Inquiry Blog Post #5: Problematic Stereotypes

In my previous post, I wrote about the importance of teaching Indigenous education because without the proper education, then it is so easy to fall into stereotypes without even realizing. I don’t just want to bring awareness to my students but I want to challenge them to dig deeper, and think harder about why there are stereotypes involved.

For example, “Those EvanMunday_530_289_90Drunk Indians” is published in briarpatch magazine online, which explains very well how the stereotypes in Canada are very prominent. There is a quote in this article that was heartbreakingly real, “I am seen as an Indian first,” she says. “Then a woman. After that, it doesn’t matter that I’m gay or an auditor or someone’s aunt. I’m already less than.”

Why is this true? This is exactly why Indigenous education needs to be implemented more, and mandatory, as I challenged in my previous post. It should not be a choice, because it is not a choice for this woman to be seen as anything less than she is just because she is an Aboriginal woman.

As I mentioned also in previous posts, awareness and knowledge is the missing piece in my opinion. I grew up surrounded by countless stereotypes about Aboriginal people. It wasn’t until I was educated that I started asking the important questions such as why and how can I change this? If students aren’t aware of our country’s history, then how could they begin to understand the stereotypes and the implications that come with them?

The reason this is so important is because we need to fill the gap between Canadians and Aboriginal Canadians. For example, the article references the countless Aboriginal women that have gone missing and have been murdered, and yet there has been hardly anything done about it. It has been years, decades animages-1d there it is still not a pressing matter, as it absolutely should be. Again, I didn’t know about any of these because the media seems to be covering news stories from one side – the privileged. There is hardly any media coverage from the Aboriginal perspective.

The article also references the horrible murder trial for Cindy Gladue, who bled to death in an Edmonton hotel room from an 11-centimetre wound in her vagina. The white man was found not guilty, afterUnknown graphic images of her wounded vagina were on display for all of the jury to see. Would this case be any different if the woman was white and the accused man was Aboriginal?

As a cat lover myself, I was devastated to find out that a cat was found in Regina, tortured, with his legs tied up with electrical tape. Evie Ruddy compares the media’s coverage on these stories – the media con3803753_1426867084.7726tinues to post numerous updates about this poor cat and he has even gotten international media coverage. Citizens have fallen in love with this cat and have raised over $22,000 for him. How is it that a cat can get more media coverage, whereas a horrific murder trial with an outrageous verdict is nearly hidden from the public?

This article, and this author’s experience with stereotypes is exactly why Indigenous education is so crucial for our society. There is no question that we have a long way to go, but I am confident that once there is more awareness raised, the critical questions will soon follow.


Inquiry Project Post #4: Is Indigenous Studies a Choice or Requirement?

Throughout doing research for this project, I have noticed my eye catching a lot of headlines in the news that pertain to my topic. Recently I came across an article that surprisingly one of my friends I had grown up with, shared on social media that I couldn’t help but find so intriguing. The article is titled “Why Indigenous Studies Shouldn’t Be Mandatory; It’s redundant, it’s unfair, and coercion causes resentment” and it is founimagesd on Maclean’s website. This was even more interesting to me that she chose to share her ideas about Indigenous studies being invaluable as she herself has Métis background.

This article hits very close to home because it is specifically about University of Regina students. Although I do appreciate the concerns of some students in the article for the reasons why they feel they shouldn’t have to take the class, there is one specific part of the article that really stood out to me:Unknown

“I’m with him. Indigenous Studies is fine as an elective. But for many, it would be a waste of time and money. Above all, it’s wrong to force students to take classes focused on one minority’s history—especially when that minority’s history is already widely-covered in Canadian K-12 curricula.”

The reason I disagree with this is because I know first hand that the “minority’s history” is definitely NOT widely covered in Canadian schools even if it is included in the curriculum. I feel like I can say that with confidence because I grew up in a small town where we did not follow the curriculum, as we should have. Therefore, as I mentioned previously, I had zero exposure to any type of Treaty Education. I didn’t even know what a residential school was until my second semester of university.

I know that I can’t speak for all small towns, or even for people my age about what and when they were exposed to Indigenous education, however, I am familiar with the current curriculum and I was just in a high school where “the minority’s history” was not taught. Even though Aboriginal history is an essential aspect to the curriculum, it is unfortunately not always emphasized, as it should be.

