Have you ever been asked “but how do you know your students learned today?” It is a little nerve-wracking, because you know your students learned… but how do you prove it? Usually it’s through an exit ticket.
It’s definitely important to break down tangible evidence of learning and align it to objectives. One example is to look at artistic ways to check for understanding and explore how to increase rigor throughout the class experience. This will allow us all to take learning beyond exit tickets.
Composing a 3-Part Objective
To begin, we need to work on the composition of a 3 part objective. Here’s a quick process to use:
Part 1: The first part is Behavior. This is the student behavior you are evaluating and usually includes a product/task.
Part 2: The second part is Condition. This is the environment that is provided for the students in order to be successful in the behavior.
Part 3: The third part is Criteria. This answers the question: how do you know that your student learned? What do your students need to “score” in order to be successful?
To review the process of creating 3 part objectives, check out last weeks’ post.
Beyond the Exit Ticket
Today, we take a look at the multiple ways we can measure student learning, artistic ways to check for understanding, and how to assess the rigor of our activities. There are many ways we can infuse arts practices into our current curriculum by way of checking for understanding. When working with a well composed 3 part objective, exit tickets are pretty much stated.
We know what task we are going to have our students complete, and even the exact criteria by which we are going to evaluate whether or not our students “got it.” However, if we wait to the end to check if students are “getting it,” we may waste a whole class period. Checking for understanding throughout the lesson is imperative to ensuring our students will be able to complete the task stated in the objective.
Sometimes we use a quick analysis of student understanding like fist to five or thumbs up thumbs down. Or, we carefully craft higher level questions then ask them aloud.
A couple students may raise their hands, or we cold call on specific students; but even though our questions may be solid higher level questions to check for understanding, we are only checking the understanding of those who actually respond. Furthermore, we need to be consistently raising the rigor of our checking for understanding strategies.
Are we really checking for understanding?
Many times we find creative ways to check for understanding, but when broken down we may just be checking for listening or recalling, or note taking not necessarily true understanding or analysis. Let’s take a look at two of the artistic ways we can check for understanding from all students and more importantly the level of rigor we are actually assessing:
This idea originally came from Edutopia and I love it! To describe a character or a person, write a poem/Rap that includes:
Line 1) First Name
Line 2) 3–4 adjectives that describe the person
Line 3) Important relationship
Line 4) 2–3 things, people, or ideas that the person loved
Line 5) 3 feelings the person experienced
Line 6) 3 fears the person experienced
Line 7) Accomplishments
Line 8) 2–3 things the person wanted to see happen or wanted to experience
Line 9) His or her residence
Line 10) Last name
This is an artistic and engaging way to check that all students know about a specific character or person. Now, let’s look at the level of rigor. Each stanza requires information that students need to recall from either a book, a lecture, or notes.
So, as written this is a low level checking for understanding activity. However, if we add a few stanzas that require students to critique a situation the character/person was in, or compare the character/person’s decision to another then we can increase the level of rigor. Let’s look at another one:
Groups receive a large piece of paper and different color pens/markers. Students generate ideas in the form of graffiti. Groups can move to other papers and discuss or add to the ideas.
This, also is an artistic and engaging way to check that students know about a topic. As written, this is low level rigor but can certainly be advanced with with specific expectations/requests.
For example, the first round can just be recalling information. Then after a mini lesson, students can rotate their papers and use the new information to defend or refute something on the paper. Each time new information is introduced, students can have another round of their graffiti work.
It is important that we are checking for understanding at various levels of rigor throughout the lesson/class not just at the end, this way we can go beyond the exit.
Typhani Harris is a dance educator and mentor teacher who has been on the boards of both the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (CAHPERD) and California Dance Education Association (CDEA). Recently, she has made a cross-country move and is now an instructional coach in Brooklyn, New York. Having begun as a high school English teacher, it has been her mission to bring theory and research into the traditional dance class, and in 2009 she won the Music Center’s Bravo award for excellence in Arts Education. Typhani is currently on a mission to help teachers Stop Teaching and Start Reaching their students, check out the unTeacher Lab at stopteaching.org