Week Six Reflection

This week we read a controversial article on including behaviour marks in our students’ final marks. We all read the article with opposing views and afterwards we were able to discuss amongst our table groups. I found that I was torn between both sides of the argument. On the one hand a student’s behaviour is very important both in the classroom and outside the classroom. A student needs to work hard and cooperate with others, as well as show up on time and maintain a regular attendance. Without meeting these foundational needs, they won’t be able to move ahead in their studies and develop as a well-rounded contributing member of society. For these reasons, a part of me wants a student’s behaviour to be included as part of their overall marks. It is part of the reason for their success, so shouldn’t it be part of their marks as well? 

On the other hand, I know that sometimes students struggle more in different areas than others. Therefore she would punish a brilliant student for their struggle to use appropriate volume levels in the classroom? There are so many issues and hurdles that our students face that we do not know or understand, therefore are we in a position to judge them. For example, maybe a student is having trouble at home and that is causing them to be late for early morning classes. Should this reflect poorly on them academically? 

Grades have such a large impact on a student’s overall success, so these are considerations that must be made and considered very carefully. I am truly torn on this matter, so I will have to do more research and thinking before I enter the field as a teacher. The article we read was for keeping behaviour marks in students’ overall mark, and when it comes down to it, I think I would have to agree to a certain degree.

I wanted to do some more exploring into this issues, so I read a couple of articles and one that really stood out and seemed to portray my thoughts on the issues was found on learningdiversity.org. This article, posted by Jason Przypek states that while students should not be punished for undesirable behaviour, their good behaviour should somehow be represented. I agree with this and believe that students need to not only be able to know the answer to the test, but also be well-rounded respectable people as well.

We spent the last half of the class working on our unit plans with our partners. My partner and I have decided to create our unit on the B10 curriculum. It is nice to have the opportunity to work on these units with classmates and have our peers review them while we are still in university. It becomes a much less daunting task when your working with someone else, and often my partner and I have very different ideas so it helps create a varied and diverse unit plan. While we are still learning and figuring out the ins and outs of unit planning and the curriculum, it is so beneficial to review other people’s unit plans and see other perspectives and units. In the long term I hope to be able to continue doing this with my fellow staff members and networking colleagues. I’m beginning to realize more and more how large of a work load teachers have, so learning these collaborative and cooperative learning techniques helps make these large tasks not so impossible. Sometimes I find unit planning a struggle at first and its hard to see how everything will fit together until you have made some progress, so I am looking forward to getting to that point!

Resources: Grading: Should Behaviour Count? By Jason Pryzpek-Learning Diversity

http://www.learningdiversity.org/2010/12/grading-should-behavior-count/

Advertisements

Week Five Reflection

During week five of our ECS 410 Assessment and Evaluation Class we spent the majority of the class at learning stations. We broke up into our subject areas and took turns rotating to the different stations around the classroom. Each station represented a different knowledge of assessment and evaluating our students. I found this teaching method to be particularly useful for me as a learner because it made me responsible for the knowledge I attain. I think that developing this learner autonomy is so crucial for creating and nurturing life long learners. Like the Jigsaw strategy which I have researched, this formation of learning allows independent learning, but we also dependent upon others in our group in order to get the most out of each station.

I believe that sometimes its important for the teacher to take a step back and allow the students to be the leaders in the learning. It’s easy for us to always be in control and lead our class. However, our students need to learn independence and take interest in their own learning. When we get to collaborate and communicate with our fellow classmates, we are being active learners and a great amount of knowledge attainment is happening. Not only are we increasing our knowledge though, we are also developing our socializing, collaborating and communicating skills. Learning stations are a great teaching strategy, although they require a great deal of planning and preparation on the teacher’s part.

My favourite station was the one which discussed evaluation through testing. I found that tips on creating true and false quizzes as well as multiple choices quizzes was very informative. I had no idea some of the things that you are supposed to avoid doing in making these quizzes because I have experienced them all as a teacher. Things like not including an all of the above or none of the above as options were interesting and made me really think of the effectiveness of these tests. We had a great discussion on this type of evaluation, and we found that many people in our group really struggled with these tests even if we had the knowledge as we would often second guess ourselves.

I read a really interesting article by Vanderbilt University which discusses the effectiveness of multiple choice quizzes. It examines the three keys of the quizzes, validity, versatility, and reliability. These quizzes can be difficult for a teacher to create because word choice can either bring clarity or confusion. I like this article because it explains how to write an effective question and choices. It also provides examples which are helpful to refer to. Multiple choice quizzes can be an effective form of assessment and evaluation, but they must be carefully created by the teacher in order to provide clear and concise records and feedback.

