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MiddleWeb Reviews Leaders of Their Own Learning

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    Alexis Margolin

Here's a look at a recent review of Leaders of Their Own Learning by Elisa Waingort as published on MiddleWeb, a resource for middle school and the middle grades.

Some books are best read slowly. We savor every page because the ideas being expressed are evocative and thoughtful. Leaders of Their Own Learning is one of these books. Ron Berger and his colleagues prod each of us to reflect on our teaching practice. They provides tips, encouragement, real classroom examples, and gentle nudges that guide teachers to enhance classroom practice and student learning ...

Talking to the book
I found myself pausing often to “talk to the book” – something I encourage my own students to do when they’re reading – and my annotations are a testament to this conversation.

This book is divided into eight sections highlighting key practices that revolve around the big idea that engaging students in their own assessment process is a powerful way to transform teachers, students, classrooms and entire schools.

I couldn’t agree more. Although this is not a new idea – educators have been promoting student reflection through metacognitive and self-assessment activities for a long time – Berger, Rugen and Woodfin break down this concept into explicit student events that put kids in the driver’s seat.

“Student-engaged assessment is a system of interrelated practices that positions students as leaders of their own learning.” (p. 2).

According to the authors, when we engage students in a variety of self-assessment activities they begin to take ownership of their learning. None of these events alone will do this. However, all of them in concert will create self-directed learners. Assessment, then, is not merely a tool to determine growth; it serves as a means of motivating students to want to learn more.


Since students silently assess themselves all the time, it makes sense to formalize this “silent” assessment by making it public and intentional, guided by learning targets or standards. In order for this to happen, teachers need to provide students with specific, targeted feedback. If this is a school-wide effort, then the impact will be far reaching.

To help readers consider school-wide implementation of student-engaged assessment, each chapter describes “what to expect” at different stages of the implementation process. There are also inserts throughout the book detailing case studies and examples of what this teaching and learning looks like in the classroom.

Companion videos provide additional classroom vignettes that illustrate the various strategies and student events described in the book. And, finally, there are bonus web materials to provide further assistance and support for teachers embarking on this journey.

Read the full review, How to Help Students Own Their Learning, on MiddleWeb.