Sunday, May 4, 2014

Formative Assessment

Formative Assessment

As I look back and reflect on blogs, class discussion and reading from the Formative Reflection class, I feel it has opened my mind to use assessment differently in my classroom and engage students to be owners of their own learning.

In my past teaching I really didn’t use formative assessment to organize or gage my curriculum.  I used daily work or homework as practice but graded the assignment in my grade book as daily work.  Then after completion of daily work I had chapter or unit tests then moved on to the next unit.  Not really taking in to account what concepts my students were having trouble with.  If they did well on their daily work they should know the concepts and pass the tests.  But what about those students who didn’t do well on their daily work did they just not do it or truly don’t understand the concepts.  Also you may have students who did fine on their daily work, but did they complete it independently or help from a friend. 

Currently I have used my daily work as practice and use formative assessment strategies in my classroom to gage how my students are understanding concepts.  I do not grade these assessments they are simply practice of the knowledge taught in the unit.  I organize my curriculum by results that I have obtained from the formative assessments.  This change is not easy.  To be honest it was a lot easier teaching my old way; teach, daily work, test, and move on.  I do realize that I was not reaching all my students and many failing students were not failing because they didn’t know the concepts but just didn’t do the work.  So you may call this “The Great Awakening”.  How do I really know if my students are grasping the concepts taught?  Formative assessment has helped guide me through this change or enlightenment.  Not necessarily doing formative assessment, which I always did, but using the formative assessment results to help me become a better teacher. 

I have to admit that I have not totally accepted the whole No Homework, Formative Assessment model but it has opened my eyes to adjusting my teaching methods.  I feel there is always room for change and advancement in the classroom, and taking a risk and climb out of our comfort box and try new ideas.  I see the benefit but in a typical school structure the resources are not available to fulfill all steps of Formative Assessment.  Scheduling, teacher aides and classrooms to help with the results of formative Assessment are difficult to provide.  Formative Assessment strategies do have an active role in the classroom and their results can help teachers activate students and help them become owners of their own learning. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Formative Assessment

Formative Assessment

Unit:  Colonial America Road To Independence

As I work in a Unit I have the students prepare by reading the assigned material in the textbook along with some Historical Documents that pertain to topic.  Such documents as:  Journals from an indentured servant traveling to America, families of colonies, Salem Witch Trials;   May Flower Compact, Fundamental Constitutions of Colonies, Declaration of Independence support this unit.

After reading preparation, class time would be used to discuss and do pencil paper work such as:  notes, worksheets, maps.  Usually a topic each day is discussed, example “Taxation Without Representation.”  I use worksheets to organize facts and events and then we will discuss by me formulating Big Idea question based off reading and work.  Informally this would be my first formative assessment to see if the class is grasping the concept as a whole-no official collecting of date.  Either that same class period I may do an exit quiz or an entrance one the following day.  This would be my first collection of data.  It may be a simple 2 question assessment or a 10 mini quiz; 5 vocab and 5 Multiple Choice. 

After correcting the assessment I sort and analyze my data: 1.  Sort into two piles one pile proficient/got it and the other developing/confused. I note to myself students that were inadequate/totally misinformed and have them come see me at SRB (Student Responsibility Block) 2.  Analyze which questions seemed to trouble most students.  3.  Return assessment back to the students and break them up in the two groups that were represented in my first step.  I allow them to discuss and correct their mistakes. Once we are all back as a whole class I make sure the students have the correct information before we go on to the next concept. Readdress the group concerns.  These formative assessments are used to create the Summative Assessment.  During the analyzing stage I also use the historic concept and address power standards from the the Departments Power Standards

I continue the above process for each concept and once the unit is covered I review all formative assessments with students and prepare for the summative assessment which will be their grade for that Unit. 

If students fail to meet the Summative Grade I use the SRB block for a reassessment. 

Obviously I vary from this routine depending on projects I may have or enrichment I may add to the Unit.  Also if a concept or skill requires me to break down the material into more details and time. 