Resources: Writing Good Multiple Choice Test Questions: by Cynthia J. Brame, CFT Assistant Director-Vanderbilt University

Chapter Eight: Collecting, Organizing and Presenting Evidence

                                                                         Image

Summary: Students need to have a larger role in the classroom in order for their learning autonomy and knowledge to increase. Collecting evidence enables students to observe their work and progress, and represent that progress to others. Teachers must allow students the opportunity and time to collect evidence of their learning and reflect upon its importance.

 

Personal Connections:

 

Collecting evidence has played an important part of my education since Kindergarten. My teachers from elementary all the way up to high school utilized the collection of student work as part of our learning development and records. Sometimes I felt frustrated near report card times as it could be a very stressful process to organize our student files to send home for our parents. I remember our teachers struggling to keep everyone organized and on task as sheets of our work were scattered across tables.  I think what I learned from this is the challenge in having students collect their own learning evidence. It may be easier for the teacher to collect the work and organize it themselves, but it teaches students independence and responsibility, which is more important and worth a few moments of chaos in my mind.

 

I think the biggest challenge for me to incorporate student collection of evidence will be being organized and planned. It takes a lot of thought and planning in order to successfully bring together a portfolio of student work, so this is something I will work for. I’m hoping that experienced teachers in the school will be able to give me some pointers that they have discovered for themselves along the way.

 

The most beneficial part of the chapter was the exemplars of how other teachers use and make the most out of evidence collection in their classrooms. This helped me imagine the ways in which I can use it in my own high school classroom. I personally feel that the chapter made collecting evidence seem easier than it is, and failed to mention the amount of preparation it takes to successfully build up that student portfolio.

 

This chapter led me to thinking more about online collections of student work. As our students become more and more technologically driven, it only makes sense that where they collect and share their knowledge is on a technological platform. I do not have a lot of knowledge when it comes to tech resources, so I did some research. I found a great resource on another Word Press Blog that discusses the use of Personal Learning Portfolio on a virtual space. I thought this was a great alternative as students get to control and create their own collection, and even determine what parts of their collections they wanted to share, and what parts they wanted to remain personal. Of course with this in mind teachers would have to set standards and guidelines, but I think it leaves room for personal interpretation and choice. I will provide the link and others can take a look at the resource and let me know what you think!

 

The collection of evidence and learning by our students is an extremely useful strategy in the classroom. It helps us assess our teaching and our students’ progress, as well as teach learning independence and motivation. This is absolutely a form of assessment that I will be utilizing throughout my school year.

 

Resources: Word Press Blog: Online Learning Insights. Debbie Morrison. January 30th, 2013. http://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/why-students-need-personal-learning-portfolios-more-than-we-do/

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Seven: Making Classroom Assessment Work

Summary: Involving students in their assessment improves their academic success. Teachers can incorporate these forms of assessment into lessons such as classroom behaviour, research projects and science experiments. These co-operative assessments help the student become an active part of their learning; in addition, it assists the teacher in learning areas which need improvement.

Personal Connections: Involving students in self-assessment is so important to me. Before university I never experienced self-assessment or classroom created criteria. At first I wasn’t sure if it was a waste of time for both student and teacher, and if it would be effective in our learning progress. However, I quickly realized the impact of self-assessment in my Education classes.

After being introduced to the concept, we were provided many different readings on the matter which further explored the vast benefits of self-assessment. What self-assessment and collaborative classroom assessment does for me is make me responsible for my learning. It is easy to take a backseat in the classroom and be a passive learner. You can let your mind wander and count down the clock until home time. You don’t have to take risks, or think too hard. As a student I have been guilty of being this student numerous times.

Although I know this is very common for high school students, it hinders our learning potential, including mine. We need to find the motivation in our students to push them to excellence. If teachers do not ask more of their students, then they will remain in this passive learning state. One way of eliminating this from the classroom is by using self-assessment and collaborative classroom assessment. These strategies hold the student accountable for their own progress and success. When I am filling out a self-assessment as student, suddenly I’m aware of all the ways I need to improve. It is then that I make the decision for myself to work hard and improve these areas. This chapter really highlights the potential uses of these strategies. Teachers can use self-assessment in individual lessons as part of the learning.

