Viewing Failure as an Opportunity to Learn

Today we were given the challenge of creating a lesson idea that incorporates Sadler’s framework for formative assessment (1989) with 21st Century Skills in a quickfire. We also needed to include an aspect of computer-based technology to aid in the formative assessment. I chose a lesson that I use throughout the school year, and adapted it to include more formative assessment and an aspect of computer-based technology for a self-assessment. My challenge will be to encourage very ego-centric, self-image aware and grade-driven 5th Graders that making mistakes encourages learning and won’t affect their report card. Using this lesson as a model will hopefully promote failure and mistake-making throughout the school year in other lessons and activities.

5th Grade Language Arts Content: Writing Process; Editing Experts  

a. Students are broken up into “expert” groups for specific editing marks
(capitals, punctuation, verbs, spelling, extra/missing words,etc.)

b. Students rotate small stacks of writing and edit as a group, color-coded, and signing-off on their editing work on peers’ paper check list. Groups help each other mark correctly during each rotation. Ex: Capitals group may suggest to the punctuation group about how they can improve their marking; Group members may help others mark peers’ papers correctly.

c. Groups identify what areas or “experts” need guidance doing their marking.

d. Individual students also receive feedback on their writing about what they can improve in their writing.

e. Students complete a google form self-assessment based on making mistakes and learning opportunities from those mistakes

More information on elements to incorporate: We discuss intermittently (a break in rotation of papers) about how we can guide the groups or individuals in improving their marking. We might discuss any unknown comments on papers after the class has received their feedback, as a whole class. Students have the opportunity to re-write their work using the feedback. Students also have the opportunity to re-join expert groups or try another expert group in the following Editing Experts session.

All technology aspects, including computer-based: colored pencils, peer-editing forms, and a smartboard to guide the roles of each student, colors and timer for organizing rotation. After the editing process, the students would also fill out a google form about a self-reflection in the “taking risks” while writing/editing. This assessment would not represent any number or grade for them, as to reinforce not distracting their learning, and encourage futher “buy-in” into “failing to learn”, as well as becoming flexible problem-solvers, and responding to peer feedback. It may play a part in their overall grade for the writing activity (is the self-assessment completed-y/n?).

What’s more, considering how  Editing Experts is a routine, I’d hone in on this model to further guide the feeling that failure is okay to promote learning in other areas of our Language Arts class.

Link to self-assessment

5th Grade Editing Experts in action!


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