Chapter Five: Evidence of Learning

Summary:Teachers must have varied forms of evidence in order to make strong judgements and evaluations of their students. The three sources of evaluation include observations of learning, the products students create, and student conversations about their learning. To ensure valid and reliable evaluations, incorporate a broad range of evidence throughout the learning process, and provide and utilize clear criteria. 

Assessment and evaluation plays an integral role in our students’ education. We as teacher must pay close attention to the impact that marking and assessment has on a student’s success rate. Because assessment and evaluation are so crucial, how we mark must be carefully crafted and maintained. We must provide our students with a clear goal and objective, as well as provide exemplars for them to work toward. In addition, we must be constantly re-evaluating how we assess and evaluate. As the chapter points out, working with our colleagues and communicating with other people in the professional field can help improve our assessment and evaluation techniques. I think it is so important that this chapter highlight the importance of gathering evidence from a wide array of sources. Too many teachers rely on only formative assessment. It is crucial to be able to back up our marks and evaluations with solid and reliable evidence. If we as teachers are not confident with the mark we give our students, then we need to further reflect on our assessment and evaluation practices. I think it will take many years for me to really grasp assessment and evaluation, but I know in the end that my learning will be ongoing and I will constantly be learning new ways to improve myself as a teacher. By using tools such as the Triangulation of Evidence and turning to our colleagues for support, assessment and evaluation become a much less daunting task. 

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Week 3 Reflection

This week in ECS 410 we had a special guest speaker join our class. On Thursday, Laurie Gatzke, the Supervisor of Assessment for Regina Public Schools spoke to us about her work. She gave a very informative look at Assessment within the Regina School Division as well as gave important tips and information for us as pre-service teacher. What I found especially effective about her presentation was the personalized touch she put into speaking about assessment and evaluation. Her stories and knowledge from her time as a teacher helped make it easier for me to connect with the content. The assessment we did as a class during the presentation revealed just how intimidating marking can be. Within our table group we had many disagreements about what the sample work should be. Assessment is time consuming and requires great thought. I did however appreciate being able to share, communicate and collaborate with my fellow classmates. During our discussions many arguments that I had not considered were brought up, and in the end I think we were able to better evaluate the work as a team. While I will not always be able to team assess, this was a great way to show a cooperative approach to assessment and evaluation. Lastly, the evaluation diagram and chart that Laurie distributed was a helpful first look at making your own form of assessment and using a visual aid. There are so many different forms of assessment so it is beneficial for us pre-service teachers to be exposed to a wide array of them and build up our teacher repertoire.

Chapter 4: Describing Success

Summary: Samples are an important way for teachers to assess their students as well as represent their students’ success. Examples help illustrate for students what success looks like, as well as the different stages of learning. It is therefore important for teachers to provide these models of learning, and to collect samples throughout their teaching career to demonstrate the learning goals for students.

Personal Reflection: Describing success is an extremely difficult thing to do. It can be very subjective to determine when a student has excelled in any given area. Because there are so many different types of learners, how a student demonstrates their knowledge of any particular skill can be so diverse. I know as a pre-service teacher sometimes I struggle to grade students based on their work when there is no exact write or wrong answer. This is why it is so important for teachers to have their criteria of assessment and evaluation well established and communicated to both students and parents. 

As discussed in the chapter, one way of explaining and communicating what a good assignment would look like is through the use of samples. Samples help ease a lot of anxiety that students experience when they encounter a new project or task. By laying out the expectations and giving the student an in depth look at an exemplary example, they are better prepared to succeed. 

I’m glad that the chapter pointed out different ways for teachers to gather samples for their classrooms, such as teacher groups or school submission collaborations. As new teachers, when we first start out teaching we will have very little sample work. Most of the assignments and tasks we assign for the first little while will be brand new, and I am going to struggle to find good examples for my students to refer to. As my career goes on I will gather more student work to add to my collection, however, the first years I will have to branch out to other resources for samples and help. I like the idea of teachers working together to create sample collections, as this way you not only increase your sample collection, but you can also discuss the use of samples and the advantages and disadvantages with your colleagues. 

Describing success to our students can be a tricky task, but with clear criteria, communication, and student samples, learning excellence is possible.

