As a team, how are we united (aligned) in our understanding and assessment of learning? How might we grow our assessment literacy, understanding, and actions to focus on learning, assign competence, and empower learners to become agents of learning?
Under the leadership of Thomas Benefield (@yerlifeguard) and Becky Holden (@BHolden86), Trinity School’s Assessment Committee made a commitment to read and take action on Developing Assessment-Capable Visible Learners, Grades K-12: Maximizing Skill, Will, and Thrill by Nancy Frey, John Hattie, Douglas Fisher. The committee has met approximately once a month to study, discuss, and learn more about growing our young learners as capable, independent, self-correcting, and self-reliant learners.
Below is our agenda for the March meeting where we have begun to grapple with growing our understanding together.
As a team of teachers representing all grade-levels at our school, we chose to analyze student work together and hold a norming meeting to explore and learn one way to help our grade-level teams calibrate and clarify expectations.
To ensure that all voices were heard, we started with quiet reading time and used a Google form (shown below) to record everyone’s initial thinking around the level of work based on the given learning progressions for Making Thinking Visible and Using Text Evidence.
Using the Google form was critically important. Everyone’s initial thinking was made visible to the team. Look at the results from our initial thinking.
As you can see, we were all over the place in our interpretation of the meaning and expectations described in our learning progressions. It was eye-opening.
As a team of assessment leaders, we had anticipated this result. You can see how this might be problematic for students in different sections with different teachers, right?
High-functioning teams that focus on learning must calibrate their understanding of what is essential to learn so that all students are assessed fairly and equitably.
What happened next was nothing short of magical.
First, we discussed our leveling with one partner to explain our reasoning and understanding. It was quiet, calm, and intense. As partners listened to each other, different interpretations and points of view were represented. When enough time passed, we returned to the whole group setting and discussed. Again, magical! Everyone confidently shared their initial level assessment and then spoke of how their understanding was shifted by discussing it with someone else.
What can be gained when all ideas are made visible to the entire team? How might we learn and grow together by sharing our thinking, seeking feedback, and calibrating with our team?
How do your school’s teams calibrate expectations, shared values, and common understanding?
Frey, Nancy, et al. Developing Assessment-Capable Visible Learners, Grades K-12: Maximizing Skill, Will, and Thrill. Corwin Literacy, 2018.