Thursday, May 5, 2011

Assessment through Reflection

I absolutely love having kids do video reflections!  They have been such an authentic way for us to understand our students' thinking, where they are in the process, how they are feeling about the process, and what they are learning.  It's hard to describe the element that is captured in a video reflection that you don't always get in a written reflection.  It's like you can see them thinking as they speak and also hear the emotion and passion in their voices. I've always felt that reflection is an important part of the learning process for both the teacher and the students.  I don't know why it didn't occur to me to use video as one way to reflect but it is definitely in my reflection toolbox going forward.

I agree with Elaine. Audio and video reflections are an extremely effective way at getting at important aspects of learning.  What did the student learn from her mistakes?  What skills did she acquire through her collaboration.  How hard did she work?  In what respects did she show initiative and leadership?  Did she engage in activities that did not show up in the groups' presentation or final solution?

At Mercy, we are engaged in exploring ways to teach Tony Wagner's Seven Survival Skills.  I believe that Challenge Based Learning is an effective vehicle for addressing these.  Consequently, I have shared two of my recent student reflections in a recent slide presentation in order to provoke a discussion on how to effectively assess for these skills.  Here are the slides:

After having required numerous reflections, I have found it critical to invest thought and time into developing good prompts.  Without specificity, the students sometimes drift into superficial commentary.  If the prompts are too specific, the respondents more or less treat them like a check list.  In the audio reflection below, Madison is responding to the following:

1) What concretely did you contribute to your group’s research and solution (I don’t mean suggested and idea . . . . What did you do like conduct an interview or edit a video).
2) Assess your individual contribution to the group’s in class presentation.  Describe your performance and your personal contribution to the slide show.
3) What did you personally learn from your project?
4) To what degree did you offer your best effort and maximize your talents in this project.

Madison's Audio Reflection

The consensus of the teachers who have listened to both reflections, agree that the following video piece is even more personal and authentic than the audio

I believe Elaine Wrenn's enthusiasm for video reflections is borne out by videos like this one.

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