Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Smarter Assessment - Application

As you can see in my philosophy of assessment (part 1 of the portfolio), I agree with the goals of assessment stated in the videos, which means I will use different strategies to achieve these goals. The videos show an own assessment philosophy they call smarter assessment, and they show different strategies and ways to pass from the concepts to real life application.
For the goal of students’ understanding of the content I like to use several strategies in which I as teacher know they understood, this based on the six facets of understanding: explanation, interpretation, application, perspective, empathy, and self-knowledge. For this, I will use the Understanding by Design (UbD) format to plan the lessons, find the goals based on the curriculum and what I want my students to understand, plan also what I want them to transfer to the real world and how, and also include the skills that will be practiced, essential questions to guide them, and the activities they will perform, which include the different types of assessment.  
In the second goal, knowing where the students are regarding the learning goals I like to use the different types of assessment: formative, authentic, metacognitive, and summative; in order to give them information and let them own their learning. For this I will use the SIOP+GANAG format, where I will plan lessons based on the types of assessment, there will be learning and language goals for each lesson, vocabulary used and how they will learn it, activities to achieve the goals, and ways to reflect on them. The use of UbD and SIOP+GANAG will assure that the goals are met, and when they live each lesson, where I will show them the goals and essential questions at the beginning of the class, there will be clear expectations of what should students expect of the class and what is expected of them; also the assessment will be more meaningful for students and will be more effective, as is the idea of smarter assessment.
I also thought about going beyond what they were talking in the videos, and beginning to think on what smarter assessment means. In the videos they gave us a lot of clues, the teacher and assessment in the class must be consistent and constant. The foregoing means that we as teachers should be consistent in what we do, do it for the real and right reasons; if we define assessment as we did it above, we have to be truthful and assess what we are saying we are assessing. This is why we should assess the learning goals, not other things like behavior. Behavior will be addressed through other strategies, like self-discovery in the learning process, through for example self-reflection and other metacognitive strategies (see part 3 of the portfolio). Being constant means we don’t change over time our rules, why we do what we do; this means we as teachers show clear expectations for students that don’t change over time, or due to mood changes or particular feelings toward students (e.g. not liking a student), in other words “clear rules”. This will create relationships between students and teachers that will be very important in the guiding role of the teacher.
To achieve the above we have one very useful strategy they talk about in the videos, grading in the six point scale and by categories. I think I can apply it in the scale we use at school; however, I would use four categories, given the nature of the scale: Novice – 0 to 3.99, students that need a lot of guidance from the teacher and peers as to how they learn; Apprentice – 4.0 to 5.99, students that need to be guided to get to the next step; Practitioner – 6.0 to 7.99, students that get the idea but need a little more to be consistent; and Expert – 8.0 to 10.0, students that are consistently getting it and need support on how to maintain this performance (every student needs guidance, even an Expert student). The grades will also be represented by images which will help students see where they are, this poster will be posted in the classroom to remind them of the importance of progress. Another important thing I want to apply is not to think in terms of percentages, but in what the mistakes and/or successes are telling me about their understanding, what does it say regarding the goal assessed. All of this means that grades will be reliable, precise, and meaningful.
As I said above for me metacognition and self-discovery are paramount in the education process, which means I like a lot what the videos showed on teachers guiding the students so they can become owners of their learning process. This can be achieved with the self-reporting, where students take responsibility of their learning process, it is a process based on the why and the how; for example with what they say about late assignments, and therefore using the late assignment form (see summary above). For the late assignment form, we should take into account time and what it represents, if students don’t turn in assignments they will get behind regarding other students, because new topics and new assignments will appear, which is a life teaching for them; this can be supported by the teacher-student conversations. However, as is shown in the video, we should talk to our Administrator in order to see what freedom we have to do this. All of this will help students see education as a process, where they will be able to track their own progress. In this part there are other important strategies and concepts, for example the idea we have about homework.
