ECS 410: Demonstration of Learning Interview

What is my philosophy of assessment and evaluation?

My assessment philosophy comes from two points of view. Firstly, from my perspective as a student I know how grades centered school can become. I also know what it’s like to measure your self-worth by a grade number. So, my assessment philosophy is built on top of my personal understanding of what I don’t want assessment to become.I believe that assessment should not become a measure of intelligence, rather it has to be a snapshot in time and students have  to know that the mark shows what they did well and what they need to work on to improve. Secondly, I have the perspective of a teacher that wants my students to be critical thinks, be reflective, and to be responsible for their learning. So, I believe that student should be involved in the assessment process.

My general philosophy has grown a lot over the semester and I my beliefs are now connected to solid theories and practices. I think, to support my beliefs of what assessment should be, there has to be multiple forms of assessment and evaluation. For instance, Davies brings up assessment for and of learning (2011, 2-3). I am drawn to the explanation of descriptive and evaluative feedback. I think both need to be present, so that students aren’t slammed by a final grade or led to believe that’s the only thing that matters. I think that learning should be a process, because learning is a life-long venture. Assessment has to support that by giving formative assessment describing the learning taking place and summative evaluation that reports where a student is at in that moment in time.

The triangulation of assessment is another important part of the process I describe. This includes: “observation of process,” “conversations,” and “collection of products” (Davies, 2011, 46). This is important, because it says that assessment is a process and is not one static thing.

One of the other theories that I would like to reference are those tied to student involvement. This can mean students present their learning, students self-assess and peer-assess, and have a say in how their learning will be assessed. Davies says, “[w]hen students are responsible for assembling the evidence, they have more opportunities to figure out whether they are on track with their learning” (77). I believe this is true. Ideally, we are preparing students for their adult lives. I believe that being able to self-assess is a part of that. Davies also talks about how students can be involved in the overall conversation (99). I can ask students if my analysis seems accurate or if there is something they feel I am missing.

I also believe in the ideas of creating a safe classroom community where it is okay to make mistakes and everyone knows we are in this learning process together (15). I really appreciate the process portfolio strategy, because once again it highlights process (82). Moreover, I believe in providing multiple ways for students to show understanding.

Finally, backwards design has made all the difference in my assessment and teaching of students. Beginning with the end in mind takes away confusion for me and students. Learners need to know where they are aiming so that they can learn consistently, so that they can track their growth, and so that they know the reasoning behind assignments (25).

How did I use assessment and evaluation in my pre-internship?

During my pre-internship I was able to use a variety of formative and summative assessment and evaluation. I was very nervous to mark and evaluate student work, but I found it helpful to start by focusing on formative assessment and process. I also found it very valuable to have a rubric.

I started the introduction of each of my units with sharing what the end goals were. I told each of my classes the assignments they would be completing to show their understanding. I planned my lessons so that each of the readings and each of the assignments leading up to the final projects would help them complete them. My B10 class had a poster project and a journal project, while my A30 class had a panel presentation as their end projects.

During the daily lessons, I would track if students were completing their work and providing formative assessment. For my B10 class, I made their journal project a process, so I assessed whether or not they had completed their journals for that day. I gave written feedback to the students as another form of formative assessment. Similarly, my A30 class, had exit slips that would help them address the topic for their panel presentations. Students were assessed on whether or not they completed the process each day. I used a highlighter to indicate some of their best ideas, so they could reference that work when planning for their final project.

For the summative assessments, I created and went over rubrics for each of the projects. All were on a four mark scale (established, meeting, progressing, and beginning). The journal assessed: drafts completed, evidence of revision, construction and mechanics, and content/understanding x2. The poster assessed: images, text, topic coverage, layout and design, and mechanics. The panel assessed: presentation, written portion, ideas, design/organization. For the posters presentations, which gave the students the option to work in groups, I multiplied the mark times the group members and allowed them to distribute grades based on performance.

