Introduction: In my last year of education classes before internship, we have been asked to carry out a weekly blog that engages with ECS 410 and the literature associated with it. Over the next few weeks you will have the opportunity to tap into my teacher brain and learn some more about what is going on in the education world today. Enjoy!
March 3, 2017
This week we found out where we will be placed for pre-internship. I discovered that I will be taking on an incredible role as a pre-intern in a high school FIAP room. I wanted to take some time to reflect on my feelings before meeting the students and starting at the school, what I look forward to, and what challenges I am choosing to embrace.
I have a natural feeling of nervousness. This will be my first time ever working with high school students. I am more nervous about the setting of a high school in general rather than a FIAP room. As an inclusive ed, being in a FIAP room puts me right into my element. As a young and short teacher I worry about staff and students taking me seriously. I think this creates a strong need for me to be cautious and exercise my professionalism at all times. While I feel like I am pretty good at this in general, I find that I might be on high alert while working in the high school.
A challenge I am choosing to embrace is learning about modified curriculum and application of adaptations and modified assessments. Working with an extremely diverse class might be challenging in a sense that I will have to consider a lot of factors when planning. For example, accomodating a student with FASD may look very different than accomodating a student with cerebral palsy. I accept this challenge and I cannot wait to see what growth and learning I have ahead of me.
Something I am looking forward to is getting into the groove and routine of teaching. I hear over and over that pre-internship and internship will be exhausting. While I believe this to be absolutely true, I think having routine in my life again and working in the field will be a more rewarding type of stress than assignments and due dates.
February 21, 2017
This week I wanted to take some time to reflect on the process and presentation of the group project my partner and I are doing for the assessment plan in the format of before, during, and after thoughts.
BEFORE- Before digging into the assignment, I felt my group had the assignment in the bag. With an elaborate differnetiated unit in hand, I saw no challenges that lie ahead.
So naive Alexus…
DURING- As we got into the assignment I began to feel the pressure of more specific and analytical perspectives on assessment. I had never thought of assessment before in the context of: FOR, AS and OF learning. I had only thought of it as formative and summative. While having an understanding of formative and summative assessment helped, it was still tough to sit down and categorize assessment into the new three categories.
AFTER- My partner and I have presented and are putting together the final pieces of the assignment for hand-in. Before our presentation began, I felt extreme anxiety that we had not fully understood the target learning but after we presented, our feedback reflected that we had finally got it! I felt challenged during this assignment and soemtimes frustrated with it all. Now that we are at the end, I feel it is a bit easier for me to dissect assessment into FOR, AS and OF. Truly understanding these three types of assessment has made me a better teacher and more prepared for planning.
February 13, 2017
This weeks reading involved a chapter that talked about communcating about learning. While reading this chapter I was able to make connections to an experience I had as an EA in an elementary school last semester. I was lucky enough to sit in a teachers room and help her catch up with odds and ends while she had parent-teacher conferences with her student families.
The reason this came to my mind is because these meetings were not just any kind of parent teacher meeeting. They were a new strategy that the school wanted to try called goal setting conferences. In fact, if my assumptions are correct, the divison may have gotten this whole idea from the text! A light bulb went in my head when I saw the example of a three way confrencing sheet on pg.95. Reading about this in the text has been so vivid as I picture my experience last semester. Here is what goal setting looks like in action:
As I observed, I saw the teacher first spoke to the strengths of the student verbally, engaged with the student in a way that demonstrated their learning strengths to the parent and finally shared some visual representations of acheivement. After this, the teacher would talk about a couple the things the student was struggling with and ask the parent and student their thoughts on what they had presented. Finally, at the end of it all the parent, teacher and student set two-three goals for the student to acheive by next meeting (generally three months later).
Genius… pure, education genius. Chapter 9 and most of our literature for this class, emphasizes the importance of INVOLVING parents and students. This is imperetive and clearly possible through the example I’ve shared.
When reading the text, it is easy to get amped up and excited about all the ideas around assessment. However, I find without experience, the transference is difficult. As a learner, I know that I can only successfully learn through reptition and real-life application. I am thankful I had a chance to see this practice in action and be able to analyze how to apply this reading into the real world.
I look forward to being in the field every day and gaining a much more in-depth understanding and application of assessment.
February 2, 2017
“Let the students do the work!”
This is something I have heard from many of my ed. psych professors. Make sure the students are working harder than you are. Yikes?! Does that mean teachers are slacking off while kids flounder in the class? OF COURSE NOT. The idea behind this is that students benefit from us involving them in learning and assessment rather than spoon feeding them answers.
An example of this comes from class this week. In the process of planning for our first major project, the professor had us list the kind of criteria we would like to be graded on. From there we collaborated on narrowing down six areas of criteria. Finally, we split into groups and decided what different levels of acheivement might look like in each area to bring it all together on one cohesive sheet.
Here is a moment of honesty… I did not want to do that. I was a little irritated that I had to go through the work of making my own rubric for my assignment. Hilarious right? However, also interesting.. I think it is important to acknowledge that involving students is important but we will surprisingly experience resistance from some of our students because it means… more work.
The important thing I realized after creating a portion of the criteria with my peers, is that I now had a very clear idea of what will be expected of me AND I got to practice creating a rubric which I will definitly be doing in the future. What this means to me as a future educator is that I might promote a reflection piece after the process of involving the students in evaluation has happened. I would do this so that students could really articulate why this process might be valuable to them. It seems shocking that some students might be resistant to creating their own evaluations but still something to consider.
January 26, 2017
This week in our readings I found that I was able to make connections with the text, other classes I am in currently, and classes from the past. I appreciate these connections because they really solidify the messages being brought across about assessment.
