Midstream analysis…

I am in the middle of it all, things flying by on all sides…assignments, in class essays…and then there is a moment of brilliance-
I actually had students reflect on their own work today.
It has been mentioned several times around the staff meeting table that schools often don’t allow time for meaningful reflection.
Today I think there might’ve been some (at least there was time allowed for it).
I think we sometimes just get into the habit or the misconstrued perception that we must mark everything that we make students do. I think students also have that misconstrued perception (the question: ‘is this worth marks?’, or ‘does this count?’ quite often surfaces in discussion).
To be quite honest, marking students out the gate on a new assignment or concept is ridiculous. There is no learning time: students are forced to perform from the get-go on some newly innovated thing that may take a few tries to finally get a handle on.
When I was a teenager, Apple (part of Capitol Records) released ‘ The Beatles – Live at the BBC’ – a double disc recording of about 70 songs and sound-bites. I ran out and bought it on the day it was released. I was stoked, and my dad was wishing he had kept all his old Beatles vynl… To be honest, I listened to it a handful of times, but found it to be….a little annoying. There is a reason why a lot of it never was recorded and released on a ‘real’ album. Some of it wasn’t, in my opinion, all that hot (but the photos in the liner notes are pretty slick).
When I pick photographs to put in an art show, I go through reems of negs and picture files looking for strong images, ones that I feel communicate my strengths as a photographer. I spend time in post production working on developing images. If I imagine just pulling my first roll of film to represent me as a photographer, I cringe. On my first roll, I didn’t know the camera, didn’t know the film…didn’t know smack about photography.
So here’s the point of this ramble – I think we should allow students to view their progression and allow their ‘strong moments’ to be represent and communicate their achievements.
Today I had students write an in class essay, then I gave them the chance to compare it to one they had done months before. I asked them to pick what they felt was the stronger of the two, and provide comments or commentary in the margins that explained why the essay they chose was stronger. I am marking the one they chose, and reading the other one. My comments are exploring their essay, but are also agreeing with or adding to their own self assessment of their work.
So far, it seems to be a really constructive written conversation. Allowing students to choose how they represent their learning…sounds like an informative and constructivist learning experience to me…
From the top of my head today.

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