The Cornell Lab Bird Academy Discussion Groups Virtual Educator Retreat: Sharing Student Projects

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    • Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Bird_Academy
      Learners often work really hard on their reports, but some reports will be stronger than others. How do you envision going about assessment of inquiry-based projects in your program? Please use the comment box below to share any reflections on assessment-related issues you’re thinking about.
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    • Pam
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      pkevans
      I usually take into account the ability level of the student although this may not be the factor that makes their report not as strong as others. Some students simply don't put forth the effort required for an excellent report. I try to monitor student projects to make sure they are on the right track. In recent years, we do the great majority of work (if not all) in the classroom. If students take it home, it usually doesn't get done. I used to see some parent work, but I don't see that too much anymore. Sometime students just have a hard time getting going. Questioning them and having them talk out loud about what they are trying to accomplish can help with their project and sometimes with assessment.
    • Kimberly
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      kmichellehowell
      Assessment of my project will consist of anecdotal records of observations kept by me, blog posts created by students regarding what they observe and the conclusions (if any) to which they arrive. The final evaluation will be in the project that they share with our school community.
    • Ashley
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      ABloch01
      I like using rubrics and gallery walks.  I always present rubrics for an assignment before we start and try to keep the same style rubric for similar assignments.  Before students turn in work, I try to have a gallery walk, where students can present the highlights of their lab on giant post-its.  Other students then can write comments and suggestions on smaller post-its and place them on the big post-it.  They then are able to use the suggestions to improve (this also allows other student see what others did and improve upon what they had done).  This requires a class that has true trust - this has the potential to turn out badly if students are not nice or don't have trust of those around them.
    • Russell
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      rfriedman1212
      Because I am an informal educator I feel that I will continue to asses my learners' work through open ended questions and peer to peer evaluations. Because we are an informal learning environment we do not grade or assign any work. Our learners come on a volunteer basis to participate in workshops and projects. We asses them through participation effort but we do share collected data with citizen science projects. I feel this type of learning environment is beneficial as our learners choose their project topic and present in a way they feel is successful. We do provide feedback to all our learners and give them the opportunity to grow and improve those life skills.
    • David
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      lumpydave84
      In the past relying on Rubrics has given me poor result on project type assignments (not inquiry experiments).  At my grade (Hight School) students seems to want to check the boxes and not push past them.  I started taking them away and not revealing the breakdowns to students.  A tough love approach that "automatic zeros" are possible seemed to have improved the quality of the years.  Students still get outlines of what I am expecting but the formal breakdown is a mystery.  I think this allows for more creativity on the student's part because they are not checking boxes at the last minute and worried about hitting a certain point but instead can use their mental energy on the task at hand and being proud of their work. As I move more towards inquiry based projects I think time is the biggest part, but including check points.  Giving students feedback about where they stand now and have them think about which parts they can improve.
      • Russell
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        rfriedman1212
        I really like this more "unstructured" approach that allows your students to find their own creativity. This is how all scientific studies should be as there isn't just one way to come to a result so why should their only be one way to do a type of inquiry based study.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      mgerhardt
      Wow,  Great discussion on rubrics, peer , self and check points.
    • Kate
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      Mrs Studey
      I definitely like the use of rubrics for assessing student work on inquiry-based projects. Last year, I did my first junior high science fair. We didn't have a public presentation of student work because of COVID restrictions. However, I had students share their work through Flipgrid and sharing their Google Slides on screen. These videos were then shared out with the rest of the school on a 'Virtual Science Fair' web page. I provided a Google Slide template with each component of the project, along with some notes on what should be included. The last slide was a scoring sheet listing each part and how many points it was worth. I updated their scores as they worked on the project so that they could have time to fix anything that was not complete. I plan on modifying that scoring sheet this year to include more specific information about what I'm looking for in their projects (more like a rubric). One of the most valuable parts of that project was a reflection piece that I had students do after the project was over. What went well? What would you do differently next time? I'm looking forward to doing the projects again at the end of this year, and I'm interested in seeing how many 7th graders from last year will improve their 8th grade projects based on what they experienced the first time around.
