It's been seven years since I left my elementary TAB studio and tried to recreate the magic in a high school setting. On the first day at my new job I quickly realized that much of what I did with my younger students needed to change in my new setting, but this summer I've been thinking back and wondering if I changed too much.
I loved how I graded in my elementary classroom. I created a checklist with learning goals for studio work time that correlated with state standards with big picture ideas, like "I can use my own ideas to make art". As kids created I'd walk around, look at work and engage in conversation, looking for evidence of student's meeting learning goals. Most often I could observe them meeting goals just through looking at work process and finished work. If I couldn't, I'd ask questions. When I found visual or verbal evidence of meeting a goal, I'd make a check next to the student's name on the list. If I didn't find evidence I'd know to look again the next week, reteaching or providing other support as each situation required.
This was a meaningful assessment for me because it was student centered and provided immediate feedback that I used in real time to adjust instruction.
This was a meaningful assessment for kids because it gave them multiple ways to demonstrate knowledge, responded to any needs with differentiated support and was centered on personalized response to the art they were creating as they created it.
I worry that the digital portfolios that I have used for my high school students share and reflect on work are not an equitable way to form grades because they rely heavily on writing instead of giving students multiple ways to show evidence of learning.
Towards the end of last school year I decided to try observational grading with my beginning high school classes. It's important to know that this class is divided into the following three stages:
I plan to use these checklists to help form grades, but mainly (and more importantly) I'll use them to help focus the formative assessment I constantly do during work time on really essential learning and on providing targeted support for those who need it.
I'm interested in creating a student student centered space for my high school students through choice and abundant opportunity for self expression. I'm also a writer for SchoolArts co-author of The Open Art Room.