Miss. Hillary Strain

Archive for the category “Learning Journey”

Class #8

It’s hard to believe that this week’s class is our last class of the semester!!  We begin our “three week block” (pre-internship) next week so we will no longer be having class during that time.  It’s hard to believe how much my views and opinions of assessment have changed over this time being.  Not only have they changed due to class discussions and getting opened to a variety of different ways to assess, but I have had the opportunity to create two unit plans in which we had to include our assessment tasks that allowed me to realize which types fit where.

When I began this course, the only type of assessment I was familiar with was tests, assignments and quizzes.  The typical “easy way” out of assessing students.  I wasn’t really familiar with any types of formative assessment/assessment FOR learning/assessment AS learning.  It’s amazing to look back at my first blog entry to see that these were the only types of assess that I was familiar with/had an idea/heard of.  I believe my learning really took place and started to make an improvement was class five where we did a carousal on different types of assessment (see my 5th blog entry).  We got the opportunity to spend 15 minutes at 6 different stations and learn about the type of assessment that was placed at that station and even received some resources.

This weeks class we discussed Damion Cooper’s Big Ideas on assessment. Click here to read about him and his 8 different big ideas on assessment.  This seemed to be my confirmation about my learning journey for assessment. As we discussed the 8 big ideas, I reflected on how comfortable I would feel about these big ideas prior to this class and how much I feel more comfortable with these ideas now.   I realize that I am more “on my way” on most of his big ideas and being able to apply my knowledge and perform them in the classroom. Whereas if I were to receive these on day one I would be at a “beginning” or even “not applicable”.

It’s really interesting to see overall how more confident I feel with assessing and the different types of assessment that one can use for grades and just for feedback.  I am looking forward to seeing which types of assessment I will be able to use during my pre-internship and which types of assessment will be natural to perform and kind of unconsciously performed during the experience as well.


Class #7

To begin the class, our unit plans were peer assessed by another partnership within the class. I have never experience a peer assessment where our evaluation wasn’t summative.  It was kind of nice because it allowed my partner and I to see where our peers thought our lesson plan stood at the time and we could make improvements from there without having to worry about our mark being affected by this little check in.  This process was actually very beneficial for my partner and I because it allowed us to see another piece of work that was being assessed under the same rubric, and it allowed us to have a different view on how to present/organize our unit plan.

After our peer assessment, we had a presentation from Tim Calaval and the Government of Saskatchewan. His presentation was mainly focused around the different forms of assessment that the Government does on the schools within Saskatchewan to determine their performance levels and how that school compares to other schools provincially and nationally.  It was actually very interesting to hear that the Government assesses our schools and see where they stand. I always thought and viewed assessing in schools by teachers towards their students.  I never took a step back and looked at the larger picture to see that assessment occurs within all  levels of and organization or structure.  It was a real treat to be able to hear him discuss all the different aspects of what he does and how it affects individual schools etc.  It almost gave us a little bit of a sneak peak with something that we could potentially be dealing with in the future.

Class #6

Today in class we read the article “Keep Behaviour in Report Cards” featured in the Saskatoon Star Pheonix.  When we first discussed behaviour issues, I immediately thought of kind of the obvious, I thought it would be about kids acting up in class, not listening, being a distraction, etc.  When I got the opportunity to read the article, I realized that behavioural issues included kids being late for class, not handing things in on time and plagiarism.  We then had a big discussion on the topic of whether someone’s behaviour should be included in the report cards.  We were split into groups of four, two were for the subject and two were against and afterwards we had a class discussion.  I got assigned to be against the topic of behaviour being included in report cards and I could tell you that my opinion was all over the place.