We should change what we think about homework, which should be a practice time, a way in which students do what is necessary so that they can make the most of the class time; for example I liked the videos used by the teacher so that students get an idea of the topic outside of class, and then use the time of class for activities that will lead to understanding in different ways. The above taking into account the importance of repetition so that the brain makes connections and what is learned passes to the long-term memory. All of this will help the student understand their work habits and what they need from the teacher, and from the resources they have at hand, for example at school, at home, etc. Another good support that will give tools to students is the unit plans.
Unit plans are very good supports that I will use in my classes, they are compatible and complementary with reference to the tools I talked about before (UbD, SIOP+GANAG). The four questions (see the summary above) addressed in unit plans are a roadmap not only for students, but also for teachers in their planning. Another important part of unit plans is to separate the objectives in assessment and in testing, so students can understand what they are being assessed on, I will apply this in my class. Also the checklist is a great way to help them reflect on their learning, where they will learn about their study habits and what they need in their learning. Students will also reflect on what type of learners are they; which is an understanding of another of the important parts of smarter assessment, the acknowledgement of diversity and how to embrace it in the class (see the portfolio part 2).
Recognizing the diversity of students and giving them different opportunities to prove their understanding is worked through a very important tool we have as human beings, creativity. Creativity begins with the teacher, we as teachers have to find ways to give them different types of opportunities and let them learn in different ways, teaching for creativity and what it involves (see summary above) is one of my priorities. In planning the activities teachers will be able to give creativity the importance it has and with different group strategies students will also learn the importance of group work. I am committed to plan in such a way where creativity has a place and I will also use hands-on activities (see portfolio part 3) so that students can make abstract concepts concrete. Creativity and commitment by the teacher also leads to motivation, which is very important in education. Another important part of this is the major project planning sheet, which can be customized by the teacher; the important thing is that students connect what they are doing with the goals, something that is included in the SIOP+GANAG format.
Another important part of smarter assessment is retesting, something that is directly linked to my philosophy of assessment (see portfolio part 1). I think that life gives us a lot of opportunities and we have to pass this knowledge of life to education. We have, as teachers, to show students the opportunities and how to seize them. For this there are important points to make: opportunities are won, here behavior is important in winning the opportunity to retest; opportunities should go hand in hand with progress, which means that the self-evaluation is very important because it helps them understand how can they use what they know about themselves in order to seize the opportunity; and finally opportunities should rely in choices for the students, they have to learn to make decisions and the consequences of them, this can be done by leaving in the report card the retest grade if they choose, and are chosen by the teacher, to take the retest (they should decide also which goals they will retest). Retesting can take different forms, for example if students have the first opportunity as a presentation with activity (see portfolio part 3) students can be able to retest, so the latter turns into a formative assessment, in a different way planned by the teacher, who will take into account what students wrote in their tracking sheet, and what they learned about themselves. The retest will become the summative assessment and will be, for example, in the form of a standardized test that will help them practice how to face this kind of tests.
Finally, all of this I talk about in the application part of the videos will help different types of students, and one of those differences in students is between the struggling learners and the academic ones. They will all have the chance to learn, there are ways for example in which advanced learners won’t get bored in the classroom, which take into account for example creativity and extra work in class.  Communication will be a key in my classes, with students but also with the Administrator, so that change won’t be a traumatic experience, instead it will be a great one. I will show students I am also learning, which will make me become the lead learner, this will be in the form of giving them voice with reference to the class, helping them support the class with their ideas through reflections, and applying that knowledge in the class. Feedback and the types of feedback, for example ongoing feedback, will be addressed in my lessons, and will come from the teacher and from peers (see portfolio parts 2 and 3). Also parents involvement in the education process of students is very important, and will be achieved through communication with parents through different means, and their involvement in students projects, for example through open day where parents carry out activities with their kids.

Smarter assessment is a great philosophy that have common ground with my assessment philosophy (see portfolio part 1), this is why it is easy to think on ways to apply it in my classes, something I will work on due to its importance, for me as teacher as for the students.

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