This link, http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/RemoteAccess/~3/172952097/they-asked-for-.html, to a blog from Clarence Fisher describes an assessment that his students are currently undergoing and how they are learning. In the particular district of Canada where he is teaching, assessment is given in the form of writing assignments. The results of this assessment are not reported on report cards, but are used by parents and teachers to determine students’ progress. Fisher teaches 7th and 8th grades.
The topic for the writing assignment is bullying. Students can use any “written representation that they are comfortable with.” Form is not an issue. Judging from the tone of Fisher’s blog, these guidelines have made the activity very enticing for his students.
According to Fisher, he and his students went through all of the pre-writing requisites. They did role playing, used graphic organizers, made sketches, and talked about the forms of writing that they were most comfortable with. Basically, he told them that he didn’t care how they did their writing as long as they felt confident in their ability to carry through the requirements of the study with their chosen medium.
His students are using a wide assortment of media to represent their thoughts. Among them are blogs, brochures, comic strips, video, and flickr with written captions. Another student is creating a booklet. Other students are using the technology magazines in his classroom to get ideas for page layouts.
Fisher concludes his post with ponderings about whether the administration will approve his students choices of expression, but the lesson strategies were left wide open when they told teachers to allow students to use any “written expression that they were comfortable with.” Further, he states that the methods chosen by his students demonstrate their thinking and that they are genuinely interested in each other’s work, which is a plus.
I think we can all learn from these ideas. At first glance, the approach to the assignment seems unconventional and maybe it is for some of us under 20(!), but for the students it is typical of their day and time.