Tracking Learning in a Blended Classroom using Journals

One of the reasons I can’t live without Digital Technology is that it actually makes my job of teaching easier. Without technology, I’m not sure how I would share the responsibility for learning with my students and have them track their learning, in a place that we both can access. I have seen star charts used in Primary settings, but I’m not sure these would work in the insecure world of teenagers. This is where technology comes to the rescue and enables a strategy modified by an online world.

The video below shows one way to track learning using the journal feature of Blackboard. This can only be viewed by individual students and their teacher. The journal is being used at the beginning and end of the video. I have left the Reading To Learn strategy (the middle) in for those that may be interested.

 

I have previously written about this here: http://www.throughtheclassroomdoor.com/an-easy-way-to-track-learning-in-a-contemporary-classroom/

But this video gives some more details about what it looks like in a Virtual Classroom.

An Easy Way to Track Learning in a Contemporary Classroom

“The three forms” by Christopher Michel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

1.Define Learning Goals in answer to the question: “What do we want students to learn?”

For this I create a Proficiency Scale, for a topic,  so that students and I can track learning within the topic’s learning sequence. This also provides both the cognitions and qualities required for success at each stage of mastery. In practice, it looks like this:

WALT/ WILF Scale Standard 4 Standard 3.5 Standard 3 Standard 2 Standard 1
Implementation and evaluation The student work has the following characteristics:

Use of a variety of complex technical skills and resources to present an efficient and effective solution:

  • Import files
  • Strokes, fills and vectors
  • Text
  • Shape tweens
  • Symbols
  • Motion tweens
  • Publishing
The student work has the following characteristics:

Use of a variety of technical skills and resources to present an efficient solution:

  • Import files
  • Strokes, fills and vectors
  • Text
  • Shape tweens
  • Symbols
The student work has the following characteristics:

Use of technical skills and resources to present a solution:

  • Import files
  • Strokes, fills and vectors
  • Text
The student work has the following characteristics:

Use of basic technical skills and resources to present a partial solution:

The student work has the following characteristics:

Use of isolated technical skills to produce an output:

The easy part is that this is lifted straight out of the syllabus and I have just added lists of content as a way of adding a quantity dimension to the descriptors. The P-10 equivalent of this are the Standards Elaborations provided by the QCAA. So, now my scale has cognition, quality and quantity. Instead of A-E, I use a 4-point scale, with a B being roughly 3.5. The reason for this is that I want to use this for formative assessment and not as a final summative grade.

2. Design Instructional Strategies in answer to the question: “How can we design learning to support student engagement and progression?”

Both engagement and progression can be achieved with Personalized Learning strategies. At the beginning of the topic I introduce students to the WALTS and WILFs and have them set goals (feedup) in their online Learning Journals (Blackboard). They do this by copying the scale and highlighting where they wish to end up. Then, as they master the skills at each level, they highlight in a different colour (feedback/feedforward), until they reach their goal. This is mostly a self-assessment, but I facilitate by conferencing with students about how they are going and give them feedback as well.

3. Assess Learning

This is the really easy part, because students have managed this for me.  Remember, differentiation is something a teacher does (monitor learning and re-design for different learner needs), while personalization is something a student does. Technology has also enabled this process of personalized formative assessment. Then, in a PLC meeting, it is easy to flip through student journals and collaboratively evaluate the effectiveness of instructional strategies and the progress of students.

Additional Strategies

The Single Point Rubric

These are useful for students to use in order to understand and demonstrate the level of mastery they have achieved and to decide if they have achieved their goal. This could also be incorporated into a portfolio reflection and could be annotated in student learning journals in the same post as their learning goal tracking process.

Single Point rubrics work by having students create three columns, with the goal in the middle and, the evidence that they have met the goal on the left and any concerns they have on the right. Remember, this is more a self-evaluation, rather than a reflection and students need to “argue their case” for mastery based on evidence from their work.