Can Teachers Help Students Monitor and Assess Their Learning?
your students grade themselves occasionally. Have them fill out
a report card on themselves and review it with you. Discuss areas
where you disagree.”
“Give students more practice in planning, thinking, and
deciding and less practice in memorizing, copying, and repeating.”
Robert D. Ramsey, Ed.D
I will never forget what I witnessed on a Tuesday morning when
I entered Ms. M’s classroom. A group of kindergarten students
were busily drawing and writing. When I engaged a few of the students
in conversation, they explained to me that they were drawing pictures
of their favorite characters, after which they would include some
writing explaining why these characters were their favorite. I thought
to myself how fabulous it was that they understood the assignment
so well, were actively engaged, and could clearly articulate their
purpose for writing. The conversation that ensued among and between
the students and teacher was a testimony to how important it is
to involve students in the assessment of their work even as early
Apparently, Ms. M spent a significant amount of time with her students
developing a rubric, which students used in conversation to evaluate
their work. She also created a safe classroom environment that encouraged
her students to listen and accept constructive feedback from their
peers. When they all gathered on the carpeted area, Ms. M called
for volunteers to share their work. Based on the conversation I
heard, I inferred that they used the rubric detailed below.
||An illustration of my favorite character with a sentence (
however, not related to the picture)
||An illustration of my favorite character with a sentence that
tells about my character
||An illustration of my favorite character with more than a
sentence which tells something about my character
Each student presented his or her work, indicated the number of
happy faces he or she should receive along with an explanation why.
The other students were then permitted to share their comments and
agree or disagree with their fellow student’s self-assessment.
After each presentation, the student received a special cheer from
the group to acknowledge the effort.
There are many ways we can teach our students to monitor their
own learning and work. My experience with Ms. M’s students
reaffirms my belief in student-designed rubrics.
It is important to underscore the teacher’s role in helping
students design and implement a student-friendly rubric which supports
their ability to effectively assess their work. In addition, students
of any age will require practice using the rubric before they use
Conferencing is another valuable tool. In my own
practice, I have found conferencing to be a prime opportunity to
ask students questions and get them thinking about what they know
and with what they need to do to extend their learning. It is an
opportunity to have students compare their work to an exemplar,
and through observation and conversation decide whether or not their
work meets, exceeds, or falls short of the standard. It is an opportunity
for students to collaborate with peers and teachers to develop a
plan that will move them further along. Teachers may also take this
time to model self-questioning.
Task cards are another way to help students monitor
and take responsibility for their learning. Several years ago, as
a classroom teacher working with small groups of students while
the remaining students worked independently, I was always concerned
with what my students were doing when they were not with me. I developed
task cards for my students to use during their independent work
time that required them to monitor their progress. The cards were
submitted to me at the end of the period and students earned stars
based on a pre-determined number of completed steps.
The cards listed several directions or a checklist, written in
language they understood, to guide their work. To avoid interruption
later I went over the directions with the entire class before the
scheduled independent work time.
Below is a sample task card, which went into their folders. The
task cards served as documentation reflecting the students’
ability to work independently, which was valuable information that
could be shared with parents and administration.
TASK CARD #1
Please read the directions carefully before you begin working.
Place a check mark in the appropriate box.
||Take a picture walk and look at each page.
||Read each page of the book.
||Draw you favorite part of the story using details.
||Write at least three sentences explaining why you chose that
part of the story.
Having them check off what they completed gave them a sense of
accomplishment. Knowing that I would collect and review the cards
encouraged them to complete as many steps as possible. I used this
task card with my second-grade students but with the proper practice
and review they can be beneficial across grades levels and curriculum
Rubrics, checklists, conferencing, self-questioning, and task
cards are just a few ways to facilitate student self-assessment
throughout the grades. Additionally, keep Robert D. Ramsey’s
quote in mind. It is what we do as professionals in our endeavor
to move students towards independence and accountability for their
learning. In fact, it is a life skill that will prove to be useful
as they grow as learners.
Feel free to e-mail me and
share some other ways that have been successful for you.