How to Set a Up a Self Assessing Classroom


Tips for a Self-Assessing Primary Classroom

When I first started teaching, I was always really hesitant and nervous about students grading their own work. First of all, I was worried that they would be dishonest and I would end up with inaccurate data on my students. Second, I was worried about my lower kids feeling disheartened by their scores and my higher kids bragging or being rude to students who were not doing as high. However, I realized that the only way that the lower students would have a chance to rise above and feel motivated would be to know where they are, but also to know small steps that they can take to get where they need to be. It is also motivating for on-level and higher students to see where they are, but see that there are many areas for them to grow as well.

Now my students grade EVERYTHING on their own and I simply look it over and record the grades. This takes a little while to set up, but is well worth the explicit teaching. I save hours of time grading, because I grade everything WITH the kids, and I also provide my students with immediate feedback because they are able to see their scores instantly.

How Do I Set It Up?

Setting it up is easy. I have one bucket of markers in my classroom. When students finish a test, they either bring me the test or flip it upside down and work on something else to show me they are done. When I see everyone is finished, I call everyone to the carpet. Students always have to grade their own tests, I never let students grade each other’s work unless they want it that way.

When we are on the carpet, students know they are on pencil lookout. If they see a student with a pencil, they all shout “pencil, pencil!!” And that student has to go put it away. This usually happens once or twice at the beginning of the year, and then never again because students are so mortified when it does happen. I don’t have a consequence, just to go put the pencil away.

Students grade with markers. I make it very clear that I only want them to circle something that is wrong or put a check on things that are right. If I want them to correct an answer, then I will tell them, however, I am hesitant on this because they will sometimes scribble over things in marker and it is hard for me to see their original work.

At the end, I will have students count their check marks and put + however many they got right at the top. I will then tell students that if they get in between a certain range, how well it means they did. For example, in my room if something is out of 10 and they get a 10/10 they are high proficient. They know this means that they know it well and can teach it to others. If they get an 8-9 they are proficient, they know it well and can explain how they did it. If they get a 6-7 it means they are partially proficient, they need help to get most of the answers right but can do some independently. If they get a 5 or below, they are unsatisfactory and need a lot more help with this from Mrs. Kelly. I have students immediately write the corresponding grade (HP, P, PP or U) on their papers and turn them back into me.

I quickly glance over papers to make sure they were scored and counted accurately. I do have tough conversations with students who appear to have cheated, and it usually only happens once or twice before they get it. On the second time, I contact home and then the problem almost always stops or I just grade their papers.

For my students that get a U, I talk to them in small group about how while they cannot quite do what the rest of the class is doing YET, we will get there. We talk about small goals we will make to get there, and I check in on these goals frequently. My students all know their individual personal goals, and usually do well to remember and work toward those goals. My U students know their goal for the next semester is PP, my PPs know their goal is P, etc. 


What Does it Look Like for Each Subject?

Each subject is a tad different. For math and reading, we usually just grade as a class whole group and score papers out of a certain number. I usually don’t determine the number it is going to be out of until I see what the highest scores are. Sometimes I will weight grades, and sometimes I do not. I do usually have challenge problems in both reading and math, so I won’t count those items in the total, so that my higher students can technically score more than 100%, which would be considered HP or sometimes advanced. 

In writing it is very different. I grade my students’ writing as they are editing. My students always edit themselves, edit with a buddy and can even edit with a second buddy if they choose. Then, they put their popsicle stick in a bucket showing they are ready to edit with me. We edit their papers together, and I tell them their grade when they are done. I make their grade based on both before/after their editing marks. This way, it is easy for us to talk about their goals and they get immediate feedback. It is easy for me to say “your paper is PP because you do not have full sentences and you need to work on grammar. Next time, that is what I will be looking for.” This allows students to have immediate feedback, but also allows me to help them make those changes on this weeks papers with them in hopes that next week they will remember how we fixed it and not make the same mistakes again.

What About Everyday Work?

After a lesson and some independent practice, like workbook pages or routine math checks, I will have students self assess where they are by putting a popsicle stick in the correct bucket. I have a bucket for HP, P, PP and U and students can tell me how they are feeling about material after a lesson. This allows me to make groups and adjust them as needed based on what I see during groups. Students learn faster than you would think about being honest, because lower kids will want the help to get better, and higher kids will not want to move at the pace of your lower students.

Sometimes, I even have students “who feel like experts” stand up or raise their hands, and then other students know that they can go ask those students for help or work with them during group work to ask the questions they may need.


Setting Goals:

After each assessment or self-check, I always tell students that “if you scored here, your goal now is to ____”. That way, students know that EVERYONE has a goal that they need to be working on, not just low students or higher students. This also allows them to know what to do next or in the future to become even better at whatever skill it is we are working on.

I hope that you found this blog post helpful for your classroom! Please feel free to leave feedback below, and follow my blog for more tips and tricks. There will be one new post every Monday throughout 2018! Enjoy 🙂

Emily - The Mountain Teacher

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