Lee Hewes

is totes becoming a teacher…


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So we’re all eggs? Collaborative levelling up, @K1MEPS stylez.

Last year I had a go at using the K-2 teamwork rubric, generously provided by BIE, with the class I was working with at the time. I wrote about it, you can read it here.
Anyway, after my experiences working with the rubric there were a few things that I thought I might like to change a little to make it more effective for my class.

Some of these were:

Changing some of the icons to make them a bit more visually appealing, relevant and perhaps more personalised for any of my future classes. Don’t get me wrong, the icons on the BIE rubric are fine, but as with anything, it can always be better adapted to better suit individual contexts. If you read the post I linked to earlier, you would have learned that one of students had asked, “Why is the man shouting at the lady?” when we were discussing the ‘share my ideas’ icon, bless!

So with what I’ve just created, I decided to go with pictures of the Australian echidna at a few key stages in its life cycle. I did this for a few reasons:

1. We’ve been working for a little while on a project about Australian animals so I knew these images would be relevant to my students.

2. We recently learned that a baby echidna is called a ‘puggle’ and I couldn’t resist incorporating that word into our regular classroom discourse into whatever way possible. For those of you who don’t know (as I didn’t until a week or so ago) ‘puggle’ is the name given to a baby monotreme (echidna or platypus).

3. The different stages in the life cycles of monotremes show quite visually the levelling up process that I’m hoping to occur as students get better at collaborating with their peers. It goes: egg < puggle < echidna. My students are very young and respond well to visual cues, so I thought this would work quite well.

From experience, last time I also thought it would be helpful to add a space to put some comments and suggestions on how to get better. Last time we ended up flipping over to the back of the rubric and using that space for comments. However this time I added some space under each of the criteria to put some goals for the next time students work in teams. It’s not much but I think it will help.

One of the other changes I decided to make was adjusting the criteria for what constitutes a good team member. Again, it’s not that any of the criteria on BIE’s rubric are in any way deficient. it’s just that I think that any specified criteria would be more powerful, effective and relevant to students if they came up with the criteria themselves. My theory is that students are more likely to take ownership over any criteria and be more committed to working toward it if they themselves had come up with it, rather than having simply been given it at the beginning of a task or project and expected to live up to it. So that’s what we did.

We had a class discussion about what it means to be a good team member. I reminded K/1L that we’d be beginning to work increasingly in teams as we draw nearer to the end of our project, and that success with their paper slide videos would be dependent upon everyone in the team working together to complete the video. I reminded them that if any individual failed to complete their part of the video, they would be unlikely to get it finished, so we needed to consider how best to work in a team. This is the criteria we came up with:

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So at the end of today we went over the criteria again. I explained that we’ll be referring back to it regularly and that as we all get better at teamwork we’ll get greater team privileges and responsibilities. We discussed the progress from egg through to echidna. I think it was received pretty well.

One of my students asked, “So we’re all eggs?” and I said “Yes. Even I’m an egg. We’re all on the same team here and we all need to get better. I need to listen to you, you need to listen to me and we all need to work together.”

You can see the current version of the rubric below. I’m looking forward to us all becoming collaboration echidnas, with our epic spikes of teamworky goodness!

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Introducing the BIE K-2 teamwork rubric with @2CMEPS.

Last Friday, 2C and I were finally able to get around to using the BIE K-2 teamwork rubric for PBL together as a way to get the students beginning to self-assess how well they’ve been collaborating with each other. There is a screenshot of the rubric below; as with many things, there is stuff I might like to add/modify down the track, but I think it’s a pretty cool little rubric for a few reasons.

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It’s largely visual, making it easier for kids who aren’t strong readers to use the rubric with their peers. The language is also largely positive – ranging from “still learning” through to “almost always”. As a friend of mine from the MTeach course pointed out to me on Instagram where I posted a photo of the rubric, this kind of language is good because in addition to being largely positive it also acknowledges that perfection is not the end goal. For example “almost always” is the achievable goal as opposed to “100% of the time without fail” (remembering these students are in K-2) which is probably unrealistic unless you’re some kind of superhuman 7 year-old robot – like me … well, maybe not the seven-year old part, but I am a superhuman robot, just ask any of my friends.

One of the things I would like to change is the picture for the fourth item down “I share my ideas with my team.” One of the first things that one of the students asked when I introduced the rubric in the lead-up to Friday was “Why is that man shouting at the woman?” Another thing that my brother said to me when I posted a photo of the rubric to my Facebook page was “I really like the fourth one down – spit in a woman’s face.” LOL!

Given these comments, I think it’s fair to say that the picture for this section of the rubric could probably be changed. Haha. So anyway, how did the kids go with using the rubric? I think they went really well. Here’s what we did.

On Thursday night I went and got a copy of the rubric printed on A3 paper and laminated. I did this so that I could model using the rubric with the class. The students had already seen it and I’d already run the concept by them a couple of times, but I wanted to go through using the rubric together so that the kids had an idea of how to use it and a little more confidence in using it for self-assessment.

So at the beginning of the day on Friday morning I pinned the rubric to the project wall and the students and I evaluated how well we thought I had been collaborating as a team member over the past few weeks. We did this referencing both individual teams, as well as the whole class itself as a massive team. I think this is a good idea because, as mentioned by one of my stage 1 MEPS colleagues at a TPL meeting last week, it might help to prevent the formation of attitudes in students whereby they only ‘work’ for their team and not others – the whole class is the main team to which theirs is a contributor.

I can’t remember all of their evaluations right now, but thankfully the rubric is still pinned to the project wall for me to take a photo of for my own records. I must remember to do that tomorrow.

Here’s some of the stuff I do remember. I tried to give them prompts and ideas as we evaluated my work as a team member. For example, I told them that I wanted to get an expert gardener in by the end of my second week and that I was able to get Brenden in, so in that case I had completed my work on time. I then said that I had originally wanted to use the rubric together in my second week but hadn’t managed to get around to it, so in this case I hadn’t done my work on time. I was hoping that my partial success rate would lead to a “sometimes” rating, but the kids in 2C are tough critics an they gave me a “still learning!”

From memory I got a “sometimes” for listening as I’d failed to fully take in what one of the kids had said while we were out in the garden. As I said, I need to take a photo of my assessment, so when I do I’ll post it up here so I can remember how I went. Here is a photo of the one of the students writing down how I went on the final line under “I treat my teammates with respect.” I think I got an “almost always” for that – awesome.

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Armed with their newly acquired assessment skills, I then asked 2C to have a go at assessing their own collaborative behaviours over the past few weeks as they have worked in their teams. I was sure to emphasise the notion that this whole process was aimed at improving everybody’s ability to work together and that it didn’t matter if they still had space to improve. I reminded them that I was “still learning” to do my work on time and that I only “sometimes” listened to my teammates. I told them that this was valuable information as it showed me the areas in which I still need to get better.

I have to say that I think 2C went really well. They all managed to complete their rubrics, and many were able to provide specific moments as ‘evidence’ of their collaborative behaviour. As it was Eid al-Fitr late last week, many students were away. Whilst this means that these students will need to acquaint themselves with the task next time we do it, it also meant that I was able to get around to most of the students as they completed their rubrics, giving them tips on how to elaborate on their assessments. See the photo below for a sample of one of their completed assessments.

I hope that, as 2C repeat this process in the following weeks, their capacity to work in teams improves and that they also get better at the process of reflection. I’m still trying to think of the best ways that I can observe and assist this and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes.

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