Demonstration of Learning Interview

1. Philosophy of Assessment and Evaluation:

I believe that assessment and evaluation needs to be different for every student, and that there is no one-way to assess all the time. I also believe that the students should know exactly what and when they are being evaluated on. One of the most frustrating things I have experienced, as a student, is feeling unclear about assignments and exams and then realizing that I didn’t complete what the professor or teacher had wanted. I don’t believe that tests or assignments should be a surprise. Something I hadn’t really considered or thought about before this semester is the difference between assessment and evaluation. Assessment is gathering information about student learning, and we as teachers may teach differently based on what we find as we assess. Evaluation is when we decide whether or not students have learned what they needed to learn and how well they learned it. (Davies, 1)

After taking this class, I definitely agree that assessment should be happening constantly in the classroom to understand where the student learning is. Throughout my limited experience in the classroom, I have learned that regardless of what you have planned in your lesson outline and weekly plans it doesn’t mean that your students will achieve everything you have set out. That is exactly why it is so important to be always assessing your students to see where they are at because realistically, they will always be at different places at different times.

Student involvement is a large part of my assessment and evaluation philosophy. Giving the student’s choice is something that I believe goes a long way in regards to motivation and engagement. Davies outlines on page 5 how involving students can shape their own learning because:

  • Understand what is expected of them
  • Access prior knowledge
  • Have some ownership over making it happen
  • Be able to give themselves descriptive feedback as they are learning
  • Give information that teachers need to adjust their teaching

I think that the last bullet is extremely important, especially as an inexperienced teacher because we won’t always have the best lessons starting out, and it takes a bit of experimenting before we can see what works and what doesn’t work. Involving your students in this process gives them a sense of responsibility and confidence because if something isn’t working, then you as the teacher are flexible enough to make a change if possible. It also gives you the accessibility to be more on the same level as your students instead of you being the leader all of the time

Finally, differentiating assessment and evaluations are extremely important because every learner is so different, and therefore success looks different for every student. I have realized through my experience as a student, specifically in-group work, how differently success looks to each student. I have also realized in my field experience how each student has different strengths and weaknesses, and therefore need to have different ways of showing their success.

2. Describe how you used assessment and evaluation in your field experience.

  • Consider how you used formative and summative assessment

As mentioned before, my partner and I were not able to use a lot of our own assessment and evaluation practices during our placement, only because of bad timing in the unit plan. However, we were able to do a lot of formative assessment. We spent a lot of our time at the school reviewing essay writing, therefore a lot of the observation we did was formative assessment. The only formative assessment I was able to use was an exit slip during some spare time we had. Our class had been reviewing the novel and connecting different parts of the novel to the essay topics they were given the choice of choosing, so when I had some extra time left over in class one day I asked the students to write down on their piece of paper what essay topic they were considering, and why they think they could write an awesome essay about it. I was really surprised by their answers because I honestly thought that they were getting nothing from my lessons, and were annoyed because they were so repetitive. However, when reading the exit slips the student’s gave me, I realized that they were engaged because many students wrote down that they would use that topic because we as a class discussed specific examples from the book, and some even wrote down the page numbers they were on! I was amazed, and really happy because if I hadn’t assessed the students, even in that simple of a form, then I would have had no idea where they were at in regards to how prepared they were to write their essays. I felt after seeing where each student was at, that I could move on to the next step in the process.

  • What assessment tools you used,

As mentioned – the only assessment tools we were able to use was the exit slips. However, my cooperating teacher used a lot of Scantron sheets as a form of evaluation. I wasn’t completely sure how I felt about Scantrons because I remember using them as a student and hated them as there was no choice and often I received a very low grade, which wasn’t reflective of my actual knowledge. However, my coop still used it as a form of assessment because he often used them for grammar quizzed or “have you read the book” quizzes. They were still for marks, however he usually made these quizzes to be a low portion of their grade. It also was more so a form of evlatiation because the student’s were not able to re-do the quiz without coming to see him for extra help. For example, many of the students did very poorly on the grammar quiz and he gave the students the option of re-doing the quiz, only if they were willing to come after school or lunches for extra help. Only one of his classes took this offer up, and only a handful of students showed up for the extra help, so not everyone was given the opportunity to re-do it. He also didn’t give this option all the time, which is why I am unclear as to if it was an evaluation or form of assessment.

