How do you typically assess your students? your teaching? other learners (e.g. teachers)? How have your assessment practices changed over the years? How have they changed in your school? district?
As a teacher, I try and use a variety of assessments for my students. Formative assessment is key for me to check for understanding along the way and to check for progress. This type of assessment may come in the form of one-on-one student conferences, mini quizzes, exit slips, etc. I will also assess my students in group activities with peer and self-evaluations. I am always amazed at how effective these types of evaluations are because students are normally very honest in their feedback. My assessment practices have most definitely developed since my first year of teaching. I feel my assessment is more informative for me now because I know more of what to look for when checking for understanding. Since I have only been at my for 5 years now, I am not sure how assessment has changed. I would assume that it has developed as more and more research on fair and effective assessment has come out. I know that this is an area that we as educators need to be continually developing and improving. Effective, objective, fair, and timely assessment is crucial for informing educators on how to adjust their teaching strategies and approaches with their students on a daily basis.
What research do you use to support your assessment practices? What evidence do you have that indicates that your assessment practices help students achieve and be successful? What have been the challenges in changing your assessment practices?
The first step of effective assessment is understanding the purpose of it and how to analyze it insightfully. Assessment literacy is defined by Fullan (2001) as the teacher’s capacity to examine student performance evidence and discern quality work through the analysis of achievement scores and disaggregation of data. Again, being able to analyze the data is vitally important for educators because it will inform them on which instructional strategies to use with which students.
The goal of educators is to reach every student and to help them succeed. Assessment is not to show them all the things they do not know yet, but to give them feedback on how they can improve. This is not an easy task. “Educators are expected to be skilled assessment practitioners, designing and interpreting more student-involved classroom assessments, often termed as assessment to improve learning” (Guskey, 2003). Understanding different assessment techniques and strategies will help educators become more effective in guiding their students to success. Brookhart (1999) emphasizes the importance of teachers using assessments that are valid, reliable, meaningful, and accurate to guide instruction. If an assessment does not meet these three criteria, then it needs to be reexamined and adjusted before being administered.
Popham (2011, p. 270) defined formative assessment as “a planned process in which assessment-elicited evidence of student's’ status is used by teacher to adjust their ongoing instructional procedure or by students to adjust their current learning tactics”. And according to Elmahdi (2018, p. 182) formative assessment provides students with just in time specific and nonevaluative feedback that improve their performance. This type of feedback is purposeful in helping students improve and continue to move towards a successful and distinguished level in their work.
As educators, as we change and develop our mindsets toward assessment, this may present some problems. Meaningful and effective assessment will take more time and energy then simply having a test at the end of a unit without any other prior assessment. With technology, this can make formative assessment much more manageable for educators. Beatty and Gerace (2009) reported that “Teachers have limited time to assess students’ performances and provide feedback, but new advances in technology can help solve this problem” (p. 142). Technology such as Kahoot, Socrative and Plickers are examples of formative assessment tools that make it quick and easy for teachers and fun for students to give formative feedback that will help lead to the success of every student.
What work do we still have to do as instructional leaders in this area to ensure that students are receiving the best assessment practices in our buildings/districts?
I think that being informed on current and effective assessment practices is primarily important. As instructional leaders, if we are not informed ourselves, how can we help others? Once we have the knowledge and experience using effective assessments practices, it would then be time to talk with the other staff in our school/district about their assessment practices. This could be informal conversations going from classroom to classroom or we could also survey the staff and get feedback that way. Once we have identified a gap in assessment practices, then we could arrange a professional development session to help train staff on strategies to use in the classroom. Using a framework like the ADDIE model (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) and creating a flow chart would help in the process as well.
As mentioned earlier, all educators are growing, learning, and developing. Assessment is a valuable part of education and should not be taken lightly or used ineffectively. Assessment for learning, as learning, and of learning interweave together to inform our instruction in order to help students succeed.
Beatty, I. & Gerace, W. (2009). Technology-enhanced formative assessment: A research-based pedagogy for teaching science with classroom response technology. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(2), 146–162. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-008-9140-4
Brookhart, S. M. (1999). Teaching about communicating assessment results and grading. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 18(1), 5-13. Retrieved from http://proxy.cityu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.proxy.cityu.edu/docview/62393248?accountid=1230
Calveric, S. B. (2010). Elementary teachers' assessment beliefs and practices (Order No. 3443729). Available from ProQuest Central; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global; Social Science Premium Collection. (855823398). Retrieved from http://proxy.cityu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.proxy.cityu.edu/docview/855823398?accountid=1230
Elmahdi, I., Al-Hattami, A., & Fawzi, H. (2018). Using technology for formative assessment to improve students’ learning. TOJET: The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 17(2) Retrieved from http://proxy.cityu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.proxy.cityu.edu/docview/2025352702?accountid=1230
Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change Jossey-Bass, 989 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103-1741. Retrieved from http://proxy.cityu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.proxy.cityu.edu/docview/62189029?accountid=1230
Guskey, T. R. (2003). How classroom assessments improve learning. Retrieved from http://proxy.cityu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.proxy.cityu.edu/docview/62233973?accountid=1230
Popham, W. J. (2011). Classroom assessment: What teachers need to know. Boston, MA: Pearson.
