Based on this weeks two readings and my own experience I have formed an understanding of assessment in the classroom.
I believe that assessment should take multiple forms, because I believe that every learner is unique and both learns and communicates most effectively in different ways. I also believe that grades should not be the focus and that feedback about what the student has succeeded at and what they need to work on is a better way to practice on going assessment. I would agree that pre-assessment is valuable to help get an idea of where the class is and then work out lessons that take pre-assessment into consideration. I liked the idea of brain-based assessment presented in the first reading, such that there ought to be comfort provided, meaningful content, choice in way of showing knowledge of subject matter and adequate time to display knowledge. I believe that assessment should be all of these things and I hope to add to my understanding of assessment as I gain experience.
I feel as though assessment is made into a scary, nerve-wracking thing and that huge high-stakes finals take away from the learning experience that has and could be enriched with better ways of assessing student knowledge/understanding continuously throughout the year. I worry that end-result assessment promote the idea that school is all about grades and once you have crammed and written your final exam the knowledge can be lost to you without much worry. I worry that students become complacent when they receive high marks and discouraged when they receive low marks. I worry that grade-based assessment is equated to self-worth and I believe that this kind of bad stress makes learning un-enjoyable and difficult. I worry that with traditional assessment practices select types of students are privileged and all others are made to feel that they have to become a different learner to be “good” or otherwise believe that they are “stupid” or incapable of learning.
I certainly don’t have all of the answers to my worries. I can see how accommodating and continuous ways of assessment serve to better the learning experience, but I think I have a lot more to learn so that I can put positive ways of assessment into my classroom environment. I think many of the cultural ideas about assessment for first nations students could be applied to the idea of diversity among all learners and the creation of an inclusive classroom.
Reading #1 here: http://education.alberta.ca/media/307199/words.pdf
Reading #2 here: http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=20c21ce9-4f87-4596-a081-a79e5563b998%40sessionmgr198&vid=1&hid=114&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9h&AN=27984940
A link to the article “Learning from Our Students” by Nel Noddings can be found here: http://search.proquest.com/docview/232032797.
What do you agree/disagree with in the article?
I agree with Noddings’ idea that we should not only look back to the people who have come before us, but also to children and students to guide us forward, so that we don’t get caught in reproducing the past, which can be caught up in common sense ideas and oppressive systems or simply ways that don’t suit the learners of today. I also agree with the idea that learners have different intelligences if you will, in that students have passions and capabilities unique to them that they should be able to focus on. I also agree with the idea that learning can get nasty and I believe that often in the competitive grade-focused school culture that exists (at least from my experience) genuine joyful learning gets lost. I find this unfortunate both as a future educator and as a student. I want my students to be able to find their passions and enjoy learning, but I also know from my perspective as a student that learning can get nasty. I continue to struggle to enjoy learning as a naturally do, but still often find myself anxious and worried about what grade I will get and having that grade define my worth. I do, however, agree that learning should be a life long joy.
What ideas resonate with you?
Because I agree that learning can get nasty, but also that it can be absolutely joyful for everyone the ideas Noddings’ presents about more focused areas of study in high school and more choice in what you learn as a high school student resonates with me. I find it a difficult balance to imagine a high school set up that both ensures everyone has basic fundamental skills (what are they?), but also allows all students to follow and explore their unique passions. I find this idea important to issues with the current system.
What ideas did you find troublesome?
I found the idea of pseudo-learning troublesome, because it makes me question how important the learning I did in high school was. Am I better off for having skimmed the surface of many topics, or would I have benefitted from deeper exploration of a few topics?
I also find the way that school is so grade-oriented deeply troubling. I don’t think that is brings about more learning or better learning, rather I think that it takes something away from learning and creates learners that aren’t allowed to be creative and are afraid of being wrong. Both of which are essential to learning and the negative makes learning not so joyful.
How does this article support/contradict your existing philosophy of teaching?
It supports my philosophy that all student have unique passions and natural abilities that should be connected with in their learning. It helps me see how this could be worked out in a school environment. It supports my philosophy that people naturally enjoy learning, or would if only they experienced learning in a way that doesn’t make it so nasty.