I gave the students a formative assessment to design a 3D model of a plant or animal cell to submit on Wednesday 26th October 2016. I decided to spend a class exploring the success crieteria that the students believed were acquired to be assessed as exceptional, above expectations or in line with expectations. The students will peer assess these 3D models on the last class of this half term, Thursday 27th October 2016.
I began by drawing three columns on the big whiteboard on the wall in the lab. I labelled the three columns: expectional, above expectations and meeting expectations. I also labelled the first column: components. I asked the students to discuss what components of the design should be assessed. They really surprised me in their ability to analyse and create elements of the design that should be assessed. They came up with the following headings:
Labelling the parts of the cell on the model
Labelling the functions of the cell on the model
Differentiating the parts of the cell by colour, i.e. if you choose a plant cell, and you decide your model has been stained then your nucleus should be dark brown/orange
Presentation (this was something that I didn't think they would mention) - they think that they should present their model to the class and that it should be interactive, i.e. be able to take off and put on the labels for the parts and the functions.
Creativity - taking inspiration from others, trying to find out new information, trying to find out something about the cell that the teacher doesn't know!
Materials and textures - the students thought that they should use a variety of materials and textures to produce the model.
Recording the design stages - some students suggested that to be successful you need to show how you built your model so that other students could build it again if they wanted to. They suggested taking photos at various stages of the design process.
We completed the success criteria table and they students recorded it in their scrapbook. Their homework for the week is to complete the model. I asked the students to write down their target acheivement level for this Assessment for Learning (AfL) task. I set the countdown timer to three minutes. I asked the students to work in pairs for three minutes, drawing and creating ideas for their model. At the end of three minutes, I reset the countdown timer for another three mintues, two became four and they shared their ideas. I repeated this and four became eight. This shared ideas and gave confidence to those who lacked ideas before this collaboartive exercise. The students learned that working with others can stimulate your brain to be more creative and to think of your own ideas.
I walked around the room and I spoke to each student in relation to the goal they had set to achieve on the cell model. I spent a few minutes with those who went for 'meeting expectations'. I asked them why they did not aim higher. I got the following responses: 'I am not smart', or 'I am not good at making things'. I questioned the students who said 'I am not smart'. I asked them what does smart mean? how do you know you are not smart? I asked them to read through the 'exceptional' column. Is there anything in that column that you could not do? They all agreed to aim higher. I praised them and I told them how impressed I am with their work and I was looking forward to seeing their models. The students loved creating the success criteria. It empowered them, giving them a true voice, allowing them to lead their own learning, faciliated by the teacher.