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Chapter Ten – Evaluating and Reporting
*February 13, 2014*

*Posted by jennienorgaard in ECS 410.*

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This chapter states that, “Evaluation and reporting occur at the point in the classroom assessment cycle when the learning pauses, and the evidence is organized and evaluated by comparing it to what students needed to learn.” (p.93) From here, the results of the evaluation are usually shared through reports and final grades. This chapter talks about how evaluating and reporting are clearly the last and final step of the assessment process but it is crucial that these steps start earlier on throughout the learning journey of our learners. This chapter talks about how “evaluating and reporting require professional judgment in response to the following four issues: 1) What does the student know, what is she or he able to do, and what can she or he articulate? 2) What areas require further attention or development? 3) In what ways can the student’s learning be supported? 4) How is the student progressing in relation to the standards or development for students in a similar age range?” (p.93) This chapter talks about how evaluating is not done by only the teacher, instead it requires the role of the students and parents as well.

“Reporting is an ongoing process that should involve students, parents and teachers in examining and making sense of a student’s learning.” (p.96) This means that every time a student talks to their parents, peers, or teachers about what they are learning and doing in school they are reporting. It is important to involve your students in the reporting as a teacher so that they can go home and explain the reports and their grades to their parents in the end. This way there is no surprises or upsets at the ends towards what the students overall mark/grade is. Apart from keeping in contact with your students it is also as important to keep in touch with the parents with the students’ work and learning process. As important as it is to grade your students as a teacher it is just as important to keep students and their parents involved with the daily schoolwork occurring in you class. This way the students and parents understand the final grades you give your students and there are no surprises and upsets. In the end, it is just as important to involve your students and their parents in the evaluating and reporting process.

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Chapter Nine – Communicating About Learning
*February 13, 2014*

*Posted by jennienorgaard in ECS 410.*

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This chapter talks about the importance it is to communicate with our students/children to learn what they are learning in and through school. One way to communicate is through involving students with others about their learning, and then they start to understand what they have learned, what they need to learn, and the different kinds of supports that are available to them. “This teaches them to self-monitor – an essential skill for self-directed, independent, lifelong learners.” (p.86) This chapter talks about the two key components to successful communication through learning, which include students collecting and demonstrating their learning and then the audiences providing these learners with feedback. This chapter talks about the idea that when learners “have a specific audience it helps the learners focus the presentation, making it more purposeful and more likely to inform.” (p.86) Apart from this it is also important to ask the audience for both positive and negative feedback regarding the learners’ presentations. “Even with the best intentions, mistakes are made. We need to know what is working and what is not so that we can continue to improve on our learning path.” (p.91)

Through the classes I am currently taking we usually communicate our learning with others by creating short presentations in which the class takes part. From these presentations we usually have peer observers as well as the professor observing, taking notes and marking us at the back. By doing our presentations this way we get feedback from both our audience/peers, and our instructors. I believe this is an essential way of demonstrating our learning in the class but I also think it is as important that we have our instructor and peer evaluating and observing us as well. This way you get feedback from your peers, which at times can be more beneficial than from your instructor. I also believe that it is important to get feedback from more than once source as you will get different perspectives of what you can do differently next time and what went well.

So in general, I believe that it is important to not only communicate with your learners as a teacher but it is also important to allow you learners to demonstrate their learning throughout your class. This way the learners can get feedback from their audience and not just from their teachers. Like I said earlier, it is essential to get as many perspectives in on a students learning journey as possible as they can begin to see what they are doing well and what they need to change or improve for next time. I think it is important that we allow our peers to assess our learning as well as our teachers as some learners may find the feedback/responses from our peers more beneficial than that of our teachers.

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Chapter Eight – Collecting, Organizing, and Presenting Evidence
*February 6, 2014*

*Posted by jennienorgaard in ECS 410.*

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This chapter talks about how the students need to be involved in assessing their own learning. In order to do this, students must also be responsible for collecting, organizing and presenting evidence of their learning. By providing this information students can then start to understand when they are actually learning and succeeding. Students need to have a collection of evidence, as it becomes a visual to their learning over time. This ensures all students have a fair and balanced form of assessment. This chapter talks about how to make this process work by including the four key components to help support student learning in your classroom. These four keys are: keep the process simple, involve students, help students and parents value the evidence and reconsider evidence collections.

