Assessing Their Own Work: Students as Active Participants

Massabesic Middle School, Waterboro

"For so many years, students would receive grades and not know where they came from, what assignments led up to them, how they would be assessed. Now they're involved in not only creating the units and deciding how they will assess themselves, but also how they will assess each other."

 

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Teacher: Massabesic Middle School has been in transition in the past 3 years into a standards-based education system. Personally. I am also three years into it and I transitioned from elementary school to middle school.

Classroom: We are going to be starting an informational unit. And you are going to be picking what way you want to research something and then share what you've learned with the class.

So these are just some of the informational targets you're going to be working on, and I'm randomly going to give them to you. And task master, you should probably take that standard, and then you're going to walk your team through how you're going to unpack that.

Student: Students will understand many main ideas and details to support the same piece of writing.

Student: We read the standard and we're just looking at words that we don't really know, and one of the words we weren't sure about was "transition words" so we're looking for another word for "transition words."

Student: Sometimes I feel like when we unpack the standards or write the standards by ourselves, it's easier to understand, rather than having Ms. Downing-Ford do the standards for us.

Teacher: So when a student walks into my classroom, I think what their struck with is that I'm not the one that's talking the most in the classroom. There's a lot of voice and choice in the classroom.

For so many years, they would receive grades and not know where they came from, what assignments led up to them, how they would be assessed. Now they're involved in not only creating the units and deciding how they will assess themselves, but also how they will self-assess their work and assess each other.

Student: Instead of using a Keynote or a poster or something boring, she came up with really cool different ideas that you can use to show your information.

Student: It's just enjoyable. It's my own thing that I'm doing, and I decided to do it, and it's not someone telling me, "You have to do this, so do it." So, it's like I'm doing it for me and not someone else.

Student: I'm new to this too. I moved to this district in the middle of the year so I'm used to the regular grading from 1 to 100 so this is different for me and I like it because you get more space. You get to be more creative, and choose more of what you want to do.

Student: If I get stuck, I can go to Ms. Downing-Ford and ask her a question.

I wouldn't go back to the old way. There are more in the driver's seat of their own education. I'm not necessarily telling them what to do or how to do it, but presenting what needs to be achieved in the 7th grade to move onto 8th, and they have many different choices of how they want to reach that goal.

Student: To me, it just works.

This Center for Best Practice is a collaboration between the Maine Department of Education and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, made possible by the contributions of the Maine schools that share their stories.