How do you typically instruct your students? other learners (e.g. teachers)? Have your instructional practices changed over the years? Why or why not? And if so, in what ways?
I have been teaching for almost 5 years now. Admittedly when I first starting teaching I was just trying to stay afloat. There were so many new things to learn and so many expectations. I used a lot of direct instruction and textbook worksheets. I did use a bit of music in my lessons and classroom management. I would write songs with my students to help them remember key concepts as well as Bible memory verses. Now in my fourth year of teaching grade 5, I have been able to try many more instructional strategies with my students because I am more familiar with the curriculum and outcomes. I have been able to find more creative and engaging ways to teach my students. I use even more music in my classroom as well as collaboration, cooperative learning, competition, PBL, green screen filming, audio recording, Genius Hour, reader's theatre, mapping strategies, and integrating more technology tools and going on more field trips. I feel my teaching is much more well rounded, learner centered, and engaging for my students now than it was in the past. I still have a long way to go, but being in my Master's Program and being exposed to new strategies, ideas, and amazing teachers, has helped in taking my own teaching to a new level.
What research do you use to support your instructional practices? What evidence do you have that indicates that
your instructional practices help students achieve and be successful?
"In A Theory-Based Meta Analysis of Research on Instruction, Robert J. Marzano analyzed the results of more than 100 research reports on instruction, involving more than 1.2 million subjects" (Brabec, Fisher & Pitler, 2004). In this article they discussed a few very effective types of instructional strategies including: Identifying similarities and differences, note taking and summarizing, setting objectives and providing feedback, generating and testing hypotheses, questioning and advance graphic organizers, and reinforcing effort and providing recognition. These were just a few strategies, among others, that I have used that have been proven to help students achieve and become successful.
What work do we have to do as instructional leaders in this area to ensure that students are receiving the best instructional practices in our buildings/districts?
I believe that it is vitally important to continually be collaborating and working together not only with our own staff, but we staff from other schools. We need to seek out useful professional development opportunities and never stop learning and growing. When we're excited about teaching and education as well as providing the best learning opportunities for our students where they are engaged, motivated, and involved in deep learning, then we are helping them become successful. As instructional leaders, we need to make sure to ' model the way' and lead by example, especially as new changes are approaching with the curriculum redesign.
How will we plan and prepare ourselves, our teachers, our parents and our students for curriculum redesign?
I think knowing that change is coming for our school system and it is inevitable, is a good start to the preparation of the curriculum redesign. As we discussed in our course, EEA 532 - Instructional Leadership: Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, the new curriculum redesign will likely create more freedom and flexibility for teachers and students while focusing on developing relevant and practical skills for twenty-first century students. In the words of the current Minister of Education,
“This government is committed to developing curriculum - including the fundamentals of reading, writing and math - that ensures children have the best possible start in life to prepare them for rewarding careers in a diversified economy. Critical subject areas have not been updated in many years, so this work is long overdue. This new process will allow us to fulfill our commitments to educate our students about the history, perspectives and contributions of our Francophone, First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and communities.”
- David Eggen, Minister of Education
How might this change our current planning practices and those of our colleagues within our school district?
I think the new curriculum redesign may allow for teachers to have more room to teach in ways that are practical and relevant to their students. With less numbers of specific learning outcomes for teachers to focus on, teachers will be able to shift their focus on to the needs and interests of their students, which will likely produce more student engagement and motivation. Obviously the way we plan will our lessons and units may look different, again with less emphasis on specific learning outcomes and more on student's interests and relevant skills.
“Sleeker programs, allowing teachers to go more in-depth and to bring in more local elements, will ensure that our programs remain engaging, fulfilling and responsive to student needs. Teachers and the profession are excited for the changes and look forward to partnering with government on curriculum development.” Mark Ramsankar, President, Alberta Teachers’ Association
I thinking being able to focus on more local elements in our communities will allow teachers to pull in more local resources to bring the materials to life in practical ways with real-world examples that are literally "close to home."
What work do we have to do as instructional leaders in this area?
I think as instructional leaders, we will need to be on board with the new changes and modeling the way as other teachers and leaders are adjusting and adapting to these changes. Obviously these changes will require a shift in our thinking and view of teaching, but again, modeling and learning alongside our colleagues, will produce a more positive school environment. If instructional leaders do not buy into the new changes in curriculum and speak poorly about them, this would obviously effect the buy in from staff, which would in turn effect the culture of the school in a negative way. At the same time it will be important to look at the changes in a critical and realistic way. The curriculum redesign will likely not be perfect when in comes out and may needs some tweaks along the way.
"Provincial curriculum will be developed and available for use through a digital platform, the Curriculum Development Application (CDA). Teachers will be able to interact and develop learning opportunities for their students through the CDA. This interactive platform will become a one-stop shop for subject-specific programs of study, resources and assessment."
As instructional leaders, getting involved in the interactive platform early on will also encourage others to make the leap into the new curriculum digital tools. Some teachers may be hesitant and unsure, but as leaders, being able to walk them through will be a great opportunity.
For more information on the Alberta curriculum redesign, check out this great website:
My name is Jonathan Bolton I am an elementary school teacher in Red Deer, AB. I am also currently doing my Masters of Ed. as a cohort program through City University of Seattle. I am passionate about teaching, learning, creating, and growing.