-View mistakes as opportunities for learning.
-Have students keep track of their progress.

-Keep all assignments substantive and related to the learning target.
-Use the learning target to evaluate whether the (differentiated) products actually all help students accomplish and demonstrate the intended learning.
-Use criterion-referenced evaluation for final products.

Learning Environment
-Offer choices in content, tools, and level of challenge (consistent with the learning target).
-Offer choices of rewards and other affirmations.
-Offer choice of work environments (consistent with the learning target).
-Attribute success to effort, and the reason for effort to learning something new.

*Differentiating the Performance of Understanding and Criteria for Success
6.4 page 105: A Model of Instructional Planning to Support Student Engagement, Differentiated Instruction, and Formative Assessment.

-Start with the state standards (s) or curriculum goal (s).

1.  What does the general standard or goal entail? Select one specific aspect of it that is the right grain size for the classroom unit.

2.  List the lesson-sized learning targets that your students are going to pursue as they work to reach those learning goals, and the criteria for success.
-Plan at least one lesson activity to communicate each learning target and its criteria for success to students.
-Include in that activity ways for students to express their backgrounds, experiences, readiness, and interest regarding the learning target.

3. Brainstorm and list as many potential activities for instruction for each learning target as you can.
-Have more than you would need for teaching.
-Extras can help you diversify instruction (presenting content in multiple ways, providing different performances of understanding).

4. Brainstorm and list as many potential assessment methods to show performance on each learning target as you can.
          -Have more than you would need for grading.
          -Extras can be used for formative assessments (for practice, feedback, and coaching).
-Extras can help you use multiple measures to more validly represent the domain and/or to diversify assessment methods.
5. Customize a general rubric for standards-based grading of student performance on this learning target. Decide how you would apply the rubric to each of the assessments you brainstormed. For example, for a test, what would be the cut points, and why? For a performance assessment, what would be the evidence for each level, and why?

Page 111 6.5 Sample Student Self-Assessment Sheet

Looking Forward
The learning target is the key for both teacher planning and student involvement in differentiated instruction. Learning targets focus the teacher’s thinking on how and when to differentiate, identify what the teacher asks students to focus on when differentiating a lesson, and focus the design of performances of understanding and criteria for success.
Next week we’ll move on to chapter 7---Using Learning Targets to Foster Higher-Order Thinking.

As I’ve said each week, this is a great book with a lot of examples, tables and charts that I’m not including in the post. I highly recommend that you purchase a copy of the book for further information and study.

Until next week…


Saturday, February 16, 2013

*STAR* Teacher--Tracy Kailing

Norman Elementary's New *STAR* Teacher is...

Tracy Kailing

How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching for 13 years--11 years in Kindergarten, 2 years in first grade and a year of pre-school.

What is your best memory?
My best memories of teaching is when past students come up to me and say "Hi" or give me a hug.  That shows me that they remember me and I have had some impact on them.

What is your funniest memory?
My funniest memory was when I was teaching my second year of 1st grade.  My students were coming in off of the bus and hanging up all their stuff up in their lockers.  They all came running in my room telling me one of my students brought a bottle of beer to school.  At first I thought they were exaggerating BUT they were not! This student had brought a full bottle of Bud Light into school. I was speechless.  J

Can you share a Reading Strategy?
A reading strategy that I think helps children learn to read, is to have them look at the pictures when they start sounding out words that they don’t know before the adult helps them with the word.

Can you share a Math Strategy?
 A math strategy that I think works the best is using math manipulatives.  I believe it brings math to life and the children can really see how math works.  I love how to see when a student gets a skill and the light bulb finally clicks.  J

Do you have advice for new teachers coming into the field?
My advice for a new teacher coming into the field of education is don’t be afraid to ask questions or make mistakes, nobody is perfect.  Watch your colleagues, learn from their ideas, and don’t be afraid to cry. We all have wanted to quit, but you will be fine, tomorrow is another day. 

