My philosophy about assessment and evaluation is something that is still in the process of being developed. I think it will take me a bit more time and experience to fully grasp what my philosophy is. However, I believe that a constant and consistent assessment of our students is crucial in order to know how they are doing in our classes. This assessment does not need to be summative, it can simply be circulating as they are working on an assignment or project, or having a conversation with the student to see how they feel the class is going. Summative assessment needs to occur in order to assign a student a final grade. One thing I will strive to do is provide assessment FOR learning, which provides descriptive feedback for the students so they know where they went wrong and what might be a way to improve in the future. Dr. Anne Davies says, “To ensure success for all learners, especially those who struggle, students need to know what they already know, what needs to be learned and what success looks like. I also strongly believe in re-writes, if a student has an opportunity to improve they should be given it. One thing that my cooperative teacher has been doing for his entire career has been returning tests to the student the next day of class. I think this will be a practice I will complete as well, handing a test back so quickly allows the students to see any mistakes and work on fixing them while the content is still fresh in their minds.
During my three week field experience I used a lot of diagnostic assessment. One thing I found to work well was while I was teaching I would ask students to show me their thumbs. Meaning thumbs up if they understood, thumbs sideways if they were a bit unsure, and thumbs down if they were confused. I found this to be successful because it did not require a student to draw a lot of attention to themselves if they did not understand. It was something that they could hide from their peers while still informing me if they need further help. Depending on the student I would ask what they were unsure of so that I could go over it with the class again, but if it was a student whom I know is not comfortable asking a question in front of the entire class then I would approach them during work time or after class, and allow them to ask their question then. I found this diagnostic assessment tool to be very useful because if a thumb was sideways or down, I was then able to reflect upon that part of my lesson and think of how I could approach that lesson next time. I attempted one other form of diagnostic assessment which was having students show me on a scale of 1-3 their level of understanding. However, this assessment did not work as well, I think the students had gotten used to the thumbs and were therefore confused with this new type of assessment. I think in the future I would try different types of diagnostic assessments with different classes, and then when if I find one that works well with that class, stick to it.
During my time there we also had one opportunity for summative assessment. We had completed half of a unit, and then gave the students a small quiz. In terms of assessment the quiz was useful because it made me aware of some common mistakes throughout the class, which I was then able to address the next day. It was also good because it provided me practice evaluating students. It also is an honest way to truly know where a student stands in their learning. Formative assessment occurred on a daily basis throughout my field experience. If students had an assignment I was always circulating to see how they were solving the problems, and if a student was having any difficulty.
There were several cases of differentiation and accommodations that were made for several students. The first was having a trimmed set of questions on the quiz. This allowed me to see where they student was at, but with a workload that was not overwhelming, or overly challenging for them. The second was having students leave the room when writing a quiz, this created a quiet environment where they could focus on the task without the distraction of having other students around them. Finally, when taking notes, students were given a fill-in-the-blank set of notes, so that they could focus on the content rather than worrying about trying to copy everything down. Therefore I was able to see their true understanding during an example rather than their ability to copy notes.
The only barrier/ discrepancy that occurred during my field experience was allowing students to re-write quizzes/ exams. The reason for this was it was not a practice my cooperative teacher allowed. Because of that I was not able to allow students to re-write. However I was able to have a great discussion with my cooperative teacher which showed me that many teachers complete many different practices, which is completely fine, you just need to figure out which practice works best for you and then be able to support your reasoning. Another thing that I wish I could have done more of was provide more descriptive feedback, I approached students and talked a lot with them about how they could improve or how a different way of solving a question may work better for them, however my descriptive feedbacks were for the most part verbal, I would have liked to provide more written feedback, I just do not think the proper opportunity presented itself. This will be one thing I would like to work on during internship, I think descriptive feedback is very beneficial for students, thus I want to provide as much as I possibly can, in order to expand their learning.
Three key learning I have taken away from ECS 410 are, that not all assessment should be summative. Students do not need a grade assigned to everything, often times descriptive feedback, is enough. However when summative assessment occurs a great way to determine where a student stands is through the use of a rubric. Though rubrics cannot be used for everything, if they are suitable it is a great way to incorporate a fair grading system, and ensure that all students are being graded with equity. It will allow students to see where they could improve without having all of their focus being on the grade. A second key learning I have taken away is the value of diagnostic assessment, it is such a useful tool to see where your students stand before giving them something that will affect their mark. If you use these diagnostic assessments to take personal notes of where students are having difficulty during a lesson then you can reflect upon that lesson, and think of ways you can improve it for the next time. Students are not the only ones who are learning during a lesson, as educators we have to learn which practices work best for students and be willing to improve our teaching. The final key learning I took away from this course is, how beneficial “I can statements” are, my cooperative teacher provided the students with these at the beginning of each unit. This is something I will also provide my students, I think it is a great way for students to see what they will be expected to learn, and then at the end of the unit they can look at those statements and ask themselves “can I actually do that,” it also is a way to put a bit of responsibility on the student, because they know what they will be expected to do, and then they can check whether or not they can actually do it.