Friday, July 8, 2016

Reflecting on LRNG assessment work: week 2

A few weeks in to assessing LRNG playlists, the experience has me thinking a lot about what information I need to provide helpful feedback to learners. A
s I sift through digital stacks of submissions, I find myself wanting experience inside the playlists that engage youth. I also wish I knew the context that brought them to learning opportunity. Are they in libraries? Do they have the support of mentors? My best feedback might reference their experiences so they can learn from me how to better navigate supports and platforms.

Our team's extended and distributed conversation in a Slack channel has me imagining how I might make the criteria explicit to youth in the playlist so they could understand what assessors are looking for. My brainstorm idea: I want there to be a one to two minute video from a helpful, friendly teacher sort of person, like Chris Rogers or Paul Allison, who would break down the expectations for them and also help them understand that they could submit multiple times. I imagine my teammates in short video clips speaking directly to learners, maybe this teacher-as-narrator would speak while walking down the street and pausing to buy a popsicle from an ice cream truck. "Your work in this playlist will be read by an assessment team comprise of people like me," he or she might say. "We're going to be checking to see if your submissions are in the format we've asked for, and to see if they contain tips for other youth based on your learning." A video would help the youth be perfectly clear about what they should do. Adults seeking to support young learners could direct them to these videos and watch alongside the youth. "It sounds like this badge really hinges on an informal essay or video. Which would you like to take on? Which sounds fun?"

I can't help but reflect on what we’ve been looking at while assessing the Pay Day Ready playlist. It is instructive to me that we’re assessing a submission where youth are supposed to produce an essay or a video but very few submissions have more than a few sentences that amount to brief statements of learning. It seems like that goal- having youth draft informal essays or capture quick videos- ought to be really achievable if the expectation is clear and if the supports are in place to help them do so- either through digital content or through the support of mentors. If the content or learning experience that we thought would produce essays or videos doesn’t, we can generate questions and iterate. Is the experience is sufficiently clear about what youth should do? In this case the digital content, the learning experience, or the mentors guiding youth to the playlists are probably indicating that the expectation is something less than essays or videos. The feedback we are providing is closing that loop, too, and lowering the sights of the playlist because we direct them to list three tips or key learnings but we don't ask them to bring to bear what they know about essays or video composition.

While I don’t know if an essay is the right target or if a video is the right ask, but I think those things are achievable if the content, the face-to-face support and the feedback couple to provide a warm, demanding experience for interested youth. It also seems achievable that a team like ours might be able to look at learners’ work together as a regular protocol. We could start our assessment conversations by noticing what there is to admire in that work. With those possibilities in mind, I wonder if the work we do looking across playlists will surface which learning experiences are warm demanders and produce thoughtful work that uncovers the assets that we know these youth bring to summer learning.

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