Pictures from Tracy's Classroom

Teddy Bear Art Project

Students at the Computer Station

Students Partner Reading

Students working on their Journals

Tracy--Thank you for letting us into your classroom and sharing advice, pictures and stories.


Monday, February 11, 2013

*STAR* Teacher-Brian Mumby

Norman Elementary's New *STAR* Teacher is...

Brian Mumby
2nd Grade

How many years have you been teaching?

I have been teaching for 6 years. In my first year I taught eighth grade Social Studies at Mason County Central Public Schools and the last 5, I have been in second grade here at Reed City.

What is your best memory?

I think the best memories are just watching my students grow and develop as second graders. I love to see them get excited when things click for them, especially the students who struggle or are a little behind the others. When they realize they have it within them and they say I can do it, I think that is one of the best things about teaching!

What is the funniest memory?

My funniest memory is when I was student teaching in Mrs. Ringler’s 1st grade classroom. I had a student come to me straight out of the bathroom and he said, “Mr. Mumby I have a problem.” My first thought was he had an accident. This was not the case. He said to me, “I have two pairs of underwear on and I’m not sure which ones are dirty, Bob the Builder or the Sponge Bob Square pants ones!!!” Needless to say I was very relieved that was all it was.  :)

Reading Strategy/Best Practice:

At the beginning of the year and throughout the year I talk to my kids about being different animals such as chunky monkeys or eagle eyes or a helpful hippo. Each animal stands for a different decoding strategy for figuring out difficult words when they come to them in a story. Chunky Monkey reminds them to chunk up the words, sound out the different syllables. Having Eagle Eyes reminds them to look at the pictures or other words on the page to help them. Being a Helpful Hippo reminds them to ask for help if they have tried everything else.
I do a couple of things to help my students with fluency. I think it is very important to read aloud to my kids. I think it is important to expose them to many different types of books. This is also a good strategy for modelling how books are supposed to be read with expression. I give my students at least 20 minutes every day of D.E.A.R time right after breakfast. During this time they read and take AR tests. I also have my student’s partner read. This gives them a chance to read aloud to one another and help one another with difficult words. We also popcorn read. I will start a story and then call on someone and then they read and call on someone. It helps make sure everyone is following along and it also gives them a chance to work on reading out loud in front of a group. They love having a chance to pick someone. It becomes a game for them!


Math Strategy / Best Practice:

I think any time you can get manipulatives in their hands the better off they will be. I use base ten blocks, counting cubes, straws, Judy Clocks, etc. I also like to do different activities with food, such as fruit loops, M&M’s, marshmallows, Teddy Grahams, etc. The kids love these and they get to eat the food when we are done!!

Advice for new teachers:
I think one of the best things you can do is to get with the experienced teachers in your building or within your own grade level. They have so many things to offer you from classroom management techniques to lesson planning. Do not be afraid to ask for help. The veteran teachers are there to help you.

Extra information:

I would say love your job! Always try to keep a smile on your face, be positive and be there for the kids. For a lot of kids, their teachers are all they have and you want to make school a positive, safe, and happy experience for them! I also would say we have a great staff at G.T. Norman especially my fellow Second Grade teachers and it is a pleasure working with all of you.

More Classroom Pictures

Winter Scene with Chalk

Snowman Coloring

"I have a dream..." Writing

Snowman Art

I love the bathroom story- we should write a book with all of the funny stories that happen in our elementary building!

Thanks for having the courage to be the first Male *STAR* Teacher. 
Great job--see... it was painless :-)

Thank you for sharing some stories, advice and your students.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chapter 5--Learning Targets: Helping Students Aim for Understanding in Today's Lesson

Learning Targets--Helping Students Aim for Understanding in Today's Lesson
By Connie M. Moss & Susan M. Brookhart

I highly recommend that you read this book. It will really help your understanding of what Learning Targets are and their importance.

 *I found used copies on inexpensive to purchase  ISBN  978-1-4166-1441-8

I'm going to highlight the important points that I've taken from each chapter throughout the next few weeks so I hope you follow...

