Weekly Performance Self-Assessment for Students

This self-assessment on Blackboard should take each student no longer than five minutes each week.  By recognizing the weekly “energy”  they put into their learning, students should begin to see a correlation between this “energy” and their weekly academic achievement.

1.  True or False     I attended class each day this week.

2. True or False     I was in class from (8:00-8:55) each day without arriving late, leaving early, or leaving class to answer a phone call or use the washroom.

3.  True or False     I completed all assigned work for this class.

4.  True or False     I spoke English, watched American television, or worked on the computer in English a minimum of three times this week for at least 30 minutes each time.

5.  True or False     I studied English with a “study buddy”  at least once this week.

6.  True or False     I got  _____ out of _____ points ____ on this week’s quiz.

We’ll see if helping the students stay on target each week helps them reach their language goal a little faster and recognize more aptly the power they have over their own learning.

Weekly Performance Rubric for Adult ESL Students

It is not uncommon for me to use rubrics to evaluate student projects.  But, as we’ve become increasingly concerned about our environment and our budgets, I’ve made every effort to run my class paperlessly by using technology.  Putting more online has also helped me and the students stay better organized and on task.  So, it was time to update my rubrics from paper to digital.

I was looking for an online rubric template which would eliminate paper, total scores, allow for easy modifications, and provide me with a duplicate of the individual rubric given to each student.  What I found was right in front of me on Blackboard, the course management system used by my college.  In addition to all of the above, Blackboard automatically sends a copy of the rubric score into the grade book, and even has space for individual feedback.

My plan is to use the rubric to evaluate the students’ weekly performance.  I have incorporated in it, together with the college and departmental core abilities and the course competencies, the skills that my last semester students valued and asked collaboratively to have emphasized in their performance reviews.

The rubric will change as our needs change, and I expect to have to do some tweaking sooner than later.  But, I am confident that weekly use of it will help my students better understand what the college and I expect of them for them to be considered successful in class and move on to the next level of education.

  Levels of Achievement
 Criteria   Novice   Competent   Proficient
Demonstrates level six (course)competencies as indicated on the syllabus 10 Points
Exhibits minimal understanding of new structures; frequent use of native language
20 Points
Demonstrates ability to use new structures correctly some of the time; infrequent use of native language
30 Points
Demonstrates ability to use new structures and vocabulary most of the time; always uses English in class
Participates in class: acts responsibly, values self and is respectful of others’ rights, needs, and opinions 10 Points
Participates when called on, but is usually unprepared,   frequently absent or late to class
15 Points
Participates when called on successfully some of the time
20 Points
Participates actively and successfully most of the time
Works productively and efficiently: completes daily work using  resources successfully, makes up work due to absences in a timely manner 10 Points
Takes tests but rarely completes other assignments; has trouble meeting due dates
15 Points
Takes all tests and completes most of the assigned work within given time frame
20 Points
Takes all tests and completes assignments by due dates
Works cooperatively: completes tasks, solves problems, resolves conflicts, provides information, and offers support 5 Points
Contributes minimally, accepts others’ solutions,
not dependable
7 Points
Completes most tasks, strives to participate and contribute, dependable
10 Points
Completes tasks, facilitates discussion, synthesizes information, valuable
Uses Technology: Uses technology taught including Blackboard to access course  materials, complete assignments, and take tests. 5 Points
Needs assistance with all technology including Bb
7 Points
Uses Bb but needs continual assistance with other technologies
10 Points
Uses Bb and new technologies independently
Demonstrates creative thinking: constructs knowledge, and develops innovative products and processes with or without technology. 5 Points
Does not yet show fluency, original thought or unprompted elaboration.
7 Points
Shows some evidence of fluency, originality, and spontaneous thought
10 Points
Shows consistent evidence of fluency, originality, and spontaneous thought

