Idea 1: Students value the subjects if teachers value choices of the student concerned. Now this valuing of said students and subjects is more often perceived not by what is taught, but now-a-days more through how the academic material is delivered and the level of student ownership and agency. One most recent example of this is with my Year 11 English class. Together we co-constructed two Level 1 English assessments a Create an Oral Text assessment, and a Create a Visual Text assessment. We discussed collectively how long the students would need, came up with a deadline and decided on the resources to be used together. It was rather fascinating to see how much some of the students struggled with being involved in the planning process. It was not that they were incapable of being involved, it was more that such engagement was so foreign and unusual to them.
In the end, the topics for the Visual Text (All about Me) and Oral Text (My passion) were student-driven and therefore student-owned. Within reason, I didn't care what topics/contexts were decided on, as overall the topic/context is not really being assessed. To my students' credits, they were also very mature about the deadlines. They realised that the longer they gave themselves, the more likely they would "muck around" while a shorter deadline meant that they had to get going with the required work. Too short a deadline on the other hand would ensure that too much pressure would mean that they would default to stock responses and conservatism, two occurrences that horrify me.
In a tribute to the individual maturities and work ethics of my students, I also decided against distinct checkpoint deadlines, wanting these students to develop strong, independent work and time management habits through being responsible for their process of completing the required work. I did however check in with each student 2-3 times a week as a sounding board but in some cases, conversations were 2-3 minutes, some 10-15 minutes long.
In the end, every student completed their chosen assessment on time. One of my students was very effusive in commenting that they in making their wevideo, they had actually forgotten they were working on an actual NCEA assessment.
This was the first time I had split senior NCEA assessments in this manner and to be honest, the buy-in and individual, collective commitment of the students highlighted that when trusted while still supported sufficiently, they won't just go well, they'll go great. Hard to believe but true, now rather than having an assessment "break" and then returning to their alternate assessment, they could not wait to get back into assessments. Why? Because what they're doing isn't NCEA's creation or even mine. It's their own creation, their own voices and ideas heard. They didn't just visualise their own assessments, they realised them both in set-up and completion. It just goes to show, when you value student choice and voice in assessments, the hard work is already done..,,now for the assessment.