You might say seventh grade students in Melissa Smith's Social Studies classes at Georgetown Middle School are thirsty for knowledge. This dynamic teacher goes the extra mile to ensure the lessons in her class really stick.
Students fully understand not only learning targets which align with core curriculum, but also the importance of assessing their own learning.
Smith uses regular formative assessments to ensure students meet learning targets specific for her classes. Today's learning target is posted in the front of the room. Students also see an indicator which helps them assess their understanding.
Teacher and students constantly measure learning as they progress toward mastery of the material. Today's classroom looks much different than a traditional "cover the material, take the test, move on to the next lesson" model. Students communicate with Smith in a discrete way by placing a popsicle stick in one of four cups as they leave the room. Using this scale, students tell Smith if they feel confident with the lesson or if they need additional help.
Smith uses this information, and other formative assessments like Exit Slips, to identify any student who might be struggling or in need of additional instruction. Time for added instruction is available to students at GMS each afternoon.
Students fully recognize the value of this initiative as they speak a language of learning. "It lets me know if I have mastered the target or if I'm still not clear. If I don't understanding it at all I can let Mrs. Smith know," commented Lexi Johnson.