Videos found on Assessment!

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This video is of Rick Womreli commenting on the difference and importance of summative and formative assessment. This video is super interesting, and I feel that it relates and reflects my learning so far. Can kids learn without grades? Of course! But can kids learn from assignments without constructive feedback or chance for showing their learning? No. Descriptive feedback is super important for students to learn from. Students learning should be on-going, and continual!

Here is the link for the video: it is about 5 minutes!

The second and third videos are about re-do’s, retakes, and do-overs. I know we watched a few of these in class, but I feel that these videos were really good, and seem to reflect my learnings and understandings so far. This is something that I think is really important for both me as a teacher and my beliefs, as well as my students learning. I feel that it is important to allow for students the opportunity to show they grew as learners. There is an idea/belief that students need to learn to honor deadlines or time limits to get the students prepared for the “real world”, but I don’t feel that that is effective for students learning. Without hope, students will not try. We as teachers need to ask students what we need to do as teachers to help them succeed. We need to show that we care for our students, and failing will actually allow for students to grow more – similar to the parachute case study we looked at in class. Our classrooms should allow for student growth, and placing the responsibility and growth on their independent study.

Here and here are the links for the last two videos: Rick Wormeli on Redos, Retackes, and Do-Overs part one and two.

My Interview Process

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After experiencing my three-week block, I think I have come out of the schools viewing assessment in a new way. Before going into the schools, I thought I had a fairly good understanding of assessment, marking, and assignments. I thought that creating assignments that met the outcome or a portion of the outcome would be easy, and marking it wouldn’t be that bad. I thought I was going to be a “hard marker” when it came to the students assignments. I was wrong about myself. During my three weeks, I learned quickly that if students could demonstrate in some way that they understood what I was trying to say, I gave them the marks, regardless of their quality. I started to realize that as long as students understood the content, the quality of their assignments was not important. 

My philosophy of education and assessment has grown so much stronger in the last few weeks. I honestly believe that assessment and evaluation is hard to do without inserting your own personal bias. I also strongly believe that I will do whatever my students need for them to succeed. That means that I do not believe in late marks, and I will never reduce a student’s mark if they do not hand something in on time, as they have their own lives and you never know fully what the student might be struggling with. I will always give my students a chance to redo their assignments as many times as they need. When I was in the field, I would mark assignments and provide lots of constructive feedback for the students to see where they might have gone wrong, or what they might have misunderstood. I would hand back their assignments, and then always explain that they need to read through the comments, fix their assignments, and resubmit them. We would go through the assignments as a class, either for clarification, or to expand their learning, and then I would give them a bit of time to fix anything they would want to and have them resubmit them. The second time around, I would give more constructive feedback, and attach a mark to their assignments and return them the next day. The second time I did this, I would explain to the students that if they were not happy with the mark they got; they could always fix it again, and resubmit the assignment. I think the students really appreciated this process, because it allowed them to show me that they understood the content, and if they did not understand it, they had the opportunity to learn it again as a class, without singling the individuals out, and they were not penalized for not understanding. Like we had discussed in class, constructive feedback attached with multiple opportunities for improvement seemed to be important. It did, however, take a lot of time away from other class content, and it took up most of my night providing the constructive feedback. I think in the end, it was worth it because the students seemed to learn more and actually understand the content, but I think as a new teacher, I would need to learn how to balance time accordingly from professional to personal life. 

During my field experience, I used a variety of different assessment and evaluation practices. I used quite a bit of diagnostic assessment in the classroom through the use of technology, and the kids seemed to love it. Each day, they would literally beg me to use that technology again. At one point during my lesson, a kid shouted to the class, “we should do this every day because I am actually learning things!” That made me laugh, but it also made me realize that technology used appropriately can be incredibly effective. I also used summative and formative assessment in my three weeks. For formative assessment, I used technology to see where the students stood with their understanding of content, I had group discussions, exit slips and entrance slips, question boxes, reflections, class reviews, and a few other things (none of which I used a rubric but rather I read through their questions and exit/entrance slips, listened to discussions, and made a list of the areas in which the students seemed to be confused, and where their strengths were, I looked over their reflections). I kept a log book with my reflections, and the student’s names in a list. Each time they handed something in to me which was formative, I would give them a check mark beside their names. For those who didn’t hand something in, I would make an effort to talk to the student and see where they were at with the material in class. This verbal interaction also let me know where those students were with the content, and allowed them to complete the formative assignment/assessment verbally – they had the chance to demonstrate their understanding in a different way. 