I think it is important that students are involved with their own learning. If students are to collect, organize and present evidence of their learning they are actually comprehending what they are learning and not just memorizing concepts and ideas for exams. This is important, as each individual student will be able to see how much he or she has learned in a semester from this process. I think this is a great way of assessing students as the parents can also start to understand what their students are learning in school as their child can see how much learning they are actually achieving throughout this process. From this process, the students can also pick out their best piece of work that they did over time and then they can talk to different people about this new learning they are doing. This way students can also take their learning outside of the classroom as well since they can explain to their peers and parents everything that they are learning. This process also allows parents, teachers and the students themselves to see how much the students actually learned over the semester. Not only are students learning more through this process, but the students are also getting better grades in the end. Students are not being graded on their individual assignments, instead the teacher can inform the students on what areas of this process needs more improving on and the areas in which the students are excelling at. In the end, I believe that this way of doing things may take more time, but it also benefits the students more. They start to actually see what they have learned throughout the semester instead of just getting marks back from their teachers after every assignment and test. The students also feel more confident in their grades at the end as they can relate the grade to everything they have actually learned and not how well they memorized concepts the night before the exam.

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Chapter Seven – Using Assessment to Guide Instruction
*February 5, 2014*

*Posted by jennienorgaard in ECS 410.*

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This chapter talks about teaching students while helping them learn how to assess themselves. Students learn how to assess themselves in order to be successful. This is also known as assessment *for* learning. This chapter deals with the idea that the students come up with the criteria needed for the assignments they are asked to do. However, the teacher can add in a few other details to the criteria that the students have created. This way students are involved in their own learning and know what all the expectations are for the end result. From the criteria that the students are asked to come up with, they can self-assess their own work before handing it in. From the criteria the students come up with, they create a T-chart showing all of their ideas and from here the T-chart can be a guide to their ongoing learning, assessment and evaluation. This chapter talks about “how instruction is changing as we involve students in classroom assessment.” (p.71)

From my past experiences, I found that most students were usually engaged more when the learning was done in some sort of a game or challenge/competition. For example, students would be more involved in the learning if it was in the form of a game that resulted in a winner and possibly receiving a prize. When there was a goal that students wanted to reach, such as “winning the prize” at the end, they were a lot more focused and engaged in the classroom. Students were more involved in their own learning in this way as it wasn’t the traditional teacher lecturing at the front of the room. The students didn’t really know what the learning destination was; they just knew that they wanted to win the game in the end. I wouldn’t say the students really knew what kind of evidence they had to produce, they normally just blurted out as many answers to the questions as possible until they got the correct answer. However, in some cases this got students thinking more about their answers before saying them to make sure it was correct. As for the self-monitoring part I don’t think it really applied in this sense. Unless the individual or teams were to compare themselves to the other team from what the end result was.

I find that when students are more involved in their own learning and it isn’t just the traditional teacher lecturing and students listening, the students are usually more focused and engaged in the lesson. I think that games/activities/competitions are a great way to get the students more engaged in their own learning. However, it doesn’t always have to result in the “winning” team getting a prize or treat. Apart from these ways, there are also other different ways that can be incorporated to get more students involved in their own learning that should be utilized more often. I think it is important to incorporate “real world” problems or situations especially when dealing with a math classroom. I find that students are more engaged and are willing to take part more in the lesson if they can see that they can actually use this math in other areas of their lives apart from in math class.

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Chapter Six – Involving Students in Classroom Assessment
*January 30, 2014*

*Posted by jennienorgaard in ECS 410.*

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This chapter talks about involving your students when it comes to assessment. Not only does this engage the students more in their own learning but they also start to understand what is important while they learn. Six key strategies where learning is the main focus include: involve students in setting and using criteria, engage students in self-assessment, increase the sources of specific, descriptive feedback, assist students to set goals, have students collect evidence of learning in relation to standards, and have students present evidence of learning in relation to standards.

When I think of assessment in the math classroom, I believe it can guide instruction in the sense that it allows the teacher to understand what their students are struggling with, what needs to be reviewed, what needs to be talked about more, how to change your teaching style to aid more students, what needs to be done differently and what works well. When a teacher incorporates different assessment strategies and different teaching styles in the classroom their students are more likely to be engaged and learn more. I think that allowing the students to decide as a class how the grades should be distributed can lead to a better learning environment. For example, if your students are not the greatest at writing exams then they can make exams worth less of their final grade, as this would be an insufficient way of assessing them on what they have learned.

However, I haven’t really come up with different ways in which we can assess students in math classes apart from quizzes, homework checks, test/exams and projects. At this point, the only other assessment styles I can think of in a math classroom apart from the typical paper and pen/pencil style would be to have a conversation with your students. From the reading, engaging students in self-assessment would be a process in which could help the students understand what is expected to be learned. For example, providing the students with acronyms such as SUNA could lead the students in the right direction of what is expected from them. This process allows students time to absorb what was being taught and learn the proper material. Students will learn more based on the different kinds of feedback they get, so it is essential for students to get feedback from both their peers and teachers. Another way of involving your students in classroom assessment would be to increase the sources of specific and descriptive feedback. The more feedback we provide for our students the more they can learn from their mistakes. They can then see what they are doing well and what they need to improve on. Also, assisting students to set goals would be another form of classroom assessment that your students could be involved in. So, the students identify what they would like to be able to achieve by the end of the semester and work towards achieving these goals throughout the semester. From here, students can identify what they are struggling with and what they are learning. These are some ideas in which we can involve our students in classroom assessment, but I still have a difficult time understanding how we can assess our students in a math classroom apart from the traditional paper and pen style.

