Reflective Learning: Quickie, Slicky, Tricky Assessment

independent-reflectionI have never been one for giving students quizzes or exams.  There’s enough of that crap going on in schools these days and the level of stress and anxiety created in even saying the word “test” is unbearable even for me… and I’m not even the one taking the test.

Yet, this year, I want to do more in the way of informal assessment at the end of each lesson.  After reading up on the topic of reflective learning and seeing what others are doing, I’ve considered doing a Friday “reflection”.  I conducted my first one this week on our lesson about environmental issues.  We spend a lot of time looking at the Dakota Access Pipeline issue.  This current event was perfect for talking about our natural resources, the pros and cons of making an environmental decision,  and who is affected by the decisions made.

Here is a copy of the “reflection” that my students completed on a Google doc as I wandered around the room grading notebooks.  It is, naturally, open notes and open book.  Because I decided to do this at the last minute (I literally wrote this Thursday night), not a lot of effort went into using higher order thinking in my questions, but I’ll do better next week.

No one caught on that its a quiz!  Yes, some insisted that I tell them if “their answers were correct” (translation, what’s the answer to #3, Mrs. Stone?) and a few even copied from others (what would an assessment be without someone doing the wrong thing?)  It made them stop and think about what they learned though, and that was the point.  My last question on the reflection… the actual “what do you want to know now?” is my favorite part. For those who answered with a genuine desire to learn something new about the topic, I got to respond personally.  I even dropped a link or two for “further study” for those who wanted to look into the topic further!  How’s THAT for personalizing learning?  Many even asked questions that, unbeknownst to them, segued into the next lesson!  He he he.

Hopefully, as the year progresses, more will answer question #5 thoughtfully, wanting to know more.  My master plan (as always) is to create scientifically literate citizens.  This new trick up my sleeve just might give them a reason to consider becoming just that.