One small change in my classroom this year has yielded incredible results. In an earlier post, I mentioned a quote from a book by Lorna Earl entitled, Assessment as Learning: Using Classroom Assessment to Maximize Student Learning.
"...changing classroom assessment is the beginning of a revolution - a revolution in classroom practices of all kinds...Getting classroom assessment right is not a simplistic, either-or situation. It is a complex mix of challenging personal beliefs, rethinking instruction and learning new ways to assess for different purposes." (Earl, 2003, pp. 15-16)The revolution began by implementing standards-based reporting - the "how" behind my assessment.
Lesson learned: Clear learning targets coupled with examples of strong and weak work help students better analyze their own strengths and weaknesses. The "old points system" was flawed. Two students could both earn 16/20 on a quiz. Student A made four computation errors. Student B understood four of the big ideas and bombed the fifth. Both students (and their parents) were "tricked" by the system in to thinking they have the same level of understanding. As a math teacher, I did not like this numbers game at all.
Once I started focusing on the learning targets associated with standards-based reporting, it became evident to me how important it was to give meaningful feedback. I had been missing the boat thinking that I was the only person capable of giving students quality feedback. Students were being underutilized in this context. I declared everyday to be "formative assessment day" through an increased emphasis on linking assessment with instruction - the "why" behind my assessment.
Lesson learned: I saw the value of using ongoing assessment to guide my instruction. Formative assessment does not just involve more quizzes or exercises, but rather using the results from these carefully designed appraisals to continually guide forthcoming instruction. Linking "assessment and instruction" as the educational cliche grew in importance and applicability. The best definition for formative assessment I have seen is:
"Formative assessment is a process used by teachers and students as part of instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students’ achievement of core content" (source).By re-examining the "how" and "why" behind my assessment practice, I see learning through a much different lens. Look for more posts next year describing these changes in detail.
What "one small change" have you made this academic year and how has it changed your philosophy of education?