Midterm evaluations are the optimum teachable moment, and we should think hard about what the process of those evaluations teaches our students.
At the midpoint of the semester, I have my students’ complete attention because they believe there is still time to change their fate, and so I take that opportunity to push, to poke, to prod, to encourage, to set the bar higher, to inspire, and sometimes, to frighten if necessary.
The first step in this process is to increase students’ self-awareness of their progress and achievements during the semester and at the same time to encourage them to be self critical about their work. To this end, students hand in a midterm portfolio, which includes a written self-examination of their progress in the past semester and of each major assignment they have completed.
• What have you discovered about yourself as a writer so far this semester?
• Which of the following have you found helpful: (workshops/online journals individual conferences/blog/class discussions) so far, this semester?
• Which particular techniques and strategies have you found most useful? Why?
• What are your strengths as a writer?
• Where are you still struggling as a writer?
• What are your goals for yourself as a writer for the remainder of the semester?
• How will you achieve those goals?
• What have you learned from the experience of preparing your midterm portfolio?
• What changes have you made on this paper from draft to draft?
• What did your peer editors suggest?
• What did your peer writing tutor suggest?
• What did I suggest?
• What have you learned from working on this paper?
• What would you still like to work on in this paper?
Assessment Questions for digital media project
1. Title of your digital story: _________________________________________________
2. Exact name of folder and file of the final version of your project:
Folder: ________________________ File: _________________________
3. Which section of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park did you choose? Why?
4. What did you discover about the novel (or your section of the novel) from creating this project?
5. Why did you choose the visual images that you used in your piece? What did they add to your project?
6. What music did you choose? Why? What did it add to your project?
7. How did all these elements (voice-over, music, visuals) work together? How did they influence each other in your final project?
8. In a paragraph or two, describe your work process for your digital story. Include:
a. Who helped you?
b. How did you start your project?
c. What was the most frustrating aspect of this project?
d. What was the most fun aspect of this project?
e. What did you learn from doing this project?
f. What advice would you give a student starting a digital story?
g. What would you change in your digital story if you hand more time (and/or more technical knowledge)?
9. If you somehow forgot to cite the source of any music or visual images in your digital story, please do so now:
10. Write a no-more-than 75-word introduction to your project that will introduce it on our site.
11. You will receive one combined grade for your digital story, for your oral presentation, and for your analysis on this sheet (10% of your total grade). Realistically, what do your think your grade should be for this project? Why?
An important part of students’ self-examination entails their setting goals for themselves for the remainder of the semester. In this way, students begin to assume ownership of their progress and success. If time permits, I’ll use part of the class on the day the portfolio is due for class discussion about challenges students faced in the first half of the semester and goals they have formed for the remainder of the semester.
As I begin my part of the midterm student assessment, I question how much I’m assessing what I have actually taught that semester as opposed to assessing what skills my students had before they walked into my class. My aim is to have students’ grades reflect the former.
After I have finished my written assessment and graded assignments, I arrange for an individual conference with each student. We start that conference with the student’s self-assessments, move on to graded work, and conclude with goals for the remainder of the semester. My goal is for students to leave the conference excited and ready to approach the remainder of the semester with renewed energy and determination.
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