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Assessment for Learning in SEN – getting students to be responsible for their learning.

This post really leads on from the previous post on Assessment of Life Skills How? I wanted to share some of the Assessment for Learning strategies I use in the classroom to help SLD/MLD students become greater independent thinkers.  For the purposes of this post I am generally writing about students ranging from P8 up to NC 3 for English and Maths to give you an idea about the ability level I am aiming at. I have used different Assessment for Learning techniques with lower level students, which might form the basis of another post.

With all my lessons I use the acronyms WALT (We are learning to) and WILF (What I’m Looking For) to share the lesson objectives with the students and how they can be successful in meeting them.  Firstly it is important to put the lesson objectives into simple language that the students can understand.  For example in a Work Related Learning Lesson my objectives were:

Identify people who they need to communicate with in the workplace.

Identify the types of information he/she will need to communicate.

Obviously for SEN students these are too wordy so the students were presented with:

WALT:

Communicate with each other

Communicate relevant information

I discuss the lesson objectives with the students to check their understanding of what they mean. Through this discussion I ask the students to come up with some success criteria or WILF that they can use throughout the lesson to judge their progress. For this lesson the students came up with:

WILF:

Talking,

Listening,

Asking for things I need,

Teamwork.

Throughout the lesson, the students are reminded of the WALT and WILF and I use a flip camera to record their work. I also take individual students aside to question them on what they are doing.  These videos form the basis of my plenary where I show them the videos back to promote discussion on whether the students have achieved the objectives. They then self and peer assess each other based on the level of support they received during the lesson – S+, S, I, I*.  I have used this in other lessons with success and it has now become part of every lesson.

I would advise that, with everything in SEN, students need things repeating in order for them to be successful and this is the case for self and peer assessment. The first time I tried this, I only got responses from one or two students and they always said they did the objective independently because they believed that is what I wanted them to say.  Over time, we have instilled in them that having support is not a bad thing and this is part of the learning process. They are now more competent in assessing their own and each other’s work and becoming more accurate in their assessment.  I would be interested to hear how others are doing this, especially with learners who are on the lower P scales P1 – P7, as I have mixed results with P5-P7 learners, using photos and emoticon faces. It is an area that I am yet to see successful assessment for learning techniques and is it possible to use assessment for learning for these learners.

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