Chapter 5:  Developing Assessment-Capable Students

This chapter focuses on student goal setting and self-assessment, processes that depend on students’ understanding of both the target and the process of working toward it.

            To engage in learning, students need answers to the three central questions of the formative assessment process:  Where am I going? Where am I now? How can I close the gap between where I am now and where I want to go?

Learning targets are the key to developing assessment-capable students—that is, students who regulate their own learning by answering these three questions as they work. It’s the teacher’s job to increase the skill (the ability to self-assess) and the will (the disposition to self-assess) most of the important data-driven decision makers of all: the students.

*Research on the Effects of Student Self-Assessment

When teachers present to their classes a view of learning from students’ perspective, they develop students’ ability to regulate their own learning. Developing assessment-capable students who know the learning target for the lesson, can describe where they are in relation to the criteria for success, and can use that information to select learning strategies to improve their work is the number-one factor for improving student achievement.

*Learning is an active process and students are the agents to their own learning.

Good self-assessment requires students to recognize these characteristics in their own work, and to be able to translate their self-assessments into action plans for improvement.
The ability to use self-assessment information to regulate one’s own learning and behavior is a strong predictor of future academic and professional success.

*Three Guiding Questions and the Formative Assessment Process

            -Where am I going?
            -Where am I now?
            -How can I close the gap between where I am now and where I want to go?

These questions guide the formative assessment process and focus everything that happens in the classroom:  what the teacher does, what the students do, and what the teacher and students do together.
Most important, students who become skilled at using this process “learn how to learn”. It all starts with students understanding where they are going—their learning target.

*Using a Formative Learning Cycle to Develop Assessment-Capable Students

When classroom lessons consist of do-or-die tasks or assignments—one-time-only chances to demonstrate mastery—students have little chance or reason to learn how to assess their own work and to value the process. In sharp contrast, the formative learning cycle teaches and encourages students to improve their work as part of today’s lesson. 
A basic formative learning cycle begins when the teacher models and explains the lesson’s learning target and criteria for success—where students are headed in the lesson, how they will know when they get there, and how they will demonstrate their learning.
After the teacher explains the learning target, the students engage in guided practice, with the teacher scaffolding students’ understanding of the success criteria and their ability to use the criteria to gauge the quality of their work. The students then engage in the performance of understanding without teacher guidance, trying out their learning to see where they are in relation to the success criteria. Immediately following students’ independent performance, the teacher provides formative feedback to help them accurately assess what they did well and what they should do to improve their performance. The teachers’ feedback will also help students select a strategy to use on their next attempt. This informed second chance is a powerful motivational factor that strengthens students’ views of themselves as assessment-capable.

*Using Learning Targets to Support Student Self-Assessment

-Every student should be able to answer these two questions for today’s lesson:

            -What am I learning (the learning target)?
            -How will I know when I’ve learned it (the success criteria)?

-Every teacher should be able to answer the parallel set of questions: 

-What is important for my students to learn and be able to do in this lesson?
-How will I know whether they’ve learned it?

*Where Am I Going?

It is crucial to share learning targets in a way that supports students’ self-assessment. Here are some strategies:

-Help students envision success criteria by organizing them as student-friendly rubrics, checklists, or displays.
-Provide examples of work at all levels and time for students to sort examples by success criteria.
-Use goal-directed language to explain how learning success in today’s lesson fits into the learning trajectory.

*Where Am I Now?

Different learning targets need different performance of understanding and, therefore, different self-assessment strategies.

For learning targets involving concepts, use self-reflection strategies or indicator system.

Self-reflection sheets usually state a goal for students (or ask them to state it) and have them reflect of the quality of their work on one or more performances of understanding.

**There is a great example on page 85, 5.1: Strengths and Weaknesses Student Tool

            Students identify the performance of understanding (the assignment) at the top and then reflect on their strengths and weaknesses. Teachers can use the weightlifting imagery as a way to help students talk about how they developed their strengths and decide what “exercises” they should do to improve their weaknesses.

