It’s no secret that the International Baccalaureate (IB) prides itself on being a “transdisciplinary” programme, and as educators working at IB schools many team meetings center around unit and lesson planning on this basis, so it strikes me as odd that no one seems to be discussing the student evaluation aspect of it. What I mean is, without creating “transdisciplinary” assessment tasks based on “transdisciplinary” standards and the “transdisciplinary” rubrics to support them, are we not defeating the whole purpose of what “trandisciplinary” planning is meant to achieve and be? And if this is the case, what can be done about it?
First things first, you need to look at how your teams are sharing their planning because without an effective sytem of full disclosure and transperancy in place, it will be difficult for teachers to cross-link Standards. See our articles below for the best ways to accomplish this:
How to Run Your IB Planning Meetings Like a Boss Using a Transdisciplinary Framework
The Transdisciplinary Planners
Once your teams are able to see and feed off of each other’s Standards, Provocations, Learning Experiences, etc. and are planning collaboratively, the creation of a Transdisciplinary Summative Assessment Task based on student inquiries should be easy enough, and your school is probably already doing this to a certain extent. But what needs to be thought about in greater detail is which Transdisciplinary Standards will be met and how they will be evaluated. For example, let’s say we are talking about a Year 1 team and the Thematic Unit is “Who We Are”. As a team you have decided that the end project for the students will be to write and present a story about their family. Perhaps during their Unit of Inquiry and Language Arts, block learners will be writing/illustrating their stories; in Math they will be learning to number pages in a sequential order; during Performing Arts they will practice acting out this story; in Visual Arts they will be making puppets to support this dramatization; during Modern Foreign Languages they will be translating their stories, and finally in PE they will be exploring emotions expressed in their stories. All of these are great ideas, but teachers could work together more cohesively and help one another meet Standards across all subject areas, instead of each individual teacher focusing only on their own subject. A Transdisciplinary Summative Assessment Planner, such as the one below, would facilitate this outcome.
In the above Transdisciplinary Summative Assessment Planner, a team starts off by brainstorming some ideas for a Summative Assessment Task before deciding on one idea. From there each team member must indicate Standards that can be met during the task, Connections that can be made (prior and global), and how Learner Attributes and Attitudes will fit in. The box in the last row is for the team to indicate ways that Transdisciplinary Standards can be met – for example, perhaps some Language Arts standards regarding writing and speaking can be met during both the Unit of Inquiry and Performing Arts, in addition to the Language Arts time block. Because the Summative Assessment task will have been developed in such a way that everyone’s Standards are transparent, it will be easy to create a team Transdisciplinary Summative Assessment Rubric based on the information to support it, as shown below.
The above Transdisciplinary Summative Assessment Rubric was designed as an overview so that all Standards can be seen at once, the team can ensure that wording is consistent amongst all subject areas, and everyone is clear on what the difference is between expectations are in each category (exceeding, meeting, below) are. Once this overview is completed, each teacher can then create their own personal rubrics based on the information, and cross-link Standards wherever logically possible. For example, the mainstream teacher may design rubrics (teacher and self-assessment) that incorporate Standards from the Unit of Inquiry, Language Arts, Math and Visual Arts curriculums, as shown below.
* It should be noted that a row has also been added to the bottom of the above rubric entitled “Self-Assessment”, and it was put there as a suggestion when creating student self-evaluation forms. A teacher may want to consider having students reflect on the Transdisciplinary links they feel they made during the Summative Task and/or any Learners Attributes and Attitudes they displayed.
As for the Performing Arts teacher, they may opt to create rubrics (teacher/self-assessment) that incorporate Standards from Performing Arts, Unit of Inquiry and Language Arts, as in the following example.
And the ESL and Learning Support/SEN staff can use the Transdisciplinary Summative Assessment Rubric overview created by the team as their starting point to creating their own set of rubrics based on their student needs and additional standards, such as the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference), as demonstrated in the sample ESL planner below.
In the above, the ESL teacher could copy relevant Standards from the mainstream teacher so they are clear on what the goal is for their students’ subject-wise, and then match up CEFR standards that correlate. Because the CEFR standards would not be based on whether or not a student exceeded or performed below, the teacher could simply indicate if a CEFR standard was met or not during the Summative Assessment Task.
Imagine the power of a system such as the one just described, where teachers co-create “transdisciplinary" summative assessment tasks that are based on “transdisciplinary” standards with the matching “transdisciplinary” rubrics to support them. Not only would your lessons be connected, but you would actually be evaluating students consistently across as many subject areas as possible, exposing learners to the same Standards across several subjects areas, and giving them the chance to demonstrate their skills multiple times. Think about the beauty in that …
Now that you have seen ideas for ways that your teams could go about planning Transdisciplinary Summative Assessment Tasks and creating the Transdisciplinary Summative Assessment Rubrics to accompany them, reflect on the current practices at your school. Are there any changes you could make to the systems you have in place? And if you did, what do you think the impact on student learning would be?
Are you wanting to transform the current methods you are using to develop assessments and evaluate students, but feel you need further guidance? Contact us!
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