Looking at Student Work
Looking at Student Work


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Methods for Looking at Student Work

Click on a list item to go to a collection of materials about that protocol OR scroll down to see a paragraph description for each one.

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Art Shack
Developed by Kristin Tonnningsen & Shannon McBride at Riverdale Grade School in Portland, Oregon, the Art Shack was specifically put together to meet the needs of an art teacher examining her students' work. The resulting protocol combines elements of the ATLAS and Descriptive Review protocols.
ATLAS Learning from Student Work
Developed by ATLAS Communities, drawing on the Collaborative Assessment Conference and other protocols, the Learning from Student Work is a tool to help teachers better understand how their students develop understanding. In doing so, it helps teachers identify the most effective teaching strategies for teaching students, discover new ways to structure assignments, and find different approaches to teaching familiar topics. A facilitated, structured conversation, the process moves from description of samples of student work (from presenting teacher), to interpretation of the work, to discussion of implications for the classroom.
The Charrette
The Charrette is a term and process borrowed from the architectural community. Charrette conversations provide a low stakes/no stakes environment for teachers to present student work (and/or teacher work) with which they are having a problem. After presenting the work-in-progress and specifying the kind of help they want from the group, the "requesting team" listens to the group discuss the work in light of the request for help. A moderator/facilitator helps guide the discussion, occasionally summarizing key points for discussion or reflection.
Collaborative Assessment Conference
Developed by Harvard Project Zero, the Collaborative Assessment Conference (CAC) provides a structure for groups of teachers to look closely at children's work, describe it, ask questions about it, and explore implications for instruction raised in the discussion. In the CAC, description of the context for the student work is held back until participants have had ample time to describe the work and ask questions about it. An experienced facilitator guides participants through the stages of the conference.
Developed by the National School Reform Faculty, the Consultancy process is typically used by a small group of teachers, for example, a critical friends group, to engage deeply with issues and problems of teaching and learning. One teacher brings a problem, issue, or question to the group, reflects on the issue, and listens in on the discussion of other group members. Student work is often presented as key data in understanding the problem, issue, or question. One of the teachers typically acts as a facilitator, as well as a participant in the discussion.
Describing Students' Work
There are several Descriptive Review processes developed by Patricia Carini and colleagues at the Prospect Center, including the Descriptive Review of a Child and the Descriptive Review of Work. Both feature close, collaborative description of an individual child's "works" (visual art, writing, constructions, etc.), as well as the child as a learner and creator. A teacher typically requests a Descriptive Review because she has a question about the child. Guided by an experienced chair, participants engage in multiple "rounds" of description and questions - with each round building on the knowledge developed in the previous round, always seeking to build on children's strengths and deepen all participants' understanding of and appreciation for the individual child.
Developed by Joseph McDonald and others. The Slice is a flexible method that requires collecting all student work completed in a specified context over a specified period of time (for example, all third grade work for one week). Participants in the Slice method use this archive of material to pursue an inquiry question, typically framed by teachers. A number of structures can be created around the "reading" of the work and the conversation that ensues, including a Socratic seminar approach (in which the student work is the text). Unlike many of the protocols described here, the Slice requires work from multiple students--from a whole classroom to many classrooms.
Standards in Practice
Standards in Practice (SIP) has been developed by the Education Trust as a "quality control tool" for analyzing and improving the quality of instruction provided to students. The SIP process is typically used, in bi-monthly meetings of small teams of teachers, guidance counselors, parents. The process calls for a close examination of teachers' assignments and student work against a relevant standard or set of standards. Facilitation of the process is typically provided by a coach from outside the school (who may also serve as a resource to teachers outside the SIP meetings).
Success Analysis
The Constructivist Protocol provides a self-assessment tool for students, intended to generate new insights and deepened student investment in their own work. A student presents his or her best work to classmates, who then look at the work in order to identify the qualities in the work that contributes to making it "best work." Students then seek to incorporate those qualities in future work, which they may choose to bring to the group for another protocol.

Tuning Protocol
The Tuning Protocol was developed by the Coalition of Essential Schools as a means of providing teachers feedback on the authentic assessment systems they were engaged in developing, including exhibitions, portfolios, etc. A teacher, or team of teachers, presents samples of student work and the context for the work (assignment, rubric) and (usually) a focusing question about which he or she would especially welcome discussion. After carefully reviewing the work, participants provide "warm" and "cool" feedback on the work while the presenter listens in silence, who then reflects on what she's heard. The Tuning Protocol may be facilitated by someone from inside or outside the group using it.