Acta non verba

Happy May the 4th! One of the perks of my job is I control the screens around the school at which I teach. It’s a lot of power for one person. Today I took full advantage of it by wishing everyone the very best for one of the most important days in the nerd calendar.

In this post, I’d like to touch on two very simple technologies I use for feedback. To set the scene, I’d like to explain the task which serves as the context for these examples. Our students are currently investigating Ancient Rome and over the course of the term, they will all contribute to a class newspaper. Each student has at least one role – we have editors, sub-editors, writers, graphic designers et al. All students are expected to write several pieces including news stories, editorials, feature articles etc. We even have one student writing obituaries!

As most teachers know, undertakings of this scale have certain problem areas, and one of the most contentious is the fact that not all students contribute in equal measure. We felt it was important for the students to be aware of how their efforts were being perceived. Peer feedback and summative assessment are critical in ensuring that all students are aware of their standing in terms of collaboration and shared industry.

I am going to try something new. I am playing with the idea of moving the students up through the rankings via an org chart I created in Canva. As you can see below, the design of this affords me many opportunities to explore the social stratification of Roman society with the students. Obviously, all the students want to be emperor, but irrespective of their assigned roles, they all start out as slaves. They will move up the hierarchy via effort as perceived by their peers (and teacher). I created avatars of the students via Photoshop. These are all currently at the bottom of the pyramid; I imagine over the next two months, there’ll be plenty of movement.

The students will provide peer and self-assessment via a Microsoft Form they can access at any time.

I’m confident this will work well for our students. I took my class through it today, and they can’t wait to get started, but we’ll have to explore one or two centuries of Roman rule first. Acta non verba.

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