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.

Assessment: Late Work

In my final assessment class, I watched a video by Rick Wormeli that built off of the ideas I considered in the article,“The Problem with Penalties,” by Myron Dueck. After considering Wormeli’s video on late work and Dueck’s problem with penalties, has got me insisting that we teach constructively and not punitively. This is obvious though. I’ve learned to teach through constructivism. I want my students to construct their own knowledge. I also want my students to be inwardly motivated when it comes to completing assignments that demonstrate what they learned. It has to be a constructive process. Punishment shuts students out and does not teach or motivate them to do their work on time.

Wormeli gives a number of reasons why late marks and zeros (punishment) for late work doesn’t help improve students accountability or success. He asks, would I hold someone who is just coming to learn, and may still be struggling, to the same accountability as someone who is proficient at the work? No.

How could we? A really important part of my teaching philosophy is based on creating a positive and open learning environment. My students have to know it’s okay to fail at something. My students need to know that they don’t have to make them self sick with worry that they aren’t ready to hand their work in or write a test. There does need to be deadlines, but I need to be flexible, understanding, and forgiving. My students’ learning matters first.

Additionally, Wormeli says, most students from kindergarten to grade ten (and sometimes older) have little choice over their daily schedule. Practices, class times, assignment dates, at-home responsibilities are all dictated to them. He describes school scheduling as a factory type model. He then says, adult deadlines require adult capabilities and time management skills. To force such deadlines when they students can’t act on it, is an abusive method according to Wormeli.

I think there needs to be open space to ask students if deadlines are reasonable, if they are being drowned under other tests and assignments, and room for negotiation as issues arise. Students should be able to come to me and know that if they need more time that’s okay.

Moreover, Wormeli claims that the traditional school system conspires against students that don’t get things right away. And, in trying to get through the curriculum, we tell students ‘too bad you didn’t get it the first time it was taught, we’re moving on’. He says, it’s “no way to teach humans.” Again, their learning matters more. If it takes differentiation, and it will, we must commit to providing students with opportunities to learn. In this way, he says that summative assessment is not necessary in good pedagogy. We can always do better as we learn, a factory model doesn’t allow that.

Lastly, he argues that giving zeros doesn’t teach students. He says, getting students to complete the work does. Students needs to become responsible for their learning, and recover from not making the deadline. We can’t assign a zero and expect them to learn to do their work. Late marks and zero’s also do not prepare people for the larger world, he claims. As the real world, allows us to be late more often than not. It is not the end for us, we are allowed to make mistakes, and recover and complete our duties. Adult level maturity comes from making mistakes and learning from them not from feeling the sting of a zero grade.

I know that late marks and zero grades are fiercely debated, but I think we have to be more understanding. Things can quickly become about punishing others for not reaching expectations, but is that the best policy? What do we really want? Do we want our students to learn or be left behind? The purpose of education, in my eyes, is not to punish students when they don’t do as we command. Education should be a constructive process. I want every aspect of my teaching policies to support that.

Dueck, Myron. “The Problem with Penalties.” Educational Leadership March 2014: 44-49. Print.

“Rick Wormeli: On Late Work.” YouTube. YouTube, 16 Nov. 2010. Web. 06 Mar. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHeij2Zfil4&gt;.

Assessment: The Problem with Penalties

The practice of using penalties as a way to get students to do their work or punish them when they don’t is something that has been debated both way in many of my classes. Do we give late marks? Should we assign zeros? Should we assign homework and how do we assess it? These questions deserve consideration and I know people have a lot to say either way. Teachers and non-teachers seem to take an interest and voice opinions on this subject.

Myron Dueck wrote an interesting article on the problems he sees with penalties and I find myself agreeing with his points. Dueck devises what he calls “the CARE guidelines” for penalties to positively influence behaviour (44). CARE stands for care about penalty, aim aligned to penalty, reduction of undesirable behaviour, and empowerment through informed decision making. Because these guidelines aren’t met when grading homework or using punishment to encourage effort, Dueck says that traditional penalties aren’t effective.

An important part of why I agree that grading homework isn’t good assessment, is because homework is the practice and so summative evaluation of it doesn’t give students the ability to show their improvement fairly. It can also be a practice that perpetuates inequality based on the socio-economic status and home life of students. Not all students have home environments that allow them to do their best work, so it is not particularly effective to grade homework.