Another way for students to self-assess and become accountable for their own learning is by having the students complete learner contracts. I found a great article on readwritethink.org. The article is called Promoting Student Self-Assessment by Phil Wilder. This strategy guide includes different useful strategies for teachers to use as student centered assessment. The learner contract outlines the purpose as well as the benefits. A learner’s contract is a long term agreement that the student makes with the teacher in order to improve on certain areas. This self-assessment holds the student accountable and provides goals for the students to achieve. Self-assessment is an integral part of student learning, and the more knowledgeable teachers become about the subject, the more we can take advantage of its numerous benefits.

Resources: Wilder, Phil. Promoting Student Self-Assessment. National Council of Teachers of English, 2014. (http://www.readwritethink.org/professional-development/strategy-guides/promoting-student-self-assessment-30102.html)

Week Four Reflection

This week we discussed our upcoming Unit Plan project. It really helped me to go over the assignment as a class, and also ask any questions we had regarding it. I also greatly appreciated our teacher going over the steps and parts of an actual unit and what is she expects from us. We have never done an abbreviated project like this so it was new information for many of us. Like we have been learning about all along, exemplars make the learning so much more clear. In the second half of the class we were able to go over a case study as a group. I enjoy practicing new learning strategies as a group because they are a lot less daunting this way. We are able ask questions and communicate within a small number of people, and this creates an even safer learning environment. I at first found the student profile difficult to read and comprehend. I also found it overwhelming with information. Although there really wasn’t an immense amount of school records, when you don’t know what your looking at or what your looking for it can be very intimidating. We eventually worked together to understand the student profile, and were able to answer several questions regarding the students records. 

Going forward we will need to incorporate student case studies into our unit plan, so this in class assignment will help us navigate through that. I acknowledge that knowing a student’s school records and performance is important and can help us as teachers to move forward in vast ways. This information is vital and I’m thankful that school systems have easier and more convenient ways of transferring and accessing a student’s school records. However, I also know that students struggle for many different reasons, and teachers need to be aware of this. The numbers cannot label a student, nor constrain their potential for success in the classroom. I think all too often teachers see a failing student and write them off. I feel that when we look beyond the numbers and ask why, we are putting the student’s interest at best. Students are complex and constantly growing and changing, therefore we cannot let past failures or struggles hinder their potential in the now and the future. 

We have discussed several times the positive effects of assessment and evaluation, as well as the negative ones. Likewise, we need to embrace the positives of student school records, and be aware of the negatives at the same time. 

Chapter 6: Involving Students in Classroom Assessment

Summary: Involving students in the assessment process is beneficial to their overall learning. By creating the criteria and rubric with them, having them self-assess and peer review, as well as collect and present their knowledge, we are setting them up to become life long learners. 

Connections:There was a time in Education when students had no voice in the assessment and evaluation process. Sadly, this even happens to students today. I had very few occasions of being involved in the assessment process, and often I was not even sure of what it was I was being marked on. So I would proceed with my poster project blindly unaware of what it was the teacher was looking for. While there does indeed need to be room for creativity and freedom within a project or assignment, we as students need a learning map with clear directions and signs. How are we to learn when we do not know where we are going? I feel this chapter really pointed out the key ways in which we can include our students in all steps of the assessment and evaluation process. In another class I am taking, I recently did a presentation on Kelly Gallagher’s Teaching Adolescent Writers. I have found this text very helpful in teaching strategies and advice for teaching English. One thing that I really connected between Gallagher and Anne Davies’ Making Classroom Assessment Work, was the focus on incorporating students into the classroom in order to achieve learner independence. By involving our students with choices, freedom, and control, they feel an important part of their learning. I want and need my students to be active learners who engage with the reading not by force, but instead by choice. In involving our students in assessment, feedback and representations of their knowledge, we are building this student autonomy which has a power impact on their learning not just today, but for the rest of their lives. Our class will be co-creating a rubric for our unit plan assignment, so this will be a great real life application of the strategy. I know it will be more time consuming and difficult to create a criteria as a classroom, but if it garners us better results in the long run isn’t it worth it? I am interested to see how it is done as I have never experienced co-creating a rubric before. I am looking forward to learning from my teacher’s strategy and approach. 

One question I still have after reading the chapter and discovering more about student involved assessment and evaluation this semester is how to get students engaged in it? Some learners will not be excited or have an interest in co-creating a rubric, so how do I communicate the importance and benefits on a level they can connect with?