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Chapter Five – Evidence of Learning
*January 30, 2014*

*Posted by jennienorgaard in ECS 410.*

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This chapter talks about the different kinds of evidence teachers can collect that provide them with an understanding of what their students are actually learning. The learning outcomes may be the same in the end, but different teachers will collect different kinds of evidence. These forms of evidence vary from teacher to teacher but also from student to student as each student learns in different ways, at different times and provide different ways of representing their learning. This chapter talks about the “three general sources of assessment evidence gathered in classrooms: *observation* of learning, *products *students create, and *conversations *with students about learning. It is important to allow your students to explain their learning journey and essential to give your students the appropriate feedback as teachers to let the students know how they are doing well and what areas need improvement.

I believe that providing students with evidence of their own learning is important so that students can build on from there, know what to do differently next time, and can see what they are doing correctly. As teachers, it is also important to allow students to provide their learning in whatever style/way they want. This is important because everyone learns differently and it is essential to provide every student with the same chance to represent their learning in whatever way they are most confident and comfortable with. We are limiting our students from expressing everything they have actually learned when we don’t allow them the opportunity to represent their own learning in whatever way best suits them. This way it also allows teachers to provide the best and most effective feedback to the students when they are given the opportunity to express their learning in their own way.

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Chapter Four – Describing Success
*January 23, 2014*

*Posted by jennienorgaard in ECS 410.*

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In chapter four, it talks about the different ways in which success can be looked at. It talks about the idea that if teachers are not clear with what reaching success is suppose to look like for their students, how will they ever know/determine when their students have been successful? It emphasizes the importance it is for teachers to provide their students with a variety of different learning examples so their students can meet and strive for these standards. Students always ask questions like; “what do you expect to be done”, “is this good enough”, or “what does excellence look like?” These are all questions that relate to standards and learning outcomes. As teachers, I think it is extremely important to provide your students with a variety of samples demonstrating the criteria that is needed and expected for each assignment. If the criteria aren’t clearly set out for our students we are not allowing them the potential to achieve success. It is important to have a clear criteria set forth for the students so they can demonstrate their learning to their full potential, and samples are also a great way to give the students ideas of what is expected from them. This chapter deals mainly with different samples in which you can use in your classroom, which are most effective in different situations, how to use them and how they can help your students. I think that providing your students with these samples is one of the best ways to explain how you want things to be done. It is also a great source of feedback for your students and it helps the students understand how they can improve from these different samples that are provided for them. By providing these examples, it allows your students to demonstrate/represent their learning in ways they feel more confident and comfortable with. This way students don’t feel obligated to do an assignment in a certain way if they learn better or can demonstrate their learning more effectively in a different way. This way it doesn’t limit the ability to demonstrate what they know.

From the hiking boots in this chapter, it asks us to collect a range of samples and analyze them to help our students recognize the importance of them and what to focus more on. I believe that providing students with different samples of work is one of the best ways to help them identify what is expected for the assignment. From these samples, the students can get a better understanding of what is expected for the assignment, get an idea of how long the assignment should be and get an idea of different topics/ideas they can do their assignment on. From this, the students can then identify if their thinking process is along the same lines, if they need to change what they were going to do or if they should take a totally different approach to the assignment than what they had originally had in mind. Apart from providing students with different samples of assignments I think it is key to include the feedback from these samples as well. This way students get a better understanding of not only what is expected but they also get an idea of how they can improve from these samples. This is a great way of providing a risk free environment in your classrooms! This way we are not providing barriers for our students and their learning abilities. Instead, we are guiding them in the correct direction to help them succeed in their learning.

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Chapter Three – Beginning with the End in Mind
*January 23, 2014*

*Posted by jennienorgaard in ECS 410.*

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This chapter talks about how the first question a teacher needs to be able to answer is: What do I want my students to learn? It states, “When teachers and students know where they are going, they are more likely to achieve success.” (p.25) This chapter emphasizes the importance it is for teachers to be able to use a variety of differentiated teaching strategies. Along with being able to use different teaching methods we also have to have different forms of assessment since every student learns in a different way and at their own pace. The main focus of this chapter is on how can we develop a clear description of our learning destination that we want to be able to achieve. It emphasizes the importance it is to ensure that students know what they will be learning, what learning can look like and what the goals the teachers want the students to be able to accomplish in the end (begin with the end in mind).

