The past few weeks have been spent assessing what I value when it comes to English. This semester, students will self-report on English skills for their end of year report. This threw up a significant dilemma. In order to make collecting evidence and reporting against the achievement standards simple for students, I had to clearly be able to define and justify my own grading practice. I’m not sure if the ambiguity of ACARA is a strength or weakness of the system, with teachers seemingly having the autonomy to weight results relevant to their state and system. This is a hugely subjective practice. Even after speaking with several other teachers about how they weight and report against the achievement standards, we were unable to agree on what a transparent and consistent approach should look like for students. Teachers simply do what works for them with the data and evidence they collect.
I was given one example of an agreed percentage breakdown of grades for a larger Adelaide primary school. While it is far from a perfect example of our new system, it is in the ball park of how students will use the evidence they collect at semesters end.
I am excited to see how students respond to the opportunity to focus on practice and feedback, and how they collect evidence in order to select and defend their end of the semester grade. I have outlined how self-reporting will work in English below and in the attached documents. Most of the templates (and the welcome image above) used have been adapted from Joy Kirr’s personal blog and book Shift This. I am extremely grateful to Joy for her willingness to share thinking resources for us to utilise.
Finally, this week several students and myself were interviewed by our Marion Coast Partnership for an informational video about the different methods we use to collect feedback and annotate evidence of learning. James, Aaliyah and Sophia bravely volunteered to discuss rubric creation, self and peer assessment methods, reflection practices using their Journey Journals, and how students value different types of feedback. We will share the video when it is released.
Literacy Priorities for Semester 2 – Self-Reporting Guidelines
Reading: Students have reflected on their existing habits and set goals for improving either volume or comprehension of texts. A typical goal is a minimum 100 minutes per week at home. This could be in the form of books, newspapers, magazines, audiobooks, eBooks, or even website forums or blogs etc.
Students are asked to record all significant texts read and provide at least three comprehension checks during each term as proof of reading. This can be in the form of a book report, public book review (Twitter, Amazon or Goodreads on classroom account), Poster, 3-sentence summary or book talk (in class or FlipGrid video), poster, iMovie commercial or other negotiated option. The emphasis is on finding an area of interest or passion for reading, not mandated minutes. These comprehension checks will be used as evidence of learning for self-reporting grades.
In class, there will be opportunities to build reading comprehension skills in weekly mini-lessons. Students have the opportunity to opt into these lessons as they see fit. We will cover six important skills including making connections; monitoring and clarifying; predicting and inferring; questioning; summarising; visualising. These mini-lessons will run weekly until the end of the semester.
Writing: We will write every day in some format and subject area. Every writing piece should be seen as an opportunity to practice specific skills we are working on at that time. We will cover several different genres during the semester and students will be given numerous opportunities to seek feedback and revise texts. They will choose their three strongest pieces of writing as evidence of learning in writing skills, and another (or the same) three texts which display proficiency and growth in grammar and spelling skills. These “performance” texts will need to be published in some form. This could include student blogs, websites, letter to the editor, social media, eBooks etc. Students will record every significant piece of writing for evidence.
Students are also encouraged to build their literacy “Learning Stories” – a reflection of learning we are calling Journey Journals. Entries will be made most days, and over the semester should help students build a clear understanding of their strengths, challenges and achievements. These are not compulsory, but can also be used as evidence of growth when self-reporting. We will use Google classroom accounts to Email parents/guardians every few weeks to share our learning. We will use five learning lenses (credit to Monte Syrie) to frame our progress: learning targets; growth; proficiency; world; and self.
Grammar & Punctuation: Learning and practising grammar and punctuation skills in isolation from writing has proven to be less effective for transfer into writing. For this reason, we will attempt to meet every learner where they are with grammar skills and embed these features in their writing. Students will build a stronger understanding of concepts by self-assessing and revise work based on teacher and peer feedback.
Speaking and Listening: Many students have communicated a desire to improve public speaking skills. We will provide opportunities to improve public reading and speaking skills by attempting to master a picture fiction book, sharing of our eBooks, debating, peer feedback chats, book talks, and presenting a TED style passion talk.This evidence will be collected on Google forms, video etc. Active listening skills and engagement in class discussions will also be anecdotally considered at years end.
Spelling & Handwriting: Some students have made improving spelling strategies and handwriting a priority when goal setting. In spelling, we will use Soundations phonics program to target individual needs and build on the meaning and history of words. This work can be used as evidence of growth.