*By indicator systems, we mean “traffic light” color-coding, happy/sad faces, or any other coding system through which students can indicate their level of confidence in their work or their level of understanding of the concepts they are working with. Individual students can use indicator systems on their own work—for example, putting a green sticker on an assignment they have reviewed and decided they understood and succeeded on, a red sticker on an assignment they have decided is of poor quality, but do not know how to improve, and a yellow sticker on an assignment they are not sure about.
*Example of 4th grade students self-assessing using the metaphor of an automobile windshield: the indicator categories are “glass” (I can see clearly), “bug” (I can see partly), and “mud” (I can’t see anything).

These indicator systems help students in two ways:
First, students’ self-reflection itself furthers their awareness of the learning target and their work in relation to it. 
Second, they help students see where their next steps should occur. The symbols also enable teachers to give appropriate, helpful feedback focused on student-identified needs.

Whole classes can also use indicator systems for simultaneous self-assessment that the teacher can observe with a visual sweep of the classroom. For learning targets involving simple concepts or problems, student can “vote” the answers to questions by responding to a question with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down or other hand signals (for example, holding up one to five fingers to indicate a level of understanding from “non” to “complete”). 
Younger children can move more dramatically (for example, “Stand up if you think oil and water will mix when we stir them together”). 
For multiple-choice questions, students can hold up response cards with letters (A, B, C, or D) or use electronic response systems (“clickers”).
Students can answer short constructed-response questions (for example, writing simple sentences or solving simple math problems) on whiteboards.

*For learning Targets Involving Writing, Use Self-Reflection and Self-or Peer-Editing

The writing process is a classic example of the formative learning cycle. Each stage—prewriting, drafting, revising, proofreading, and publishing—provides an opportunity to self-evaluate and decide on strategies for improvement. Any performance of understanding that asks students to write something over time—a report, for example—you can build in self-or peer-editing opportunities along the way.

*For Learning Targets Involving Facts, Use Tracking Methods

Students can use graphs or charts to keep track of their progress toward learning targets involving facts, such as mathematical facts, vocabulary words, lists of states and capitals, or elements and their properties. For example, they might use a line graph or bar graph to display their scores on weekly math quizzes. After students make each entry in the graph, ask them whether they were satisfied with their performance—if so, elaborating on how they accomplished it, and if not, what they plan to do differently before the next quiz.
Another type of tracking method is a category system, which helps students learn by categorizing and grouping facts.

*For Learning Targets Involving Content from Subject-Area Textbooks, Use Summarizing and Self-Testing Methods.

Students can summarize reading in their own words and evaluate how confident they are that they have understood the main points and details. Suggest that they discuss their summaries with peers. Students can also write their own lists of factual and inferential and concepts that they believe they understand as well as words and ideas they find difficult. All of these methods engage students in processing the material, not just memorizing it.

*For Learning Targets Involving Complex Performances, Use Self-Assessments with Rubrics

Complex performances require students to demonstrate more than one learning target. For example, students might solve a problem and explain their reasoning. Or they might prepare a report on a historical event, using research, historical analysis, and writing skills. Complex performances are good occasions to use co-created or student-transcribed rubrics on examples of work across a range of quality levels and then on students’ own work.
One way to do this is to have students use highlighters with rubrics. To use this method, students must have a clear understanding of the learning target. 
To compare their work against a rubric, students need to read and understand the performance description for all the levels of each criterion. Only then can students accurately highlight key phrases in the rubric from the level that they think describes their work. As their “evidence,” they can use the same-color highlighter to mark elements of the writing in their drafts that show they have met the highlighted standards.

**Page 88, 5.2 provides examples of how teachers can organize learning targets and success criteria as a metacognitive tool to promote self-assessment.

*Discuss the Accuracy and Fairness of Student Self-Assessments by Comparing them Against Success Criteria.

