Action Plan

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In just a few days, we will be gathering for the final F2F session of this year's Cohort 21. I'm excited to share my journey.

The beginning:
I came into Cohort 21 with an idea of what I thought my classroom was missing. Having used VNPS regularly, I thought the missing link was getting students to better document the work they completed at the white boards so they could refer to it as the unit progressed. But after the first 2 F2F sessions and talking to some of my students, it became clear that there was a bigger piece missing.

The middle:
In a conversation at the end of the second F2F session, I was struggling to put my thoughts into clear words and after rambling on about what I was trying to say someone stopped me and said "it seems like you want to get your students to be better at identifying what they know". (One of the wonders of the Cohort 21 experience - having the chance to chat with educators from various backgrounds and a common goal of helping each other). And just like that, a light bulb went off. What was really missing was a way for my students to self-reflect on their learning throughout the unit and not just rely on the final unit assessment as a measurement of success.

What evolved over the course of the year started with having students generate "I can..." statements at the end of each lesson. This has helped them get a better view of the key skills of the lesson and not just focus on answering specific questions. This then led to having students create a master list of the unit's "I can..." statements on a separate sheet of paper during the unit review class and self-assess their knowledge. A star beside a statement indicated mastery, a - meant practice still required and a 'x' meant help was required to further clarify the concept. On the day of the test, students were asked to hand in their "I can..." list. My current iteration of this self-reflection piece involves a pre-test self-assessment around the success criteria of the unit as well as a post-test self-assessment. It's interesting to see how this has helped direct students to personalize their studying for the test.

The end: (or the beginning of the next step)
Though I have been intentional in incorporating self-reflection into my lessons, a next step would be to have individual conversations with my students around comparing their pre and post test self-assessments. In addition to this, I hope to use this process to personalize their exam review and possibly have the students create some questions based around their strengths.

I would also like to investigate ways to incorporate more peer feedback into the learning process in my classes. While coaching volleyball, it struck me how natural it is for a player to give feedback (both positive and negative) to teammates. As the team has the same goal, every team member is invested in the goal and held accountable. This got me thinking, I wonder how I can recreate this team mentality in the classroom and incorporate more peer feedback into the learning process?

So with all that said and done, I look forward to the last F2F on Friday. And though I think I know what the next steps will be, Cohort 21 has taught me that this is just the end of the beginning...

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Having just completed another unit in Calculus, I thought it would be appropriate to update the current step in my action plan.

Continuing on the journey to have student self-reflect on their learning, I decided to do 3 new things in this unit.

First step:
Even though we continue to generate "I can... " statements as a class at the end of each unit, I decided in this unit, to collate the complete list before the assessment. Students were given a copy of the complete list as part of their review booklet. I smiled when one student exclaimed with excitement "Oh, she wrote them out for us in the unit!" - I'm taking this as a success in my books!

Bitmoji ImageSecond step:
At the end of the review period, I distributed the same list of success criteria but added a rating scale to each. Students were then asked to assess themselves on their current knowledge of the skills where 1 was "I have no idea what this is about." and 10 was "I'm ready to show my knowledge". They then handed in their reflection and had a plan to guide their studying. Here is an example of one student's reflection.


I had asked students to rate themselves earlier in the course based on their ability to solve a particular question. This student would often rate themselves 1 or 2 on these previous ratings. It caught my attention that when the process was changed to rate on skills rather than specific questions, this student's rated themselves above 5 in most criteria. To me, that was note-worthy.

Third step:
This last step was generated after reading a comment on my last blog post from @mwilcox. So following the pre-assessment reflection, I then asked students to self-reflect once more on this unit content once they had finished writing the unit test. Along with rating themselves using the same success criteria as the "I can..." list, I added one last question asking students for input on any area/skill/concept that they felt they didn't have a chance to showcase on the test. A copy of the survey can be found here.

The results of the electronic survey were a great highlight of student knowledge in each skill. The responses to the criteria reflections varied and here are some examples:

The most valuable input were the answers to the last question.

