“Our Words, Our Ways”, & “Learning to Love Assessment” Response

Based on these readings and your own experiences, reflect on your understanding of assessment in the classroom. What are you beliefs? Worries?

Both readings give so much insight and information about assessments that helped me to understand how to assess students effectively and successfully. However I think the second reading reflects more of my personal teaching beliefs.

The first reading, “Chapter 6 – Assessment: Authentic reflections of important learning’s”, has many different examples of how you can encourage students to succeed in your classroom through different types of assessment. The part that stuck out to me the most was under the heading “Assessment Literacy”, which described that “understanding and using multiple assessment methods, to ensure that the information gathered about student learning is complete and accurate, and that the individual students have the opportunity to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.” I think this is so crucial because assessing your students in different ways that are unique to their learning style will tell you so much more about their learning. Everyone learns differently, and there is no right way of assessing your students. It doesn’t always have to be a multiple-choice quiz or a 5-page essay. Some students would really struggle with those things, but if you allowed them to choose how they show you what they learned, it could perhaps motivate them as well as let you know more concretely what they took away from the lesson.

However, one thing I was confused about in this reading is that it mainly states that these methods will only help Aboriginal students succeed. They are so focused on how to assess Aboriginal students in relation to their culture and values that they are leaving out other cultures and values. I also think they are assuming too much about “Aboriginal” students in regards to the specific circumstances that impact their learning. I don’t think that is totally accurate because not all Aboriginal students have the same values and beliefs, therefore clumping all Aboriginal students into one specific group or saying that they are impacted in the same way couldn’t be completely truthful.

 In the second reading, “Learning to Love Assessment” by Carol Ann Tomlinson, I really appreciated that she was honest about her mistakes that led her to her realizations. I also appreciate that she shared her understandings. The one thing that I really took away from this article is the fact that assessment needs to be done daily in order for you as a teacher to know whether or not your students understand your lesson. I liked when she highlighted the fact that she was assessing only after the unit, and by then it was too late to try to work on the areas that students were having issues with because they were already onto a new unit. With that being said, simple daily assessments of where your students are at will prove to be so helpful to you as a teacher, as well as will benefit your students because you can see if some students aren’t ready to move on, and you can realize this before its too late and too overwhelming for both of you.

 Another thing she stated that I never had really thought about before was the fact that you can never assume that your students will know all the prerequisites required in order to teacher your lesson – something as simple as different reading levels of students, like Tomlinson used as an example in her article. (And vice versa – you can’t assume that no one will know this either, so be prepared if your students already know all this and are ready to move on.) Sure, some students will know what a quadrilateral is, and others wont. If you don’t do pre-assessments to see where your students are at before starting the lesson than you shouldn’t assume that they will all be on the same page as you. This is something I will keep in the back of my mind while I start to plan lessons.

 Daily assessments and a variety of different methods to assess the progress of all learners is something I hope to practice in my own classroom. 

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“Learning from Our Students”, Noddings Response

After reading this article by Nel Noddings, I am left with many different thoughts because I agree with a lot of her arguments. We can learn so much from our students if we just take time to acknowledge their ideas and perspectives. I also agree with my fellow students who have said mutual respect is important in the classroom. You will not receive respect if you don’t treat your students with respect.

Noddings addresses on page 156 that some teachers believe that “… high school students do not yet know what they really want to do, and so they may deprive themselves of preparation they need.” To me, this statement is so broad and unfair. Of course sometimes this will be true, but not definitely not fair to state about every high school students. Personally, I don’t think it is fair for teachers decide what is best for their students if their students themselves don’t know at that point what they want to strive towards in life, therefore they decide to push certain courses onto them. Certainly many students have no clue what they where they want to go after school and may need time to decide. I myself am not 100% certain where my life will go. No one knows what will happen with their lives, regardless of how much they plan and prepare. Instead of pushing students into classes or courses that the teacher thinks is best, perhaps there is a way of trying to explore different options with each individual that is tailored to their specific interests and skills.

Another concept in the article I found really interesting is the reality of grades in school. I absolutely agree that many students (both university and high school) consider grades to be the most important aspect thing from a class. However, I did also find this to be some what confusing because although I completely agree that grades are not the most important thing that comes out of a class, especially when thinking about who has the highest grade average and so on, it is somewhat confusing because unfortunately it is an important piece in pursuing a post secondary career and then eventually starting a career because grades and education are valued in our society presently.

I will end off with Noddings argument about the fact that all students are required to receive equal education.  She says that this “…may be a dramatic example of inequality” (156). I fully agree with that statement because I don’t believe that students should all be taught the same things in the same way. Fair does not mean equal, you get what you need. Some need more practice whereas some have already mastered that particular skill. Each student is an individual learner and consequently need separate instruction and goals. One student’s lowest grade may be another’s highest and proudest. Not all your students should have the same goals, but they should have goals to strive towards, separately.