TAGOS is a small project based charter school in Janesville Wisconsin with 80 students in grades 7-12.
In this guest post Jon Woloshin, an advisor at TAGOS, describes how a group of teachers empowered to run the school built an assessment rubric that assists them as advisors to know when to add responsibility to the students’ work load.
One day during a summer 2008 Project Based Learning conference at Minnesota New Country School, TAGOS staff were given an article, “Using a Discipline System to Promote Learning” by Dr. Marvin Marshall, and were told to provide feedback on it the next morning.
We read the article and got together in a hotel room later that night. We all agreed that our students would be more likely to complete their requirements and graduate from school if they were more internally motivated to achieve their goals. On the hotel mirror in the room, we outlined the areas of our day, project time, math, silent reading, and advisory circle, with a dry erase marker and created a rubric of behaviors related to each area to track student motivation.
Behaviors were described as follows: Anarchy (noisy, out-of-control and/or unsafe behavior), Bossing Others (bothering and bullying others by not followed identified school standards and expectations for behavior), Cooperation and Conformity (listening to others and extrinsically behaving according to the standards and expectations for behavior), and Democracy (listening to others and intrinsically behaving to the standards and expectations for behavior with self-rule rather than extrinsic forces).
We decided that intrinsic motivation would not only find students following expectations that have been set forth because they are supposed to demonstrate particular behaviors, but also demonstrating self-discipline and showing kindness to themselves and others, because it is their choice and the right thing to do.
As a teacher led school, we designed and implemented this rubric for the upcoming school year and decided that it should become part of each student’s Personalized Learning Plan meeting held at the end of each six week block of school. Currently, students assess themselves when prompted by advisors and together record and track how their behavior has changed over time.
At present only student data is tracked, but this tool may play a future role in future staff evaluations. This information plays a significant role in fostering conversations about participation, cooperation, and achievement between a student and his/her advisor. Students have responded positively often feeling pride when identifying intrinsic motivations.