Portfolio Learning & Assessing Naturally?

Hungry, assessment-focussed teenage learners is a significant hurdle to effective learning.  In my NCEA context, I have previously tried to build all learning around an assessment in an attempt to holistically merge the two.  Empowered students are usually a good thing right? Perhaps not, when they make logical choices about how to commit their time.  It is a natural instinct for many to want to maximize their grades for minimal effort.

This year, I aim to change my structures in a significant overhaul in an attempt to try & place grades in the back seat.  Productivity in learning if what I would like to happen.  I have tended to use a portfolio approach where possible but I am transitioning my entire curriculum to this model.

I am introducing a semester-based system for my four classes.  I am also introducing a new type of structure, what I have termed BASE & PROJECT Units:

  • Base Unit: Your base unit is like a home base & you will learn & present evidence of your understanding from a set menu of topics relating to the inquiry.
  • Project Unit: Your project unit is where you will work with a group of your peers & you will present evidence of your understanding on topics that you choose relating to your inquiry.

We have two 100 minute lessons a week & one of these will be on our BASE Unit & the other on our PROJECT Unit.  While there may be different learning contexts, the two are intended to work together in terms of the type of learning I want to facilitate (or if you are a Hattie fan, activate).  The skills & processes are the same, but the way we work together & how evidence is collected is different.

Level 2 classical studies will learn about classical society in Semester 1.  This will be the first time they will study classical studies.  So everyone will participate in a compulsory unit on Zoroastrian Demonology.  This is not to say that everyone is doing the same thing at the same pace though.  This is designed to introduce our key disciplinary mechanisms for students to engage with.  Students will then be able to dig into an area of classical society that might interest them: art & archaeology of Pompeii; the weird & histories (inquiries is a better translation) of Herodotus; or some other event in the classical world.  This is a half year project.  A similar approach is taken in Semester 2, where we will all learn about Homer & choices about mythology can be made for the special projects, whether it is the underworld, the gods, or dragons.

2016_2CLA_Topics.png

Level 3 classical studies has a large proportion of experienced students.  Semester One is on the Legacy of the classical world, its lasting influence.  Nonetheless, I have a heavily structured option for those who are new built around Ovid.  Other BASE options include Virgil, Tragedy, or Aristophanes.  For special projects students could explore the influences of art, myth topics on gods heroes & monsters, or even philosophy.  Semester 2 is on classical belief systems (ideologies) & has BASE topics on Alexander the Great or Augustus.  Project options are almost limitless (as long as they are from ancient Greece & Rome) but popular options include necromancy & witchcraft or Platonic philosophy.

2016_3CLA_Topics(1).png

Finding a balance between traditional written assessment methods & encouraging students to take risks with more creative expressions was what I am hoping to achieve.  This got me thinking about other things we do that already that could be used for assessment: self & peer reviews; verbal exit interviews; & even practice exams.

 

ASHS Classical Studies Portfolio Components.png

So I looked to formalise processes that we already engage with in order to capture more evidence of learning for assessment.  It also got me thinking about other ways, like having students teach others & run their own workshops as part of their project evidence.  I wanted to find a balance between flexibility & accountability.

BASE UNIT PORTFOLIO COLLECTION: Three compulsory outputs
  • Tracts of Torment (ToT) is a way of demonstrating your understanding through formal written submissions.  They are mini-essays that are around 1-2 A4 pages.  There are twelve opportunities for submission for each inquiry. You can co-construct with your teacher on the number of ToTs you will submit & which dates you will submit them on.  You must submit a minimum of three ToTs but 4-6 is the recommended amount.  These must be submitted in Google Classroom before 8.40am on the assigned Monday.  You may only submit one ToT for each Google Classroom due date.
  • Peer Review is way of demonstrating your understanding through a formal process of learning from the work of others & giving constructive feedback.  This evidence is captured in the form of substantive commentary on peer review segments in Slack.  There are three In Class check-points of your contributions.  You are required to reach a satisfactory score in at least two of these.
  • Self Review is a way of demonstrating your understanding through a formal process of analysing your own work & generating feedback on it.  This evidence is captured in the form of a small review paragraph of an artifact or a copy of an annotated page of work.  There are three In Class opportunities to undertake a self review.You are required to reach a satisfactory score in at least two of these.
PROJECT UNIT PORTFOLIO COLLECTION: Three compulsory outputs
  • Project Display is a form of demonstrating your understanding through showcasing the final product & learning from your project.  This can draw on work from your Base Unit.  This could take the form of a display board, a digital presentation, or some kind of tangible artifact (like a board game or a performance that is recorded).  There is a set In Class due date for this & is due at the end of the assigned lesson.
  • Workshop is a form of demonstrating your understanding through sharing your project learning with others.  You are required to prepare a brief 10-15 minute activity to help a group of your peers interact with & learn about the classical world by using your project material.  There is a set In Class due date for this & it is expected that you are prepared BEFORE the lesson starts.  The workshop will take place during the assigned In Class lesson.

Team Review is a form of demonstrating your collective & individual understanding that has been developed through collaboration with your peers. This will be assessed through the substantive quality of your commentary & planning on your project.  You have five checkpoint opportunities & you are required to achieve a satisfactory in at least four of these.  They are expected to reflect your individual contribution to the project AND the contributions of your peers.

Both: Four compulsory outputs
  • Diary of the Damned (DoD) is a form of demonstrating your understanding through a series of log-slide exercises.  These are normally very brief (up to 15 minutes) & are assigned weekly.  You will have five checkpoint opportunities for your DoD submissions to be reviewed.  For authenticity purposes, you are required to achieve a satisfactory level in four of these checkpoint reviews.
  • Scrolls of Suffering (SoS) are a form of demonstrating your understanding through recorded summaries of learning conversations.   These involve regular 1-1 conversations on the progress of your learning with your teacher.  You will have five checkpoint opportunities for your SoS submissions to be reviewed.  You are required to achieve a satisfactory level in four of these checkpoint reviews. You may need to arrange times for conversations outside of class if you are absent too often.
  • Open Book Examination is a form of demonstrating your understanding independently in test conditions.  This is a compulsory requirement & if you miss the assigned day, you will need to complete a missed assessment form.  If approved, you will need to arrange an alternate time to undertake it under supervision.

Exit Interview is a final opportunity for you to demonstrate your understanding of your inquiry.  It involves a series of questions for you to respond to verbally before your grade is confirmed.

This model is my starting point & I may refine or overhaul it completely in due time.  I wanted to have students to go wide in the types of outputs for evidence of learning.  I believe this achieves a balance between encouraging creative expressions, capturing learning evidence that has not bee typically assessed by me in the past, & still having some traditional writing & open-book exams.

 

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