Resources used for this rubric in conjunction with the Milwaukee Area Technical College core abilities are:
1)  Blackboard Rubrics http://library.blackboard.com/ref/a86c3648-80a5-43cc-8fed-b3f5d24518ce/Content/as_r7_3_Instructor_Manual/rubrics.htm#Create
2)  Collaborative Work Skills Rubric http://course1.winona.edu/shatfield/air/grouprubric.pdf
3)  Core Abilities http://www2.honolulu.hawaii.edu/facdev/guidebk/teachtip/cor-abil.htm4)
4)  Penn State Rubric Cubed: Rubric Builder, Interactive Grading Rubric, Rich Feedback Generator  https://www.e-education.psu.edu/facdev/id/assessment/rubrics/rubric_builder.html  (No longer an active site)
5)  Rubric Use and Development http://www.bused.org/rsabe/rsabe05.pdf
6)  ToGa Learning http://togalearning.com/2011/09/13/rubric-descriptors-for-information-literacynets-benchmarks/

What My Adult ESL Students Ask to Be Evaluated on and The Challenges in It For Me

About half way into the past semester, I asked my students what they wanted to be evaluated on.  Certainly, I had my objectives for their learning, the department and the college had their own lists of core abilities for all courses, and the state and federal governments had their standards for student success. But, I wanted my students to discern what they collectively thought should be emphasized in my class. They made a list of five major areas of focus for the semester.

1. Daily classroom participation: This is a catch-22 situation for the students because, while they don’t want their lack of attendance to jeopardize their grades, they want their participation to count toward their success. They clearly know that getting regular feedback on their communication is vital to developing their English skills as is, then, their daily attendance.  My challenge is to get them to come to class daily by providing them with a variety of stimulating learning activities, opportunities for daily achievement and success, and ownership of their education. It is also my challenge to make my course content accessible to the students regardless of their attendance and to offer them the opportunity to participate in ways other than face-to-face when necessary.

2. Interpersonal skills: This the students define as their ability to work in class individually, in pairs, or in small groups, respecting the rights and needs of their classmates and the instructor. My challenge is to clearly guide the process for each of the situations while providing the students with the opportunity to develop awareness of cultural, educational, and learning norms and differences in our student population.

3. Problem-solving skills: The students highlight this as a critical factor for success in the classroom and out. They define this skill as how students resolve their study issues, including completing their daily work, making up work/tests due to absences, getting information (including handouts) they may have missed, using study buddies, email or instructor office hours to get the extra attention they need to reach their targeted goals. My challenge is to help the students set their goals, clarify my standards and expectations, and work with the class on developing good study strategies and troubleshooting options.

4. Use of technology: I use Blackboard as a course management tool as does most of my college. I require that my students use it to access the course syllabus, weekly and daily coursework, handouts, and extra resources. Additionally, students take their tests on Respondus Lockdown Browser, a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within Blackboard. I communicate regularly with the students via Gmail. I also use other applications such as Audioboo, Facebook, Glogster, Twitter, VoiceThread, and YouTube. The students know the importance of technology in the workplace and they are discovering its value in their learning. My challenge is to have online tutorials for the technology I teach thereby enabling students to review at home what I’ve taught in class, and/or to get the instructions if they are absent. (I am aware of the fact that some of the savvier students are tired of assisting the others with the same technology issues day after day.) I also need to help the students become more technologically independent by setting stricter deadlines for achieving and demonstrating their competency on the different programs we use.

5. Last, but certainly not least, the students want to be evaluated on the English competencies outlined in their syllabus and course outcome summary. My challenge is to to offer a variety of projects allowing for different learning styles in which the students can creatively practice and demonstrate a higher level of English skills.

Interestingly, these students’ focus points align very nicely with our college’s core abilities (http://facultynet.matc.edu/erd/pdf/syllabustemps.pdf):

  • Communicate effectively.
  • Collaborate with others.
  • Respect diversity.
  • Demonstrate responsibility.
  • Think critically.
  • Use technology.
  • Apply math and science.

What do your students want to be evaluated on? It is a great discussion to have with them.

