Chapter Ten Response

This chapter discusses how to evaluate the evidence that the student produces.  This chapter discusses the triangulation of evidence, and it’s importance when evaluating students.  Therefore, we need to do more than just total the students grades; we need to look at all the evidence – observations, products, and conversations.  I liked the example of how a judge in a court room needs to examine all the evidence before sentencing.  The same goes for teachers; we need to look at all the evidence of learning before evaluating our students.

I liked how “Ms. D” let her students provide the evidence for each outcome that they wanted to be assessed on, then explain why they think they deserve a certain mark.  I think that is good, because it shows just how much the students knows, and how well he/she thinks he/she did throughout the semester.

I think that it is important that we as teachers stay within the legal requirements of evaluating students, but we do it in a way that is meaningful for the students; whether that be self-assessment compared to teacher-assessment, providing evidence of learning, and allowing multiple ways of achieving each outcome.

Chapter Nine Response

Chapter Nine discusses the importance of communicating with students and parents about student learning.  I like how this chapter shares how when students are able to communicate about their learning, it teaches them how to self-monitor and become more independent.  I think that is crucial, especially with high school students.  These students are getting to the age where they need to foster more independence, and in some cases perhaps be given more responsibility.

I really liked the idea of students creating a student-generated newsletter.  Though this would be more difficult in a high school, I still believe it would be a great way to allow students to share what they’re learning in their classes.  In a middle years setting, I think this is a great idea.  Since middle years classes spend most of the day together, this would be easier as it would create more of a community when working on this process.

This article then discusses the importance of involving an audience, such as parents or guardians.  Three-way conferences was one way in which I saw communication in my pre-internship.  Fortunately, my cooperating teacher allowed me to be part of three-way conferences, and I learned quite a bit about working with parents.  Some parents were very informed their child’s grades and how they were doing in school, while others were oblivious of their child’s mark, and admitted they were never on PowerSchool.  I thought it was strange that some parents were surprised at how well or poorly their child was doing.  I saw PowerSchool as a way of solving the issue of keeping parents in the dark, but never considered that parents still may not check it, or have access to a computer to check it.  I noticed most of the teachers were big on letting the students facilitate the conference.  I liked how they let the student do most of the talking and allowed his/her thoughts to be shared regarding his/her learning.

As discussed in chapter 8, portfolios seem to be a good tool for presenting students evidence of learning.  I liked how in this chapter, it discussed inviting parents to write comments in the portfolio about their child’s learning journey.  I liked the idea of allowing parents a space to record two compliments and one wish for their child.  From here, I think this would be a good opportunity to sit down with the child and create goals on how students plan on finishing the semester.

Another way communication that was frequently used during my pre-interenship was e-mail.  It seemed my cooperating teacher constantly was reading e-mails about students asking what assignments were missing, what assistance was needed, and how their child should register for classes in the fall.  Though there were some “flaws” with e-mailing, it allowed parents and teachers to communicate directly about issues that may be arising.  Even within the school, teachers were frequently e-mailing other teachers in the school.  Sometimes it was about extra-curricular activities, other times it was about behaviour issues or incomplete work that students were missing.

Chapter Eight Response

This chapter begins by discussing how collecting evidence of learning used to only be the teacher’s responsibility.  However, as it states, “if students are to be involved in assessment in support of their learning, then they must also be involved in this crucial aspect”.  I think that is a really good point I never considered before.  I think by doing this process, it will allow me as a teacher to see whether or not students truly are grasping the content.  Not only will it show what the students know, it will also show how students are as learners – in what ways they learn best, in what ways they don’t learn best, areas of struggle, etc.

I think if I were to set this up, I would have three or four “activities” that could count towards one aspect of the learning.  If there are four aspects in which I will be assessing on, students will get to choose what activity they will hand in for each of the four aspects.  I think this would work really well for English – if students were given multiple means to draft, edit, and revise multiple poems, then only had to submit the two in which they felt were their strongest.  For Health I can see this working for some units as some of the indicators are closely related and can be assessed through a variety of sources.  However, there are some outcomes and indicators that I think would be more difficult to provide students the opportunity to choosing and presenting their evaluation.

