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One Doc to Rule Them All

Over the course of the last two school years, I've been looking for the most efficient way for students to keep track of their progress towards objective mastery.  I've used several different forms in a single unit.  But, I've been looking for that one magical document to rule them all.

In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, the dark lord creates a ring in secret to rule over all others.  It is a ring of darkness that gives power to the one who possess it.  It carries with it a great burden as well as it consumes the soul and becomes the be all end all of one's existence.

Well, I wasn't exactly looking for a document forged in darkness.  I was looking for one that would give my students power over their own learning but not consume them or their souls.  I wanted a document that would reduce the number of progress and reflection documents my students had to keep track of.  The document I forged was able to come into being because of one major advancement.  A recent update of the Google Docs app for iOS allowed for entering data into tables.  I have a class set of iPads, so this advancement was crucial in the design of the document.  Take a look below to see an example of "my precious".

At the beginning of each unit, I send this document out to each student using Doctopus.  This allows each student to have a personal copy of the document which can be edited and which I have rights to as well.  The document ultimately is placed in the student's online portfolio where it is a powerful tool to communicate what was done in that unit of instruction.

The first part of this document is the unit goal.  As a part of the CCI process, goal setting is key.  Rather than setting up a class goal for each unit, I try to personalize the process.  So, students set their own personal goal for the unit and state it at the top of the sheet.

The second part of this document are the unit objectives.  The number of objectives vary per unit, but I limit them to 5 at the most.  Before we begin the work on the unit, students look at each objective and break it down like they would a writing prompt.  I have them bold the verbs in the objective and then underline the object of the verb.  Students may not know what all the parts of the objective mean at this point, but it is a simple way to preview what is coming up in the unit of study.  At the end of the unit, students will come back to this section and under each objective explain the activity or activities in which they addressed this objective.  This is an attempt to make the objective more concrete as students tie what they did to the specific objective.  Many times teachers may state what objective is being addressed before doing an activity, but in my experience it sometime makes more sense to mention it once the task has been accomplished so students get a deeper understanding of what the objective truly looks like in action.

The third portion of the document is the progress towards unit objectives.  This is something that students keep track of in their quizzes using SmartResponse remotes or Kahoot!  We will usually have 4 to 5 check-ins during the unit and one final one at the end of the unit.  These are not assessments that end up being reflected in the grade book.  This is a place for students to determine where they are in the learning process towards mastery.  It is self-reported.  I do keep track of class data in terms of progress towards objective mastery.  But, this data does not identify individual students.  In the SmartResponse system I can identify students who are not doing well on the quizzes and have a conversation with them to see where they are struggling.

The final piece of the document is the reflection.  At the end of the unit, students reflect back on their progress to determine if their goal was met or not.  Students then complete a plus delta table (plus is what is working well and delta is what should be changed) to reflect on what worked well and what should be changed from their perspective to meet their goals in future units.  Once students have completed this personal reflection, we share out pieces of the plus and delta table as a class on the feedback board and see if there are common pluses and changes we are looking at for the whole class.  But again, the most important part of the process is for the individual student to reflect on what helps him or her learn the best and communicate this to the teacher.  This is the first conversation that will lead to true personalization of instruction.

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