Monthly Archives: April 2015

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.