Portfolios is something I remember as a kid that I absolutely loved.  It was a time where I could show my parents, grandparents, and anyone else who would look.  Portfolios would be a great asset for three-way conferences.  This would help the parents to understand why their child has the mark he/she has in that class.  One aspect to portfolios I would be hesitant about is for the students who lack the assignments or activities to put in the portfolio.  Thinking back to my portfolio, I always enjoyed showing my parents because it was a time when I could brag about “how good I was”.  However, I never really considered until now how these portfolios would look for the students who are missing assignments.  Knowing that their parents and teachers will be going through their portfolios, I wonder if this would encourage students to complete assignments, or make them feel worse, and potentially less engaged, about having incomplete work.

Chapter Seven Response

This chapter showed a variety of ways in which assessment can guide our instruction as teachers.  This chapter stresses the importance of having students involved in the learning process, giving them the destination ahead of time, and discussing how what they will be learning will help them with their assessments in the end.

I liked how “Mrs. C” had her students create their own criteria for their research project.  She had them create a list of what they perceived to be as important when completing a research assignment.  I thought this was a neat idea.  I think going in with my own ideas and comparing my ideas to the students would help us find middle ground.  As it shows, Mrs. C add a few of her own ideas of what she hoped to see.  Though we followed a similar process to this in ECS 410, I felt like this book depicts a pretty ideal situation.  As we learned first-hand, creating rubrics isn’t easy.  Maybe we just had a passionate group, but I have to admit I found the process quite exhausting.  Trying to see this happening in a high school classroom is difficult – Will they be engaged?  Will everyone’s voice be heard?  How do we make this rubric clear for everyone?  What if the students aren’t engaged?  What if their ideas of standards don’t match mine?  How much time do I allot for this process?

To be honest, this process scares me.  It seemed to work pretty well for Mrs. C’s class, but I can a lot of troubles that could arise in a real classroom.

As it says in the book, this chapter focuses on involving students in the assessment process.  Though I am hesitant about creating a rubric with my students, I do still think it is important to include students in the process.  To begin, we could discuss ways in which students prefer assessments: tests, presentations, papers, posters, etc.  I think from there, it will help me know how my class works best and then come up with ways in which I can include them further.

Chapter Five/Six Response

Learning about Triangulation is something that was new to me when reading this chapter. Reading this chapter definitely made me more observant during my pre-internship, especially looking at ways I can subtly assess students knowledge.

Observations: I was fortunate enough to work in a wellness class with only 12 girls, so observing them was quite easy. We did quite a bit of partner and group work, so I found it easy to move from group to group and work with the girls on any questions they had. One day we tried speed dating; it wasn’t the most successful activity, but I can the benefits from it. The girls only had so much time together, so they had to get through that question and be ready to move one. I also found that speed dating in pairs could be worthwhile as the quiet girls had someone else to work with, and different ideas were discussed for the same question.

Creating Products: throughout my pre-internship, I think I collected a fair amount of assignments from the class. One thing I thought of while creating these assignments was creating an element of choice for students to demonstrate their knowledge. As it says in the text, “as teachers become more knowledgeable about the implications of different theories of intelligence, they are expanding the ways students show or represent what they know” (p. 49). I tried to keep that in mind when planning learning products. For one assignment, the students had complete control over how they presented their assignment. However, all but two chose to complete a written assignment.

Conversations about Learning: I think this is a huge part of assessment that is sometimes missed by teachers. During 3-way conferences, I noticed that some teachers talked about the student as if he/she wasn’t sitting right there. However, other teachers spent the majority of the time talking directly to the student about how he/she was going to improve his/her grades, and how we as teachers and parents could help. In the end, I felt like we made more progress when the student had a say in what he/she would do to get caught up. Furthermore, I was part of a team meeting about a boy who was blind. The speech pathologist only talked to the student about adaptations, and low and behold, the student had great suggestions about adaptations that could be made to improve his learning. It was so neat! I could tell the student felt so grateful that all 7 adults were there to ask him what he needed as opposed to telling him what he was getting.

Chapter Four Response

This chapter discusses the importance of samples when giving students assignments. I liked how this chapter talked about having the students examine the samples prior to creating the rubric. By looking at the samples first, the students can go through and list the important features on their own.

I also think that by having samples for students to look at, it would be easier for students and teachers to see how students work compared to what was expected. I think it would allow us as teachers to provide better quality feedback, and it would be more explicit for students to see where they could have improved.