I have never thought of behaviour being included in report cards before but once I read the article it completely changed my mind.  As we discussed in class, even though behaviour isn’t included in the curriculum, we believe that it is our role as educators to prepare our students for living in the real world as well as preparing them IQ wise.  Even though it is important to have good grades and be intelligent to be successful in the real world, it is also important for people to understand how to be “street smart” as well.  One could be very intelligent when it comes to their occupation but it is also important for one to understand how to behave and act during a certain situation.  I supposed one could call the teaching of behaviour, attitude, and how to act in public would be under the hidden curriculum that is found in schools.

Whether these behaviour habits should be included in the report card should depend on the situation.  I believe that it is important to inform the parents on how the student is doing socially/behaviour wise in the classroom but whether one should be marked on their progress doesn’t seem right to me.  I feel if a student was causing trouble, his or her parent would already know about it and it wouldn’t be any news.  Perhaps a child is extremely shy, how could a teacher mark their behavioural habits because the teacher doesn’t really know the student.  Perhaps maybe this is where a comment box could come into play.  A teacher could leave a comment, if needed, to inform the parent if there is anything he or she is concerned about.

With all of our class discussions and topics that my prof, Tracy, brings up during class, it makes me realize how much I have missed that is included in with teaching.  All these little issues and things that are being brought up are making me realize that here is a whole lot more to the job than just preparing the lesson and teaching it.  I am kind of shocked at how much I am learning in this short little time so far and I am starting to realize that my own opinions and beliefs are forming.

Class #5

We had the opportunity to participate in an assessment carousel.  There was six stations that each had different types of assessment tools/strategies, our task as a group was to consider how we would be able to include this type of strategy in our major (mine being mathematics).  I included three of the stations in this blog post because I feel I learnt the most from them and/or my knowledge about the subject grew in some way.

1) Quizzes/Tests: This discussion came easy to us because it is the type of assessment that we are all used to. We all grew up on taking tests to mark our progress so we decided to change our discussion on how to change ways of assessing using these methods but not relying on a big test to mark the progress.  We decided that instead of one final unit test, one could have two quizzes to make the stress seem a tad bit less.  Having two quizzes instead of one big test could allow the students to have more success and will also help them retain the information easier.  We also discussed a situation that we aren’t familiar with, our prof, Tracy, brought up the idea of allowing students to redo questions on a test in which they didn’t succeed.  We were all pretty shocked about this concept but in the end thought it was a great idea.  Allowing students to do this will make them realize where they made their error and will be able to grow and learn as a student.

2) Pre-assessment/Diagnostic forms: This station was the station I felt I learnt the most.  Going into this station I had no idea what these words meant or how they could be performed in a classroom.  Looking back at those thoughts, I feel embarrassed because it is one of the easiest forms of assessment to know (I feel).  This was also one of the easier topics that we could discuss because there are so many different ways one could perform this in a mathematics classroom to see where their students are at before jumping into a unit.  We discussed having a review period by going over notes and making sure the important materials were understood, having them answer an entrance slip, playing a game of jeopardy to see the knowledge they know, etc.  Our prof also provided us with different examples of pre-assessment, found here, and diagnostic forms, found here, in which we could use in the future.

3) Contracts: This station was the one that caused our group the most difficulty for discussion.  None of us has ever experienced contracts before nor knew how one would consider using it in a mathematics classroom.  We couldn’t decide whether the contracts were meant for personal goals or for academic goals.  We finally came to the conclusion that this wasn’t our favourite type of assessment to work with because it lays a lot of responsibility of the students to complete what is given.  There are also different types of contracts out there and we were really confused on how to make one suitable for a math classroom. We liked the idea that it gave students the options on what they would like to achieve amongst the semester or let them choose the type of assignment/project/test/etc in which they would benefit the most from, but other than that we decided that it would be pretty difficult for us, as math teachers, to use these because there isn’t many options out there to assess math.

