What does it mean to be ‘assessment capable’?

I used to think being ‘assessment capable’  just implied things like setting tests, planning summative tasks, grading and giving feedback.

A thought provoking conversation the other day with @YuniSantosa and @MKPolly, in relation to various workshops we will lead in the new year, highlighted the following questions assessment capable teachers and learners might ask ourselves:

How might I observe and notice my students’ learning?

What is revealed through what students say and do?
What skills and dispositions are they demonstrating?
What skills and dispositions might they need to work on?
What have they understood? What misconceptions do they have?
How have they moved forward? What’s holding them back?
What is their behaviour communicating?
What questions might I ask to reveal what students are thinking?
How has their thinking changed? What prompted the shift?
What patterns do I observe in individuals, groups or the whole class?
How might reflecting on evidence of learning guide my teaching?

How might I support students to move forward in their learning?

How might I provoke their curiosity?
How might I respond to what they reveal?
What might I offer that could take them to the next level?
How might I push their thinking further?
How might I further challenge them?
How might my questions clarify their understanding and help them notice misconceptions?
How might I help them notice and identify skills and dispositions?
How might I encourage them to build on their strengths?
What feedback and feedforward will be valuable?
How can I target my teaching to meet specific needs?
How might modelling my own thinking and reflection encourage theirs?
How might I ensure learners feel empowered to drive their own learning?

How might students be empowered to drive their own learning?

How might the teacher’s language influence the way students see themselves as learners?
Is how we learn as much a part of the conversation as what we learn?
How is ownership of learning encouraged and fostered?
Are students invited to co-construct success criteria?
What experiences, mentor texts and examples will help build their schema?
What opportunities are there for students to demonstrate their thinking and learning?
Are students encouraged to take risks and make mistakes?
What opportunities do they have to grapple with productive tension?
Is failure viewed as an opportunity to learn and grow?
What opportunities are there for students to make their own decisions?
How is the environment organised to maximise independence and agency?
How might students use their own and others’ strengths to move their learning forward?

What reflective questions might support assessment capable learners?

What new understandings do I have?
What connections have I made?
What am I still wondering?
What new skills have I mastered? What skills might I need to work on?
What strategies have I used? What strategies have I learned that I can use in future?
What patterns have I noticed? How might I apply what I learn from them?
What might my next steps be?
How might I approach things differently next time?
What strengths have I noticed in myself and others?
What challenges might I need to overcome?
Who might be able to support me? How might I support others?
What have I noticed about myself as a learner?

What else would you add?

Liberating the program of inquiry…

What if we develop a new whole school unit of inquiry, linked to our whole school focus?

What if teachers and learners focus on the same inquiry?

What if we critically evaluate all our units against a list of criteria generated by both teachers and learners?

What if units do not follow one after another, but rather overlap and intersect?

What if some units are year long, some short, some ongoing… depending on content, concepts, trans disciplinary possibilities and student interest?

What if we actively seek unexpected combinations of learning areas, like science and poetry?

What if one unit incorporates two trans disciplinary themes?

What if we wait to develop the lines of inquiry till we see where the learners want to take it?

What if we we have the same central idea for all the classes at one grade level, but each group of learners develop their own lines of inquiry?

What if we analyse our program of inquiry in terms of the concentric circle model and check the balance between opportunities for self discovery and thinking beyond ourselves?

What if all units focus not just on developing knowledge and understanding, but on developing human beings?

What if every grade level has at least one unit that is individual and personal, student selected and student driven?

What if we liberate ourselves from the traditional curriculum prison and explore new vistas? 

These are some of the questions we are considering as we head into the annual review of our Program of Inquiry . We have already experimented with some of these ideas.  How might we shift thinking and learning even further, for both teachers and students? What else might we explore? 

I used to think the POI review was about checking for curricular alignment and conceptual development… Now I think it’s about asking evenmore beautiful questions’.

What do you notice about yourself as a teacher?

It’s exciting to see teachers adopting the idea of thoughtfully considered reflective questions for themselves, as well as for the learners, in continued pursuit of the goal of developing the whole child – and the whole teacher! – rather than simply focusing on curriculum content.

If I want the children in my class to be creative, how might I encourage creative experimentation? How will I foster creative thinking and problem solving?

If I want to develop writers who consider audience and purpose in their writing, how will I help them find opportunities to write for an authentic audience?

If I think feedback is an important part of learning, how will I promote the giving and receiving of effective peer feedback?

If I want learners to be empathetic and understand different perspectives, how will I ensure that all points of view are considered to help them develop empathy?

If I want the next generation to make sustainable choices, how will I help them to understand the impact of their choices and to become thoughtful, principled global citizens?

If I want them to care about their environment, how will I foster a genuine sense of shared responsibility?

If I don’t want them to see mistakes as failure, how might I help learners use their struggles to develop resilience?

If I want my students to be positive, active digital citizens, how can I provide authentic contexts to practise digital citizenship? And how will I help them understand that positive active citizenship applies online or off?

In a recent collaborative planning session, while developing the notion of iTime (or Genius Hour) into an opportunity for self reflection and personal growth, the Year 6 team took this type of reflective questioning to another level!

What do I notice about myself as a teacher?

What skills and dispositions do I need to develop as a teacher…?