#CyberPD Digital Reading Chapters 6 & 7

I am participating in the summer #cyberPD group, joining others in reading and discussing Bill Bass and Franki Sibberson's Digital Reading:  What's Essential in Grades 3 - 8.  I invite you to visit the Google+ community and add your own thinking to the conversation.

As I read the chapter on assessment, I kept going back to the shift that occurs when we empower students with taking more ownership of assessing their learning as Bill describes in the section about digital portfolios.  It reminded me of the reading I've been doing about Assessment AS Learning from Making Learning Personal.  And is always the case, I end up with more questions.

What does it mean to "give students ownership of assessing their learning?"

In giving students more say in assessing their learning, the relationship between the teacher and student shifts to more of a partnership.  The first step, gathering information, includes sharing formative assessments with students as well as collecting information from them as to what they see as their needs.  There is so much information that can be gleaned from all the resources Franki mentions (anecdotal records, reading surveys, analysis of miscues and oral reading, artifacts of student work, analysis of comprehension, etc.)  It occurs to me that I have an abundance of information about my students, but I'm not sure how much of that information  they know and understand.  I am the one making decisions for what they learn next and how they will learn it.  I know that for my own learning, I am constantly reflecting and thinking about what's next for me.  I can't help but think that sharing this information with students will help them become more invested in their learning and help them set goals that are meaningful for them.  

How do I help students go through these steps?

Questions I might ask students to help them set goals, make a plan and reflect:
  • What do you notice?
  • What are you doing well?
  • What is difficult for you?
  • What would you like to improve?
  • How do you think we might work on that goal?
  • How will you show your learning?
  • How will you check your progress?
  • How will you know if you've mastered your goal?
It will be important that part of my conferring with students includes time for students to monitor their learning and reflect on what's next.  

How do I support students in sharing their learning with a larger audience?

One of my goals this new school year is to set up digital portfolios for my students.  Our district has  adopted a new LMS, Canvas, which has the ability to house portfolios for students from grades K - 12.  I'm also curious about using a wiki and plan on investigating some different spaces.   I hope to incorporate student led conferences this year that are meaningful for students and help them move forward in their learning.

 If we give students choice in these decisions, I believe that they will rise to the occasion.  I think it's important in today's world that we give students the tools to assess their learning and help them set goals.  As we prepare them for their future, we need to support them in being critical thinkers, problem solvers, and collaborators.  Making this slight shift in thinking about assessment and supplying the space for students to reflect on their learning is one of the first steps I'll be taking this new school year.


  1. I loved this: " I can't help but think that sharing this information with students will help them become more invested in their learning and help them set goals that are meaningful for them. " This is the missing element, isn't it? The transparency that allows kids insight into how we assess what they can do and where we see learning gaps. It's so important to share this knowledge with them!
    I'm tussling with digital portfolios, too - determined to create these in the new school year.

  2. Julie,
    I'm with Tara too -- that's the line that struck me. I've been thinking more about this as well, wondering how I can empower students to know where they are as a learner, set goals, and work together to reach those goals. You are so right when you say that I use that important assessment information, but students have no idea!?! Digital portfolios can help with this too, I believe. Thanks for sharing the questions to talk about with students as well. Helpful!

    Thanks for joining in the #cyberPD conversations again this year! Your thoughts and questions continue to push my learning -- and it is appreciated!


  3. Enjoyed your reflection, Julie. I have always thought that we should demystify the learning process for students. Empowering students to know themselves as learners is powerful.

  4. Julie,
    I couldn't agree more; I am constantly gathering information about my students from a variety of assessments (both formal and informal.) What is missing is me sharing that information with my kids and having them do more self-reflecting, goal setting, and having more of a voice in what THEY feel they need to learn next. Thank you for that reminder!

  5. Julie,
    I loved your post --- and tried to remember Franki & Bill's suggestion to not get distracted by links that pull me away from the text. ;o)

    You have such smart points here. When we truly get this student ownership piece figured out, we'll be on the way. I'm always amazing when I talk with first graders as they seem to be on base with their reflections of their learning. They know what's hard and where they've improved. They also know what they need next. These conversations are shaped across time through smart questioning (like those you've shared above - thanks) and returning to student work. I'm looking forward to new possibilities in the year to come.


  6. I love what you say about a teacher-student partnership about assessment! I think we can get wrapped up in how assessment is used to determine "teacher effectiveness" so we need to refocus. I get frustrated when I hear a colleague complain that a student didn't get this or that and they put the blame on the student. I look at it as "if a student didn't perform well on an assessment, then what should I do differently to help them." Taking that a step further to consider it a partnership is perfect.

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