Get the full book the clapping exercise is from

Why don’t we involve learners in assessment more often???

Who knows! There are so many benefits! But if you don’t know why… then you don’t do it…. and you and your students don’t see the results.

If you just want to help people make this change, consider this….

Many years ago I learned about a wonderful adult learning strategy that involves having participants be part of a “clapping class” with students, teachers, and criteria. Recently the video clip of Sandra Herbst working with a group and doing the clapping activity was featured as one of our blog entries.

I want to share the following email from a colleague in Saskatchewan:

“We have been using the clapping activity in many of our schools this fall. I would love to share with you about a wonderful morning we had a few weeks ago.

We were with a K-12 staff who is looking deeper into self-assessment. We were focusing our time together on setting criteria and self-assessment, using the Knowing What Counts books as our guide. At the end of our time, we introduced the clapping activity. This is a favourite time with staff members – it allows for some craziness and rich interaction while making a powerful point!

Anyway, we were having a lot of fun and there were some amazing clapping performances. After two participants, one of our judges emerged as a bit of a “nitpicky” judge – some of the audience members were feeling a little upset with him. Through a sidebar conversation, we determined it might be nice to have the judge provide an exemplar of what he was looking for. When we asked for an exemplar for our third participant, the “nitpicky” judge was quite reluctant at first but then got into it. He gave a great example of what he was looking for and it turned out what was in his head was not what he had indicated when helping to set criteria with the other judges.

It ended up being a great conversation starter and the conversation went deeper once we got into the debriefing portion, not only with the judges but with the entire group. The talk went well into the lunch hour (we could smell the pizza) but they just had so much to unpack.”

Such great evidence of powerful learning. Enjoy the video clip of Sandra and think about using this learning activity with your learners – parents, colleagues, or students.

The credit for this clapping activity is hard to trace and therefore credit is hard to give. We did not invent it. We first learned it from colleagues at Rick Stiggins’ wonderful summer conference in the early 1990s.

In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.

Testimonials from our Clients

"I am amazed at Anne’s broad knowledge base and her ability to reference other resources that support our learning community’s discussions. Anne’s sessions are organized and she is very clear in the direction to take in order for us to achieve our desired learning. I am always able to take away something that I can immediately apply to practical use."

Cathy Mills, Superintendent: Prince Albert, SK

"Thank you, Sandra, for your ongoing leadership to all educators. You have a wonderful way of making best practice achievable on a daily basis with practical, creative ideas. You communicate high expectations of professional educators, yet you also provide examples of how to achieve a body of valid, reliable evidence upon which to base their professional judgment. Your positivity is infectious 😉

You have probably heard this a thousand times already, but I feel compelled to say it again "YOU ROCK, SANDRA HERBST!!"

Sharon Maisonneuve: Northeastern Catholic DSB, Timmins, ON

"Brenda, Thank you for being here on Monday. It was a fabulous day of learning. Two teachers came to me today telling me that they completed a lesson on being a writer and developed criteria with their students and it worked! Their students were able to work more independently than they had the day before. They were so excited. It was a great day. I am so glad you could come to Royal School and lead our day so well."

Lorraine Barton, Principal: Winnipeg, MB

"Our time with Anne was absolutely amazing and life changing! We were blown away by her presentation. Anne was so personal and practical with the students. My students were surprised at how friendly and down-to-earth she was. Over the last twenty plus years I have heard many educators speak on many topics but Anne has that added edge of 'sparkle' that captivates her audience! All I can say is WOW! It was not only a 'homerun' but she cleared the 'ball' out of the ballpark! Simply put... it was a gift to have Anne with us!"

Derrick Mohamed, Junior High Principal: Glenmore Christian Academy, Calgary, AB

"Sandra, a sincere thank you for sharing the day with us. I am in awe of your presentation skills, and everyone really appreciated your ‘warm’ demeanour and the ‘sprinkling of grace’ you consistently engage in."

Sharon Klein, Principal: Queen Margaret’s School, Duncan, BC

"Anne, your impact is greater than you know on so many levels. You reminded me how important it is to respect our learners. You allowed me to not only see and hear what Assessment for Learning looks and sounds like, but more importantly, what it FEELS like! Safe, respectful, self-motivating, reflective."

Lisa West, Curriculum Consultant: York Region DSB, ON

"Dear Sandra, As I reflected over the weekend on our learning from the previous 2 days, I was in awe of your spirit, mindset and ability to engage and support our learning here in Edmonton. I was greatly moved and inspired by all that you shared. Thank you. Today I went into our Division Two behaviour and learning classroom to co-construct criteria with the class on what a peaceful classroom looks like. It wasn’t a perfect delivery, but I was impressed with the student voice, input, and thinking that transpired. I believe the teacher will continue on with it and that he saw the power and support it gave the students. Thank you again. I look forward to working with you in the future."

Tanis Marshall, Principal: Calder School, Edmonton, Alberta

"We sent a team of teachers, administrators, and district staff to Anne’s Leadership Symposium. With the help of Anne and her team of resource people, we were able to develop a comprehensive plan for the implementation of Assessment for Learning in our school district. We subsequently booked Anne to come and work with us during the year. During her first visit, she facilitated the work of teams of teachers and administrators from all 41 schools in our district. Using her excellent resources, particularly the book, Making Classroom Assessment Work, Anne did a masterful job of engaging her audience and encouraging them to commit to work that they would do in the future."

Hugh Gloster, Superintendent: Central Okanagan School District #23, BC

“As a single school state system, our department has gone through many changes throughout the years. As schools are more empowered to design their unique school processes and priorities, many have focused on increasing student voice and agency through the "assessment in the service of learning" practices. What started years ago as a statewide effort has continued at the local level with the support, guidance and modeling of Anne Davies and Sandra Herbst. They have tailored resources to meet our needs and so teachers can see how the practices are doable and working in classrooms that look like theirs.”

Monica C. Mann: Hawaii Department of Education

"Anne Davies is a clear communicator with her feet firmly in the classroom; and, most importantly, she is passionate about the quality of classroom learning...Her presentations were informative, inspiring, firmly rooted in good professional practice, and extremely well received by the teachers. Many of our teachers said that Anne's visit provided the best professional development that they had ever had."

Michael Coffey, Principal: Dusseldorf, Germany

"Assessment through an Indigenous lens helped me to connect to the content and see how it could be relevant to our kula and our unique students."

Leadership participant: Kamehameha Schools, HI


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