Writing for a Purpose: Co-Written Evaluation of Learning

This past week, studio 5 students have reflected on their student driven units by writing the major part of the narrative on their evaluation of learning (EOLs).  These documents serve as record of their learning, help communication between school and home about learning, and can be passed-on to next year’s school or teacher.  We started the school year with the idea that we wanted students’ voices to be as loud or louder than the advisors when reflecting-on and sharing learning with home. For this reason, the student narrative is at the very top of the comments sections that parents receive throughout the year.

This week is not the first time they have done this. Much of the writing students have done this year has been to produce EOLs for UOI and math learning. Writing EOLs has been an authentic way for students in studio 5 to write and get assistance with areas of growth and need in written language. The first time was near the beginning of the year. After much discussion, the teaching team decided to have students go through their learning in the Who We Are unit and rank themselves on self-management skills and put together sentences to give examples and explain their learning. THIS TOOK FOREVER!  Then, they had to put it together in paragraph form and mix and match what the they said to make a clear statement about themselves as learners. THIS ALSO TOOK FOREVER!  The multiple drafts (with peer and adult feedback) occupied much of CAR time for a few weeks before the students had something clear enough to share about their learning in a best draft.  FOREVER…

The teaching team made some tweaks to the planning, researching and drafting of the student written EOLs, and continued to refine the process. Now, after many the run-throughs, students are authentically improving their writing, reflecting on their writing, giving each other assistance and being writers.  This can be seen in the clarity of the writing they are producing, the improvement in ease and fluency of writing, and the amount of independence students are showing when writing. (IT DOES NOT TAKE FOREVER ANYMORE!)

Take a look at some of the growth:

The first time one student wrote (with support):

My experience in Studio 5 was pretty good so far and not as easy as I thought it was and that we had to plan our day and do everything by ourselves independently. My learning will show you I’m an independent learner and work well in groups. I would love to tell you that I’m excellent at time management and that I am good at resolving conflict because I listen carefully to what happened and choose based on fairness. I have been adopting a variety of roles in groups such as my bonding day group and Studio 5 floorplanner groups. I have been adopting a role as a leader and a follower and I know how to act when I lead and follow. I am able to cooperate without an argument like when I was working in my floor planner group we decided our roles without an argument. I have been accepting responsibility for my groups and work because I can complete tasks and be on time for classes and am responsible for my work getting done like this paragraph.

 

This most recent EOL he wrote (still with some support): 

...A PYP theme I think that describes my unit is How We Express Ourselves because music is a way to express yourself because music expresses feelings like sad songs, happy songs, and more. Many famous musicians and artists say that music can make you feel thoughts and feelings.  PYP skills I need are listening and presenting because I need to see what I did is good to me and to other people based on their feedback. Other skills are collecting data and recording data because when I remix and create mashups it takes a lot of steps so I need to keep track of the steps, tips and advice on how to make the song good. I have developed a few skills during this unit. I have developed recording data and collecting data because I have taken notes, documented what I did and more. Some attitudes that I’ve developed are enthusiasm, curiosity and creativity because I am very interested and enthusiastic about my unit and very curious to learn more and with creativity and I have to be creative with my music and improvise what I can do. The PYP concepts I understand better are function, causation and perspective because on the app I used to not know any of what the effects do but now I understand what it does. For causation, music has to do with cause and effect because when I change a music special effect, it affects every other setting. For perspective you can see music in different ways because everyone likes different types of music. I have understood better what number and what part of songs to add things such as echoes, bass and more. Some skills I have strengthened are presenting because I present what I make to different people and get their feedback to improve my performance.

During this unit, I felt like I have done a lot of things to progress such as contacting an expert, watching youtube tutorials and searching for other people’s feedback. I learnt that with motivation it’s easier to get more done, so it’s easier to achieve success. And, if you succeed you’ll be happy; and if your happy you have a good school, if you have a good school you have a good job, and if you have a good job you have a good life you die happy.

My next steps are to get more advice from more sources or YouTube because I’ve already seen one source and I want to get more tips to improve myself as a music producer and as a learner.

For the first EOL another student wrote: 

My learning will show you that I became an independent learner and became organized. I did a group activity to redesign the class. My job was to write down the ideas and give opinions. I used organization skills, cooperation skills, and group decision making. I used group decision making when not a lot of people agreed on decision I gave an opinion and I gave more ideas. Me and Tony both were sharing slides and checking each other’s work and agreed. We agreed about our ideas and slides. If we both did not like an idea, we both talked about it and did some changes. I learned to resolve conflict in whole decoration group whenever people didn’t agree and talked back at each other, I always give just say, “we don’t have time to talk back and conflict.” I worked on time management. Another time when me and Tony struggled on making our video and then Tony had an idea to make a slide we started it and then even though we finished late, we got it done. I learned how to cooperate at parents night. Me and my group cooperated a and we had a lot of fun doing it. We all were cooperating with each other a lot, and everyone was trying to make all the parents understand. When a parent did something wrong, we did not disrespect him or her, we just told him or her the rules again. I think I still need to improve how I respect others, like when I’m stressed I should use kind words and try to help instead of being mean about their work. By planning and writing my own schedule and staying on task I will plan better and do more things. It will also help me not to be worried and get upset with others.

This time the same student mainly independently wrote:

My purpose is to write short stories. I have finished 5 books and I want to keep on going. Because I enjoyed writing books, I like to write books about what happened in my life and that brings me my memories. If I get bored and don’t have anything to do at home, I write some short stories about my imaginations. The PYP theme that I am knowledgeable about is ‘Who we are’ because I got to learn about myself better in this unit and it was fun to bring back some memories. The PYP concept that I started to understand better is ‘change’ because I changed a lot from when I started to write stories to now that I’ve gotten the hang of it. I started to have a positive and mature mind like I don’t get mad at my friends anymore and I am starting to think positively. The PYP attitudes that I strengthened is ‘commitment’ because in this unit I started to be more independent and more dedicated to my work and always being responsible on my work.

I have developed ‘writing skills’ and ‘reading skills’. I learned something new. For example, abstract nouns in this unit and I learned new writing styles and I got better reading too because I started to have different emotions when I am reading a story. I started to feel and act very differently. I  have started to feel very calm and not tense at all and I started to be more smart and educated and I started to notice what interesting things they are doing for their purpose. I have discovered a lot of things about myself. I found out that my friends are always passionate about my stories. I thought that they will not like them. I also found out that I enjoy writing stories. Before I thought writing stories was lame. Now it is so good because it has a lot of suspense and inspirational things in it that are good. I learned that motivation causes success. Without motivation we cannot have success. Motivation lets us to do what is on our mind. If we are down, motivation helps us to continue our purpose.

 

The student written EOLs have shown that writing for a purpose creates purposeful writing AND purposeful writers. The students are becoming skilled at writing with examples, detail and description. They also own their learning, improved their understanding of themselves as writers and decide what works for their own writing processes. As the examples show, they are well suited for the job of reflecting and sharing their learning with the most detail and best perspective. Studio 5 teachers have given them the trust and support to step-up and show they can not only make choices and have voice in their learning but also can identify how and why they are learning. If we’d just written EOL comments, we truly would have missed the opportunity to really empower them as learners and writers.