I believe that the rubrics were helpful for me and the students. It gave students something to aim for and it made my marking feel less subjective. I also think incorporating process into the projects made a difference. I didn’t have to assign anyone a zero, because I had been assessing the learning process as well. I think that this went well. The group marks made things a little more fair in theory, but students gave all group members the same grades in the end anyways. Also, having a lot of formative assessment was really good practice and helped me see what I needed to change in my plans to help their learning. I did give students the opportunity to discuss the marks they received and the formative indicators as well.

What didn’t go well? I had some issues with the panel rubric, because initially it was just a presentation assignment, but my partner and I were asked to add a written assignment. Because it was not our original plan, it seemed a bit disjointed and the students could tell. I would also like to have given a bit more critical feedback for the formative work. I think it would have helped students out as well. Initially, I had assigned some questions and I didn’t formally assess it so the next assignment got treated as unimportant. I had to take a little more care to make sure students knew their work was being assessed and they did have to do it.

I needed to be better at differentiating assessment. I wasn’t given any records of adaptation, so I wasn’t sure where all of my students were or what they needed. Many EAL students went to a learning resource class or tutorials that helped them with their work. In the future, I want to give more choice and also have a clearer understanding of what I need to differentiate specifically for my students.

In the future, I would like to give my students more involvement. I would love to have them build rubrics with me, so that it is in their own words and they aren’t as confused about certain ideas. I think time is a factor in this. Having only 9 classes with my A30 class was a rush to begin with. I want to implement a process portfolio in my classroom and I would like to give students the opportunity to present their learning using their portfolios as well. I think that these are classroom practices that I will be trying to set up in my internship.

How closely did my assessment and evaluation practices in the field align with my philosophy?

I would say that I got around 1/2 way to my assessment philosophy. It was such a short time that I can’t be sure how close I could have gotten, or if I was able to set up longer term assessment process what it would have been like. I was able to incorporate formative and summative assessment, I was able to make it a process, but I could have involved my students more. I didn’t have to give test or quizzes either, so I didn’t compromise there.

I think I was able to put some of my ideas into action and I didn’t really have to assess in any way that I was really uncomfortable with. It is more about building off of the steps I took in pre-internship.

What barriers prevented my from realizing my vision?

Time was a huge factor in not being able to reach my vision. I needed more time to get to know my students. I needed more time to involve my students in the process. I needed more time to carry out longer term learning processes. I was also stuck a bit. Even if there was more learning that had to be done, I had to be able to get students to complete their projects. In my future classrooms I will be able to push things back if need be. I will also be able to take up the evaluations I give. I wasn’t able to do that in the pre-internship.

How do I plan to address/overcome these barriers in my internship?

I will have more time to plan from the beginning. I will aim to have assessment ideas ready to go. I will also aim to build that ideal relationship with my students. I will try to create a learning community, to create a space where failure is a part of the learning process, and where students can always have the opportunity to show me how they have learned material again. I think, because I will have more time and because I will be able to set up routines and an environment of my own, I will have more confidence in going through with my vision.

What are the three key learnings I will take away from my ECS 410 and field experience this semester about assessment and evaluation?

  1. Assessment and evaluation are different and serve different purposes.
  2. Triangulation is a good practice in making assessment a process that considers multiple evidences of learning
  3. Meta-cognition should be the aim of assessment.

Why will these three things be so important to my teaching practice?

  1. Knowing the difference between evaluation and assessment are vital my teaching practice. I used to be afraid of assessment/evaluation, because I had bad personal experiences. I have really hurt myself with grades and I didn’t want to inflict that on others. Know the difference changes that. Assessment is empowering and I want to empower my students with it. I want my students to know the purposes of each type, to respects and take both seriously, and I want them to strive for improvement – using assessment to gauge and guide that improvement. As for myself, I need to know how to give students both and make is part of the learning process. I need to be able to give descriptive and evaluative feedback to help my students in their education.
  2. I like make assessment a process. Triangulation gives a good image and solid theoretical background to the process I strive for. Knowing how I can make assessment reliable and valid is very important. Including multiple ways of assessing is important too. Including observations, products, and conversations helps me reach my vision for assessment in my classroom. It also brings students into the process with conversations that I really value. I think knowing how I can use this method in my assessing will strengthen my ability to make assessment real and useful for learners.
  3. Meta-cognition is a goal for students. It comes from incorporating formative feedback and self-assessment in the learning process. Ideally, I want to help my students think critically about their learning. Being reflective is something I will do to strengthen myself as an educator, but I am also trying to get my students to be life-long learners. I am trying to get my students to be engaged. I also want my students to stop asking “is this for marks?” I think working toward getting students to be meta-cognitive students, will go a long way to reaching these goals. I also believe that it will help them in their lives. Students need to learn to set their own goals, to identify learning goals, and to be aware throughout their learning what they are doing well and what they need to improve. These are important because this is why I want to be a teacher. I want to help students reach their learning and I want them to make it their own.