For those reasons, this is why the article upset me. The fact that someone would say that the history is previously covered therefore we no longer have to learn it, is quite upsetting. Especially because my generation in particular there seems to be some sort of divide with the minority of our Aboriginal population because many people my age were not exposed to the important historical events that have had major impact on Indigenous people. This in turn then made many people ignorant and very unforgiving to the much more prominent stereotypes that we were exposed to instead.images-1

Even just the title of the article itself is problematic. Educating our Canadian people about the Indigenous population and their trial and tribulations they have suffered is absolutely necessary because it is such a crucial aspect of our country’s past. Claiming that making this type of education mandatory is going to cause resentment is just proving the point that the lack of correct Indigenous education is prevalent in our society.

I found a article arguing why the fact that someone actually wrote this article is PROOF that Indigenous studies needs to mandatory. If you felt upset like I did reading the article in Maclean’s, I would strongly suggest reading this post by Bannock + Butter on Tumblr.

To drive my point home, I will end with this quote; “he objects to being forced to spend $650 and countless hours on a subject he’s not interested in”.

Is the tragic history of our country’s people merely a subject that one can choose to participate in? I disagree with this article and think that choosing to participate in the Indigenous studies of Canada shouldn’t be a choice as the culture and repercussions of mistreatment surrounds us more then ever today.

Inquiry Project Post #3: Quotes From a Sioux Indian Chief

10 Quotes From a Sioux Indian Chief That Will Make You Question Everything About Our Society

indian.jpg.pagespeed.ce.4js8v-f9WO As I am continuing research for my inquiry project, I came across an article the other day that I found very intriguing because it had so many meaningful quotes that I really wanted to explore. I would absolutely want to try to implement these ways of knowing in my future classroom. I speak of personal experience when I say that so much of our Canadian history was hidden from me growing up, and only exposed to the typical stereotypes. As an educated adult, I now realize how detrimental this was to my generation because I know that it is a very common issue. Knowledge is power! It is so crucial to be able to teach my students as many aspects of the Aboriginal ways of knowing, instead of the perceived version that they are most likely to be exposed to from home life or frequently found in our society. Again, informing my students about history and how it affects our Canadian background is essential to breaking these harmful prejudices.

 “Conversation was never begun at once, or in a hurried manner.”

One of the biggest challenges I have been finding lately is one that relates to technology, because it is something that makes conversations and relationships meaningless at certain times. I think this is directly related to the above quote. Isn’t technology the most hurried manner of conversation there is?  I am absolutely guilty of this myself in so many different situations. Being in a classroom daily for the past few weeks I see how much technology has taken over all aspects of adolescent lives. The students are always, constantly on their phones. I haven’t been around young people in that extent for a long time, so I have never realized until recently how intensely students use their phones. Even after warnings and confiscating cellphones/iPads, they are still constantly using their technology. It is an addiction and as if they can’t be without. The only day I watched two students in my class one row over text each other instead of talking to each other. I thought to myself, “How sad is that”. The social skills that this generation will lack are outstanding.

“Children were taught that true politeness was to be defined in actions rather than in words.”

 Relating to the above paragraph about lack of social skills, I agree with this quote that all actions need to be felt, not just said. There are so many meaningful messages behind this, because so often in our society, there are countless thoughtless actions.  If we were to teach students some of these valuable lessons then maybe we would be able to decrease this and make our country a better place. Something else I have been learning a lot about in our internship is that students really do see us teachers as role models so if we can model compassion, then that can go miles and will hopefully one day make a difference in the challenges that our people of Canada are facing.

“Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery”.

wilderness.jpg.pagespeed.ce.pcqg2xJFT8Respecting the earth is not something that is just a passionate hobby to some people – it is an absolute necessity. So often, the earth and its beautiful nature are not respected, as it should be. I believe this is partly because this necessity is not taught to children as well as it should be. It goes back to the lack of meaningful conversations because of the advancement of technologies. Are we spending enough time appreciating the amazing landscapes we are surrounded with in Canada? Do we take care of our land as well as the land takes care of us? Would we still be alive without the selflessness of Earth?

“It filled his being with the joy and mystery of living; it gave him reverence for all life; it made a place for all things in the scheme of existence with equal importance to all”.

One of the most ironic messages from this article is that every one is equal. It seems so obvious right? However, that doesn’t mean it is true, especially in Canada. This quote should be dissected with great detail because it is one of the most important life lessons – everyone and everything is equal. There is no one better and no one beneath you. Everyone deserves love. What an amazing lesson to learn that regardless of race, gender, age, beliefs, that every single human is equal.

