Session Reflections: 19th March 2018
As a Politics teacher, an opportunity to bring current affairs into CPD Monday was something not to be missed. We started this evening's session watching a short clip put together by the Department for Education on workload issues (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4S0qxNGYNw) and we followed this by taking a look at Tom Sherrington’s similarly themed article from the Guardian in January (https://www.theguardian.com/profile/tom-sherrington).
This inspired interesting discussion around workload and how we could use self-assessment to not only be more effective and responsive practitioners, but also to reduce the time we spend on marking.
Of course, it is not quite as simple as that. Self-assessment will only be meaningful if done well, as Tom Sherrington states in the aforementioned article:
Let’s look at reflection sheets and checklists – the “what went well” and “even better if” sheets that are attached to students’ books. These sheets don’t reflect students’ learning needs in any meaningful way. “I must stop making silly mistakes”; “I must do more revision”; “I need to learn my quotations more accurately”; “I need to write a better conclusion”. I’ve seen all of these statements, invariably written on coloured sheets stuck into books. All of this feels like it serves the needs of the scrutineers, not those being scrutinised. I can’t believe any student improves their learning by writing these things.
So the critical thing to focus on is how to ensure that student’s self-assessment is precise and will move their learning forward. We heard some great examples of what teachers have been doing around the school. Examples include having Y13 Business students come into Y12 lessons as a way of helping them to revise. The Y13 student writes an example answer to be projected on to the board and the Y12 students assess this – and through doing this benefit from the greater experience th older student has. In D&T students have been assessing their practical work and justifying that assessment with clear and precise reasoning. In Y13 Politics students have been unpicking exemplar work and applying what they learn through that process to the assessment of their own work.
We also revisited some old issues. Students in D&T were almost invariably critical of their own work, as were my own Politics students. Yet, where students participated in peer assessment they were invariably too generous. The lesson? Emotions cannot be separated from students assessment of their own or their peer’s work. Something I feel the group should continue to focus on in the future.
We finished by coming back to the key purpose of self-assessment – activating students as owners of their own learning. If we can use self-assessment to facilitate this then not only will we cut down on our own marking workload, but we will make our students work harder and most crucially of all give them the skills they need to make progress in their own learning.
An example of some of the comments Y13 Politics students have made about their essays, this illustrates that when trained students can do better than “I must do more revision”