Davies, Anne. Making Classroom Assessment Work. 3rd ed. Courtenay, B.C.: Connections Pub., 2011. Print.


Inquiry: Summary of Learning

I began my inquiry asking the question: “how can I support student-centered learning in my classroom?” I have researched and discussed with other teachers to learn about student-centered learning and begin to answer my question.  I got a lot of support and enjoyed hearing what others had to say and what others were doing to support student-centered learning.

I have put together a google doc that highlights what I learned and is cram packed full of resources that might be helpful for others trying to answer the same question I started with. Please check it out and leave comments as to further resources and ideas that relate to my inquiry project. I would also be very happy to discuss ideas around student-centered learning. I am no expert, but I am a very engaged life-long learner.

This inquiry project has helped my begin to put my philosophies and theories into practical teaching strategies and learning activities. While I have been struggling to structure my ideas, this has been an exercise in doing just that. Moreover, it has been another activity that pushed me to collaborate and reach out to communities of teachers, which I have yet again found so supportive and helpful.

As a last word, I am going to leave you with a video that I found and included in my document twice. I want to share this video, because if you only have time to check out one resource in regard to student-centered learning, I think this is a good choice. This video was a helpful resource for me as it given strategies, but also shows them in action. I can see myself using them now. If the video peaks your interest, check out my summary of learning package.

What do you think? Is student-centered learning something you would like to do? Please feel free to share and discuss.

Student-Centered Learning in my Pre-Internship

Before and during my pre-internship, I was inquiring into student-centered learning. My inquiry gave me many ideas and was reflected in my teaching philosophy. I would say that I made small steps toward my end goal. There were many things I was trying to consider as I prepared and taught during my internship.

I wasn’t sure how far I could go and to be honest I felt like I still needed to control the direction of the class quite a bit. I wasn’t sure what I should expect. I wasn’t sure how much control I had over the direction of the class and my teaching. In part, I didn’t want to teach in a way that would be disapproved by others or would be too different. I hate having these kinds of thoughts. I know people say that there is no one correct way to teach, but sometimes I feel like as a young teacher some of the things I want to try might be chalked up to inexperience. I also worry that because some of my ideas go against super traditional ways of teaching, they will not be well received by teachers who prefer traditional teaching methods. I tried to give students a voice and incorporate student-centered teaching/learning methods when I could. This is still something that is really important to me, so I will continue to take bigger and bigger steps toward reaching my goals.

For my first lesson, I asked my students to fill out an exit slip in response to three questions:

  1. What is something I should know about you as a learner?
  2. What is something you find interesting about or would like to learn more about the subject? (The World Around and Within Us – Environmentalism)
  3. What is a question you still have?

I was really happy with the responses I got. It was especially refreshing to read those for question number one. Here are a few examples of what my students told me:

“Making connections to similar concepts when teaching something new aids in my comprehension,” “I am the type of learner that has a little trouble understanding things the first few times…,” “I rather be learning in groups and moving than sitting by myself doing something,” “I learn better if you provide an image for me or let me use hands on,” and “I like when people talk and have a discussion.”

My students were able to clearly explain ways that they learn best. This reiterated that students know what works for them and we need to listen more often. My education has given me many tools, but with the diversity of learners that exists, I need to pay attention to them to know what they need.