      • Kimberly
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        kmichellehowell
        I am intrigued about the use of rubrics, but since I will be doing my project as an after school club, I'm not sure how that would work.
    • Lauren
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      laurenscull
      As an informal educator, before and after assessments are really great. A pre - assessment to gauge general knowledge on the subject and a post assessment to see what they've learned. These are done verbally and as a group discussion. I think assessing inquiry-based projects are also discussion based during the project - checking in to see what they're doing. why they're doing, if they can explain their process.
    • Lori
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      MPBirding
      I love to do inquiry based projects with my students because there is so much feedback between the time the project begins and when the grade is assigned. I find that motivated students are very successful on these types of projects because they are constantly going back and revising based on feedback provided by me and/or their peers. I always provide a grading checklist at the beginning of the project for students to review so they know what is expected of them throughout each step of the process. This has worked well and students are actually able to grade themselves prior to submitting their final paper. Feedback and one on one meetings have always been moments though where I think the most learning is happening and is something I want to make a priority even though it never feels like there is enough time.
      • Kate
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        Mrs Studey
        I love the idea of having students grade their own work after the project is over. I wonder if students tend to grade themselves lower or higher than the teacher? I suppose it depends on the students.
    • Elandriel
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      elandriellewis
      In early childhood education, a great way to document student progress through inquiry is through use of documentaiton by the teacher - pictures and descriptions of students doing activities.  This is a great way for the teacher, the students, families, and others to be able to see children's process.  I think you could use a rubric to evaluate student engagement and their process, but for ECE it would need to be more basic as they aren't going to be turning in any reports.  I think you would really just look at - student questioning, student involvement and engagment.
    • Amy
      Participant
      Chirps: 26
      AmySenn
      Rubrics are a great way to assess projects.  I like for students to assess themselves and also have some peer feedback.  My feedback (incorporating self and peer review scores) end up being "the grade".  I do not always think that everyone needs to have the same rubric- This allows some flexibility for circumstances and/or learning differences.
      • Ashley
        Participant
        Chirps: 23
        ABloch01
        I really like kids to grade themselves.  I find that they are sometimes harder on themselves than I would be!
    • Shelley
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      Shelley_Metcalf
      I also agree that rubrics are really valuable and also need to be adaptable and tweaked.  Because rubrics can be too simplified (or else at other times too detailed and hard for students to read without being overwhelmed), I think it's necessary to add a peer review or another adult review for perspective.  It would also be helpful to the student to be able to discuss the report with me during a one-on-one conference as time permits. (I realize that time constraints are often an issue and depend on so many variables.) I just think that especially after a very long project and process, this verbal communication could allow for communication that can't happen just from a rubric. Having feedback from others besides the teacher through a real-world presentation of the report could also be so valuable for the student and validate their hard work in ways that a rubric can't .
    • Todd
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      CoreCyclones
      The first thing that comes to mind in going about the assessment for inquiry-based projects, is that I am constantly making tweaks and revisions to the rubrics I use. I think you have to adapt the assessments for the groups you are teaching and project to project.  Assessing student work is important for me too because I learn to adapt rubrics based on previous student performance.
    • Kristin
      Participant
      Chirps: 28
      KristinBlack829
      My rubrics could definitely use some fine-tuning. I like the idea of a general rubric for several projects/programs so students can expect consistency. If I'm able to stay on top of things, showing them their rubrics from several different projects throughout the year could be an interesting self-reflection piece.
      • Amy
        Participant
        Chirps: 26
        AmySenn
        Sometimes as an end of marking period activity I ask students to pull 3-5 pieces of the best quality work that they completed. They are asked to reflect on the work (what made it good quality work) and summarize what they learned from the activity.
    • Catia
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      catiawolff
      Clear directions that outline the learning objectives of project with a rubric are needed as a foundation so that projects are done with integrity.  It is valuable for students to have examples of previous submissions so they are able to understand how the grading is done.  It is important to encourage students to bring their talents into the project such as music or other artistic expressions.  When students present their projects, I have students share something they really liked about their peer's project and something they wished they had seen.  The positive affirmation of their effort is appreciated as well as the constructive criticism as they understand that school is a place to continuously improve upon our skills.
