Documenting my students learning. This is a new thing for me. I started documenting my students learning years ago but nowhere near the extent that I am doing this year. I used to use a million sticky notes to jot down conversations and observations with my students and at the end of the day would spend some time sticking them in their folder. I had a manila folder for each student and kept track of my anecdotal notes on them this way. Did it work for me? Yes, most of the time. Unless I lost the sticky note or forgot to put it in. This documentation helped me to develop observation and process marks for my students. Over the last couple of years, I have grown to rely on this documentation even more. At the beginning of the year, I share with my students and parents the different ways that I will be collecting evidence of their learning in my room.
“Evidence of student achievement for evaluation is collected over time from three different sources – observations, conversations, and student products. Using multiple sources of evidence increases the reliability and validity of the evaluation of student learning.” Growing Success, pg 39.
For some of my students this evaluation style it is quite new, but (thank goodness) I have not received any negative feedback from either the students or the parents. The information that I gather from my students this way is quite remarkable. Students who struggled to put their thoughts on paper, can sometimes give me a somewhat clear oral explanation about what they are doing. I had a group of teachers in my class last month and was pleasantly surprised to hear one of my struggling students using his patterning tiles to explain how he was able to decipher what the rule was and how he could extend his pattern using that same rule. Talk about an opportunity. If I had waited for his pen and pencil task I would have totally missed his sharing. My good friend Aviva and my vice-principal Kristi have encouraged me take my documentation even further this year. Last year I had moved to taking pictures along with my notes. Aviva has encouraged me to let the students take the pictures and share them with me, as well as me recording their sharing during our conferences or small group collaborations. She has also suggested that the students can even record themselves. How powerful would it be for the student to listen to their explanations at the beginning of the unit and then compare them at the end of that same unit, or even the end of the year? Kristi, talks a lot about the process versus the product, and its relevance. Why do we devalue the journey it took to reach the end? Today, in my math inservice it once again came up that students can share their learning orally but struggle to write it clearly. My questions were: Do they have to write it down if they can say it orally?; Why can’t they record their answer and then transfer it to the paper if that is the expectation?; What about them making a sketch of their learning, taking a picture of it and then a short explanation to show that they get it? Does math learning always have to be written down? The new me says no, that is why if you come in my classroom I usually have my phone or my Ipad in my hand.
How do you capture your student’s learning?