All of these quotes make for deeper meaning about almost all aspects of life. It is especially important to know the fact that there are so many different points of view and traditions. We all have our own traditions that we celebrate with our own families and friends, and we need to realize that there are other important aspects to the Aboriginal ways of knowing.  This article is a small aspect of how certain groups of people view their lives and as Canadians we need to be open to all aspects of our historical traditions in order to hopefully one day find reconciliation and some sort of peace in our society.

Inquiry Project Post #2: Royal Saskatchewan Museum

Recently, our cUnknownlass went for a tour of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. I have only been there only a couple times before as I am not originally from Regina, so I don’t have as much information about it as some of my peers did. Something that I gathered from my fellow students, who have been going there since their childhood, is that it has not changed one bit. We went through the First Nations display, and I found it to be very dry.

images-2There was also a huge part missing in this gallery. That part being history or even recognition about Residential schools not only in Canada, but it was left out entirely in our Saskatchewan history. This really surprised me, as Saskatchewan was the grounds for some of the longest standing residential schools in Canada. Something else that really stood out to me is the fact that the language that was used in this exhibition was completely outdated. For example, the term that was used to address this culture was “Indian”. There was no other languageUnknown-1 used, and there was also a very westernized perspective forced. There was a display that was all about the Hudson’s Bay Trading Company that insinuated that European’s came over and really helped and “saved” the First Nations. There was also nothing about the problematic ways that the European’s took over the land. The First Nations people’s were portrayed to have ideal living conditions, with none of their struggles they faced shown in any of the displays. There was also nothing shown about the conflict between the European settlers and the First Nations people that happened and is consequently still happening today.

images-1Although I doubt that the Royal Saskatchewan Museum is intending to portray the history this way, it is very problematic. If these are the types of displays and exhibitions our students and children are viewing, then there should be no surprise that Canadians (such as myself) know absolutely nothing about the real history that happened. There needs to be the truth displayed and taught to children and adults so that the awareness is turned into knowledge regardless of if it is difficult to discuss. There also needs to be this discussion started very early on because then students and children are aware of these issues and are not 20 (like myself) when they first hear about residential schools. Honestly, learning about the residential schools and the treatment of First Nations peoples is very disturbing, especially as an older student because it is shocking that there is hardly any awareness about it. It  did shake my foundations when I became aware of this, because how was I a knowledge university student learning how to shape the minds of young children, when I didn’t even know about one of Canada’s most important historical events? It is so challenging to reflect on this and find solid ground on this because my entire life I had been told (silently, throughout no awareness) one thing, and then finding something out so disturbing made me feel very uneducated and confused.

The visit to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum was a great learning experience for me as a teacher, because it showed me why students have such limited knowledge about First Nations people. As I said in my previous post, it was unbelievable that so many Canadians were obnoxious to the history of the First Nations people, but these types of portrayals in our museums and how our Canadian history is taught could explain why. It also showed me what perspectives I need to be including in my classrooms because it is likely that they are only being told or shown one perspective.

Inquiry Project Post #1: Why I chose Treaty Education

The reason why I wanted to choose Treaty Education for my inquiry project is because I feel like I need to have so much more information  beforeGMCTE Treaty Module FINAL I can incorporate it in an educational and effective way into my classroom on a daily basis.

I believe that one of the reasons that I feel so lost in regards to this topic is because I grew up in a place where Treaty Education was not discussed at all, and my teachers mostly avoided the topic as much as they could. I did not learn about residential schools until I started university, which is something that still makes me upset today that this knowledge was hidden from me for so long. It is unbelievable to me that so many Canadians are so oblivious to this topic.

After attending the Treaty Education Workshop at the beginning of the semester, I felt as if I never received a straightforward answer on HOW to actually incorporate Aboriginal ways of knowing into my daily routines in my classroom. I felt like the workshop was mainly focused on discussing the terms of the treaties in Saskatchewan. Obviously that information is very important, but at the same time it didn’t help me as a teacher trying to include this into my classroom that I am about to enter in.

I crave to learn more because not only do I fully believe that Treaty Education is an essential part of the Canadian learning experience, but I believe that I should know how to bring this into my classroom in a meaningful way. Incorporating Treaty Education is required to pass your internship, however I have heard of previous interns who have had co-op teachers who did not take this part seriously at all, and viewed it more of a chore than anything else. For example, they would incorporate a “sharing circle” into a lesson, and then they checked off the “included Treaty Essential Learning’s” into all of their lessons just so it was checked off. I do not want to view this topic as unimportant and want to ensure that I am incorporating it in a though-provoking and important way.