      • Lauren
        Participant
        Chirps: 17
        laurenscull
        Back when I was a student, I appreciated receiving examples of previous submissions!
      • David
        Participant
        Chirps: 18
        lumpydave84

        @Lauren No inquiry but I have students draw about biogeochemical cycles and I of course keep the excellent ones from year to year to use as examples... the quality has gone up over time.  Also I keep ones that aren't just artistically stunning but dense with information and thorough as well.

    • Bridget
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      BridgetL
      I find using one column rubric that provides only what a student needs to attain to 'meet' the standard is more understandable and attainable than rubrics that outline each level.  The one column rubric allow the teacher to increase points in areas where a student goes above and beyond and decrease points where a student could use improvement.  I also find it easier to use when differentiating instruction for students.  When possible I also include peer reviews - although they tend to be much stricter graders of each other - that must include comments for the score given.  Depending on the number of parts of a rubric I will sometimes tell them to pick just two rubrics to grade for the classmates assigned (I typically have students review 2-3 classmates work so they can see a variety of responses, and I do assign the students so that a higher level learning is not scoring a struggling student and vice-versa, the point is to help them improve their own work!)
      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37
        Yes, peer review is soo important to include.  It does take some work and time and clarification of expectations beforehand.
      • Catia
        Participant
        Chirps: 15
        catiawolff
        Students learn so much from each other.  They really value their peer's reflections and this is why I also do peer reviews.
    • Stephanie
      Participant
      Chirps: 33
      stephertan
      I like the rubric approach to assessing reports and I think that you can write rubrics in a way that are appropriate to all ability levels. Since my class doesn't use letter or percentage based grading,  my rubric generally place students in one of four categories: below expectations/approaching expectations/meeting expectations/exceeding expectations. With these categories the grading is then subjective on my expectations for each particular student based on previous observation  and assessments. So an "exceeding expectations" score may not be the same for any two particular kids. side note: The video from the Maumee Valley kids is unavailable but I had to brag on them anyway...that's my daughter's school!
      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37
        I agree with you that rubrics are the best approach so everyone is clear on goals and outcomes.  Yes, the video shows "unavailable" to me, also.  I would have liked to see it.
    • Rachel
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      restendahl
      I think the rubrics are a really great tool but are a little tricky for me to implement as an informal science educator that usually only meets with students a few times. I usually leave a lot of the assessment of the projects up to the classroom teachers to decide but I think I will create some simple rubrics for them to use when doing citizen science with me. I think it will be really helpful for my students to be able to grade themselves against the rubric and hopefully revise their projects/reports before turning them in. I think I will create separate rubrics for the 4th grade, middle school and then another one for high school age students. I think assessment is something I am lacking in my programming so this course has been really helpful to me.
      • Bridget
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        BridgetL
        It is always wonderful when a class makes us stop and rethink what we are doing and how/if we should make changes.  I think your idea of creating a simple rubric for them to compare themselves against would be a good start.
    • Jon Javier
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      jagjavier
      It took me many iterations of the process of revising the rubrics that I am using to rate the quality of programming project (or application design and writing) the students produce as endpoint assessment for each quarter. And the rubrics is still evolving (especially during evaluation of the previous school year's activities and experiences in preparation for the next). I share to my students that designing an algorithm and writing it using a chosen programming language is similar to planning and writing an essay: logical organization of statements, grammar, and rhetoric are important. There are times that a student or two would lose focus on the value of using the rubrics to help guide them in the development process by being grade conscious (asking questions like how many points will be deducted if a part of the work goes against an item in the rubrics). Academic integrity in a student's work is non-negotiable. I emphasize that collaboration is encouraged to learn from peers but one's own creative work is expected. I discuss the issue of plagiarism and its many forms and make clear the consequence if one is caught going in the opposite direction of the honor code.
    • Darlene
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      DarleneKehn
      I think for my population of students, it is important to have checkpoints throughout the process of the activity.  I think it is important to address mistakes at these benchmarks and use it as a learning tool.  This could be a good time to do peer review and also have a rubric for making corrections to fix the experiment.  If students know they are going to improve their grade before they move on by completing corrections, I think this will motivate them in the future since they know it is okay to make mistakes and learn from them.
