16 March 2013

Reflection and revision opportunities: Check!

My latest assignment for the PBLU course is a reflection on formative assessments or 'checkpoints' in my capstone project, The Octopus's Garden. Along with a short Professional Learning course I led at school on AfL using Google Forms, my focus lately has been very much on assessment and on ensuring I build in enough opportunities for essential revision and reflection before summative pieces are submitted. As a result of this thinking, I wrote a post on my 'Golden Rules' for AfL, which I am sure I will edit and develop as I continue to explore this vital component of teaching and learning.
Can we rethink the classroom?
PBL Guidance states that learners should be allowed two formative assessments for each summative assessment. The final product for The Octopus's Garden Project is a presentation to the Principal of the school with design ideas for a 21st century classroom that will enhance teaching and learning in the school (post on this coming soon). Learners will also have to recount their learning in a report following the presentation.

To prepare for these assessments, we worked on:-
- note-taking skills
- writing instructions
- persuasive language
- organisation
- effective slide-making
- recount writing
- report writing
Team Files & Contracts
Check Points: Presentations
Formative 1: team presentations on areas of expertise
Formative 2: draft final presentation to soundboard
Summative: final presentation to SLT

Check Points: Recount/Reports
Formative 1: recount following team presentations
Formative 2: recount of either the the peer assessment lesson with Grade 2 or the Shamini Flint workshop as well as a discussion following feedback from Formative Presentation 2
Summative: report of whole project

Formative 1: team presentations on areas of expertise & recount
The first presentation, the small-team one, took place about a month before the final two and showcased  each team's expert research into a given area of the classroom.

Every team completed a peer assessment form (on a Google Form) created from the co-constructed presentation rubric when watching the films. Team videos of these first attempt at collaborative film-making can be viewed on our website. Feedback from the Google Form peer assessment was posted on the project website to allow learners to let it inform their recount reflection and the next stage of the project.

Following this presentation, learners used the peer feedback to write a recount of Phase 2 before moving forward to work on the final presentation. This provided me with an opportunity to build in more conspicuous English content skills. Recount writing essentials were introduced using the flipped classroom method via a tutorial on Sophia.org. Following this, a lesson was delivered via the project website, where a writing frame and rubric were provided to support learners in the creation of their post during lesson time. Learner blog posts can be viewed on the Grade 7 or Grade 8 class blogs by clicking on individual names on the right. I also wrote a blog post, “Flipping Heck” on the success of this lesson and flipped methodology.

Formative 2: draft final presentation to soundboard & discusion
The thinking that led from the feedback and reflections is outline in my post "Final Phase Begins" - ultimately, learners decided to stay in their teams and use their expert knowledge to create and contribute to a final overall presentation. We planned it out using sticky notes and a management log to track and control the process; you can read more about project management in my post "Managing the Octopus".

Learners showed real engagement and dedication to the final presentation, by coming to the classroom to work during their breaks to rehearse and edit ready for the final deadline. To allow for the essential review and revision process, I sent out on open invitation to the school to ask for volunteers to act as a soundboard and provide feedback so learners could make final adjustments before going 'live'.

Two days before this final deadline, a panel made up of teachers, parents and the head of primary, who kindly gave up their free time to support and help the project, came and watched their work. The 'soundboard' gave some critical feedback via a Google Form developed from our co-constructed rubric.  All Octopus's Garden Project presenters were really nervous as they have worked really hard and it was the first time they had showed anyone else their work - other than me and our support staff. However, they were kind and supportive of each other and did a really great job. I was really proud of them - though we still have some areas needing attention. The soundboard’s comments, questions and feedback were really encouraging and helpful; the feedback was given verbally and shared on the site to allow for discussion, review and revision before the final presentation.
Presentation for the Soundboard

Learners now have the spring break to write a detailed report about their learning from the project. To prepare learner for this, they have been given the writing opportunities above but also have been provided with scaffolding. Using the flipped method, learners watched a video about report writing and completed a quiz to test their understanding. They included a question they still had about report writing, which we will attempt to answer following the report writing after the break. 

After this, learners took part in a workshop that I designed based on Bloom's Taxonomy that asked learners to:-
- recall the elements needed in a report from the flipped homework
- identify the essential components of a report
- analyse how planning (learner model) becomes writing
- apply this knowledge to write their own plan
- create a report of their own using a frame

Learners were supported in creating the plan and now have to create the report in the break. To give additional support, learners have been given a step by step process workshop and video to consult should they need it.

The final assignments for the PBLU course require me to reflect on the whole process of project-based learning - including looking at learner assessments and their reflections about the project. I have also set a 'reflection' task as Spring Break homework, which is a method I had already adopted as part of my teaching process through MYP teaching. I believe it is equally as important for teachers to reflect and take on board the comments of learners to ensure our teaching is continually up to date, authentic and relevant.

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