I’m becoming more and more an advocate of the quick check-in. Call it formative assessment but quicker. Immediately, I’ve got a check-in on how my students are doing and where to move next. I give a lot of credit to the Making Thinking Visible, a philosophy and online course I took last year through Harvard.
How are the students thinking?
As a result, I feel good that we’re constantly reflecting, and I’m learning a lot from it. Today, for example, after our writing workshop, I had the students put their heads down and asked them if they felt proud of the writing they’ve done so far this year. I was afraid if they looked at each other and voted, they would be influenced by their peers. They put a thumbs up if they were proud. Almost all of the kids, about 95% of them, said they felt proud of their writing. When I asked them to put their heads up and share their thoughts if they wanted, a few chose to do so. One girl had put up a wiggly thumb. She said that it was wiggly because at the beginning of the year her writing wasn’t showing much detail. Now, though, she said she felt like her writing had really improved.
Another boy, with a big smile on his face, said he really felt like his writing had gotten better. It was a good check-in as I proceed along my writing workshop path. It took about 3 minutes in total.
The other day we did a visual check-in about our home learning. Students have been choosing a project on DIY and then presenting it every 2-3 weeks. I put out some questions like: Have you learned something from the activity; did you work independently; did you find it challenging? Then, students wrote their initials along a continuum from Agree to Disagree.
We did the same with our book groups or literature circles. On a continuum, after conversation, everyone marked where they thought they were. Since we have also been examining data in Mathematics, we were able to interpret the graph too.
I hope I’m getting them to think and reflect, and at the same time, finding out some good information about where they are and what I can do better as a teacher for them.