      • Bridget
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        BridgetL
        I totally forgot that I also do checkpoints along the way until I read your post!  It is definitely a good idea so that  student doesn't get all the way to the end of a assignment to figure out he/she is going down the wrong path.  I also find peer reviews to be extremely helpful.
    • Maria (Dede)
      Participant
      Chirps: 74
      dpander37
      I have to approve experiments before students begin, so that helps with assessment.  I can get a good idea of where they are by asking questions during each step and not officially assessing, but helping students based on a conversational assessment so they can meet rubric goals.  I think assessment happens all of the time during learning whether it is teachers doing the assessing or the individual or other learners.  I like to talk with students about other experiments before we start our own, and keep talking with them throughout the entire process to see where they are and help them meet rubric goals for high grades.  It is always great to have students share with the class at different stages or share in small groups and get feedback on how to improve.
      • Darlene
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        DarleneKehn
        I like the idea of sharing out at different stages of the project.  What a great learning tool for everyone and a good way for you to assess their progress.
      • Stephanie
        Participant
        Chirps: 33
        stephertan
        I had a teacher in high school who put this as the last question on every test: What did you learn from this (lesson/unit/lab/etc.) that you'd like to tell me about? She then assigned up to five points based on your answer. I thought it was a great way to show us that learning was the goal, not just remembering for a test. That being said, she could have better accomplished this with the informal assessment and workshop practices you mention. Grades can be such a problem with this kind of learning. It's a struggle for sure.
    • Martha
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      Martha gardenbird
      I think I need to say that I just completely flunked your grading quiz. There were things about the investigations that would not have worked for me in my classroom. There were not proper controls on some and some were even potentially unethical. Since the rubrics did not address these concerns, I supposed the issue is in how to write a good rubric. I also have students who so dislike rubrics they refuse to use them. However, because in the classroom I must eventually award grades, here is what I do differently. 1. There is ample time for checking on appropriate, ethical, controls, etc. before any student actually does an experiment. They get to change their minds before any grade is impacted. 2. We sometimes write rubrics together so that all the things that are important to us (based on the above) are included in the rubric. 3. I usually have a student reflection piece--what did you like, not like, how did you get better at "x" type questions that also helps me grade in a way that the students find helpful and fair. 4. Sometimes I pick one lab report/group and grade that via points. The students get the report back and then must apportion the points to each person in the group (those who do more work should get more points....). It keeps the workload somewhat fairly distributed. 5. Rewrites are certainly possible when students dislike a grade (but not many do this). 6. I also try to incorporate grading not only on the final product, but on asking questions and involvement during the process. 7. Poster Reports can be fun because during gallery walk time students get to make compliments to each other and they love reading these. The same can be done during oral presentations but students struggle to compliment more during these, I think. 8. It is important to think in terms of grading for growth--how much better are students getting at reporting out than they used to be. This is truly hard to capture in a grade. There are times when I have asked students to pre-grade their reports using the rubrics. I don't look at these until after I've graded. Then we discuss any differences in terms of what the students could change and what I could change. It helps me understand how well they are able to self-reflect--always a skill I am trying to help them build. 9. Compliments on both process and product go a long way towards helping students see grading as part of the process of learning.
      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37
        I had a good deal of trouble grading the 6th grade report.  I wasn't really happy with it as far as data and graphs and clarity.  I wanted to grade it a bit lower, but I understand that we were using the rubric, and I agree with you that the issue is developing a good rubric that addresses everything important.
      • Bridget
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        BridgetL
        I appreciate your post!  I too did not do well on the grading of these assignments!  I have found using a single column rubric more beneficial to conveying to students where they have done well and where there is still need for improvement.
      • Kristin
        Participant
        Chirps: 28
        KristinBlack829
        I also did not do well on the rubric quiz. I was quite a bit harsher on the students than I should have been, haha. I like that you have students do a self-assessment of their projects using the rubric before you grade it, and then have a discussion afterwards. I've only been teaching for two years, and self-assessment and peer review is something I'm still figuring out how to implement effectively.