During class, I would always include the students in the process of assessment and evaluation. We would go through the assignment together, and the students would tell me a few things they thought would be important for this assignment. We would have a discussion on what we covered so far, and for the most part the students and I came to a consensus on what should and should not be for marks. One of the classes I was in charge of was grade 9 English. During those two weeks, I developed a mini-unit on comic-strip poetry. The students learned an incredible amount about poetry over the few weeks together, and for their final assignment for the mini-unit, I gave them four different options to choose from. I looked closely at each of my students, and through the few weeks, I started to understand their strengths and weaknesses. I developed the final assignment based off of the student’s strengths, and allowed for significant room for them to adjust the assignments to fit their needs. I involved the students in a variety of ways in developing the final assignment choices for them. I talked to them about the choices, and they gave me feedback. I handed them out and students were to take them home, look at the assignments, and then again, they were to provide feedback or changes they wanted. As a class, we developed the final four options the students were to choose from based on what we had learned in the classroom. Each of the assignments were showing the same content, but allowed for a variety of different ways to represent the content: students could draw, they could write a poem themselves, they could create their own comic-strip based off of a song they like or a poem they like, I provided 5 different options of poems/songs they could choose from if they wanted (before they started they had to run it by me), the last option was for the students to create their own assignment with certain requirements. Within the assignment, I also allowed for students to interpret their choice and make it their own. I emphasized that as long as the students could show to me in somewhat what they learned in the last two weeks about poems and comic-strip poetry, they had some freedom. 

I think if I were to do the assignment again, I would do most of it the same way. The things I would change about it would probably include incorporating the students in the development of the rubric as well as the assignment. During my three weeks, I felt that I did not have the time to cover a rubric as well as the content, but I think it would have really benefited the students in their understanding of what I was looking for. With that being said, though, the students ended up doing really well. I found that giving them the freedom to create their own version of comic-strip poems really enhanced their learning, and involvement in their own education. They seemed to be really engaged and worked hard each class period, and there were no attendance issues. I found that giving them their freedom had the students produce the best work, and their work really impressed and surprised me. It also gave me the opportunity to get to know my students and build that relationship piece that is so incredibly important in the classroom. 

I think for the most part, my philosophy of assessment and evaluation lined up with the practice and application. At first, I felt a bit lost because I really was not too sure what to expect, but as the days went on, I think my philosophy grew and got stronger. I know there were a few teachers and pre-interns that would completely disagree with what I thought, just through overhearing different conversations, but that reinforced to me that assessment and evaluation are hard to do. It seemed to me that there was no one right way to do assessment, but at the same time, there seemed to be many different wrong ways to do assessment and evaluation. I do not believe in assigning 0’s and I definitely do not agree with late marks on assignments, but one of my co-ops had a different opinion of those two ideas. I also believe in allowing students to re-submit work until they get their assignments, and understand the content, and allow for a variety of different choices for students to choose from for their assignments. I know that this philosophy creates a lot more work for me as the teacher, but I feel that the students are worth it, and it seemed that they really appreciated it as well. I felt that I got better work in because I would allow them time to work in class, and I would never assign homework.

Three things that I have taken away from the past few months are:

  1. Giving students options for assignments is crucial for their learning. This is important to me as a teacher because not all students learn the same, or at the same rate. Moreover, students may not be able to represent their understanding of content through writing, but they might be able to tell me verbally what they know. A student might not be good at presenting, but they might be good at creating videos. There are many different incidents where giving student’s options are a good thing, and I think that as a learner and teacher, if you want students to succeed you need to give them the chance.
  2. Assigning late marks and 0’s are not a proper reflection of a student understands. Like the case studies in class we went over, giving a student a 0 or assigning late marks on their assignments can really impact not only their self-esteem and interest in a subject/respect for the teacher, but it can also have a huge impact on their overall average and marks. As a teacher, you never know what is happening in a student’s life, and I don’t think it would be fair to penalize them for not handing in an assignment, or giving them late marks because they could not learn, or read, or write, as fast as others. I think it is important to note that grades are not only a reflection of a student’s understanding, but are also a reflection of the teachers work as well. It shows you where you need to spend more time developing concepts and ideas on, and where you conveyed the ideas effectively and easily for the students to understand.
  3. I think the last thing that I learned that will really stick with me this year is the difference between formative and summative assessment and evaluation. Of course, we talked about those two different forms of assessment in other classes, but I never really understood the difference between the two nor did I understand when to use each type of assessment, Before this class, I knew that each class had to have some type of assessment in it to make the lesson purposeful, but I also thought that each day had to be a different summative assessment. This particular idea overwhelmed me, because I knew that would be a lot of work, especially if you were teaching 5 or more classes a day. Now I know that summative is a way to figure out an exact level of success – it is something you can attach a grade or mark to. Formative is a more informal way, where you can provide feedback for the students, and it can be used as a guideline for teachers to see what needs more work, and where students are misunderstanding an idea. In class, we talked about using formative assessment as your main tool of assessment, and using summative assessment only for bigger parts of the course, or for assignments with lots of work. During my three weeks, I attempted to give students feedback without a mark attached at first, allowing them to read over their assignments, make changes and re-submit them again. I found this tactic to be very effective for their learning, because not only did they not get penalized for something they might not have understood, but they got the chance to re-do and learn from the assignments. On the second day, I would attach a mark and allow the students to re-submit if they wanted. The first time I did this, students seemed a bit panicked, but as the week went on, I think they learned to appreciate the process.

I know I definitely do not have all the answers, and of course I will continue to grow and change, and so will my philosophy. Having the opportunity to take what we have been learning in the classes and putting those theories and ideas into practice really helped to create a more well-rounded idea of what assessment really means. I feel more confident now about internship, knowing what I have learned, and I am looking forward to continue to develop my philosophy and abilities as a successful teacher and educator.

Reflections on Assessment During My Three Weeks

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During our last class, we had the opportunity to do a few different methods of teaching the content in a short period of time. One of those methods was a carousel activity. This activity is a great way to have students learn the content you want them to, without having to actually teach the students. Rather, you can observe and help explain different content to the students in smaller groups. The learning, however, is then in the place of the students and whether they are willing to commit to each of the stations or not. I thought this was an excellent idea, so I tried the carousel activity in the classroom. Originally, I had divided each of the children up into four different groups. Each group got their own questions and information they were to answer as a group. After each group finished their questions, I had planned on splitting the expert groups into their teaching groups. That way, the students would be teaching their classmates, and they would be learning at the same time. For this activity, I allotted 15 minutes for the expert groups to answer their questions, and 15 minutes to allow for the sharing of information. This activity turned out to be super effective, and the students were not only engaged the entire time, but they were learning and having fun while doing it. Where I went wrong, however, using this method, is that I assumed it would only take grade 9 health students 30 minutes tops, but instead, it took them two full classes to complete the carousel activity. I had planned a few other activities that day, and because the students took longer than I thought they would, I ended up having to disregard the other days planned to make everything work. I think the next time I do this activity, I will only have a few questions for each group to work on, rather than having the amount of questions I did. The other thing I might have done differently is try to push the students to work at a quicker pace, rather than allowing them to continue to extend their time. 

The other thing I came to realize during my three weeks was marking assignments is harder to do than I thought it would be. I loved the marking art of my three weeks, and it might have been one of my favorite  things to do. However, through my marking, I started to develop my own philosophy of teaching and marking. After having a bit of experience, I now believe that I will never take late marks for an assignment, and I will never give a student a 0 for not handing something in. I also grew to understand that I will always allow for students to re-do assignments as many times as possible so that they can succeed in my classes. I provided lots of constructive feedback in all my assignments, and then for each students, I always allowed them the opportunity to fix anything and re-submit it. If the student still did not get the assignment, I would go talk to them, and make sure they know what they are doing. I would go out of my way to make sure that the student would be able to show me the content and their understanding, even if that means they tell me verbally, or draw a picture instead.