  • How you involved students in the assessment/evaluation process,

We spent a lot of our time while we were in our pre-internship teaching the students how to write essays. We did this by giving them a rubric that our cooperating teacher gave us that he was using to mark the essays, and we went through this rubric in depth with the students for many classes. The rubric was a really specific rubric that had examples of what each mark would get. For instance, for the title it had an example of what would be considered a title worth a full mark, an example of a title that would be considered a half a mark, etc. Our coop outlined the rubric like that for all aspects of the essay, so I thought it was a really great rubric. We also involved the students by having them mark a sample essay created by our coop from the rubric. They did this in partners for a class, and then the next class I projected the sample essay through the smart board and we went through as a class marking the essay, using the rubric as a check list to ensure that the essay followed the rubric and then I would get the students to tell me what mark they would give the essay, using the rubric. They students really enjoyed being involved in this activity because they knew they were marking their teacher’s essay so they took it seriously and really pulled it apart. I also think they really took a lot away from it, and am confident that almost all of the students can outline a five-paragraph essay easily.

  •  Differentiation and accommodations you made for equitable assessment/evaluation, etc.

I wasn’t able to witness a lot of assessment or evaluations; however, I must admit that I didn’t see a lot of accommodations made for the students. As mentioned before, all students were given the same quiz on in a very unforgiving format – Scantron. There was one EAL student in our class who really could have used accommodations, as they were still writing down their notes in Mandarin. This particular student also did very poorly on both of the Scantron quizzes that I witnessed and I felt as if there could have been some sort of accommodation.

However I must say that my coop did have a few different forms of evaluation and assessment because there was more than one way of assessing the students taken into consideration. For example, when we arrived the students were just finishing up some debates revolving the topics found in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This debate was worth marks, and there were some students who really shined. Since we were relatively new at this point, we were not that familiar with the students so after discussing these debates with our coop, he told us that he was very surprised at how well some students did and how poorly others did. He said that one student in particular wasn’t that strong of a student on paper through writing, however doing this type of oral presentation, the student did extremely well. I realized being in the classroom how important it is to incorporate numerous ways of evaluating because each student shows strengths in different ways.

3. How closely did your assessment and evaluation practices in the field align with your philosophy?

I am not confident that I observed enough forms of assessment during the three weeks to say whether or not the assessment/evaluation practices aligned with my philosophy. I would say that I did witness a limited amount of differentiation in regards to evaluation practices, because we were able to only see oral and written evaluations. As mentioned previously, I wouldn’t say I am 100% comfortable with assessing students through a Scantron sheet because it is so limiting to their knowledge, however after experiencing it a few times I could see how I would use this as a form of assessment in certain things from time to time, definitely not all of the time. I also think that there was many times that differentiation could have been put into use in regards to certain EAL students. In my classroom, I would try to adapt the evaluations and assessments to help the EAL students succeed, and I don’t think that there was everything done to differentiate to suit their specific needs.

  1. Three key leanings you have taken away, and why will these three things be so important to your teaching practice?
  • Differentiation:

Throughout this semester and especially from my field experience, I have learned that differentiation in assessment and evaluation is so important. Every student has a different take on success in the classroom. I especially noticed this in the classroom because often the students who spoke up during class discussions answering my questions and prompts were more so the average students who did poorly on written evaltiatons or assessments. The students who were at the top of the class in regards to academics were very quiet and often never spoke up unless I called on them. I also noticed that the very strong students academic wise, also did very poorly on oral presentations and vice versa for the weaker students, who did quite well orally and very poorly on written. Therefore, it was such a great opportunity to learn how important differentiation is because all of those students were showing their leanings in completely different ways, and if they were only given one way of presenting their knowledge, it might not be an authentic showcase.

  • Descriptive Feedback

Unfortunately, I wasn’t given the opportunity to actually give my students descriptive feedback however I still took this part of assessment and evaluation as one of the most important parts. From class discussions, and from experience as a student myself I believe that instead of just slapping a mark on an assignment, you should be describing why and where the student succeeds, and where the student can still improve. Using a rubric is something I hadn’t really done before (as a teacher), but going through a specific rubric that outlines exactly where and why the students will get their marks made it very clear to the students how they can succeed.

  • Frequency

I think this aspect of assessment ties my first two key leanings together very nicely. For instance, differenation needs to happen all the time in order to get an authentic understanding of there the student’s are, as my example previously about the differences in the student’s understanding of the content when presented orally verses written. This differentiation of evaluation and assessment needs to happen more than just once because then the student has multiple opportune to show case their work. For example, if the students were only given the opportunity to be evaluated orally, then not all students would succeed. In regards to descriptive feedback, I think frequency definite ties into that well because if you are giving the descriptive feedback at the end of the unit where there is no oppoirtiny gor the students to improve is not beneficial for the students, nor for the teacher. Descriptive feedback needs to be given at multiple times throughout the unit because then there is the chance for students to succeed because perhaps they don’t even realize what they need to improve on. It was so interesting to read Beth’s blog post about her experience with descriptive feedback because it seemed as if it was very successful and she was very proud of it. I would love to use this during my internship in the fall.

With all of these learnings, I feel a lot more comfortable with the assessment process and am very excited to put these key elements to use in my own 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.