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Students take ownership of work at Berkeley Intermediate

Published on Friday, Jan. 17, 2019

Students take  ownership of work at Berkeley Intermediate

BCSD photo / Monica Kreber: Third-graders in Becky Mims's class take a vote on their birthstone authentic assessment.

Coming up with a fair rubric comes with a little discussion from Becky Mims’s third-graders at Berkeley Intermediate.

Authentic assessments are new to Berkeley Intermediate this year, giving students an opportunity to take ownership for their learning, and it also gives them power to create something together – the rubric is something the students co-create as they take on a leadership role of their work.

Students are also leading the way in student-led conferences (see below), another new form of student leadership students have taken on this year.

This past week Mims’s students have researched their birthstones, and had the choice of showing their research via Google Slides on their Chromebooks, or making posters.

On Jan. 16, the group took to voting to come up with a good way for them to grade their projects. They decided to come up with different things they could grade each other on – neatness, including a drawing or picture of the mineral, and mentioning how the mineral is used were some categories they came up with.

After coming up with the items to grade each other on, Mims charged the group: “Thumbs up if we’re all pleased with what’s up here. Thumbs down if we want to change something.”

The group unanimously voted in favor of their ideas.

Next was to appoint a point value for each item – maybe neatness of work should be worth 30 points, and maybe the drawing or picture should be worth 10 points. All the items had to add up to 100 points.

After some discussion and explaining why certain items should have more or less than other items, the group put their thumbs back in their air in affirmation, and went to work on their projects.

“Majority rules in this classroom for our authentic assessments,” Mims said, adding to her students, “You all did really, really good with this.”

Mims is in her 25th year teaching and is used to being the one who decides the point values, but gets to relinquish some of those roles to the students with their authentic assessments.

“I’ve been very impressed with my students with their ability to recognize what’s important in their grading, and what point values they should assign,” she said.

The students have previously made assessments for two math projects and another project about habitats.

Mims said she thinks the students have done well with coming up with a fair rubric, and have also been good at explaining their reasoning behind certain ideas.

“I would like for them to take ownership of their learning,” she said. “I do think when children are engaged they tend to learn more.”

The student-led rubrics are not the only new thing to the school this year; the students are also making strides in student-led conferences, during which they lead the discussion about their work with their visiting parents.

Students take  ownership of work at Berkeley Intermediate

BCSD photo / Monica Kreber

Principal Michael Shaw said the conferences are a great chance for the community, staff and students to become more engaged.

The first quarter the school had approximately 25 percent of the parent population show up. On Jan. 16 the doors were “overflowing” with a constant stream of visitors.

Shaw said students taking ownership of their academics is the goal.

 “A lot of times the parents just look at PowerSchool and see a grade and they’re happy with a 90, but for the kids to be able to show how they got a 90 and why they got a 90 and take ownership has caused some students to excel more than they would have in the past,” he said.

Multiple parents gave positive feedback Thursday night.

“It’s nice…it lets them take ownership of their work,” Katie Todd said while looking at her son Ansel’s work.

“I’m so proud of her,” Regina Lasley said after looking at her granddaughter Saje Knight’s work. “She showed me all her papers and her little things that she’s made.”

“I think it’s great,” Amy Stewart said as her daughter, Emilie, reviewed her work. “I think it really gets the kids involved and makes them responsible for their own work.”

Monica Kreber