It also becomes clear that punishment doesn’t encourage increased effort or student empowerment. Students don’t need to be punished when they don’t do their work or don’t try their best. They need more intrinsic motivations to make them want to do the work. They need to have their personal interests drawn into their studies. Students need to be responsible for and included in their learning. We need to understand what makes students not want to do their work and find ways to engage them, not push them away.

Dueck, Myron. “The Problem with Penalties.” Educational Leadership March 2014: 44-49. Print.

Assessment: Communicating, Evaluating, and Reporting

“… we can tell a little more of the truth. In doing so, it turns out that we can avoid pretending that a student’s whole performance or intelligence can be summed up in one number.” -Peter Elbow

As Davies describes throughout chapters nine and ten of Making Classroom Assessment Work, there are various ways we can assess and communicate a students whole performance/intelligence that are more reliable than a single mark or number on a report card. I can appreciate and see the importance of encouraging consistent communication, throughout the learning period, between student and teacher as well as parent and teacher.

As an elementary and secondary student, I always discussed my schooling with my parents, but I know that not all students do the same. In fact, some students actively avoid doing so. However, as Davies emphasizes, communication is a key part in the learning process. I really like the approaches Davies provides to help improve communication between parents and teachers. I like the idea of an open house where students lead the demonstration of their learning. I also like the idea of a class web page with examples and evidence of student learning. Students could be involved in creating these kinds of communication tools, which would support learning through reflection and support computer use in the classroom (what I view as building valuable and real-world relevant skills).

I also, prefer student-led conferences to teacher-led. This belief is supported by the idea that getting students involved helps their learning, but also in personal experiences. In one of my elementary school conferences, I had a teacher ask why we came, because there was little to say (meaning: I didn’t have any problems in school). This didn’t give me a voice to discuss my learning or ideas of areas I could improve in. While in high school, I lead a conference and was able to take responsibility of my learning and express my thoughts on how I can improve. I feel the latter was more beneficial.

When it comes to reporting student achievement, I think the communication piece is still vary important. Because it is a subjective process, it can be very challenging. However, when we consider all of the procedures completed throughout the process, it is easier to reflect and be confident in our professional judgement. That being said, I really like the idea of involving students in this process as well. Davies says to consider asking students if the report makes sense to them, if they feel it reflects what they learned, if it’s fair, and if we missed anything (99). I think this could be a really constructive method. I think, because our goal is to consistently involve students and have them reflect on their learning, asking them such questions would further support this goal.

Elbow, P. 1986. Embracing Contraries: Explorations in Learning and Teaching. New York: Oxford University Press.

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

Student-Centered Assessment

Assessment

In Making Classroom Assessment Work, Anne Davies cites, “[r]esearch shows that when students are involved in the assessment process… they learn more, achieve at higher levels, and are more motivated. They are also better able to set informed, appropriate learning goals to further improve their learning” (82).

This chapter has connected a few ideas for me. Ways of involving students in the assessment process continue to be generated, process portfolios have been presented and modeled for me, and I have been exploring student-centered teaching. As I see everything come together, I get a sense of how I will be able to structure student-centered assessment in my classroom.

I really like the idea of a process portfolio, because in addition to allowing student to show their growth over a period of time rather than through high-stress exams/final assignments, as Davies mentions, they allow students to take ownership of their learning and often end up learning more as a result. Davies argues that “students need to be accountable for their learning” (77) and I agree. I want my students to engage with their learning and I think that means that I don’t try to make it all about me. For this reason, I also like the idea of expanding the audience to whom students share the evidence of their learning process with (78). I think it would ease any parent’s worries to see how this type of assessment functions through a student-led conference. I think this will also prepare students and allow them to make connections between what and why they learn class material. Presenting evidence of our learning, our abilities, and areas we are working on improving, are lifelong skills.

I am excited to include assessment into my consideration and practice of student-centered learning/teaching. I am intrigued by the opportunity to have student involved in another aspect of their education. I want to consider more the idea that Davies presents at the end of chapter eight, that is that I must “decide the balance of teacher work and student involvement” (83). I believe that as a learn more I will gain a better sense of what that means for me, but more so, I will learn through experience.