I didn’t carry out an inquiry project, although I would have liked to. As I reflected, I saw that I could have gotten students to inquire into an environmental issue. If I had more time and felt more comfortable getting technology access for my students, that is something I would like to do. I did, however, have my students write journal responses to prompts related to what we were learning. I told them that they would choose one in the end to revise and make a good copy of. I tried to make this project into a process portfolio of sorts. The assessment for the “journal project” included: drafts completed, revisions, conventions, and content & understanding. I made it clear that the goal was for them to make personal and topical connections and provide support for them. In this way, I was respecting their perspective, giving them a voice, and getting them to build off of what they knew.

The poster project I had them do was similar. I went through an article that showed ads against food waste and then gave them complete freedom to advocate for something regarding an environmental issue. During class discussions and journal prompts, I asked students about the issues that bothered them.

I tried to incorporate the things that they had told me about themselves into their learning. I used group work as a few students mentioned that as being beneficial for them. I also recognize the power of collaboration. I prepared a jigsaw activity to encourage students to take responsibility of material. Although, some students had some issues with the concept of teaching their peers. I still believe it was a good way to introduce ideas.

In the end, I believe some of my ideas came out and I was able to do some student-centered work. I also believe I could have done more and would have liked to do more. As I said earlier, I was still a bit uncertain as to what my role could be and how many different methods I could try to use. Time was another factor, I would like to give students time to explore and I would feel more prepared if I had time to set up the class for a more inquiry and student-directed learning environment.

How my Inquiry and my Philosophy are Intertwined

Inquiry PhilosophyI have inquired into student-centered learning, because the fundamentals of the concept are an important part of my teaching philosophy. I do believe that students, people, have a natural curiosity for life. What individuals are curious about or interested in will be diverse, but that is an important thing to remember too.

I believe that student-centered learning has to be supported by a consistent learning environment that is shaped by every learner. I don’t believe one project is enough, because I think that a strong education is one that is reflective of the learner. I’m not sure that school is the best environment for all learners, but I think it should strive to be.

I believe that whether we like it or not, our philosophy comes out in how we teach. The way I understand learners to be, paints the way I perceive them and approach them as a teacher. That being said, I have to learn specific skills to be able to teach any certain way. I also have to find resources that support me in reaching my goals as a teacher. So, I wanted to inquire into student-centered learning, because I wanted to learn ways I could implement it in my classrooms.

Before I had really taught for an extended period of time, my philosophy was shaped from a student perspective and observations as a student-teacher. Now that I have had the opportunity to teach for three consecutive weeks, I have a clearer idea of my philosophy from a teacher perspective. After my experience, I still believe that the best education I can give is one that is centered around my students and the diversity of learners that exist.

In fact, my experience has given me realistic ideas as to how I can use the skills I have learned to align my philosophy to my practice. Before teaching, I struggled to organize all of the ideas in my head, but now I have a reference point. I think the more I try and the more I learn, the closer I will get to teaching in an appropriately student-centered way.

On Completing My Pre-Internship

I am relieved to have completed my pre-internship, but I also don’t feel ready to wait months to be teaching again. It was both a challenging and rewarding experience. Most of all, I enjoyed interacting with my students. After a few weeks, I’ve gotten used to hearing their voices in class discussion and while reading their journals. I think having them write in journals was one of the best parts. I think it gave them a chance to say something and for me to hear them one-on-one.

I’m really looking forward to building a strong classroom community in my internship and I’m looking forward to being my students’ teacher from day one. I’m excited to add classroom routines of my own and bring even more of my personality and philosophy into the classroom.

My pre-internship was really a learning experience and I will continue to look at every moment in my future career as part of my life long learning. However, my aim in my internship will be to bring even more of my knowledge and ideas to the table. I feel like the past three weeks, for me, were about me getting my footing. Now that I have this experience, I want to push myself to the next step. Additionally, I am hoping that I will have more time and opportunities to prepare and plan for my internship. I know that we have to work with short deadlines sometimes, but time to think and plan is only a positive.

Despite all of the worrying, I had some really great moments. Moreover, when I got the paper that said I passed, I was able to take a breath and really enjoy my final days of pre-internship. I am going to try to do more of this in my internship. Although I’m sure I will be caught up in stress some days, I won’t let it rule my experience. In the end, I am happy.