Communication and Evaluating Learning

Chapters 9 & 10 in Making Classroom Assessment Work

Davies starts chapter 9 of Making Classroom Assessment Work out by discussing the importance of having an open communication system not only with your students but also with your student’s parents. She highlights the fact that many parents want to know what is happening with their children and their education, however many teachers struggle to find a successful means of communicating with so many parents with such different and complex schedules.

One suggestion she makes on page 86 is to involve students with the communication. I struggle with this solution because I personally see many challenges that may arise. The first being, what if the student doesn’t want to tell their parents about school? There are many children who leave school at school and don’t want to think about it again. There is also the issue of if there is a newsletter or questions that need to be discussed, there are some very disorganized children who will not have that paper in their hand for more than five minutes before it goes missing. There also is the issue of actually involving the parents. Unfortunately, there is always going to be parents who do not wish to be involved, or don’t have time to be involved. Even if the parents are willing to be involved with their child’s education, there is also the issue of time. What if their dad works out of town and doesn’t have time to talk about that specific topic, or what if the child has hockey right after school until late at night and they don’t get a chance to discuss the topics. Something I wonder about is whether implementing this communication strategy would still work if there were students who will not have any information or discussions at home involving their parents.

Going off of that point, incorporating technology would be a great idea in ensuring parents are involved as much as possible or as little as possible. Having a school website where information is posted, such as upcoming activities and due dates would be a great way of ensuring the parents that want to be kept up to date, can be. Also giving parents your personal email would be a good way of communicating because you can reply whenever you have a chance and vise versa. However, I have heard horror stories about teachers giving out email addresses to parents, so I guess I would need to get to know my students and parents before I went that far.

Davies then moves on to student-parent conferences, which is the best time for parents to see what their child has been doing. I think it is important to prepare for these with your students because it take some pressure off of you as the teacher, and it also gives students some initiative to take their learning into their own hands. During the conference, the parent will give feedback to their child and their child will hopefully feel very proud of accomplished. If needed, perhaps the parents could also set goals with their child involving the teacher to ensure future success as well.

Chapter 10 discusses in depth about evaluating and reporting of the evidence of the learning. On page 95, Davies says: “Evaluation is a process of looking at all the evidence, comparing it to the description and samples of quality and asking: Did this student learn what was to be learned? How well?” and then “To evaluate well, we should look at all the evidence – observations, products, and conversations.” This reiterates the point that you must collect numerous amounts of evidence over the process of learning, not just one because students learn in so many different ways and can accomplish success in more than one just way.

Not only is it so important to involve parents as much as possible, but as discussed previously in the book, it is also crucial to involve the students as well. If we involve students then their learning becomes so much more valuable because they get to learn about things that are important and interesting to them. This also will help in their understanding if they involved in the learning from the very beginning. If students learn how to successfully self-monitor, then they are well on their way of becoming life long learners.

In conclusion, I believe that the more parent involvement you can get in your classroom, the better. It will positively affect your student’s learning if they have a parent actively invested in their education, and it can also give parents a peace of mine because their voice will be heard about what they want their children to be learning.

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One thought on “Communication and Evaluating Learning

  1. Tessa,

    I appreciate your thoughtful consideration of Davies’ suggestions. I hadn’t considered all of the difficulties you mention regarding communicating with students and parents about assessment, but I think you mention many important things to consider. I agree, however, that involving students in conferencing can allow students to take some ownership in their learning.

    I agree when you discuss Davies’ suggestion of involving students in reporting about assessment, and triangulating the evidence. In my blog post on these chapters, I mentioned Miller’s article (2013), in which she discusses her practice of conferencing with students in her English class before assigning final marks. She discusses assignments with students, and agrees to disregard assignments in which students had little opportunity to improve, which shows how she values the learning process, and student feedback. I think this relates to how you mention that we must have multiple pieces of evidence, and must account for learners learning in different ways–Miller’s suggestion takes into account the processes students go through in learning, and Miller makes sure not to disadvantage students who learn differently or at a different rate.

    Overall, I agree with you that increasing student and parent involvement, while perhaps difficult to facilitate in ways, can be very enriching, so everyone better understands what is happening in assessment, and all three groups can have better conversations about learning. Thanks for the thoughtful post!

    References
    Miller, J. (2013). A better grading system: Standards-based, student-centered assessment. English Journal, High School Edition, 103 (1). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.libproxy.uregina.ca:2048/docview/1442779325/fulltextPDF?accountid=13480

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