Chapter 3: Beginning with the End in Mind

Chapter Summary:Chapter three discusses the importance of understanding and establishing criteria. When teachers have a clear road map for what it is they are teaching, and communicate this plan to their students, the learning process becomes much more successful. Teachers need to clearly explain the learning goals as well as evaluation criteria if we expect our student to meet those learning goals and outcomes in a meaningful way. 

This chapter is a really important one for teachers because it discusses the fundamentals of teaching. No matter what lesson we are teaching, what subject we are covering, or what student is learning, we need to have a clear and communicated learning goal established. I know I have had many classes where the learning destination was not establish, and I, like many other students, was struggling to make sense of what we were learning. It is almost impossible to connect with the content and explore further learning when you are unaware of what it is you are trying to learn. I think often times teachers just forget to set this road map out for students, they forget the importance of communicating that learning destination. 

I really enjoyed this chapter because it gave great teacher examples of how to develop a clear description of the learning destination. I found these examples of taking an outcome and breaking it down a helpful visual aid. 

One critique I may make about the chapter was the format. I found some of the sub-headings confusing, and I had to go back and re-read to check if I missed something because I felt sometimes they were not properly introduced. As a learner like each section of a text to flow to the next so sometimes the abrupt topic change interrupted my learning. 

Last semester we learned a little about “Beginning with the End in Mind” in our Social Studies class when we examined the Backward Design Reader. The Backward Design strategy starts by using the outcomes and indicators to begin planning the lesson. Like learning with the end in mind, it is important to establish what what we want our students to learn. Our students need to be active participants in their own learning, and by involving them right from the start and communicating the learning expectations and learning destination, they can take on that independent learning role. 

Week Two: ECS 410

This week we discussed the different forms of assessment. Personally I had very little background knowledge of the different types of assessment. Even though I myself use them on my own work, as well as utilize them as a pre-service teacher, I was unaware of their characteristics and benefits. We learned about summative and formative types of assessment and evaluation. We all discussed our own experiences as students with these different types of assessment, and which ones we encountered the most and the least.

I also found the “for” “as” and “of” of assessment to be interesting and helpful when exploring both formative and summative types of assessment. By looking at it through this lens, it helps me further understand the concept of assessment and its purpose and goals.

I especially enjoyed our discussion of whether a teacher could ever over assess. While this was a controversial topic as some felt a teacher could indeed do so, I feel that we cannot over assess. Assessment is an important part of our teaching process and it helps us see our students’ progress, as well as our own in teaching the content. I do however believe we can over evaluate and make marks more important than learning. This is something we need to avoid.

Chapter 2-Building the Foundation for Classroom Assessment

Summary: This chapter examines what it takes to create a safe and welcoming environment for assessment and evaluation success. By communicating with students, giving them time to learn and self-assess, as well as demonstrating what success looks like, students are able to feel safe, take risks, and ultimately succeed. In addition, establishing a community of learners through parent invitation and classroom involvement is essential when it comes to creating a positive and successful learning environment. 

Personal Response:

Personal Response: Often our favourite learning memories are ones where we received the greatest feedback. We felt accomplished and proud of the progress we had made and the success we had earned. In reflecting upon chapter two and building the foundations of a successful classroom, I remember many positive learning experiences I myself had. For example, when I was little I remember learning the time table and acing my test in a Grade Three Math test. The positive feedback that I received from both my teacher and my parents helped me to establish a great sense of worth and pride. Both my teacher and my parents helped me gain that level of knowledge through practice, repetition, and positive feedback. Feedback not only comes from our teachers, but also from our parents. In addition, as discussed in the text, it can also come from us through personal feedback. When we as teachers create an open and co-operative classroom, we are no longer the main source of feedback, and learning becomes more diverse and abundant. 

Chapter 11- Learning by Ourselves and With Others

 

Summary: This chapter is all about gaining knowledge and experience throughout our teaching careers. Learning Circles can be used to help guide our assessment development through the help of those around us. By seeking out other staff member and assessment resources, we can build a team of knowledge, support and assessment advice. Teaching and assessment is constantly evolving and changing, so we as teachers must be aware and seek ongoing dynamic learning.