What is Assessment & What I Believe
Assessment in the classroom is not an option, but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience for the teacher or the students either. It’s more than providing a number to a students knowledge, it includes ways of building a students knowledge, asking meaningful questions and keeping track of their growth as a learner. During my experience I was able to try out both formative and summative assessments. I also got to hear my cooperating teacher thoughts on formal assessment. One form of assessment that I didn’t use in my pre-internship was self and peer assessment from the students.
When it comes to implementing assessment, I was really excited when I was able to use formative assessment. I was able to ask important questions that students eventually got excited to see and even had some responding to those questions. Once they knew I would be responding to them, they started asking other questions that furthered their own knowledge or that they didn’t fully comprehend in the lesson. It eventually helped me build those relationships that are so important while teaching. If I was able to, I would have journal entries at the end of every class that students would be able to hand in and receive feedback or clarification on what they learned that day. I also found that doing this daily isn’t realistic in all classroom settings. One solution for this is assessing 5 students a night and rotating though the class over the course of a couple weeks.
In contrast, the use of summative assessment ended up being a lot harder than I thought. When following along with a rubric, I found the 4 point rubric to be to harsh on the students and didn’t accurately show where they were or should be. To solve this problem in the future, I would like to try using a 6 point rubric or taking a checklist approach to assignments that are able to use it.
While the assignments I provided were all informal, my students had participated in a Canada wide formal test. During my time there, the results from that test were returned and my cooperating teacher shared her thoughts about them. I found myself having similar thoughts about these results and how the test may affect students. While mandatory, these tests are not an accurate representation of the student or what they know. The timing of the test didn’t allow time to learn what they need for the test. The amount of time to complete the test allowed less than a minute to each question. Many students do their best work when they have the time to think through their answers and explain their thought process. Finally, having the test questions and answers in english instantly puts EAL students at an instant disadvantage.
The biggest assessment strategy I feel I missed out on in my pre-internship experience was the use of peer and self assessments during a group project. Looking back I feel that my 4 point rubric could be been used as a peer and self assessment with a few modifications and used to represent students individual marks more accurately. This can be a wonderful addition to summative assessment but does have some room for error that I am worried about. There is always a student who won’t fill out the rubric honestly and put personal feelings down instead of an honest reflection. This is why I’m a little more hesitant to use this form of assessment in the classroom.
Classroom Practices and Assessment
Over my 3 week block, I found that formative assessment was a great way to ask students questions that help them see the learnings in a new light. One thing I hope to work on and use in my internship and future career is the use of daily journals. They can be used as an exit slip and communication with the learners. This isn’t just for an english or science class, but could be used in every class or as a daily learning reflection.
While teaching in the middle years, students need repetition and repetition and repetition. They have a lot of changes in their lives at that time and assessment doesn’t have to add to it. When it’s time to mark or provide feedback, students should know what it’s for such as report card marks or portfolio additions. What is expected from the assignment needs to be clearly explained in ways that all the students understand and repeated in the same and different ways till they can explain it themselves. While the beginning of the school year is a time of setting up classroom norms, your students should be able to know what the assessment will look like after a few months. The best way to do this in my mind would be making I can statements from indicators that students can see throughout the unit and having the class help create a rubric once the assignment is understood. Not only does this get students involved, but they have a better idea of what to expect from the assessments and what their main focus of learning is.
Textbook and Class Connections
If I was to take one thing away from the textbook, it would be the importance of keeping track of students growth. The easiest way that was highlighted in the text was the use of portfolios. While I don’t know if I want to lean more towards technology or a hard copy for student portfolios I know that they will be a major part of my future classrooms. One of the best parts is the tracking of a students progress but that’s not the only selling point. It gives students the chance to reflect on their work and share their progress with their families. (Textbook – Making Classroom Assessment Work by Anne Davies)
When it comes to communication with a child’s family, we had our fair share of discussions in class about it. Along with the portfolios, the use of family nights where they are welcomed into the classroom to see where their child is academic wise and even socially. It also proves that you as a teacher care about their child and they are more open to talking with you. Another form of communication with home is a positive phone call. This is another way of letting families know that you are interested in their child and want to welcome the family into the learning experience.
A good portion of being a teacher is sharing your ideas with others and helping each other provide the best learning experiences for every student. Just starting my teaching career I am looking everywhere for good resources that will give such experiences to my students. One thing that I noticed throughout this semester was how much differentiated instruction can impact assessment. Keeping in mind that all students are different, you need to provide them with as many different ways of learning as possible. A text from another class that helps with this is Differentiated Instructional Strategies: One Size Doesn’t Fit All by Gayle H. Gregory and Carolyn Chapman. While these are great ways to differentiate your instruction, assessment will be affected. Either you have to find different ways of marking each student based on their path or finding an assessment that covers all of them.
Another major resource I use while creating assessments is the internet. A useful place to start is the Regina Public Schools website (http://www.rbe.sk.ca/iss_assessment_intro). While it’s just a small collection, it’s a starting point that is close to home. What you’re looking for will be different every time but having a starting point is a big help. One thing to keep in mind is that, just because it’s out there doesn’t mean you have to use it. While gathering ideas from a variety of places is nice, don’t use a pre-made rubric that doesn’t relate to your assignment or what was taught in the class. Sometimes it’s just best to make your own since you know what you want from the students.