I actually did some exploring on contracts for a math setting and came across this website here.  A teacher, Miss Foster, came up with the idea to have weekly homework contracts, I’m not entirely sure for which grade. Pretty much what it is are templates created with the homework questions assigned in them.  It says when it needs to be done, what they should do and any other information they need to know.  I believe that this could be a good contract to have with students. It shows that you’re organized and are keeping on top of things and it allows the students to be ontop of what they are learning and makes the teaching easier for you as well.

Overall, I really enjoyed this activity. It allowed me to increase my knowledge on different assessment tools.  To be honest, at the beginning of the semester Tracy gave us a sheet with different types of assessment on it, we then had to give it a rating out of five (one being the lowest) on how comfortable and knowledgable we feel on the tools given. I gave both, Contracts and Pre-assessment/Diagnostic tools, a rating of two.  After completing this activity, I would say my knowledge for the two is now at a level four.  I would say I know what I’m talking about but I’m not a master at the topic.

Class #4

We had the opportunity to look at a sample of a transition report for a student moving from grade 8 to grade 9.  The report included his final grades, any adaptations that were used to help him, a checklist of skills he could do and a detailed list of the assignments/projects/tests that he or she did or did not complete for each class he or she was taking.  We then had a list of questions to answer based on the information we were given which were based on attendance, what the marks tell us, any patterns within classes, etc.

I loved this activity and thought it was great to go over to get us an inside scoop of something that most likely occurs every year. I have realized that students do get “carried” along with their classmates and no one can really get held back anymore. This transition report really showed me how one can get by with only passing one class.  I also never did realize that the “trouble” students or ones who don’t put any effort into the class gets a detailed report writing up about them that gets passed on to future educators.  This report allows the future teachers to plan ahead and think of ways that they can adapt their lesson, make their lessons more interesting, or have a T.A. in the classroom with them to help push this student into success.  But while I was going through the progress report, there were two things that popped into my head.  How do teachers have the patience to put up with this? and Why aren’t the teachers trying different approaches to help him succeed?  I know I don’t know many details on what they did to try and help them or if they changed anything, but I feel as though all the zeros on his transcripts could have been influenced somehow.

As a future teacher, and I understand that it is probably a lot harder than one thinks, but I believe that one should give students options on the assignments or to choose what they would like to do.  Like instead of doing a take home assignment let the students do an in class activity that reflects their knowledge on what they have learnt. Or instead of an essay, let one do a collage or a powerpoint presentation, something that interests them and will be easier for them to portray their learning.  The assessment that comes into play during these variety of projects will have to be very similar, just because one chose to do a powerpoint doesn’t mean that it will be easier than the essay.  A teacher must keep in mind to make sure everything is fair and people are getting assessed the same way.

Class #3

Unfortunately I had to miss this weeks class due to O.C.R.E (On Campus Research Experience) our Professional Development/Team building experience with my math major group.  It was an awesome opportunity, I learnt lots from the presenters we had and also had a lot of fun with the activities we chose to do. Since I missed the class, I had to miss the presentation about Assessment in RPS which was a bit disappointing to me because as of right now that is where I would like to teach after I graduate, so it could have been a very beneficial presentation. Also, thank god for technology because I don’t have to worry about the big things that I missed during the lecture! Luckily my prof posts the slideshows and things that they went over in class that day on our class blog.  I had full access to the powerpoint, any rubrics and handouts that were giving during the class I missed.

Near the end of last weeks class we already started talking about the topic that they discussed this week, Tiers and Interventions.  It’s actually a new subject to me, I never knew that students get classified into Tiers depending on their learning abilities/abilities in general.  I knew that the teachers kept in mind and were aware of each students abilities and needs but I never knew that they were actually classified into different Tiers and were kept on record.  In this weeks class it looks like they focused a bit on more of the interventions that can be done with these Tiers.  Here is a site that explains what can be done and different approaches used in RPS.  It is interesting for me to learn all of these, because as stated before, I never knew it existed.  I wonder if I will be able to see these records during my pre-intership and internship. Something else that my prof posted was a link to help us with creating rubrics.  You can find this here.  I think this is very handy and useful! It goes step by step on how to create a proper rubric, what to write for the standards of each grade, and many different tips that one can use while creating one.  I am very excited to be able to use this for my future projects and in my future classroom to ensure that I am creating a fair rubric, and it will make it easier for me to create one too by using the guidelines given.

