Chapter 5 and 6 Responses

Davies “Making Classroom Assessment Work”

Chapter 5: Evidence of Learning

  • Sources: observations, products/creations, conversations/conferencing.
  • Triangulation: evidence collected from three different sources over time, trends and patterns become apparent.
  • Need all three types to have reliable/valid evaluation.
  • Observations need to be focused/specific (just like goals).
  • Consider how you will record observations and relate the observation to the purpose of the learning activity.
  • Products/student creations should allow for choice.
  • Conversations/conferencing allows students to self-assess and take ownership of their learning.
  • I think that conversations allow teachers to learn not only about what their students have learned, but also about who their students are as people/learners.
  • Evidence should be ongoing.
  • “Consider assessing more and evaluating less” (Davies, 2011, p. 52).
  • All assessment should relate to curriculum outcomes/indicators/learning purpose.

Chapter 6: Involving Students in Classroom Assessment

  • students to set and use criteria: this gives them control of their learning and a better understanding. Example: classroom rules
  • self-assessment: provides time to learn and process, give feedback to themselves and transition from one activity/class to next; this promotes independence and self-monitoring. Tip: include clear criteria, samples and models.
  • descriptive feedback sources: “The more specific, descriptive feedback students receive while they are learning, the more learning is possible” (Davies, 2011, p. 58).
  • goal setting: increases motivation and sets a learning purpose/focus.
  • students to collect evidence of learning: to increase accountability and ownership. Example: portfolio.
  • students to present evidence of learning: to get students to see themselves as learners and take more accountability of their work. Tip: present to many different audiences.

Reflection

Davies points out that “the ideas themselves are simple, but the implementing of them in today’s busy classrooms will take some time” (2011, p. 61). This statement speaks to me.

Before reading this text and attending this class (ECS 410) I never considered letting students be part of the criteria-building process. I am still curious as to how this would work. Also, I wonder what self-assessment would look like. Other than the odd self-assessment assignment, I have never seen this in action. Davies suggests getting students to assess each other. I have had other professors tell me not to do this because sometimes students give each other wrong advice. How do you teach kids to self-assess appropriately? How much time would this entire process take? Is it more or less work for the teacher? I know that conferencing would take a lot of time so how do you fit that in as a classroom teacher? Do you request students to come outside of classroom time?

Triangulation was also a new topic for me. I think one way I can make sure I am using all sources to evaluate is by simply rotating them. I could have a chart with each source and make a tally every time it is used, in hopes for a balance.

I thoroughly believe in student choice. One quote that my mother, who is also an educator, passed on to me is: “Many teachers teach every child the same material in the same way, and measure each child’s performance by the same standards… Thus, teachers embrace the value of treating each child as a unique individual while instructing children as if they were virtually identical” (Mehlinger, 1995). I think this chapter gives many suggestions to avoid assessing students the same way. Choice is only fair and using triangulation broadens the choices and fairness even more! I also like the idea of creating a portfolio of work and getting students to present this work so that they are accountable.

Three common trends in the text are student-lead learning, more time and more feedback. These are all things I am starting to understand and think I can do!

Chapter 3 and 4 Responses

Beginning with the End in Mind

I like the quote that says “students can reach any target that they know about and that holds still for them.” Too often, the teacher only knows the outcome and this leaves the students unaware of what they are specifically learning or why they are completing a task. To connect this to my ELNG instruction, we are learning that if we are looking at a text with a deconstruction or a gendered lens, we need to explicitly tell kids this and explain why so that they can internalize these strategies. Involving students in all stages of the learning problem should reduce questions like, “when will I ever use this?” I love the idea of putting outcomes and indicators in student/teacher/parent friendly terms. Not only will students get more control of their learning, parents will have an easier time getting involved. Also, I think this would help teachers understand what they really want from students. This seems like a lot of work but Davies suggests using this simplified sheet in parent-teacher interviews, report cards and when making criteria with students, therefore one task can have many uses.

Describing Success

In order to describe success, educators need to know what success looks like. As a pre-service teacher, I have yet to figure this out.

The chapter also outlines that all students learn in different ways and should have many options to express their learning. Students need to be shown samples and models. They should also be part of the criteria making process so that they can give themselves descriptive feedback. When creating criteria with students, Davies suggests “1. Making a brainstormed list; 2. Sort and categorize list; 3. Make and post a T-chart; 4. Use and revisit and revise.” Samples help students but they also help teachers. Packages can be made that show different representations of learning, gaps in student ability and inform professional judgment and they can be collected between colleagues, schools and divisions.

