Thinking about themselves as learners, collaborators

I was reading on Luke E-Learning Blog about his struggles to mark collaborative work. It is worth a read -here’s an excerpt:

I tried to comment on his blog, but my Word Press ID wasn’t working. I was mentioning that I had been reflecting on something similar on my blog post on assessing oral language. Still looking for any concrete work teachers are doing on assessing oral communication in the busy classroom.

In the case of oral communication, there is no ‘written record’ of what happens when students talk to each other. I wrote in my blog how hard it is to manage the class and have the assessment hat on, and have something solid to say about each student on a report card. (Wait a minute -we could record and then assess….)

Students have to be really clear about what effective communication and collaboration looks like, through building these learning intentions together. Then students can assess and reflect on that learning. I wonder if we made the collaboration or disucssion the main product, instead of the product the product, if that would make it even more clear.

This is really about students thinking about themselves as learners, producers, and collaborators, and being very clear about what skills they bring to any situation. Reflection on that is very powerful.   Students would need to complete a kind of checklist of skills, or rate themselves on a rubric, but more importantly, they should write a letter or blog post to the group, or to themselves and the teacher. That reflection could be part of the product and would answer questions like:

  • What skills did I bring to the group?
  • What did I notice about myself as a learner?
  • What was the hardest for me to do?
  • When did the groups struggle and how was it solved? Do you have any ideas for how groups could avoid problems?
  • What did I think about the product – how could it have been better. What was really good about it?
  • …and so on.

As I often tell my students, they are doing X project or work because it satisfies some aspect of the curriculum. More importantly, they are doing this work to figure out who they are, what they believe, what kind of life they want to have, and to improve skills and options for their future.

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