As an educator, all of the work I do with students revolves around four essential questions: What do I want my students to know or learn? How will I know they’ve learned it? How will I respond if they aren’t learning it? How will I respond if they already know it? Assessment plays a critical role in guiding my practice.
EDU6613, Standards-Based Assessment, expanded my knowledge of five key strategies: sharing learning expectations, eliciting evidence of student learning, feedback, self-assessment, and peer assessment. Prior to this course, I had just begun to understand the importance of sharing learning expectations, through Instructional Strategies. In the Spring of 2016, I was implementing lots of new strategies to share learning expectations, and getting good results from my students. Students were more engaged and seemed to care more about their learning. I was struggling, however, to elicit evidence of student learning in a variety of ways. I had become used to using the same assessments to progress monitor over and over throughout the year and felt I wasn’t giving my students choice in how they demonstrated their learning. Finding out more ways to elicit evidence of learning, particularly for primary students, was one of my goals for this course. Before EDU6613, I felt I already had a strong sense of what quality feedback should look and sound like, but this course introduced me to more ways to give feedback and increased my knowledge of which types are most effective. I had a chance to apply what I learned in the readings about feedback and write authentic Feedback Examples that I am likely to use in my classroom.
Of the five key strategies, self and peer assessment techniques were my relative strengths, in terms of what I was already implementing in my teaching practice. My learning in this course solidified my belief in the value of self-assessment and provided me with some new peer assessment strategies to try.
The primary goals of this course were to develop a sense of assessment vocabulary and conversation, and to define and implement a strong understanding of sound classroom assessment practice and experiences within an authentic classroom context. I feel I have met both of these goals through the readings, discussions, and assignments I completed throughout the course and Teacher Leadership program.
I did extensive research on sharing learning expectations and have learned strategies that I will implement in my classroom this year. Konrad et al. (2014) shares that “establishing clear learning targets, and communicating them to the students, is an essential starting point for effective instruction” and is beneficial to all stakeholders (p. 77). Clear learning intentions inform teachers what to teach and assess, help students self-monitor their learning, and help parents “better assist their children at home,…understand students’ progress reports, and…engage more fully in parent-teacher conferences” (Konrad et al., 2014, p. 77). John Hattie’s (2009) research corroborates these advantages in finding that students who are taught clear learning expectations outperform other students who do not understand what they are supposed to learn.
Sharing learning expectations effectively was a topic of interest to me. I chose to research strategies for writing and sharing learning expectations with students to support meaningful learning, particularly in small group instruction. My Assessment into Action research paper offers extensive information and resources on this topic. It also describes my plan for implementation and leadership moving forward.
One of the most valuable things I learned was how to create an effective, clear rubric. Rubrics are one way to communicate learning expectations with students, and provide an excellent tool for self and peer assessment. In the video, “Co-Creating Success Criteria,” Susan Carroll expertly demonstrates how to engage primary students in thinking about success criteria of an informational poster. This video was one of the best examples I found in my research because she truly lets the students lead the process, uses their ideas, and makes the rubric for a product meaningful to her students. Carroll also teaches about rubrics and co-creates rubrics with the students over several days, and comments that when she takes time introducing a project going over success criteria, almost all students know where to start and are able to guide themselves to complete the project. This is a strategy I will be using myself and sharing with my colleagues.
Creating a Rubric Example was valuable practice for me. I plan to use rubrics much more often with my students this year and with my colleagues when using common assessments. Chappuis (2005) reminds teachers to allow repeated practice, “alternating between strong and weak [samples], until students are able to distinguish between strong and weak work and independently give rationales reflecting the concepts in the scoring guide” (p. 41). I believe this will be new learning for my colleagues, as it was for me.
Chan et al. points out that “many students have difficulty visualizing how isolated skills may relate to one another, so the creation of a visual display of class wide learning targets can make this connection more explicit” and can “help them make connections between previous learning, the current lesson, and future learning” (2014, p. 107). This is a great idea to implement both in the classroom and in small group settings.
To further foster student ownership of learning, Li-Shih Huang PhD (2015) suggests providing choice and multiple ways for students to show their learning, whenever possible. He states that “when our students can voice an opinion and make decisions about [learning], they feel ‘ownership’ because suddenly they have a personal stake in the content, process and product of that choice” (Huang, 2015). Using a variety of assessment formats is something I aim to improve on and model as a teacher leader. My colleagues and I can easily feel overwhelmed by the amount of time used to assess. I think all teachers would be interested to learn how to choose assessments wisely, and how to keep them short, yet meaningful. To practice planning and writing different types of formative assessment, I created a Learning Progression based on a standard that includes learning targets and aligned assessments for each lesson.
As a teacher leader in my building, I will implement the techniques to share learning expectations, create and use standards-based formative and summative assessments, and give quality feedback in my classroom. I will share the many print and web-based resources I have found in my research with my colleagues and suggest common assessment strategies to try within my team. I believe my learning throughout this course has made me a better teacher and has helped me to focus on what is most important for my students. This will help me be mindful and intentional when planning and administering assessments throughout my career as a teacher.
Brookhart, S.M., Long, B.A., & Moss, C.M. (2011). Knowing your learning target. Educational Leadership, 68(6), 66-69.
Chan, P. E., Graham-Day, K. J., Ressa, V. A., Peters, M. T., & Konrad, M. (2014). Beyond Involvement Promoting Student Ownership of Learning in Classrooms. Intervention in School and Clinic, 50(2), 105-113.
Chappuis, J. (2005). Helping students understand assessment. Educational Leadership, 63(3), 39-43.
Expeditionary Learning. (2013). ELA common core state standards and long-term learning targets. Retrieved from http://eleducation.org
Huang, L. (2015). Getting horses to drink: Three ways to promote student ownership of reading assignments. Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching & Learning. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/three-ways-to-promote-student-ownership-of-reading-assignments/
Jackson, R.R. (2009). Know where your students are going. In Jackson, R.R, Never work harder than your students & other principles of great teaching. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Konrad, M., Keesey, S., Ressa, V. A., Alexeeff, M., Chan, P. E., & Peters, M. T. (2014). Setting clear learning targets to guide instruction for all students. Intervention in School and Clinic, 50(2), 76-85.
Novak, K. (2016). Sharing common core language with students. Retrieved from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/share-common-core-with-students
The Curriculum Corner. (2016).“I can” common core standards K-6. Retrieved from http://www.thecurriculumcorner.com/thecurriculumcorner123/2012/12/03/i-can-common-core-standards-k-5/
[Knatim]. (2011, November 23). Honoring student voice in the mathematics classroom setting learning goals and success criteria. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1vVIZefEJg
Smelker, A. [Maryland Formative Assessment]. (2016, January 13). Co-creating success criteria, Sara Carroll. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyfjODZCkF4&index=1&list=PLSO2GgFotC0n2c157HLlJBEzsmVgKdBV6