Grade 9 English ends the semester with an unusual kind of “exam”

The ninth grade English 9 teacher tried something different this year. Our “book clubs” all posted collaborative digital presentations representing their reading experiences. Early on, we had introduced ASIJ Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) regarding effective communicators, literate individuals, constructive community members, critical thinkers and problem solvers. Students used the SLOs as a starting point from which they focused specific goals for their group reading experiences.

What might have been a traditional exam became something more. Students read excerpts from one another’s presentations, listened to audio-recorded reviews and excerpts, viewed images as artifacts, and generated and gathered feedback, leading to reflection on the success of the learning involved in the process and the products.

These images are of pairs responding to presentations and making comments and gathering feedback, using Google forms to collect confluent data based on common goals and questions. From here, students returned to their “book club” groups and aggregated commentary data. Then off they went to write their individual reflective commentaries on the specific success they had in meeting their goals.

My college composition classes used a similar process to write their reflective introductions to their e-portfolios. Students were able to triangulate data, revisiting my comments on their files stored in shared Google drive folders, reconciling their progress with the SMART goals they had set in September, and intentionally gathering feedback in the exam venue. I hadn’t anticipated the “Secret Santa” touch to the protocol. The Google forms commentary was anonymous. Students had been assigned to visit one another’s portfolios so that everybody would get feedback, but then there was time to visit anybody’s in the class. Kids spontaneously sighed happily and asked, “Aw, whose comments are these?” When they found out the identity of their commentators, hugging ensued!

The best supporting star of these images is ASIJ’s awesome new library. Many thanks to Glenda Baker and our library team, especially Ritu Java and Linda Hayakawa. Also, thanks and kudos to my grade 9 teammates, Melissa Boehman and Eduardo Gomez-Sanchez for their time, faith and collaboration, and to Ewan McIntosh for his input in planning this whole thing. Finally, thanks to our students for being so awesome! (David Rynerson, HS English)