I found during my pre-internship that samples really do make a huge difference. When I gave my Wellness 10 girls a unit assignment, they asked me if I had any examples. To be honest, I didn’t really think to create one, because the assignment was so open ended as to how the students completed it. I also noticed this with another teachers English 10 assignment. She told me that she has tons of examples from her previous units, but since she was trying something new she didn’t have anything to show the students. She said she found it nerve wracking, because the students didn’t have anything to go off of, and she didn’t have an example to use when marking.

I know trying new assignments within units is worthwhile, but I can see how this teacher who was so used to having examples felt slightly overwhelmed.

The Classroom Experiment

I really enjoyed this video.  I thought it was really interesting to see these ideas in action, and how the students and teachers experimented with these strategies.

The first strategy that was implemented was the popsicle sticks with students names on them.  I thought this was such a good idea.  I was surprised to see the kids get so frustrated over the popsicle sticks.  The students who were used to always answering the questions would get frustrated when they weren’t chosen, and the students who never put their hands up, were scared to get picked.  I thought the idea of pulling two popsicle sticks at a time was a really good idea.  That way, the students have someone else to rely on if they don’t know the answer.  I think this is a strategy that I would definitely try in my internship in the fall.

Next, was the whiteboards.  I thought this was neat, because it gave every student a chance to answer, without being outed by everyone else.  One problem that could arise from the whiteboards, is students doodling, or writing irrelevant or inappropriate comments on the whiteboards.  I think before introducing the whiteboards, I would discuss with the students how beneficial the whiteboards can be when used properly.  I would explain like one of the teachers did in the video that if a student is misbehaving with the whiteboard, he/she loses their privilege to participate in class discussions.

Another strategy that was introduced was doing Physical Activity first thing in the morning.  I was really surprised that Dylan asked the students and teachers to be there 30 minutes before school started to participate in physical activity, and that they actually showed up.  I think this is a great idea, but I’m not too sure how I feel about requiring students to be there earlier than when they are supposed to be.  I also thought it kind of seemed like a lot of work for ten minutes of physical activity.  The teacher spent quite a bit of time in the beginning reminding the students to change and get into the gym so they could begin.  Therefore, by the time students changed and attendance was finished, they only had roughly ten minutes left before school started.  Though I think daily physical activity is a great idea, I would try to find other ways to incorporate it into the day.  For example, one school I did my ECS 100 field experience at had 5 minutes of movement every 45 minutes.  Each classroom had two or three leaders that would lead the students through movement exercises for the duration of one song while it played over the intercom.  I thought it was a good idea.  It was good to see the school trying to get the kids moving, and I found even for me, it was a nice brain break.  I think it definitely added a bit of energy to the majority of the students.

Only adding comments as part of assessment was one strategy that I found interesting.  I usually enjoy comments and feedback, but in the end, it is the mark I care about.  However, I was so surprised how these students reacted.  The one girl was genuinely upset about not getting a grade, and another girl thought since she didn’t have many comments her work was perfect.  I also noticed the type of comments the students got.  One teacher had a rubric with comments, as opposed to numbers.  I noticed with that, the students were then comparing which comments were circled/highlighted, and interpreted that as part of their mark.  However, from what I saw, there were few personal comments about the students work, and more generic comments.

I thought when Dylan invited the parents to come and see the new changes to the school that was quite interesting.  It was apparent it made some parents feel uncomfortable when their popsicle sticks were drawn from the cup.  However, the one mom talked about how her daughter was so shy and quiet, but when her popsicle stick was drawn, she answered the question with confidence.  I thought that was awesome; to me, that just reaffirmed how positive the popsicle sticks can be for the quiet students who normally would be too shy to raise their hand to answer the question.

One strategy I thought was really interesting and seemed to work okay was the Secret Student.  I thought there was some positives and negatives with this strategy.  I thought it was neat how the teachers told the students when someone earned them a point, but never pointed out the person who didn’t get them a point.  I also liked how similar to the popsicle sticks, once that student was chosen, their name could still be chosen next time.  I thought once they picked a popsicle stick or secret student, that student wouldn’t be picked until everyone else was picked.  However, I liked how that student could be chosen again.  Though I really liked the idea of the secret student, I thought the reward was too much.  If I were to do this, I would have a much smaller reward, like pizza or dilly bars.  I think as long as the students are still motivated by secret student, any type of reward would work.