Laura Palmer has been teaching at Aldenham Prep since September 2014 and is currently the Year Five teacher. She is also the History, Art and MAGT Coordinators.
With a staff focus on Assessment for Learning, last Summer I went on a mission to revamp some of the AfL techniques I use within my classroom. With this focus in mind and in preparation for teaching a different year group, I found myself trawling through endless articles and images online; a range of social media ‘teacher sharing’ type pages and on my new found favourite, Pinterest. I came across some terminology which sparked some inspiration. As we all do, I tweaked the idea to fit my own needs and merged a range of tactics to come up with a new method of instilling self -assessment into my classroom.
I have always been keen on the use of self-assessment as it promotes reflection in children; a skill which is valuable in later life and which is encouraged at university through the keeping of journals and suchlike. Self-assessment not only enables children to reflect, but also works to help children monitor their own progress and allows them to see how their learning has moved forward. From this they can then begin to set targets about where they would like to be. Reminding children that they are assessing themselves against their former self is also useful and can be encouraging to those children who are not ‘top of the class.’ Research done, I felt a display coming on!
These are the statements I settled with:
I’m a NOVICE. I am just starting to learn this and don’t really understand it yet.
I’m an APPRENTICE. I am starting to get it, but I still need someone to guide me.
I’m a PRACTITIONER. I can most do it by myself, but I sometimes get stuck or mess up.
I’m an EXPERT. I understand it well and could thoroughly teach it to someone.
I set out to create a colourful display which is now in the corner of the Year 5 classroom, below it are some sticky labels which have the same phrases printed on them as well as some lines for the children to write their own comment. This new approach of course needed to be introduced to the children, who required some clarification with the stages in the first instance, but with a little training everyone was able to understand the concept and familiarise themselves with it. It quickly became a useful tool and usually works well as a plenary at the end of a lesson. Half way through the school year, I now I even find that children vocalise their understanding of our self-assessment techniques. “Miss I don’t get this…I need to speak to an expert”, “Excuse me, I’m such a novice, can you go through this again please?”, “…..Because I am only an apprentice please can I work with my talk partner?” It’s really lovely to hear and is working in just the way I had hoped, (most of the time!)
Self-assessment is not always the most appropriate method of assessing a piece of work and as such you have to plan when you are going to use it. It’s not a stand in for when you just don’t have enough hours in the day to mark that two-page creative writing task you set on Monday (unfortunately!) It is however, well suited to tasks where it is more obvious to the child whether the objective of the lesson has been met and to what extent. In a lesson where you have discussed the learning objectives, aims or WALT (we are learning to) and shared or created the steps to success or success criteria with the children, they know what is needed to achieve and are therefore able to assess how close to this objective they have come.
This year in Prep INSETs we have been looking at promoting a Growth Mind Set. What has been really warming is to see children who are able to marry the two “….I’m not an expert….yet!!”
For any of you wishing to promote a little self-assessment in your classroom I hope you find some inspiration in Year 5’s techniques.