The last thing I learned is that rubrics are important. If you are just marking based off of whether or not you think it was good, it becomes subjective and biased. Rather, if you are using a rubric, it seems to limit the amount of bias, and becomes more constructive. It also helps the students visualize where they are sitting with their work, and where they might be lacking. During the three weeks, I would mark everything, and provide constructive feedback, but I would not attach an marks to the assignments at first. I told them they needed to look through everything first, and then I would give them their marks after a minute or so. This seemed to stress some of the students out, so I explained to them why I did that the way I did. After the students knew that, it seemed to help encourage them to re-submit their things and it also seemed to increase their understanding of the content. 

Overall, I can see how assessment can be a difficult thing, and I know I have a lot more to work on and develop going forward. I cannot wait for that next experience, and hopefully, I will not stop learning and improving. 

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Last class, we had the opportunity to interact with Tim. He seemed very knowledgeable, and really applied what he was telling us to our lives. I found it interesting the new system he, along with others, is attempting to implement into the schools. I think this is a really great idea, especially with the government asking us to meet the new 2020 vision in the next few years to come. I think that what he has developed will help the vision, especially in regards to our FNMI students. I thought that the handout we were given was great, and it appeared to be easy to use, but I am wondering how that assessment of the teacher and of the students will work. Will the principal come into every teachers class every few weeks to sit and observe, or will they hire someone to do that instead? It seems like it would take quite a bit of time out of someones day to sit and observe, although I do see it as important none-the-less.  During class, we had the chance to look critically at our rubric we created a a while back as a class. It was interesting to see how the wording of a rubric could change the meaning and level of the criteria so significantly. I never realized or even thought about the words generally, a few, or thoroughly, for example, in a rubric. My ah-ha moment that class was the idea that as markers and as students, it becomes very unclear what thoroughly, or generally, would mean or even look like. More specifically, though, is the words all the time, most of the time, some of the time, very little. These phrases to me now seem to be hard phrases to use for assessment purposes. Unless you have a number attached to those, it would be hard to decipher what amount those words mean. On the other hand, though, attaching numbers to the rubric for a way to represent amount only limits or constricts the students on the idea that if they do a certain amount, they will get that mark, regardless of the effort they actually put into their assignment. Rubrics should reflect not the students abilities for their work, but more a reflection of what they should have learned doing the assignment. This is another thing that I have come to realize recently. In other words, if you were doing a presentation on a chronic illness in a health 9 class, the rubric should directly relate to represent the content the student learned and represented, linked to the outcome in some way. It should not, however, reflect how the student gave their presentation (voice projection, organization, grammar and spelling errors, etc) because not only is that not found in the curriculum, but it is also not relevant to the students learning within the specific subject area. The mark and rubric would not accurately reflect what the student is learning, and rather, it focuses on how well the student can perform. This website from Learn Alberta talks more about assessment as it ties to an outcome, it states that “Checklists, rating scales and rubrics are tools that state specific criteria and allow teachers and students to gather information and to make judgement about what students know and can do in relation to the outcomes”. This quote I feel really sums up why rubrics and assessments are important indicators of healthy teaching practices. This is also a really great resource to read regarding rubrics and assessment! During class, we also had the opportunity to share our plans on where we were on our mini unit plan. I thought this was a great way to get different feedback, both constructive and critical, descriptive and valuable. I really enjoyed this because it allows for a different, or several different, perspectives and view points on the same piece of assignment. It helped answer questions and concerns we may have had, and it also could be viewed with different understanding. It also gave me a great opportunity to help out and share resources with my peers/colleagues. Not only was it a great tool for practicing one-on-one feedback, but it also helped me to practice giving constructive feedback relevant to the subject and to the assignment. This resource, although not specifically Canadian based, is really helpful in providing constructive feedback to you students without being overwhelming or awkward about it.

Rubrics in the Classroom

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Last class, we were given the opportunity to create our own portion of the rubric for one of the assignments following the presentation given by Tim Caleval. In this discussion of developing the rubric, it became really clear how making a rubric for an assignment can become increasingly difficult and rather fuzzy with details. While some people may think one way is the correct way and wording, others may disagree and think another way. It shows that as teachers, there will be many different ways to create rubrics for assessment of various assignments, and there are many different ways of interpreting what is being said.