I’m starting to realize now that I am taking these higher education classes how all the little behind the scene stuff that occurs in a school have such a big impact on teachers.  There is so much that one has to do and be aware of.  It is a bit scary thinking about this and learning all these different little things, but I believe that with a little help from colleagues and administration things will hopefully go smooth.

Class #2

At the beginning of the class we touched based on the there different types of assessment, assessment FOR learning, assessment AS learning and assessment OF learning.  Before this class I have heard of these three types but didn’t know much about them. Assessment for learning is focused on the teacher, “how effective is your teaching?”. Assessment as learning focuses on the students, improving their skills in the classroom and subjects. Assessment of learning is summative and evaluating, it is the final overall conclusion of your thoughts on the assignment.   I thought assessing was just one overall category, I never knew that there is three different types and that they each focus on different things.  Now that I have a better understanding of these three different types of assessments, I believe that it will help me when I’m out in the field trying to assess myself and the students.  Even though the three different categories just split them up instead of having one be definition of assessment, I believe that it will make a big difference for me realizing what all needs to be looked after while I’m teaching.

We then proceeded to talk about some different types of evaluation and different methods used.  Tracy brought up the “Bump it up” method for assessment.  This method is when you self-assess your own assignment/project and think of ways that you can take it to the next level yourself.  This gets the students to think about what they can do to make the project better and “Bump it up” to that next level of greatness.  This method really intrigued me and I wondered if someone has actually used it in their classroom before so I did a little bit of research.  I came across Aviva’s blog, she actually made a “Bump it up” wall in her classroom, what she did was decorate and create a wall in her class known as the “Bump it up wall” where she would post student’s assignments (without names) and place it on the level they were at.  This way, the students can see where they stand in the project and can take it down to improve it.  It seemed to be very successful in her grade one and two class, the students grew each time they saw where it was at and used the feedback to make changes.  You can read more about it here.

This method really stood out to me and I thought it would be a lot of fun and useful to use in a classroom.  Then I realized what age group I would be teaching at and realized that this probably wouldn’t be the most successful thing to do in a high school classroom. This could seem childish to them.  So then I started thinking, how could I use this method without it being childish?  I came to the conclusion that I could allow my students to redo their weekly assignment, or redo a quiz after seeing their results.  This way, the students will be able to do their initial work, hand it in to me to get assessed, then I can keep it as the “bump it up” wall and give them the option if they want to redo their wrong answers or try and improve their assignment then they can.  This way, it won’t be displayed for everyone to see and it won’t seem childish, but they will still have the option to “Bump up” their work.

Class #1

Happy Friday!!

Yesterday I had my first evening class since last year and this one wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be!  I got to know my fellow classmates and prof and I think it is going to be a great semester.  During the class we reviewed what we already know/want to know about Assessment and Evaluation.  We did some brainstorming about different types that we already know of, discussed good and bad experiences that we have had with evaluation and realizing that during the whole class our prof was actually evaluation us the whole time by observation.  Observation is a good way to keep an ongoing assessment record of your students, you can keep track of who is participating, who is not listening, and whoever shows up, etc.  Going into the class I thought I knew a decent amount about the subject area but after the class was over I realized that I have a lot of learning ahead of me. I  took an Ed French class in my second year of university and we talked a bit about assessment and evaluation in that class.  I already knew that there is Summative assessment (like a test) and Formative assessment (monitoring growth throughout the year) but I know that there is many more different types of assessing and evaluating and different tools that you can use.  I can’t wait to see what I am going to learn throughout this course because I know it is going to be very useful in the future!

– Hillary

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