Chapter Eight: Collecting, Organizing and Presenting Evidence

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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/

 

 

 

 

 

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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?

 

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. 

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.