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

Reflecting on “The Classroom Experiment”

“We still struggle to keep everyone engaged”

The classroom experiment is about making changes and trying different strategies to improve schools and tackle the struggle to get students engaged. There are many interesting approaches taken and responses to them. At first students and teachers both struggled to embrace the changes, but over time some ideas were warmed up to.

One of the most interesting changes was when teachers held back grades and instead focused on giving feedback first. Many students didn’t know what to do without grades and did not understand how the feedback worked. It is sad that schools have become so fixed on grades. I think that it is something that the students need to be warmed up to and included in. If students are too used to only looking at a grade, then we need to teach them how to interpret and use the feedback they’re given. I believe that with this the idea of continuous learning will be better supported.

I liked the idea of using stoplight cups and whiteboards to check for student understanding. I felt like the cups gave students control and some level of self-assessment. They would be helpful in letting the teacher know who needs help just by a quick check and they would allow students to consider and voice their level of understanding. The whiteboards are another way to give students a voice. I would worry about doodles, but I don’t think it would be as much of an issue if student engagement was being supported in other ways (ex. inquiry). Additionally, all learners learn differently, and as long as it’s not a distraction, I don’t think it’s an issue. Students could show their learning or bring up concerns with a quick whiteboard check. I don’t think either would cause too much controversy.

The Popsicle sticks did receive a lot of mixed feedback in the videos and in my personal discussions with others. I can see the positives and the negatives. On one hand, it does present the opportunity for all students to be engaged in discussion and, as the video said, people who do partake in discussion are learning more. On the other hand, it puts students on the spot and was an issue for many teachers and students. I am typically a quiet student myself and haven’t liked to force students to speak, but I can see how the sticks could encourage engagement. I don’t know if I would use it myself or if their is an adjusted version that could work better.

All in all, I found this experiment interesting and it has made me consider many different techniques and how I might encourage engagement in my own classes.

Assessment: Evidence of Learning and Involving Students

How will I know what students are learning and how will students?

Evidence of Learning

In chapter five of Making Classroom Assessment  Work, Davies discusses how to ensure the evidence of learning we collect is valid and reliable (45). Triangulation is a model that can help teachers gather valid and reliable evidence (46). The three suggested ways of gathering evidence are: observation, conversation, and product (45-46). Gathering assessment is something that I have struggled with in the past. I associated it with assigning grades, which I don’t like doing especially when I was only teaching one class. The practice of triangulating the assessment during the learning process is helping me to see how I can assessment to improve learning rather than create a focus on grades rather than learning. In this vain, Davies says, “[c]onsider assessing more and evaluating less. We interrupt learning if we evaluate too often, whereas assessment information can guide instruction and support learning” (52). This is the exact feeling I had when I was marking students work. Triangulated assessment gives me a way to gather evidence of learning that I, and I’m sure students, feel is accurate. I am sure it will take adjusting and great effort, but it has carved a path for a destination I definitely want to reach.

AssessmentTriangulation

I know I will have a full comprehension of what students are learning and have learned by consistently assessing over a period of time and by collecting evidence of learning in different ways.

Student Involvement

The next natural step is outline in chapter six. The idea of involving students in the gathering of evidence and the assessing of their learning builds off of previous chapters.While I believe gathering evidence and assessing in multiple ways will provide an accurate view of student learning, involving students will make the learning process more personalized and also allow students to take “ownership” of their learning (57). I think that having students determine what success would look like and generate clear ideas of how to show their learning will help them learn. I like the idea of creating a collaborative classroom environment. I believe that giving students responsibility for their learning will motivate them to learn better than if I were to dictate what and how students will learn. Ultimately, I want students to see how their education can suit them and their needs. I want students to be comfortable and know that what matters is what they are learning, not that they get 90% on one “large-scale assessment” (51). If students are involved in assessment, then they will have a better understanding of where they are going and where they need to improve. I like this method, because it prepares them to self-evaluate and encourages life-long learning. This skill is transferable in so many ways. This practice support the idea of co-constructing knowledge, which is important because I don’t believe education revolves around me — it has to be more collaborative than that.

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