This pasted year I tried something completely different for my final summative in tech design. Rather than have a written exam or paper, I asked my students to create a presentation answering the question, "What did you learn in this class?" It was a really interesting activity.
So often I find myself busy trying to teach lessons, answer questions, and get my students on task, that I forget to really get to know all the students. Especially in respect to their thoughts and feelings on how they are progressing in my class. I try to get to them all, but sometimes those quiet kids sneak by me.
Listening to the presentations was a great way to see what the students understood. You can tell who got the underlying concepts and who just knew the superficial stuff. I let the kids be honest, and they spoke of what they liked and what they didn't like. What I could add or take away.
I loved seeing things from their perspective. They see things very differently when compared not only to what I see, but their classmates as well.
For example, we did a month long project where the students created siege weapons (ballistas and over-sized slingshots) in groups. I had one student that often came in late (2+ times a week), and, in both mine and his team leaders opinions, didn't participate all that much.
While reflecting during his presentation, that student was very positive about his participation and contribution to the group/project. He felt he made a significant contribution.
At first I thought, "He is just saying that to get the marks." But as a listened to the rest of his presentation and thought about it, I realized he was being honest.
For that student, what I saw as a small, was a big effort. His view was so different from mine. Normally, I would have given him a low mark for little effort, but I didn't. I took into account his expectations and modified my own.
Or sometimes the off-hand comments or non-curricular stuff are what really hit a student. On the second day I commented that we need more women in tech after a girl switched out of my class. One girl really took note of that and spent sometime talking about it during her presentation. It is important, but not something I thought of as something anyone would take away from my class, especially being said off-hand.
Next semester I will be doing this activity on a regular basis, and taking the opportunity to work on modifying both my expectations and those of my students.