CCE staff and partner reflections on our collaborative work to create schools where learning is engaging and rewarding, and every student is set up for success.
A Reflection on Boston Green Academy GreenTalks
During the third annual GreenTalks at Boston Green Academy, I was able to observe a showcase of skills presented by a group of talented 10th grade students. It was an opportunity to recognize the work that these students had been producing over the last few months. The end result included a multi-faceted presentation that was displayed in front of an audience of peers, teachers, and community members. Performance assessments allow for students to excel in innovative learning. Upon further reflection on this experience and my summer at Center for Collaborative Education, I have been able to look back at my own educational journey in public schools in a new light.
Each of the student presenters showed an immense interest in their own work. Many of the presentations included personal stories or experiences as well as rich qualitative data. Students mapped out food resources close to their houses and were able to reflect upon the disparity of nutritional food options in low socioeconomic neighborhoods. Also, student presenters surveyed their classmates on their food preferences and the accessibility of healthy food in their living environments. Many of the students included amusing content such as memes to engage their audience. It seemed as if the peer evaluations following presentations gave the students an additional sense of pride and accomplishment. They were not only able to formulate a well thought out presentation, but demonstrate their public speaking skills in front of their classmates. The multi-faceted aspect of performance assessments left me impressed by how many skills the students were able to acquire and apply. Rather than the one-dimensional projects and tests I completed in high school, their presentations had depth and consideration of real-world issues.
When asked if students enjoy performance assessments over traditional testing methods, one student replied, “I’d rather do this because it’s more fun. It’s easier because you have a lot of people doing the same thing and you can get more help.” Students were given structured instructions on a broad subject; however, they were allowed the freedom to creatively think about their subject. Since collaboration and peer learning were encouraged, students were able to develop and articulate these ideas to others in order to critically reflect. Two students researched together and both stated the importance of governmental assistance in supplying subsidies on accessible foods that are nutritious in their presentations. They developed different methods of achieving this goal, but were able to formulate problems within a system together. This form of peer education gives more opportunity for students to learn from and teach one another.
My educational setting did not seem to emphasize intersectionality and identity as much as GreenTalks. Whenever I was required to complete an assignment, it was focused on one topic and did not include the need to critically assess how multiple factors might relate. The multi-subject project allows for students to learn with more of an interdisciplinary focus. The skills that the students are learning at Boston Green Academy prepare them with the tools they need to excel. Students must be able to think of their subject within a local and global context. This type of culturally responsive assessment gives students agency to create a product that reflects their interests. By researching a topic that includes their own personal narratives, students at Boston Green Academy are empowered to develop their own ideas and solutions for issues that are relevant to their daily lives.