Sunday, 16 June 2019

We Like to Move It, Move It!

As we are adapting our Junior courses into an integrated curriculum next year, we also need to consider how we are going to adapt our methods of assessment. Rather than giving students grades that are inconsistent across departments and within departments based off of Achieved, Merit or Excellence (which can be subjective even with a marking criteria), another major shift next year will be assessing students based off of levels of the New Zealand Curriculum. This is going to be a challenge for us, and for the students, especially when we are going to need to design the rubrics for these levels for each of our integrated units!

As practice for this method of assessment, this term we utilised the NZC levels to assess our Year 9 Movement Education unit. The purpose of this unit is to encourage students to step out of their comfort zones and to learn some new skills for dance, gymnastics and parkour. This new method of assessment the students are unfamiliar with, hence we started by co-constructing what these levels actually looked like in action, see pictures below. 



Once we had discussed these levels and the purpose of the unit, I asked my students to select one emoji to represent them throughout the term. We regularly had mini discussions about what level the students thought they had been demonstrating throughout the lessons and why. In addition, students moved their emoji to the self assessed level. See alongside the progressions from the beginning of the unit to the end of the unit - it's interesting to see how many students fluctuated, but also great to see so many students sitting at or above the expected level of a Year 9 student!


This method of assessment definitely required some more prep, and a more conscious effort to embed within the teaching and learning, but I think was a great way to have more consistency of grading and also students had more understanding of the why and how. I enjoyed discussing with students why they were moving (or not) their emoji, because most of them were able to give detailed responses related to their demonstrations, with examples. 


Some stand out comments from some of my students about the overall unit include the following;

"I think it is a very good thing to do it has definitely helped my confidence and it was heaps of fun once I got into it."

"I learnt a lot of new skills and things I couldn't do and I learnt that if you commit to something you can most likely do it."

"The dancing impacted me because it pushed me out of my own comfort zone to try something new and kind of scary. I don't enjoying doing dances in front of other people but it wasn't that bad once I was doing it with my friends."

"My main challenges were in the parkour where I was not getting too involved in the whole thing only one part of it but I thought I should give it a go so I could get up a level and try to enjoy it more and doing that helped a lot."

Moving forward into our next unit which will also use this method of assessment, I would like to have more discussions with students throughout the lessons, rather than just at the end when they are moving their emojis. I found this time I was only able to talk to each student once or twice throughout the unit, and obviously the more often, the greater students can demonstrate their understanding. I think that this is important, as next year we will have 75 students to assess against the NZC levels, rather than about 25. Additionally, I have previously learnt that gamification is a tool which many students positively react to - so I think I need to refer to moving up levels more often as a challenge for students to reach (as the last student voice has suggested).