Saturday, December 29, 2012

Marzano, Scales, and Meaning

One thing that I've struggled with since it was introduced about 10 years ago was posted objectives.  At the time it was introduced I was teaching 4th grade, and didn't have enough space on my board to reference each and every objective we would be hitting on throughout the course of our day.  I've never been that "package and teach" educator that asks students to turn to lesson one and do it and put it away.  I don't believe that students make meaning out of those lessons, and after having a child that is finishing elementary this year, I KNOW they don't.  But, being the rule follower that I am, I played along.  I've tried, I've seen the research, but I still don't think it makes any difference in my classroom.  I have always referenced a purpose and goal throughout the lesson, used anticipatory sets and closure (yes, I'm dating myself) so I'm not sure how this cements learning.

The "tool of the year" for this school year is using scales with students to help them with metacognition.  Scales are a "fist to five" or a "thumbs up/thumbs down" formative type of assessment with more options.  Students read descriptors for an objective to decide where they think their learning falls.  The problem?  I don't think kids put any meaning into it once it becomes routine.  I started making students keep a learning log.  I've made the scales objective specific.  I give the students their own personal copy. They have even had to reflect daily about their understanding, learning, and purpose.  I've so wanted this to have true meaning for kids.  Sometime throughout the week, whether with an exit slip or on a quiz, I ask students to use evidence to back up their scale score.  "I'm a 4," a student wrote on a Friday quiz "because I know everything you taught me."  I wrote back..."Think about your self assessment and how it compares to your score.  What does a 4 really mean to you?"  The student's honest response...nothing.

I'd love to know what types of "scale" activities others are using to help make this a meaningful and purposeful tool.  But just like the posted objectives, these scale assessments that I'm having students participate in don't give much bang for the buck.

Here are some things that I've tried...they are pretty generic so anyone could use it.  If you are in need of some science specific ones, email me and I'd be happy to share what I've made so far.


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