Reflection

Davies suggests creating our own assessment plan. I think I would really like to take the ELA curriculum and summarize the outcomes and indicators. I think this would be great to do with a in-service teacher. That way, I would have a document that is more understandable and accurate to best support my students. I think this would be a worthwhile practice to do with my co-operating teacher this semester.

However, first I think I would need grade-appropriate samples. I can read and understand the outcomes and indicators but it is hard to know what that means for each grade level. Also, since I have never taught fulltime I do not have a sample base to pull from. This is an area where I will need to collaborate with a co-worker or two. As my career expands, it will be important to save student work so I get better support my learners.

Chapter 2 Response

Chapter 2 discussed how to get students involved in the learning process and assessment process. Students need to know that mistakes happen, practice and feedback are needed and success takes on all shapes and sizes. Once again, it is suggested to “reduce the amount of evaluative feedback and increase the amount of descriptive feedback” throughout all stages of the learning (Davies, 2011, p. 18). To succeed, student need to be shown samples and not just receive oral directions.

Guiding Our Own Learning

I have always enjoyed when teachers model in front of the board. For instance, in an English class instead of saying, “do a compare/contrast essay” I like when they actually model it for the class. The class all takes part and ideas expand. I like conversational or written feedback and I like when it is honest but not attacking my work. If someone tells me what I did great and what I need to work on, that is a lot more beneficial than saying that it was all terrible or throwing a 60% on the bottom. When evaluative feedback is given, I still rely on verbal or written feedback (descriptive).

I could see this come to life in my classroom by giving lots of practice time. I hope to do station teaching where things can be modeled. I also hope to spend time expanding assignments rather than moving quickly from thing to thing. I think doing group work or jigsaws or literature circles would be a great way to allow students  time to master a task before doing it on their own. I think self-assessment can be a focus in my classroom as long as the teacher is still giving ample feedback and doing check-ins. Students cannot figure it all out on their own and would need structure. They may be given questions or a checklist. At the end of the day, it all comes down to explicit instruction.

Chapter 1 Response

Chapter 1 in “Making Classroom Assessment Work” by Anne Davies defines many terms that are part of the assessment process. These terms – for example assessment, evaluation, descriptive feedback, evaluative feedback, etc. – are defined in my blog post “Assessment Step 1: Know the Terms.” The chapter discusses getting students to be part of the assessment and learning process. One thing that struck me was the research stating that “increasing the amount of descriptive feedback, while decreasing evaluative feedback, increases student learning significantly” (Davies, 2011, p. 3). The assessment process involves looking at the curriculum, showing samples/practicing/creating criteria with the students, and evaluating. Students need to be part of the entire process to foster lifelong learning and it helps them understand the tasks better.

Guiding Our Own Learning

1. This chapter confirmed the importance of practice to me. As a basketball coach, we often go through each step and repeat the instruction throughout the entire season. Sometimes this is forgotten in the classroom. Sometimes we think talking to students means that they are learning when this is rarely the case. Practice, samples and explicit instruction are things that are part of the learning process and cannot be ignored.

As a pre-service teacher and an English major often people talk (or warn) about the amount of marking. This chapter suggested grading less and providing more descriptive feedback. This creates a shared work between the students and teachers and is not something I thought I would be allowed to do. It makes perfect sense though and many English texts suggest not scrutinizing every piece of writing that comes in.

I think self-assessment is wonderful and something that I have used before. Learners need to take responsibility for themselves, especially at the secondary level. I also am a firm believer of slowing down. Why move to the next thing if the task is not grasped? Less is often more. This ties into the practice time because instead of rushing on, students have time to work through a new topic or skill. This would foster an inclusive classroom, as students who would like to expand could have the time and others could have more time to learn the skill. Including the students in the learning process and allowing for ample practice time may take longer but it will be worth it if they succeed.

I would like to learn more about scaffolding, including students in the entire learning process and descriptive feedback (how to give it without turning learners away). If learners are receiving less evaluative feedback and are receiving more descriptive feedback, how do they stay motivated to do the work? One idea that I can think of is giving credit for work in middle but I would like more information about motivating students without giving marks.