Active Assessment of the 7 Cs

The rise of project work and the need for students to demonstrate competency have provided another sticky assessment problem for teachers. How does a teacher record the dynamic interplay between students and their peers, between students and materials, and between students and ideas? Perhaps we have our cell phones poised to record. Maybe we have parent volunteers poised with video recorder in hand. I have often found that digital recording, however, adds a layer of tension to the work session. And this tension inhibits the free flow of ideas or elicits silly, off-task behaviors.

To remedy this, I have developed a low-tech, low presence, low stress formula that permits once-a-week assessment of each student on these so-called “soft” skills during a project work period. It is important to note that these 7 Cs were the focus of a self-reflective project early in the school year and the students know very well what each of these skills entails. The assessment looks like this:

A great way to get started with assessment of 21st Century skills.

A great way to get started with assessment of 21st Century skills.

As you can see from this partial page, I have created a Likert-like scale by taking each of the 7Cs (i.e. collaboration, communication, critical thinking, citizenship, creativity, curiosity, cultivation) and expanding the letters so that performance between high and low can be noted by a circle around a letter. The left margin provides a space for the date and a box for anecdotal notes. I record the project activity and the type of engagement that is happening as I stroll ever-so-nonchalantly by. I do ask questions to prompt thinking or clarify some point. I do not interfere with ongoing student interaction. But I always jot down the exact words of the student; words that always indicate a student’s level of proficiency on a particular “C.”

I assemble these sheets in a binder; one page is for each student. By the time I have recorded 5 instances of work over five or six weeks, I have a pretty good supply of anecdotal notes and a very good idea of where the student falls on each particular skill.

This strategy works for me and is a great way to get started assessing those somewhat elusive 21st Century skills.

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