Response for Ch. 9 and 10

Communicating About Learning

In Chapter 9 Davies discusses that caregivers are busy but both teachers and caregivers “come together in caring about the student” (2011, p. 85).  Communication may be difficult but students benefit from many individuals, including themselves, being part of the conversation. Students should be involved with “the process of preparing and presenting” because it “gives students the opportunity to construct their understanding and to help others make meaning of their learning” (Davies, 2011, p. 86). Also, it is important that all parties involved give feedback (Davies, 2011, p. 86). Some ideas are a student=generated newspaper, self-assessments and work samples, demonstrations of learning and student-parent-teacher conferences. The one thing that I question is involving students in all conferences; sometimes there are issues to deal with that I do not think the student needs to be present for. However, most of the time I think this is a good idea. I like the idea of teachers getting anonymous feedback.

I would personally like to have an online course where all assignments, feedback etc. is accessible to parents and students. I think parents should receive notes from their teachers. Using agendas and sending notes home and requiring students to get an initial of their caregiver(s) is one way to continue the conversation. I think student involvement is increased if you require them to have a portfolio, take books home to read, run a conference, etc. and these ideas are all things I want to incorporate. In the end, students should be doing as much work as the teacher!

One thing I wonder about is how the learning centers at a parent conference would work. This seems confusing and like an excessive amount of work.

“We can avoid pretending that a student’s whole performance or intelligence can be summed up in one number” – Peter Elbow.

There is no one right or best way to do this” – Davies.

“It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end” – Ursula Le Guin.

 

Evaluating and Reporting

Davies notes that “evaluation and reporting occur at the point in the classroom assessment cycle when the learning pauses, and the evidence is organized and evaluated by comparing it to what students needed to learn” (2011, p. 93). Then the results are shared, usually on a report card. An easy way to understand this is evaluation = end. Assessment = all the way through.

Evaluating requires teachers to professionally and fairly look at what a student can do, in relation to a standard (usually a grade or age level). Areas of improvement should also be recorded (Davies, 2011, p. 93). This is a subjective practice! Professionalism comes in when we make sure we collect many pieces of evidence that are reliable and valid (triangulation) (Davies, 2011, p. 94). I wonder how teachers decide what assignment is worth the most?

I like the idea of talking evaluation through with students before they go home so they can explain it to their parents. An explanation of grades, etc. should also be included. Students should also be given a chance to evaluate themselves and teachers and students can talk if their marks do not match. Not only does this create a less subjective evaluation, debating and negotiating is an important life skill for students to have.

Something that really bothers me is the idea of “compensating for the compulsory.” We are required in secondary schools to report using grades, percentages, letters, etc. yet research shows that this results in “less impressive learning, less interest in learning and less desire for challenging learning” (Kohn, 1999). This is very confusing and if I want to try to implement a grade-free class but am required to mark in the end it seems a bit hopeless. I hope we align our teaching practices with the current research but it seems we are often years behind (look at inclusive education, for instance).

One random idea about making group work accountable (do not know why this chapter made me think about it, but it did): Students would be made aware of this beforehand and sign a contract. Then a 100 points is assigned to each student. At the end of the process, students self-evaluate themselves and then each other and debate what mark each person should get out of 100. If everyone does their share they get 100. However, if one person did 70% of their work they get 70. Then the person who picked up the slack gets 130. The teacher then gives them a mark and considers students self-assessed mark. If the group got a 70% overall in this scenario, person one would get 49% (70×70/100), person two would get 49 (70×70/100), and person three would get 91% (130×70/100). I would not want to give those low marks BUT I think if this was used and explicitly explained, students would be motivated to participate equally. Not perfect, but definitely something that could be adapted.

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!