My interest in the idea of sharing pedagogical purposes comes directly with the contact I have had with the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning at Monash University in Australia. Now each of these teachers were very active in establishing learning agendas with their classes. The impact they were having was inspiring. Each classroom tool can have a purpose beyond delivering content, and this needs to be shared.
I suppose the purpose of this website is collate, crystalise and open dialogues about how to increase this within classrooms. As the quote from Carl Bereiter illustrates this classroom methodology can empower our students.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Marking made easy,useful and enjoyable?!

For the first time in my career I genuinely enjoyed and found useful the process of sitting down and marking a set of books! And I think I know why......

The piece of work I was interested in was a normal practical write up in Science. I had planned the assessment around a pre-existing task, using Biggs SOLO taxonomy to establish  levels of success and the strategies the students had used in learning.  Each level had specific content and process criteria. During the lesson the students were given a chance to self assess their work against these criteria. The Purpose of doing this was two fold: Firstly, to introduce them to Biggs SOLO taxonomy and secondly two highlight the idea that education is an interactive process and not something that is done to them. The fifteen minutes of lesson time dedicated to this activity allowed me to talk and help mark five students work, leaving them all with at least one "Next Step". I enjoyed these converstations as the dialogue with Year 7's was purely about learning,with one student stating " I can see what you mean when you say join your ideas together". This echo's what a Year 12 Biologist said earlier in the week " I can see how your answer is better than mine". This is the beauty of the SOLO Taxonomy, identified by an eleven and sixteen year old within minutes of using it ( as a 23 year old, it took me alot longer), it makes the quality of their work VISIBLE.

This visibility is (even) apparent to the teacher marking a book. A obdurate task at the best of time, having this clarity made marking efficacious, so much so I marked 18 books in 45 minutes, all being identified at a SOLO level, next steps suggested and scietific vocabulary problems attended to. I also felt I had time to use another of my favoured assessment strategies.

For every module I select all the important (or illuminative/indicative) learning outcomes and then classify them into different (grade) levels. This means I can easily during lessons or book marking gather evidence on student learning. Although this does tend to be rather content based, how the students use the information inevitably correlates with the level. ( normally through Blooms taxonomy). Every lesson I highlight on the whole class copy of the sheet what I'm looking for. I am begining to realise that to make marking (and more broadly speaking assessment) clear and useful to me as a teacher, the planning and clarity I create is essential to me gaining the information about student learning and progress I need to make informed decisions about next steps and guidance. So in the "free time" I gained, I was able to look for one learning outcome too, leaving me with evidence of SAT levels for these students.

I obviously recorded all my observations for both content and the quality of work on my new Teacher Mark Book sheet. Not bad for forty five minutes and two interuptions  (both of whom asked for a copy of SOLO) converts!