I was reviewing student work as I wrote report cards and I found it very easy to flip from the report card to student blogs to refresh my memory. When I looked at a page of names and grades I saw numbers. I saw data but I don't see what each child did well and how they progressed over the term. I know them, their abilities, and their strength and weaknesses but the numbers don't tell me the whole story. They don't help me tell the story.
When I look at the blogs I see students. I remember what the assignment was; what criteria we were focusing on; and I see how they progressed.
There is a disconnect between what the
letter grades mean to educators and what they mean to families. Parents view a C or C+ is a low mark. Everyone
knows an A is great and everyone wants an A. But what does it
really mean? How does it describe the child as a learner? I know when I hand out report cards next week many of my students will be disappointed. Even though I tell them what the letters mean they will expect A"s and all be waiting with their fingers crossed.
When my students read each others work or see examples they know exceptional work when they see it. They understand what they can work towards. I know they can see all of this and can still be proud of their own work. They are peer and self-evaluating as they share their work with each other. The sharing is as important as the writing as it helps us understand. We take the time to read each other's blogs and comment. Right now our comments are moving from "nice work" to questions and constructive comments. This is a very important part of the process and worth using class time to do. Some of the best reasons for using technology are that we can share easily and that it provides purpose to our learning. We become doers and work from home and school. It ties "school learning" to real life. Learning isn't something we leave in the classroom.
We just published our first term of blogs on our First Nation's workshops, and on our Global Novel Study. We talked about what makes a good blog and the importance of editing. We are working on writing daily and beginning to understand that their is value and purpose in writing. We are sharing our work as we read classmate's blogs. Now students are asking if they can go back and add more to their past work, or if they can blog other things they have written. They see their websites as a work in progress and they are important to them.
If we want children to be "21 Century Learners" we need to use "21st century assessment tools". I have asked each student to get their parents to read their blogs and comment on one. I am hoping that involving parents will create better understanding of student progress than the report card that will go home in a few days.
When I send home student work or hold student lead conferences parents see a snapshot of their child's work at that point in time. When they go online they see a running timeline of their child's progress and have the opportunity to be involved through comments and conversations with their child. Our blogs provide a window into our classroom that is available for viewing anytime. We are proud to be writers.