In an English classroom I can see how this could be easier to do than in other subject areas, however I want to find ways of making this a daily routine in my classroom, instead of just studying specific First Nation’s texts and saying that I am teaching Treaty Education. Treaty Education and incorporating Aboriginal ways of knowing is something I am very interested in further learning and I hope that I can eventually feel confident in teaching Treaty Education in my classroom.

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.

Ontario’s Updated Health & Physical Education Curriculum – Is it too explicit?

o-SEX-ED-FRONT-570Ontario just released their improved and updated Health and Physical Education Curriculum as discussed in this CBC article for the first time since 1998. The biggest reason that this new updated curriculum needs to be implemented all over Canada is because of the increase of technology not only in schools, but within the teenage and youth in Canada. The truth of the matter is that with the increase of technology and children having access to technology at younger and younger ages, the harsh reality is that they do need to know about sex at a younger age.

There are students who have had cellphones for the majority of their lives, therefore have immediate access to the Internet. I guarantee that all teenagers have experienced some kind of cyber bullying in their lives. They also have access to cameras and apps such as “Snapchat” which was created so that people could send risqué photos to others and have it immediately deleted after a set number of seconds. Children need to know the dangers of technology and how to use it properly and appropriately.

Sexual health is more complex than its ever been. The article states: “Issues like gender identity, like lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans sexualities, sexual activity amongst young people — these are all hard conversations for all teachers to have”. There are hard conversations you need to have with your students in order to create an inclusive environment for all students. There are sexual relationships between different genders and not only that; there are a lot more birth control methods that have been created since 1998.

Something that I wonder about reading this article is the reaction of parents. Regardless of whether or not parents are pleased with their children learning about sexual related issues, are schools still allowed to go forward with it? If they were backed up with a new curriculum that is put together by the government, then I would argue that regardless of parent reactions, those teachers are still expected to teach it. A quote I really agree with from the CBC article sums the issue up very well, “I have this absolute conviction that the vast majority, if not all, parents would like their children to grow up to be sexually healthy adults”. We aren’t teaching these things to students to promote sex, we are teaching these things to ensure that every student has the knowledge of how to be safe and healthy when it does come to sexual relationships. The Huffington Post published a really informational article that breaks down and summarized exactly what each grade will learn in regards to the new curriculum. It is very helpful to understand exactly what will be taught and when.

From my own experience in high school, I had maybe two lessons learning about sex and sexual health. One was in grade 6, when a nurse came into our class and separated the boys from the girls and we each had a talk about puberty. A few years later, maybe in grade 9 or 10, we had one health class devoted to sex-ed, which consisted of our teacher putting a video on. I don’t even remember what the video was about, and we had no further discussion. However, I do remember that some students were excused from the class because our teachers sent home a letter to our parents explaining what we would be learning about and required a guardian’s signature in order to participate in the class. I would be curious to know whether or not that is still a practice in regards to the new curriculum.

Another question I wondered while reading this was how this curriculum would fit into the Catholic schools that teach the idea of saving sexual relationships until marriage. The CBC article says the following about that topic: “With the Institute of Catholic Education, which works on behalf of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, on board with the curriculum, and Education Minister Liz Sandals standing firm, the new program is here to stay — even in the face of rallies hosted by distressed parents and ardent opponents”.

These students are apart of the “iGeneration” that have constant access to the internet and technology therefore our schools and curriculum must ensure that we are equipping students with the appropriate knowledge instead of brushing the awkward topics under the rug.

Assessment Guiding Instruction & Presenting Evidence of Learning

Making Classroom Assessment Work – Chapters 7 & 8

When students come up with their own forms of assessment, it helps direct them into what they need to be doing. This also makes it easier for teachers because instead of telling your students what they need to do for you, it makes it more of a team effort in regards to what is important to every specific student and their needs or wants.

When we were trying to create a rubric in class on Thursday night as a group, I found it really challenging to create a rubric for something I didn’t necessarily know what the end result is supposed to be. I understand that we are supposed to be coming up with the rubric therefore we are essentially creating the project, however in my mind I am so set in my way of reading a rubric and having it already set out for me about what the end result needs to look like, therefore I am not used to having choice. I honestly didn’t know last night what I wanted in the rubric because I was so focused on what it was supposed to look like to Rhonda.

On page 66, Davies discusses the idea about adding ideas to class lists and rubrics as their skills increase. I think this is a great idea because creating a rubric can be very challenging or overwhelming when first starting out, so after looking at it a few times it could be beneficial to add things once students have a more clear understanding about what they actually want on the rubric. Giving the list or rubric to students after they create it will help them see and remember what they wanted in the project.

