Making Classroom Assessment Work – Chapters 5 & 6
Without a doubt, there is more than one type of learner. Davies begins chapter 5 by discussing that along with ensuring your students are learning in different ways through differentiation in your classroom, there must also be different types of evidence collected to show their learning that in different ways. Davies suggests, “Teachers need to make sure they plan to gather evidence from a variety of sources, and that they gather evidence over time.” (Davies, 45) Reading that immediately made me think about the portfolio process we are creating in our English class this semester. We are collecting evidence of our learning and participation through a portfolio that we will eventually put together at the end of the semester. I think this is a great way to showcase the learning that happened throughout the semester. It also is a good way to show participation in the classroom, such as feedback for peers worksheets or note taking during presentations. This is also a good way of showing your students growth, such as with drafts and rough copies of assignments to showcase how far they have come. I feel like a portfolio or something like this will be really easy to incorporate in an English classroom because there should be a lot of opportunity for creating pieces of learning through a lot of reflections and pieces of writing for the students to show.
The chapter moves on to triangulation (Lincoln and Guba 1984) process, which is something I would find very useful when trying to decide what sources of evidence would be considered reliable and valid especially as a new teacher with little experience. If I am unsure about what evidence I need for particular lessons, I would ask a respected colleague or someone I feed comfortable with whom I know has experience see what their opinion is about whether a particular piece of evidence is valuable or not.
Prior to teaching a lesson and after understanding the type of learners that you have in your classroom, you should try to create a plan in regards to collecting evidence. We as teachers need to make sure we are accounting for all learners to learn and also for all learners to show their evidence that they actually are progressing in their learning. Having lots of evidence backs you up as a teacher, especially when parent/teacher interviews come around. Personally, I feel like I would want to see various different types of examples of how my child is doing so I hope as a teacher I will have more than enough to show parents. Having lots of evidence backs you up because if their child is struggling with something then you have more than just one example of what they are struggling with. “You must have enough evidence to be able to identify patterns and trends in student learning”. (Davies, 51) This shows the parents what their child is excelling at and what they also need to work at. This also shows the parent that you as a teacher are actively involved in their child’s learning and are trying to help them be successful. It shows that you care about their child just as much as they do and are willing to help support their needs. I also believe that it is very important to always focus on the positives. No one wants to hear what their child is not doing well at, so always make sure you have lots of evidence of successful learning as well.
Something I thought about when reading this chapter was a lot about parent involvement, which is probably one of the most important reasons to have a lot of evidence to show (besides for you, as the teacher). If I was unsure of what type of evidence that they would most want to see, a possibility I had thought about was maybe sending an email or letter home at the beginning of the year (sort of like an introductory letter) and including the parents in the process. I would ask them what sort of learning they would like to see from their children, perhaps gives examples of how I will be assessing their children and ask which ones they value the most. This could also possibly be a way to see what the student need to work on, because a parent could have a perspective that you don’t have yet.
Ensuring that my students’ parents are involved with their learning, I would also try to involve the student not only in their learning, but also in their assessment. Davies explains why this notion is so important in chapter 6, “When students are involved in the classroom assessment process, they become more engaged in learning”. (Davies, 55)
This allows students to share their ideas and have their voice heard. This is beneficial for you as the teacher in more than one way; for example when involving students you get to learn more about your students and their knowledge and understand what is important to them. Because this engages your students by creating a feeling of ownership, it also helps the teacher identify what the next steps will be in their teaching.
As Davies has discussed in previous chapters, she reiterates her points that students need to be given very specific and descriptive feedback and need examples to see and touch in order to see what success may look like.
On page 59 Davies talks about letting students evaluate their peers because it models how to give constructive feedback. However, I thought this could possibly be problematic. Personally, when I was in school I would have preferred to keep my work private and felt more comfortable if only the teacher saw what I was writing or doing. It could be problematic because not every student may take it seriously, or actually put the amount of effort in to give specific feedback. I also think that since it is peers giving peers the feedback, students may be more sensitive from feedback from peers just because it may feel more personal. Davies also suggests this idea because it would also cut down time spent marking and grading, but personally I would have to have a lot of trust in my students for me to let them peer evaluate because I would feel like I would have to go over the assignment or project over again to ensure the students were marked fairly and appropriately. Perhaps if the students’ work was made to be anonymous this could be more successful.
Lastly, Davies suggests setting goals with students because it is linked to more motivation. I think this would be a great idea for certain students because many would feel motivated by it, but others may view this activity as just another chore, or school requirement. Setting personal goals with students who need the motivation may be more valuable to do privately because when they do succeed it would feel as if more of a personal accomplishment.
These are all great ideas that Davies talks about, but I must admit I do feel quite overwhelmed. “The ideas themselves are simple, but the implementing of them in today’s busy classrooms will take some time”. (Davies, 61) It seems as if there are so many aspects to creating a successful classroom with successful students, and I hope I will be able to implement the correct tools to ensure this happens. I am sure it will take a lot of mistakes in order to figure out what works for my students and also what works for me.