I don’t typically make “pie in the sky” New Year resolutions, but [clickToTweet tweet=”This year I am bound & determined to move ALL assessment into the classroom!” quote=”this year I am bound and determined to move ALL assessment into the classroom!”] This may sound like a crazy resolution given that most teachers spend hours of time outside of school assessing their students’ work. However, there are three reasons I’d argue we should NOT spend our time outside of class grading:

  1. Our prep time is better spent designing creative and engaging lessons.
  2. Real-time feedback and assessment are way more effective.
  3. We don’t get paid for the time we spend grading outside of class.

The main reason most teachers spend hours grading outside of their school day is because of lack of time. I believe this lack of time stems from our approach to teaching. If teachers spend the majority of their class lecturing or transferring information, there isn’t time for consistent, real-time feedback.

As I’ve embraced technology and blended learning models, I’ve found it much easier to create time and space to provide feedback as students are working. Below are three blended learning models. I’ll explain how I plan to use each specifically to create the time needed to move assessment back into the classroom.

The Station Rotation Model does just what the name suggests–students rotate through a series of online and offline stations. One of those stations is the teacher-led station. As students move through this teacher-led station, I can use this time to provide feedback on my students’ work. If we are focused on how to cite online resources or how to generate a hypothesis, this station gives me a chance to actually read and edit my students work.

Typically, my students will come to this station with Chromebooks that way I can open up each of their Google documents in Google Classroom and leave comments, ask questions, and suggest improvements directly on their work.

The Flipped Classroom Model is a wonderful inversion that can also be used to free the teacher from living at the front of the classroom. Whenever I am tempted to talk at my students or explain something, I make a video instead. Recording a video does take preparation outside of class (just because I’m not grading doesn’t mean I won’t be working outside of school hours!), but the advantage is that students can self-pace through that information (pausing and rewinding) and they have access to it anytime online if they need to watch it again. Plus, I can incorporate these video lessons into my station rotation lessons with an in-class flip!

So, for those teachers who are using their teacher-led station exclusively to teach concepts or model a process, it’s helpful to consider moving some of that online with the flipped classroom where students either engage with the information at home prior to class or in the classroom with the in-class flip. Then the teacher-led station can be used for assessment and feedback.

Last, but not least, is the Whole Group Rotation–a modern spin on the Lab Rotation. In this model, the class rotates between online and offline activities as a whole group. When the entire class is online working with adaptive software, digital curriculum, or online tools, I have time to work individually with students. This time is great for one-on-one coaching, formative and summative assessments, goal setting, and conversations about final grades.

My goal is to use a mix of blended learning models and technology to create the time I need in the classroom to assess my students’ work and provide them with the individual real-time feedback they need to grow as learners.

Wish me luck in manifesting my New Year’s resolution! I’ll make sure to post updates about the challenges and successes I encounter on my journey to move all assessment into my classroom.

15 Responses

  1. Catlin- I love your work. I love your philosophy. I also truly appreciate the time and effort you take to write these posts. I find them so inspiring.
    I have tried to integrate your ideas into the classroom. One problem I have run into is that my students seem to miss the “whole class interaction” time. They seem to resist watching videos alone; they’d rather watch as a whole group. They also seem to resist working at their own paces; they’d rather plod along lockstep with classmates. Do you have tips on how I can help meet their need of ‘whole-class’ interaction time *and* motivate them to pursue learning on their own, individually?

    • Hi Molleen,

      I am always intrigued when kids push back against new ways of learning, but I think for many it stems from a fear of change. Many students know how to do school really well in the traditional model. It can be more challenging to drive your own learning and self-pace your progression through a series of activities. I definitely push my kids out of their comfort zones. For some, it works really well once they adjust and for a few they struggle to own their learning.

      If your group enjoys watching videos together, you can still use the time kids watch a video lesson time to assess their work. Then they can transition to the application activity in collaborative groups, pairs or individually while you pull kids to work with them one-on-one. Just because they are moving through a lesson together, doesn’t’ mean you need to lead that lesson from the front of the room. I’d work with your group and find ways to move them Whole Group Rotations between online and offline activities. Then you can still create time to work with individual kids.

      I wish you luck! I know changing the way we teach has implications for students that we must be sensitive to and one strategy doesn’t work for every kid, so I try to scaffold, support, and mix it up!


      • Totally agree about the change Carlin! Some students haven’t been given the opportunity to make changes or adjustments, so when given the chance to do so, they have no idea what that looks like or how to activate the change individual so they sit and observe until they become comfortable with everything. Mixing it up seems like a great thing to do when this happens. Thanks for sharing!

        • Agreed. We talk a lot about growth mindset, but that isn’t always reflected in our teaching or grading practices. I am glad you enjoyed this post!

          Take care.

  2. I think this would be enormously helpful for teachers who struggle trying to find the time to assess students.

  3. This is definitely a good choice for teachers assessing students throughout the day as well as for some support with teachers who have challenging behavior students.

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