I struggle with organizing my class room to accommodate the students that master the concept while I need to work with students who need more time or in that developing step.  Social Studies is a unique study because we address Historical concepts and common core is more skilled based.  So when creating assessments it becomes difficult to  assess students because we have to look at historical content and common core skill. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Repair Kit for Grading-End-of-Book Relection

A Repair Kit for Grading

End-of-Book Reflection

As I conclude reading and discussing the 15 fixes for broken grades it opens my mind to analyze and address my own practices in grading.  The 15 fixes are evident in all grade books, some are clear and understandably should not reflect a student’s grade while others are just as muddy as a grade may muddy a student’s degree of mastery.

As educators, we need to continue to grow in our field while keeping diversity in mind.  Even if we do not agree on how a grade book should look or how a grade should be entered the “Repair Kit for Grading” opens our eyes and gets us thinking about our practices.  I feel the Rugby School District should adopt a policy for grading that reveals the student’s degree of learning but also allowing the teacher flexibility.  In my 20+ years of teaching and as a parent I have experienced some bad grades that have not truly reflected the student’s learning or level of mastery. 

In constructing a district grading policy, I feel Fix 1 should be the first addressed, Student Behavior.  Student Behavior is very important and should be addressed but not included in a grade.  A grade in the subject area should reveal the level of mastery NOT behavior.  The Rugby Grading Policy should reflect the difference of Subject Grade of achievement and Behavior.  Fix 2 Late Work, Fix 3 Extra Credit, Fix 4 Dishonesty, Fix 5 Attendance, Fix 6 Group Scores along with Fix 1 Behavior all distort grades of achievement and should be clarified NOT to include in a grade of achievement. 

So where do we address Fixes 1-6 because they are important and should be reflected in the student’s grade report?   That is where the district needs to organize a grade report that reveals the separation of grades of achievement with character of behavior.  This is not an easy FIX!  As a district, I feel this is where we need to start, separate Achievement from Behavior.  Once this separation is clarified the other fixes 7-15 can be addressed in the computation of assessment and what to assess.

O’Connor’s Fixes 7-10 address methods of organizing evidence showing standards/learning goals.  I feel the district has already begun tackling these fixes by introducing the PLC structure to create Power Standards and “I Can Statements.”  Now the big fix will be to create a Grade Report that reflects to the student, parent and others the grade, what is included and how obtained.  Fixes 11-15 address calculation of that grade:  mean, zeros, what assessments, student involvement in the process. 

Now the work begins, creating a grading policy that truly reflects the student’s achievement while satisfying honor roles, scholarships, college admittances, eligibility guidelines.  Hard work that needs to be done.  As educators we are changing the way we address our subject objectives now the next step is assessment and how to report the assessment.  The old Report Card does not satisfy this change so a new Grade Report with a clear policy should be a Fix the Rugby School District needs to address in the future.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Purpose of Grades

Purpose for Grades

Bailey & McTighe state, “the primary purpose….of grades is to communicate student achievement to students, parents, school administrators, post-secondary institutions & employers” RHS mission statement reads “is to promote personal & academic excellence in all students.”  To achieve this mission statement I need to assess my students on academics/grades and personal/behavior.  Currently I have not done a good job at separating the two missions.  I have been conditioned to produce a grade for the grade book and really have not been given guidelines of how to obtain that grade.  As I reflect on my current practices I get a little depressed.  I realize the many grades I’ve published really may not have reflected a true picture of that student’s achievement.  I could safely bet that most of my failing or D- students received that grade not from their performance but lack of.  So did I grade on achievement or behavior? 

I do believe that both aspects, achievement & behavior, need to be addressed in the educational setting, but I can see where there is a need to separate behavior from achievement.  As educators where do we begin if we want a report card/transcript to reflect a true achievement grade to the students, parents, school administrators, post-secondary institutions, & employers?  Clarification, I feel, is the first step. The first BIG FIX. All entities need to be on the same page when it requires documenting a grade for a student.   Achievement needs to be clearly stated that educators will give grades on clearly organized summative assessments.  Formative assessments and practice do not determine grades, nor should behavior.  If we are to adapt this policy we need to have a report card that separates achievement from behavior.  Am I sold on the “Standards Base” report card, not really, but a document that shows both aspects of the mission statement yes.  Behavior is a big part of the education system and needs to be addressed to give a whole picture of the student. 

I feel that grades are broken when they mix achievement and nonachievement elements.  The fix is to report them separately and that will be my first big fix.