At a time when Scottish education is changing and standard tests were no longer around, I wanted to develop my own use of assessment within the classroom. I already used different forms of formative assessment which gave me as an educator instant feedback but although the use of ‘thumbs up, in the middle or down’ etc was somewhat useful, I wanted it to be more beneficial to the children. In short, I wanted assessment to inform next steps.
I then went onto create a Learning Log. As my first attempt had a few flaws (it was just based on achievement…it didn’t work too well!), I went on to develop a Log based on ‘Two Stars and a Wish.’ Every Friday the children reflect over each curricular area and write down what they have learned. They think of a maths and a writing wish too. Although they found it difficult to start with, the class now find it easier to identify specific wishes that they work on the next week. This means that each learner knows exactly how to improve their work. The children are encouraged when their wishes turn to stars.
When the opportunity came for the staff from our cluster schools to join/lead Learning Communities (groups of teachers from various schools working on a chosen topic to enhance learning and teaching in their classroom) I really wanted to be involved with the assessment community.
As a newly formed group, we wanted to look at the ‘Learning and Teaching’ A4 ring-binders our school had given every pupil, as well as Learning Logs. We tried out different types of Learning Logs within our classrooms. We also benefitted from an opportunity to visit another local school to view their folders to see what they were including. The whole group liked the ‘I can…’ list for every curricular area/topic covered in class so the children know exactly where their learning is going. (However, I would create these lists after the learners have helped to plan their topics.) From this visit I realised that these lists would be helpful but I still wanted to include a personal reflection ‘wish’ section so the learners know what specific points they have to work on.
The group have since asked the children and parents what they think of the folders- we received very positive feedback and interesting suggestions to improve them further.
As my Primary 4 class are now reflecting on their learning more specifically and regularly, I would like them to record their reflections on our class blog (http://edubuzz.org/blogs/dunbarprimaryschoolp4d/) or through film. It’s always good to keep things fun and fresh! Perhaps they have some ideas…
Throughout the year I have enjoyed seeing the class embed reflection into daily class life, not just as a written exercise once a week. Their honesty and enthusiasm to progress has certainly helped their learning progress and they, along with me, are greatly encouraged by it.
Thanks for this post. It’s been my experience too that learning logs take time and practice to develop and work. Often there’s a focus on the “what”, e.g. the what has been done well, what needs to be improved and the all-important “how” is frustratingly ignored.
One class I once worked with, decided to go a step further and set up timescales for learning targets – they had them up on the wall and were extremely effective at reminding each other. I was surprised how well it worked…except it came from them as their choice… autonomy over their learning.
In Sweden, I spent an afternoon at an outdoor primary school which was too short a time, back in October 2008. Whilst the outdoor stuff was great (of course) what really grabbed my attention was how ALL the children from 6yrs up used their personal planning folders to plan and undertake their work. It was entirely child-driven. Targets were up on the wall for children to aim for so they knew their next steps, but the self-responsibility was super. I’m hoping to go back there late August and I want to find out more.