I also really liked Davies suggestion about after giving the students the rubric they created, as a check in during the project or assignment, have them highlight each word or phrase that was true or completed in their project at that point. (Davies, 67) This is a good way of quickly assessing your students to see what point they are at in the project.

This is also a way of accomplishing more differentiation in your classroom. Davies suggests on page 67 that most students should work towards all of the criteria, however a student with an IEP, they maybe could choose one out of the four areas of criteria to focus on instead of all. Then throughout the year, perhaps they can increase the focus areas depending on their progress.

Davies starts off chapter 8 by discussing how important it is to let your students know they have succeeded by their evidence of learning. This motivates them to keep trying and know they are on the right track. Having evidence of learning is so important because it is a visual trail of their learning. It can be really easy to involve your students in this process as well because if you just get your students to sign and date something then they can put it in their folder or bin and sort it at a later date. Perhaps once a month you can take a class to just organize their work so it doesn’t become so overwhelming at the end of the term. This will help disorganized students if you take time to do it together and it will also be more likely to be in one place if you keep it in the classroom instead of expecting them to carry it around with them.

In the end, it depends on your students and their learning needs to determine what type of evidence of learning they need to be creating over time. This is a great way of providing evidence of learning. If you are continually putting together a portfolio, if a parent ever wants to see what their child is working on currently, you always have something to pull out and show and explain what is going on.

Assessment in the Classroom: No Zero Policy

Assessment is something that has been a hot topic in most of my education classes lately. Obviously assessment is such an important part of any type of education, however, is there only one specific set way of assessing? How do we know is valuable to assess, and how to do it in a reliable way?

There is the heated debate about the no zero policy. I am not 100% sure about how I feel about this issue because I have never taught my own class before; therefore my views about marking and assessment are not totally concrete. I believe that if a student does no work, then they should not receive a grade for it. I do not think that they should necessarily receive a zero on that particular assessment, however I think giving them the grade of “incomplete” is fair. I have a hard time understanding the notion of giving a student a minimum of 30%, who did not put any effort and did not complete an assignment at all, when another student did try and did not meet the rubric and only met 46% of the criteria.

I believe that school is not only a place where students should be learning new content and increasing their knowledge about various subjects, I also think it’s a place of creating life long leaners and therefore, teaching life skills. I don’t believe that giving a minimum mark to someone who put zero effort in and has no intentions of completing the assignment, is teaching them good life skills. Students need to realize that time management is a crucial life skill that needs to be learned early in life. If a student doesn’t respect due dates, then will they respect the dates and times for jobs in the future? If they have learned through their entire schooling that they can get marks for something they didn’t complete, it will create unreliable adults.

In a perfect world, (or my perfect world, at least) there would be no marks. Does there need to be a grade attached to pieces of work that students create in the classroom? I would rather give really specific feedback explaining what my students excel at and what they need to continue to work at. I find it really hard to define a 73% graded essay and then what makes a 75%. What is the 2% that makes it different/better?

I realize that this notion is really unrealistic as everything in our world revolves around grades. Our own faculty of education revolves around maintain a certain average in our classes in order to be allowed to stay in the program. I have a hard time with this approach because I understand that being able to maintain a certain grade is essential in ensuring that we are being good learners, however a question I have wondered often is does a certain grade reflect what type of teacher I will be? Furthermore, if I am able to maintain a grade above 70% (in my major area which is English), does that mean I will be a good teacher? Is it fair to say that people who don’t maintain that average won’t be good teacher, and need to go back and retake those subject area classes? This is something that is near and dear to my heart, because I don’t believe that a student who received 68.5% in their major area should have to have their degree set back a year in order to pull that average up. I struggle with this area of my education because even though my major is English and that is the subject I need to stay above 70% in, once I receive my degree and am a licensed teacher, there is no guarantee that I will be teaching English. I can be teaching any subject area, in any grade level. Therefore, I am not completely sure that maintaining a certain average in a specific area is a valuable reflection of teaching abilities.

Instead, I believe that real world experience is what we would be judged on because that is the best way of gaining knowledge. It my opinion, I see lots of fellow students who are absolutely great at learning. They get great grades and can complete every assignment more than satisfactory, and can create fantastic lesson plans on paper. However, I wonder what will happen when these people are challenged with learners who are different from them and they find that things don’t go as planned? I will end this post with posing this question – does a great student equal a great teacher?

Collecting Evidence of Learning and Involving Students in Classroom Assessment

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.