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Tool: General guidelines for analyzing student work together

Purpose of this tool: This tool provides some general guidelines to help you and your colleagues make the most of working together to analyze student work.

How to use this tool: You can use this tool at the beginning of every protocol to remind participants of purposes, procedures and norms. You can also use it to help you Set norms of interaction for your learning community.

Getting ready to present

  • Select a project, task or assessment that addresses a school-wide goal for student performance. What is selected should call for significant student work products or performances.
  • Gather relevant documents that will help participants understand the project or task, i.e., assignment sheets, scoring/grading criteria or rubrics, models, timelines, etc. Think about what other key information participants need to understand the task and how you can present that information succinctly.
  • Select samples of student work that demonstrate authentic student responses to the project or task.
  • Frame a focusing question for participants that addresses a real interest or concern of yours.

Possible samples of student work

  • written work (or artwork) from several students that typifies the range of responses to the same assignment
  • several pieces of work from one student in response to different assignments
  • one piece of work from a student who completed the assignment successfully and one piece from a student who did not
  • work done by student groups (include work of at least two groups that were given the same assignment)
  • video- or audiotapes of students working, performing or presenting their work (this might be particularly useful for very young children). Have tapes cued up and ready to present. The clips you present should not be longer than 5–7 minutes.

Preparing samples

  • Remove or obscure student names from samples.
  • Make enough copies for everyone.
  • Be prepared to briefly describe the context for the student work, including objectives, assignment and information about the social context of the classroom and students’ learning histories.

Participating in the analysis. When looking at student work and teaching materials...

  • Stay focused on evidence present in the work.
  • Suspend judgment.
  • Look for patterns in the work that provide clues to how and what the student was thinking.

When listening and responding to colleagues' thinking...

  • Listen without judging.
  • Listen for differences in perspectives and use disagreement as an opportunity to reflect upon your own thinking.
  • Make your own thinking clear to others.
  • Be patient.

When you reflect on the process of looking at student work...

  • What did you see in the student work that was interesting or surprising?
  • What did you learn about how the student(s) thinks and learns?
  • What about the process helped you see and learn these things?
  • What did you learn from listening to your colleagues that was interesting or surprising?
  • Compare what you see and what you think about the student work with what you and your students do in the classroom.
  • What new perspectives did your colleagues provide?
  • How can you make use of these perspectives?
  • Identify questions that the student work and your colleagues' comments raise for you. How can you pursue these questions further?
  • What would you like to try in your classroom as a result of the analysis?

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Adapted from Looking at Student Work. Guidelines from learning from student work.