I really enjoyed Anne Davies way of involving students in creating their own rubric in Making Classroom Assessment Work, and it seemed similar to what we had done in class. However, what we did in class took a substantial portion of our learning about assessment, and as a teacher, I do not know if I would have three hours for students to develop their own rubric. I really enjoyed, however, the four steps she suggested, “brainstorming a list of ideas… sort and group the ideas… make and post a T-chart… [and] use and revise as you learn more” (pg. 56). I think this was a great idea and it really helped form the frame of mind we all needed to be thinking in for creating said rubrics. I also really liked the idea of splitting the class into portions within the rubric, that way it saved some time in creating a fully developed rubric for all to see. The only thing I would change for that class would be the opportunity to hear (or see) everyone’s development of their ‘meeting’ level on their own section.

By including students in the making of the rubric, I think it can be really effective in engaging the students in their own learning. By allowing them to create their own rubrics for their assignments, they will know and understand what is expected of them, and the learning process becomes more transparent for both the students and the teacher. However, the downfall with allowing students to create a rubric for themselves, means you are taking class time away from other educational and learning opportunities. As a teacher, it becomes your responsibility for the students, and with that, also comes the pressure to have the students meet all the outcomes required for that subject at that grade level. There is a lot of content that needs to be covered in only a short period of time, and by having the students develop each of their rubrics, it takes time away from the educational portion of teaching. This is not to say, however, that students creating their own rubrics as a class is not educational, but it does come at a cost, and as teachers you must decide at what cost it may come. Of course, it helps build the classroom environment, brings everyone together to work collaboratively and constructively, it builds their understanding of the content and what they need to do to do a good job in their learning, and it also provides the chance for students to control their own education. I think to increase time efficiency, as an educator, it may be up to you to decide what rubrics students should develop, and what rubrics they should just know about. For example, I think it would be important for the students to develop the rubric for bigger assessments and projects that can take the form of their learning to that point, while the smaller assignments (for example, the formative assessments and assignments) should be the responsibility of the teacher.

This shorter PDF I think would be helpful in creating rubrics with your students. As Joan M Yoshina and Violet H. Harad state, “students who are involved in the process of creating a rubric have a better understanding of what must be done to reach expectations. With the rubric as a guide, they learn to monitor their own progress and make improvements in a timely manner”. I think this statement is extremely true. Not only are students understanding their own expectations of the assignments, they are also able to improve on their assignments. I think as a teacher, I will have due dates for assignments, but, I will also allow drafts, before the due date, and re-writes after the due date, as learning should take place all the time, and students should want to grow and get better. Rather than providing marks at the end of the assignment, I will hope to provide constructive feedback, with the option for the students to improve their work, and re-submit it. Of course, this makes for a lot more work as teacher, but if we are with our students each step of the way with their process, hopefully their understanding will grow. Ultimately, everything should be based around the students success. 

The other resource I found that I think might be useful for both teachers and students takes the form of a list in creating a rubric. Although this document is mostly geared towards teachers, I think it would be easily adaptable to use for students in helping them create their own rubric. I found it useful because it first starts in describing what a rubric is, then it shows that there are two different forms of a rubric – holistic and analytic. I had no idea there were different types of rubrics, but after reading what each of them were, it seemed to make sense. It talks about assessing student learning, which is always useful, and helps to describe what a good rubric would do. What I found most useful, though, is the end where it talks about and describes the steps you should use to create your rubric. I think this would be really helpful for both students and the teacher in creating their own rubric in the classroom! 

Authentic Assessment

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As teachers and educators, it is important to be continuously assessing and evaluating our students in our classrooms. Why, might you ask? Continuous, or ongoing assessment, allows for us as educators to understand where our students are at with the content we are teaching them, it helps us form other lessons based around what they are understanding, and therefore, what they may not be understanding. It also helps us understand where our students might be confused, or misguided with the content and assignments. It is extremely important to provide your students with as much constructive feedback through formative assessment as possible. 

