Friday, March 18, 2016

Using Learning Goals in 1P Science

It has been pointed out to me recently that I should try to deprivatize my practice more. And so, I am resolved to blog about my assessment practices (including failures and questions) and hope that I can spark conversation, collect some feedback, and crowd source some ideas. So I have one request - if you are reading these entries, please share them with someone else and/or comment at the bottom and join the conversation. :) The first entry from this series can be found here.

I think that most teachers can agree that it is very difficult to focus on making major changes to more than one course at a time, and at my current job I am usually teaching three courses at a time. So of course, some things get neglected. This semester I made a conscious decision to try to make some changes to my Grade 9 applied Science course, particularly related to my assessment and evaluation practices.

I have been trying to find ways to help all of my students be more responsible, reflective, and to use metacognition constantly. I have also been making efforts to move toward not using marks to motivate students (I have read that studies show they discouraged struggling students and that most students motivated by marks can also be motivated by the learning). When I looked back at discussions I had with other teachers on the assessment working team I recalled some discussion about the use of LGs in vocational classes. And so, I decided to make an effort to make explicit use of learning goals.

This use of learning goals is another step to me attempting to throw out grades (follow the hashtag #TTOG to connect with others trying to do this as well). Here is what I am doing with my 1Ps as a first step:
At the start of class I put up three LGs that show the students what we will be learning that day (typically I am showing the same goals for 2-3 classes). I am using a model that was demonstrated to me by a colleague for professional learning goals (for PD) which involves having learning goals that describe:
1) What the student will know
2) What the student will do
3) What the student will be

Generally speaking the "know" is the core concept that is necessary to move onto higher order thinking; the "do" is usually some kind of application (such as calculating, using, drawing, etc); and the "be" is often related to a hands-on approach such as identifying actual objects/situations in a lab setting or showing confidence in interpreting drawings.

I am finding that doing this is helping me to see how each of the expectations from the curriculum we are tackling might fit into my overarching learning goals for the course. And in other ways, it is helping me reflect on those OLGs and think about how I might tweak them in the future. I try as often as I think of it to make sure that we also revisit the slide at the end of each class to make sure students at least have the opportunity to reflect on their learning.

Thank you for reading. Please join the conversation!

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