In the past 2 weeks we’ve done a lot of reading, discussing and reflection about how we communicate student assessment results, I have to say that this year in teaching for me I haven’t been able to do as much as I have in the past. However, knowing that only encourages me to find a way to make it work so that I’m able to better communicate with my students and their parents for the rest of the year. Looking at the multitude of examples of communication such as: expanded format report cards, student-led conferences, portfolios and exhibitions. These give me something to look forward to and trying in my own way with my students and their parents. In the past I’ve used a strategy of communication known as an “I can” progress sheet, the purpose was to keep parents updated on the state math standards that their child either “M” (mastered) or “P” (needs practice) and the standards were written as I can statements or our learning targets. It was a very helpful tool for parents as well as students. This is something I’m considering using again this year but changing it a bit to fit the new curriculum. It is very important to me to be able to have an open relationship with the parents of my students, O’Connor states,” Schools and teachers have a responsibility to communicate effectively with parents and other who are interested in the achievement and progress of students”(O’Connor, pg. 234).
Portfolios involved with student-led conferences was another topic we looked at this last week. I’ve actually not had experience with portfolios or student-led conferences so I was interested in learning more and reading about others’ knowledge in this area of communication. Stiggins dedicates Chapter 11 to Portfolios and out of the types that he discusses, I would say that I would probably utilize the Growth Portfolio. A growth portfolio shows progress towards proficiency on one or more learning targets, it documents achievement and students choose the evidence over the course of some time to place inside the portfolio based on the learning target (Stiggins, 2006). Students should be making connections on the achievement shown for each artifact and its relation to the target. I think that growth portfolios would be best for student-led conferences because a student would be able to use it as a guide for an informal meeting or exhibition. I also don’t think I would use this strategy until the end of the year to give students time to gather the appropriate artifacts needs, complete reflections and annotations. After doing some research on the topic I found that Benson and Barnett (2005) state that there are many great benefits to student-led conferences with showcase portfolios, it “involves more parents, increases student motivation, helps meet state standards, improves student and teacher accountability, celebrates learning and makes teaching more satisfying”(p. 3). Another positive is the process that students, parents and teachers go through during the portfolio building and sharing procedure. During the course of time students can achieve high-order thinking and depth of knowledge skills due to the fact that they need to organize, make choices, explain and justify those decisions on the content of their learning. (Barnett and Benson, 2005). Regardless of what format, how often or who does it, the bottom line of this module is that communication is of the utmost importance, especially about results.
Barnett, S., Benson B. (2005). Student-led conferencing using showcase portfolios. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
O’Connor, K. (2009). How to grade for learning, k-12. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Stiggins, R., Arter, J., Chappuis, J., & Chappuis, S. (2006). Classroom assessment for student learning, doing it right–using it well. Princeton, NJ: Prentice Hall.