My next steps:
Though the pre-assessment and post-assessment were done using different mediums (one on paper and one electronically), by intentionally not made the electronic survey anonymous, I have the opportunity to compare each student's ratings. I can envision having conferences with each student to talk about their progress in the unit and helping the student create next steps in their learning.

6 Comments

My focus this year has been around student self-reflection to direct their personalized learning in my classes. My goal is to have students move away from a focus solely on the final answer to assess what they know but more on the process of solving a mathematical question.

At the last F2F session, I was able to gain some clarity on my action plan and felt I was able to more clearly articulate what was the root of my concern in my classroom. Walking away from that day, my driving question remains "HMW have students reflect on their learning in a lesson to help personalized their next steps?".

My hope is to take students from confusion about what to do or what knowledge to choose:
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to confidence in their ability:
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This year, I have ended lessons with students generating a "I can ..." list to identify the skills covered in the lesson. Essentially, students were identifying the success criteria of the lesson. This was a good first step, in my mind, but my students just saw it more as a thing that we did and not as part of the learning cycle. My vision was that students would use these statements as self check-ins to assess what they knew in the unit and what they still needed to master.

To help with this shift, I have started asking students to write out all the "I can..." statements from the unit on a separate sheet of paper and hand it in on test day. Here is an example of one student's work:

What stood out to me were the * and check marks beside some of the statements. This student was already self-reflecting and identifying what they knew and what they still had to work on. Unfortunately, this was the only one like this. All the other submissions were just a list of statements. But I was not deterred, I believe I am on the right track.

We are now into the third unit of the course and though we continue to end lessons with "I can ..." statements, I did not ask students to write them out on a separate sheet to submit. However, an interesting thing happened in our review class. As students were working away, I overheard a conversation about a student sharing her "checklist" for the unit that she created with her friends. Her peers wanted a copy of this magical checklist and I had to chuckle. I did have to mention to that group that this wasn't a new concept and they had done this in previous units but I had called it an "I can..." list. It was great to see the students make the realization of the value of this list.
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Things that I am considering as next steps:
- creating the "I can..." list and having students self-assess their ability pre-test and then again post-test with some sort of reflection
- have students use their Unit 1 and Unit 2 "I can..." lists and their tests to reflect and set up next steps to further improve their knowledge before the final exam.
- connect these "I can..." statements to the work we continue to do at the white boards.

And so the journey continues...

8 Comments

Over the last few years, there has been a shift in my mathematics classroom from passive learning to active learning. In the past, students in my classes would have spent a lesson filling in a worksheet and then had time to practice the skill of the day. Students could sit back and wait for the teacher to give them the answers. The result on an assessment (usually a test) would reflect how much information they retained from the unit. As mentioned in my previous post, more recently, I have shifted my teaching practice to be more active. This has involved using VNPS and more student input throughout the lesson. This shift also created more opportunity for teacher feedback on the learning in the moment as it was happening.

When I began my Cohort21 journey, my focus was on documenting the student work at the whiteboards. Following the second F2F session, my driving question was "HMW document student learning in a mathematics classroom?" I was looking for a way for students to have a record of the questions they solved in class on the boards to help in their learning. I have attempted to use a Google Form with DocAppender and have found some success. Students were asked to take a photo of the work and answer a few questions (what unit is this from? on a scale from 1 - 10, how confident are you in this skill? what do you need to do to further improve these skills?) By using DocAppender, students have a record of this information. The feedback from students has been positive but I still feel like something is missing.

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Over the last few weeks, my focus has shifted slightly. My MHF4U class is getting ready to write their final exam next week. Yes, exams are stressful. However, I'm starting to identify a disconnect between the student's knowledge of the concepts and mistakes they make (they have more of a focus on the final answer and not on the process of the question). This is making me think that I may not want students to document what they have done at the boards but how to get students to better track what they currently know and how do they get better - without focusing on the final answer.

So with this in mind, my new iteration of my HMW has become "HMW have students reflect on their learning in a lesson to help personalized their next steps?" I believe I will continue to use the Google Form to track their learning. I will also continue to end each lesson with having students identify "I can..." statements. However, my work now turns to how do I embed more meaningful personalized reflection for students on daily learning?