Part Two: A Rubric for Evaluating Student Performance and Objectives

Part Three: Students’ Standards for Instructor Evaluations

In One Little Corner of the World, The Hope for Better Tomorrows

In one little corner of the world, my classroom, I find amazing students from all over the world…Albania, the Dominican Republic, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Mexico, Palestine, Peru, the Republic of Georgia, South Korea, Sudan, Ukraine, and Vietnam.  Let me tell you just a bit about a few of them, changing their names to protect their privacy.

Shirley escaped as a child from a homeland under communism to go to a safer area before finally being sent to the United States.  Never able to go to college, first because of her father’s mandate that she marry, then because her husband insisted on children, she soon found herself widowed and needing a job to be able to provide for her family.  Finally she is able to come to college.

Sean, imprisoned four times for trying to escape the military regime in his country, nearly died of starvation and malaria,  not to mention assault and robbery twice on his journey to the United States.  Now he sits, always quietly, in the front of my class.

Michael from Asia and Marta from Latin America left the grandparents who raised them to come to U.S. to be with parents they hadn’t seen or really known since they were small.  Two different families, two different parts of the world, same story.

James took out a loan for his wife’s brother who then defaulted on the loan causing James and his wife to declare bankruptcy and see their house go into foreclosure as they are now both unemployed.  James doesn’t miss a day of school because, he says,  it is a happy place for him in a life of trouble.

Susan is happy to get a job at a low paying factory where her husband also works here in town.   When asked what they did prior to moving to the U.S., she replied that she was an office manager for fifteen years, and her husband was the director of tourism for their country.  Why did they leave that good life to come to this country?  Their oldest son got a scholarship to study in the U.S., and they wanted the younger son to have the same opportunity.  They gave it all up for their children’s  future.

These are only a few of the life stories of  the students I work with, and you can be sure there is an equally interesting story for each of the others.  They look like ordinary people living ordinary lives, but there is a plethora of experience and information inside each of them.   The road they have chosen is a bumpy one.  Life as an immigrant is not easy here despite the American dream that we still believe in and work for.

I, myself,  am humbled by my students and in awe of their stamina and determination to survive and improve their lots in life.  I am grateful that they find my classroom to be a positive environment and a friendly, happy place that takes them temporarily away from their daily struggles and puts them on a path to better tomorrows.

I believe that my students will help make our country stronger and better because of their diversity, their willingness to work hard for the benefit of their families, and their love of and belief in this nation.  I hope that in these difficult economic times the American people will see to it that our  “new Americans” have the opportunity to work toward and achieve their American dream.

Teaching with Technology This Summer?

Are you teaching with technology this summer?  What are you using?  Are you experimenting with anything new?   How is it working for you?   Do your students seem to enjoy learning with these new technologies?  Are they excited about coming to your class?  Do they know you are learning to use them together?  Have they given you or their classmates a hand with any of these new technologies yet?  Do you recognize them for this?  Are you modeling patience and tolerance with your own learning and willingness to try new things?   Have you shared your excitement of learning  these new skills with any of your colleagues?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, congratulations! You and your students are probably have a great summer teaching and learning together…as it should be in adult ESL!.

“The teachers who get “burned out” are not the ones who are constantly learning, which can be exhilarating, but those who feel they must stay in control and ahead of the students at all times.”  Frank Smith

May you continue to have an exhilarating summer!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Are You Teaching with Technology?“, posted with vodpod

Special thanks to Sue Lyon-Jones (@esolcourses) of The PLN Staff Lounge for introducing me to Blixy!
For further thought, read: http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/21st+Century+Teacher

From Inside Higher Ed, the “Technology Gap”

According to Inside Higher Ed, when professors/instructors are asked how they are doing with their use of technology, most report that they are doing quite well when it comes to  incorporating it in their classrooms.  However, the students see it differently according to surveys taken at both two- and four-year private and public institutions.  Read the Technology Gap to see the comparison between how faculty and students really view the use of technology in higher education.

A Must Read Blog Posting

From The Innovative Educator, 21st Century Educators Don’t Say, “Hand It In.”  They Say, “Publish It!(Nov. 22, 2009)