In my ongoing attempt at helping my students to understand the difference between arithmetic and mathematics, I had my students do a peer assessment exercise on the papers they are writing to explain why certain arithmetic algorithms give correct answers (e.g. why long division gives the correct answer to a division question).
I had all of the students bring drafts of their papers in, and the students had self-assessed their papers by “traffic-lighting:” a mark of green at the top of the paper means that the student thinks that the paper is close to being the final draft, a “red” means that they think they have a long way to go, and a “yellow” is somewhere in between. I then grouped the students by “traffic-light,” planning on having the “green” group and “yellow” group read each other’s papers and offer feedback, while the “red” group would work with me directly to get them on track. The reality is that pretty much everyone gave themselves a “yellow,” so this was not much of a differentiation. (I stole this whole idea from Assessment for Learning: Putting it into Practice).
Here is what I learned:
- This seemed to be extremely helpful to some students. I asked some students what they learned, and they told me exactly what I had hoped they had gotten out of it.
- I am not very good at organizing peer assessment sessions yet. I got the sense that many students did not know what they were supposed to be doing, and consequently they were off-task and/or left a couple minutes early. I also think that this might not warrant an entire class period.
I am hoping that I look back on this in five years and laugh at how hard this was for me in 2011. In the meantime, I would love any advice that people have on peer assessment—I really do need to improve on this.