In chapter five, Davies speaks to the three sources of assessment evidence:
- Observations- of learning
- Products- students create
- Conversations- with students about learning
Figure 1. Making Classroom Assessment Work– Anne Davies pg.46
Using these three sources of assessment evidence is called triangulation. When this strategy is used teachers create a solid foundation of evidence for reliable and valid classroom assessment. When quality assessment is taking place, teaching and learning become much easier to manage.
As an inclusive education minor, I have had it drilled into me that assessment is critical to student and classroom success. When I first heard this, I panicked. When I hear the word assessment I immedietly think of RAD’s and standardized testing. Because of these ideas, the push for constant assessment and data collection sounded scary and extensive. Although these extensive assessments have their time and place in education, I quickly learnt that assessment can be done in much simpler ways.
The chapter addresses classroom assessment as everything students do, say and create. These types of assessments can be done in the forms of exit slips, journal entries, reflections, etc. The opportunities are endless and once constant assessment becomes habitual it becomes easier to do.
Something new that I learnt from this week’s reading is how to involve students with classroom assessment. The six ideas include:
- Involve students in setting and using criteria
- Engage students in self-assessment
- Increase the sources of specific and descriptive feedback
- Assist students in setting goals
- Have students collect evidence of learning in relation to standards
- Have students present learning in relation to standards
Involving students with their learning not only increases the level of engagement but puts the task onto the students rather than the teacher. That is not to say the teacher has no work to do, guiding the students in their learning is still important. Rather, students are able to take control of their learning and refer to the teacher when they feel lost or confused in a certain area.
We know that students are no longer seen as a blank slate that comes to the classroom to retain information and regurgitate it. Students come to the classroom with their own set of skills and knowledge. So why not use those skills and involve them with their learning? It only makes sense!
“When students know what they are learning, they can self monitor, make adjustments, and learn more” – pg. 26; Making Classroom Assessment Work- Anne Davies
This is a direct quote I pulled from the text. I chose this quote because I felt it encapsulates the ideas surronding both the third and fourth chapter of the readings assigned this week.
The main idea I pulled from chapter three is that standardized testing serves as a guide for teacher and student learning that presents both opportunity and challenges. The opportunity involved with standards is that it paints a clear picture of where the student should be at in their learning compared to previous learners i.e. RAD testing.
On the flip side of opportunity there is challenge. The challenge with standards is that it assumes all students start in the same place, and learn the same way at the same pace. Now, anyone who is in the field or spent time in the field knows that just simply is not realistic.
So the question becomes how do we make our students more successful? How do we prepare them for these standard comparisons and assessments? Chapter four goes into further explanation of the importance in providing exemplars and samples to students. This is where my opening quote ties in. The guidelines to using exemplars and samples says that students will have a better idea of what is expected and what is realistic for them. These samples also serve as a guide for teachers to see how student learning presents itself across a spectrum and how they might assess student work.
What we want students to acheive should be no secret to them. Imagine going to take a drivers test for the first time without any driver training. You may be able to observe others around you but chances are you won’t have a clue what you’re doing. Within the division I work, they have made it mandatory for teachers to post outcomes and indicators for each grade and subject for students to see. That being said, as reflected in the text, these posters are student and parent friendly. This means they avoid teacher jargon in order for the outcomes to be straight forward and understood.
The idea of letting students be completely aware of what is expected of them to learn in a clear format that THEY understand only makes sense. As a student, I know I do better when I can see clear examples of what should be done in an assignment. As a teacher, I agree that posting outcomes for each lesson in student friendly language should be protocol. Involving students in their learning is imperative to student success.
January 12, 2017
This week I’ve chosen to reflect on both the class and the assigned reading for this week. After completing the reading for dhapter 1,2, and 11 of Making Classroom Assessment Work by Anne Davies I found some connections between our conversations in class and what was read in the text.
The conversation that stuck out most to me was whether or not students should continue to have grades in the form of percents, numbers, and letters, or whether students report cards should move towards outcome based measures i.e. progressing, meeting, exceeding. The topic came up after reading an article about local schools who had chosen to move away from the “grade” system. While many different perspectives were discussed in the class, I found that I favored the outcome based measures most. I say this because as I reflect on my school experience, I believed that my intellegiance was rated by high grades. I remember forever wanting to be a 90’s student and anytime I got a grade lower than 80 it resulted in a mental breakdown. I understood intellegiance this way because that was my perception of the world around me. The students who got high grades were acknowledged and praised. As many students do, I craved that praise and acknowldgement.
When I dug into the text, I found that my favour of outcome based measures was backed up through research and the authors written words. For example, on pg.5 of the text:
When we involve students in shaping their learning, they are more likely to:
- understand what is expected of them
- access to prior knowledge
- have some ownership over making it happen
- be able to give themselves descriptive feedback as they are learning
- give information that teachers need to adjust their teaching
When I connect the outcome based meausures approach and allowing students to shape their learning, I see more involvement and opportunity for the student is what drives success.
Another note I reflected on is the idea that students will do better when given descriptive feedback as opposed to just a grade. The text also speaks to the difference between evlauation and assessment. Evlauation is seen as the WHAT of student work. When you get a grade you know what you did; good work (high grades) or bad work (low grades). When you are given evidence of assessment and feedback, you come to understand HOW you got to where you are; understanding the assignment or not understanding the assignment.
When I think of my own school experiences, I remember appreciating the in depth comments teachers made on report cards and handed in assignments. It made me feel like I was more than just a number to them, that they had taken the time to really look at my work and tell me where I had gone right, or wrong.
As we dig deeper into the text and move along in the class, I look forward to learning more about assessment in the classroom and ways in which I can use it effectively.