TTEE2 Hot Topic Email Discussion
This year we have spent a considerable amount of time on the topic of assessment. We have talked about formative assessment and summative assessment, spent countless hours preparing students for assessment and discussed how to use assessment to make informed instructional decisions. Assessment is a BIG topic in education and is sure to become more of one as we move forward with the changes in teacher evaluation and in state testing.
Take a look at what Edutopia has put together on how a school in NYC is using Authentic Assessment. Before rolling your eyes that this school is NYC, check out this segment, School of the Future by the Numbers. Their demographics are not that much different than ours…except their kids take public transportation to school!
The full series is listed in the right hand menu bar throughout the segments. I recommend taking a look at as many of the segments below as you have time for. Some are quick little articles and some are short video clips.
- What is "Authentic" Assessment?
- Making Sure They Are Learning
- Keeping It Relevant and "Authentic"
- Thinking Big About Engagement
- Free Resources and Tools for "Authentic" Assessment
- Strategic Goals: Formative + Summative = Rigor
- Ten Takeaway Tips for Using Authentic Assessment in Your School
- Authentic Assessment: What You Can Do in 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 months, 5 years . . .
It seems like a real ideal school to me. The principles at SOF can be incorporated in some sense to all schools. With Common Core breathing down our necks, I think the ideas from SOF will have them ready for assessment, or more ready than they would be without doing the things they are doing.
For me, it is getting started with the actual strategies, that is causing me to go slow. For example, I have tried to do entrance cards and by the time everyone has filtered in, I noticed several kids asking other kids what they are writing...while this gets them inquiring, obviously I want to know what each person knows. I am sure if I continue the process we can get in the routine, I just have to be firm with the idea. It might not work the first time or the second, but hopefully by the third they will get the hang of it. Sometimes we see so many successes, it would be nice to see a more realistic view (even the "best practices" don't always work)
8th Grade Science
Greenville Junior High
I enjoyed reading the different types of assessments. We all have different types of learners and us teachers need to understand that. We can take different assessments to understand what a child is understanding. I liked the section about intigrating technology into the classroom and assessments. My students are able to get on a program called RAZ Kids (Thanks to Kelly!) and here they can read at their own pace and level. At the end of a reading it will ask them comprehension questions. I also use verbal response to assessments on understanding literature, picture drawing, and etc. It is fun to see what they students know and allowing them to show me in their different ways.
HAVE A GREAT DAY!
Greenville Elementary School
I have thought a lot about assessment and how to create a classroom environment that utilizes a variety of assessment tools, both formative and summative. What I notice as a trend in the SOF and other schools utilizing alternative assessments is the willingness to experiment. We, as teachers, need to make a conscious effort to break out of the comfortable, traditional, paper-and-pencil assessments, before we can be TOF (Teachers of the Future). So, look for what works for others, look for what doesn’t work for others and see if you can adapt it to make it work better for you, and simply be willing to experiment. Be careful not to experiment for the sake of experimentation, as all your assessments should be as valid and reliable as possible to truly reflect the students’ understanding of your goals and objectives.
I believe that the working being done at School of the Future is giving students a reason to listen in class and dedicate their time to learning. The SOF's curriculum is designed to take each subject and relate it to something in the real world. I often hear students complaining that the things they are doing in the classroom, will not be used by them when they are out of school. This in a lot of cases is true, but SOF has designed their instruction around real world jobs and real world decisions. The students then get a feel of what it is truly like in the job industry, which in my mind gets them better prepared for their time in college. In order to really adapt SOF's principles, I feel like teachers will really need to grasp a deeper understanding of each student's needs and interests. This in turn can be very challenging due to high class numbers. I feel like during my instructional time, I need to be able to tie in each lesson into something the kids will see outside of the classroom.
One of the things I feel that I as a classroom teacher have learned from me as a coach is the breaking down of skills into manageable pieces. Especially in language, I have sometimes expected an end product before learning individual skills first. I also feel that having fun and following student interests while planning instruction and evaluation is very important to learning. One of the biggest things that I have adjusted over the years is avoiding the "giant" assessment of a group of stories or skills. I feel now that the more frequent assessment of little pieces is much more of a genuine assessment. I understand the need for cumulative assessment, but not until periodic, smaller assessments are completed and mastered.
It does seem like an ideal school that would be wonderful to teach in and a great place for kids to attend. The curriculum allows the students to connect with it on a personal level (interest level may be more like it). With Common Core the teaching styles have to be adjusted and this would be a great way to tweak the curriculum/teaching to reflect best practices. The ideas being implemented at SOF should be welcomed and encouraged at all schools. It may not be an easy task, but one that would be more than worth while with all of the new regulations and guidelines expected for ALL schools. Assessment seems to be the big winner at SOF.
Terri, Social Studies Teacher
Greenville Jr. High
In one of my professional development classes I heard a joke about an individual who entered a time machine in the 1800's and arrived in present day America. As he walked around he was amazed at all of the new technology that he had never seen before. He then walked into a building and knew exactly where he was...a school classroom. The purpose of the joke was to shed light on the fact that in many ways our educational system has failed to adapt to an ever changing world. I feel that authentic assessment is the way of the future. As a history and science teacher, I have found that students are much more engaged when they are doing deep research and analysis. They are also better equipped with skills that will prepare them for a future in college or the workplace.
7th and 8th grade Social Studies & Science
This is where I think adopting the Danielson model as a teacher evaluation tool will really help us to implement some of these strategies that have been discussed in the video clips and extra resources. The comment by the middle school principal along the lines of, "what you assess is what you teach" is very appropriate; however I think we (as a society, not specifically this district) have gotten so focused on the assessment itself that we have lost track of the process of learning.
I am hopeful that some of the changes that are coming on board will bring forward fewer students who ask me, "so that's the answer?" in class. The answer is nothing more than the result of a student's process. So we have to ask ourselves, what is that process? How do we refine that process and engender student confidence?
I agree with and appreciate Harold's illustration with the time traveler. If I am being completely honest I like the comforts of doing what I do in the ways that I do them. It takes illustrations like this to kick-start (re-kick-start) my appreciation for needing to change what I do. Authentic assessments make sense. I'm hopeful I become better at creating and using them. I encourage my teammates to keep me going on this track.