    • Laura
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Laura Schofield
      Because > 50% of my students are English Language Learners, spending time having them drafting a report, getting and giving peer feedback will be valuable to both their science understandings and language acquisition. A formative assessment tool I used this past year during Remote Learning was Flipgrid, this is a program where students can video tape themselves answering and/or modeling their ideas and the video is shared only with me (or I can set it to be shared with peers.) I plan on using Flipgrid to have students show and explain their materials and methods. They then can give some peer feedback on whether their methods and materials will actually be repeatable and will help them collect the data they need to answer their question. I will be developing sentence starters and model reports for their 1st report of the year. I would like for students to have at least 2 opportunities during the school year to write scientific reports to submit to the BirdSleuth Magazine.
      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37
        I have not heard of Flipgrid.  This sounds like a really interesting learning tool.
      • Stephanie
        Participant
        Chirps: 33
        stephertan

        @Maria (Dede) Oh Dede! Flipgrid was my GO-TO during remote learning last year! It's amazing and FREE!

      • Bridget
        Participant
        Chirps: 31
        BridgetL
        I too used FlipGrid - and the students enjoyed it, I also used Seesaw with younger students - allows for students to visually and verbally communicate information at the same time and has the ability for students to record a video.  The year of hybrid learning has truly opened doors to such a variety of tools for students to use to convey understanding.
    • Bill
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      wbondi83
      I would like to use more rubrics in my assessments. I feel that they not only give a student knowledge at how they will be graded, but they also give students a framework of what they are expected to do and a way to self-assess. I would also like to use peer review a lot more than I do. I have always struggled to do peer review, but that could be due in part to the fact that I do not always have rubrics for grading. Using rubrics along with peer review will help with the grading for both peers and myself.
      • Laura
        Participant
        Chirps: 21
        Laura Schofield
        A bonus to having your rubric written first. In a best case scenario, I write my rubric before I create I design the inquiry activity. This allows me to stay on track and helps me stay clear on expectations.
      • Stephanie
        Participant
        Chirps: 33
        stephertan

        @Laura Depending on the size of your group, having a one on one conference to explain your scoring on the rubric can be really helpful too. I do this when I teach writing. We get together and I explain why I made the marks I made, they defend their work and take notes on improvements that can be made. I then give them time to make the necessary improvements and adjust scores accordingly. That last part is HUGE...we get that grace professionally, why not extend it to them as well!

    • Aaron
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      asirtoli
      I think the rubrics included in the lesson above will be very useful in assessment inquiry based projects.  Rubrics are also useful in helping to guide students as they create their projects.  Students can view the rubrics to make sure they have all of the necessary items as they complete their report.  They ensure that grading is fair and consistent.  I like the generic rubrics included, and can make small changes to them for specific projects.
    • Christine
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      christinelamont
      I think the rubrics are important. I may not have made this explicit to the students during my previous at inquiry. I think a combination of small rubrics might work well, scaffolding the process step by step with a simple rubric for each. This could be incorporated into gallery walks. students could rate and give suggestions on how to move up in the 1-4 scoring system. This would be inline with the way the ela and social studies are graded in the lower grade levels. My students are already used to redoing and improving based on feedback.
    • kristin
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      kangello
      I think it's important to have a rubric that is given to students ahead of time.  What I like about the rubrics that were shown is that they are not project-specific.  So the same rubric can be used on any project.  This means that the students will learn what constitutes a good report overall, not just for a certain project.
      • Todd
        Participant
        Chirps: 18
        CoreCyclones
        Giving students the rubric ahead of time definitely makes you achieve your goals and objectives and makes the student more comfortable
    • Adam
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      sweeney718
      I plan to use a rubric to evaluate the student projects.  I will make an excel sheet that shows how the points will be distributed for each section of the report and allow students to use the rubric as a checklist.  Students will have a peer review period before handing in their projects and there will be additional time to make revisions based on peer feedback.
    • Anna
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      AnnaEndreny
      I would use the rubrics, similar to what was presented in this course.  I particularly liked the third rubric with the check boxes.  I would incorporate a peer editing and revision process prior to the end product assessment.
      • Maria (Dede)
        Participant
        Chirps: 74
        dpander37
        I agree that the third rubric seemed nice.  I like using rubrics, but I also like formative assessment along the way.
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