While I was in school, most of the time we as students would work extremely hard on an assignment – an essay, a presentation – but when we got our marks back, we would be disappointed. Sometimes it was because we did the assignment wrong, and other times, we just didn’t understand the content at a deep enough level. This disappointment would have been easily avoided if our teachers would have checked in with us, or provided some form of feedback before submitting the final draft. Of course, schools and assessment are moving forward and away from the ‘final draft’ of an assignment, or a final exam, and rather providing options for the students, with guided help along the way. I think this is definitely a good thing, but that also makes our job a lot harder. 

Schools are also moving towards making teachers accountable for their assessment practices. In other words, teachers are being closely watched by not only the students, but now their colleagues, and students parents as well. As a teacher, it is extremely important that you can validate not only the marks you are giving your students, but validate your form of assessment on them as well. As Anne Davies states in Making Classroom Assessment Work, “there are three general sources of assessment evidence gathers in the classrooms: observations of learning, products students create, and conversations with students about learning” (p. 45). What this means, essentially, is that teachers should be continually collecting evidence of the students learning from many different forms and sources over time, and eventually, trends and patterns in their learning and development will appear. This not only creates the reliability of your assessment as the teacher, but it creates a validity of your classroom assessment. As you educate your students, you will be at each step with them, providing feedback, and helping them understand the content and succeed both inside and outside of the classroom environment.

An example of this – the formative assessment with constructive feedback – would have been last class. I actually enjoyed getting see and understand where I was at with my blogs and reflections up to this point. It helped me to understand where I needed improvement (where I might be lacking) and it also showed me where my strengths were. Rather than waiting for the ‘report card’ to come out and see where I was standing with this portion of my marks and class, and then wondering where I could have done better to improve the mark, I can see where I am at now and try to achieve a better mark before the term is done.

Participation and Attendance in Schools

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One of several big debates in education right now is the debate over participation marks within the schools. Generally speaking, I personally am not in favor of participation marks, but I recognize that the situation is the biggest determinant over whether it should be appropriate. In other words, participation marks should change based on the class, the school, the subject, and the age, among other things. Growing up, participation marks were common in almost every class, and in some cases, were worth a significant chunk of the final grade. Likewise, attendance marks permeated most areas of my education. Critics will tell you, and I tend to agree, that the problem with participation/attendance marks is that they don’t measure anything of significance – a student who learns nothing, but makes a point of asking a question every class, could theoretically get a better grade than a student who excels at the course, but is shy. However, there may still be a place for this grading practice in schools, albeit heavily modified to better reflect outcomes and learner needs.

This post from the Teaching Professor Blog, written by Maryellen Weimar, explores an alternative way of assigning participation marks. She and her colleague, Lolita Paff, note that participation (and attendance) marks are really intended to measure a student’s engagement with the course material – which is distinct from being loud and/or present-in-body-only. They use a point system to reward attentive, engaged learners – students who volunteer in class, are consistently on-time, who have their homework ready to be submitted, and participate positively in group work situations earn tickets. Those tickets can then be added, at a students discretion, as a bonus point on a major exam. This strategy emphasizes independent behaviour regulation and demonstrating active learning skills; the fact that it is not applied wholesale means that there is added value, and that students are earning it, rather than it being handed to them. 

On the other hand, there are some who see no use whatsoever for participation marks, of any kind. Ashley Squire lists a number of arguments against participation marks here. Among them, the fact that it is difficult to calculate consistently and that by its very nature is vague – both reason enough to question its legitimacy, because honestly, what is really being assessed? What are you asking of your students? More importantly, though, participation marks rarely do what they’re intended to, which is to encourage meaningful contribution and discourage “slacking off”. The students who will be most affected by a participation grade are those who don’t “earn” it – extremely introverted students, those will anxiety issues or learning disabilities, those who don’t have the necessary language competency, or those who don’t feel that they are well-liked by others (or have nothing of value to contribute). Ask yourself: what type of learning environment do participation marks create?

I realize I don’t have a lot of in-classroom experience, and maybe my views will change over the next year, but traditional participation marks don’t seem to have much, if any, value in the classroom. I liked Weimar’s alternative approach, and is something I might try in the classroom myself; but it’s hard to argue with Squire’s logic against the rarely-effective effort mark.