Self-assessments using rubrics or other tools are even more effective when they become vehicles for student-teacher discussion on the accuracy of students’ self-judgments. Teach students to self-assess accurately by working on two different aspects of student of student self-judgment.

First, make sure students truly understand the learning target and the success criteria; students can be accurate judges of the quality of their work only to the extent that they understand the learning target and the success criteria deeply; and only when they share a similar understanding of quality with their teacher.
Second, recognize that some students will look at their work through “rose-colored glasses,” evaluating it as they wish it to be, not as it actually is, while other students will just rush through the self-evaluation without thinking much about it. Providing feedback on the accuracy and fairness of their self-assessments is the best way to strengthen students’ self-assessment skills.

*Provide Descriptive, Nonjudgmental Feedback that Models Accurate Assessment of Student Strengths and Needs by Fairly Comparing the Student’s Work against the Success Criteria.

Students learn how to evaluate their work against criteria by watching their teachers model the process, by talking about it, and by seeing the difference it can make in the eventual quality of their work. For your part, model accurate assessment and fair comparison against the criteria, then provide an immediate opportunity for students to use that feedback and observe the results. These strategies contribute to a learning culture in the classroom by demonstrating that teacher feedback and student self-assessment are two sides of the same coin, that both are “safe,” and that both contribute to learning.

*How can I Close the Gap between Where I Am Now and Where I want to Go?

-Helping students identify their next learning move and follow through with it is potentially the most important step in the self-assessment process.

-Help students set realistic and accurate goals by comparing their work against the success criteria. Frame rubrics as maps to success by sharing them with students before the lesson, using their language to explain the lesson, and helping students apply the rubrics’ criteria to drafts of their work. Realistic goals can be derived from rubrics’ performance-level descriptions. If a student’s work is at level 2 on a rubric, for example, an obvious goal would be to raise his performance level to 3. That’s a performance goal, not a learning goal, but if the rubric is well constructed, the student can make the performance goal a learning goal by using the performance-level description associated with performance at level 3. 
For some learning targets, the performance of understanding can be literally tracked as rings on a target (see figure 5.3 pg.90).
 -Inner ring: Bull’s eye! I can do this well all the time
-Next ring: Close! I know what I’m doing, just need practice
-Next ring: Getting better. I’m starting to understand what to do
-Outer ring: Just beginning. I’m not sure how to do this yet.

*Teach Targeted Learning Strategies as an Integral part of the Lesson

You should give students strategies for doing every lesson, in all subjects and at all grade levels. Some students can figure out strategies on their own. But if you provide strategies, you give all students methods for approaching their work. Suggest a strategy and then ask other students to share how they might approach the work. A brief discussion of this nature gets students to share, provides all students with a variety of suggestions about how to work, and—most important—communicates to students that they should be active and strategic learners who are continually figuring out how to learn.

*Provide Feedback that Identifies a Strategy for Growth Linked to the Success Criteria, and give Students a Chance to Use the Feedback to Improve

In addition to providing description of where students are now and description of where they need to go next, teachers should suggest strategies that students can use to get to where they need to go.

*Scaffold Self-Assessment Skills in All Learners
All students can and should learn how to self-assess—to observe themselves and adapt what they are doing as a means to improve their work and understand their growing competence over time.
As with any concept or skill, different students have different strengths and needs when it comes to accurately assessing their own work and using that information to regulate what they do to improve it Scaffolding any new skill requires that we provide incremental challenge and support as we pull our students to higher levels of competence. Figure 5.4 on page 93 illustrates how teachers can enhance student self-assessment by adjusting their level of support in accordance with each student’s growing competence.

*Looking Forward
Learning targets are the foundation of student self-assessment. They are also the foundation of differentiated instruction. 
Next week we will look at Chapter 6: Using Learning Targets to Differentiate Instruction.

As I’ve said each week, this is a great book with a lot of examples, tables and charts that I’m not including in the post. I highly recommend that you purchase a copy of the book for further information and study.

Until next week…