There will be a wide range of different learning levels in our classrooms, along with cultural backgrounds that teachers need to document throughout the year in order to give every student the same potential to succeed. It is important to establish these things in the beginning of the year so teachers know how they should be teaching, where all their students learning levels are at, and what instructional methods they need to incorporate in their classroom. Two challenges come along with being able to teach your students in a variety of different ways. The first challenge is being able to have a deep understanding of one subject area, in order to provide different instructional methods and in order to help your students learn the material. The second challenge is being able to teach small groups of students within the classroom as opposed to teaching the class as one large group. I believe that being able to teach small groups in the classroom will be more effective than trying to teach a large group all at once. This way **all** the different learning needs can be met instead of the majority of them, you get to know your students at a better level and your students will be achieving more success when given different opportunities to learn. By teaching students in smaller groups, you will be able to have a discussion with more of your students, and be able to get your point across about what you intend your students to learn and how you are going to assess your students on these things.

I think it is important to keep in mind the quote from the textbook, in order to get a better understanding of beginning with the end in mind. This quote is, “If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.” -Henry Kissinger (p.31)

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Chapter Two – Building the Foundation for Classroom Assessment
*January 15, 2014*

*Posted by jennienorgaard in ECS 410.*

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This chapter talks about the idea that you have to build relationships with your students first and foremost, and then you can start to establish what the classroom agreements should be for how everyone will work and learn together. This all starts by providing your students with a safe school environment in which they can learn. When this safe school environment is made, students are then more likely to take the risks needed in order to benefit their own learning. Assessment for learning happens when “everyone knows that mistakes are essential for learning, understands feedback, takes time to learn, and recognizes that success has many different looks.” (pg.15)

This chapter distinguishes the different between descriptive feedback, which tells students about their learning and evaluative feedback, which tells the learner how she or he has performed as compared to others or as compared to what was to be learned. (pg.17) I learned from this chapter that the best feedback of the two is clearly descriptive feedback. The chapter emphasizes the importance it is to get your community involved with your students learning. Students are going to learn more if we as future teachers take the time to get to know these students more through their parents and guardians. Getting the parents and guardians to be involved in their child’s learning is also very beneficial to providing the child with the best learning experience possible for them.

The information provided in this chapter is very useful to help out our students in their learning journey. If we provide our students with very thorough and descriptive feedback for their assignments they will understand what they need to do differently next time and learn from these mistakes. However, if we were just to give our students evaluative feedback this wouldn’t benefit their learning in any way. In fact it might affect their learning in the sense that the do not like the mark they got on an assignment and don’t know what they did wrong or was lacking in it. Without the descriptive feedback the students don’t know what the expectations are of the teachers for their next assignments and will not know how to learn from their previous mistakes. Therefore, it is really key to ensure that as teachers we provide as much feedback and comments as possible to our students when marking and evaluating them on assignments. The students need to know what they did well and what they need to improve on so they can change for future assignments. If students don’t know what the mistakes are that they made how will they ever be able to improve? Therefore, the feedback in which we choose to provide our students with has a huge impact on how we will be judged as teachers. If we provided the feedback needed to help students improve from their mistakes they are more likely to enjoy what they are learning and be more interested in broadening their learning from this success.

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Chapter One – Making Classroom Assessment Work
*January 15, 2014*

*Posted by jennienorgaard in ECS 410.*

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In the beginning of Chapter 1, it begins by describing the difference between what assessment is and what evaluation is. It goes on to say that, assessment is “gathering information about student learning that informs our teaching and helps students learn more” while evaluation is when “we decide whether or not students have learned what they needed to learn and how well they have learned it.” (p.1) After this explanation, Anne Davies, proceeds with giving us an example of a research paper that the students have a week to complete. She then goes on explaining in detail different ways/steps in which this paper can be assessed and how we can go about evaluating from there. This chapter also emphasizes the importance it is to get your students involved in the creating of the criteria for which they will be evaluated on.

In my EMTH 350 class we have been talking about different instructional practices such as the student-centered group and the teacher-centered group. I can say I have a pretty clear understanding of what the teacher-centered group is since that is how most of us have been taught. However, I cannot say that I have ever experienced or encountered a student-centered teaching approach myself. So I wouldn’t really know how to go about dealing with this kind of a teaching approach. After reading this chapter, it has gave me a better understanding of how to go about dealing with a student-centered teaching approach. This chapter talks about the fact that “when the students are involved from the beginning, they are more ready to learn.” (p.5) I think this is important as the students need to know from the beginning what is expected from them so they can achieve their full potential and learn everything they need to know in order to be successful. I also like the fact of how it talks about including your students in the process of making the criteria for the class so that students are maximizing their learning more than if the teacher just created the criteria themselves. This not only enhances the students learning but it also gets the students involved with what they are interested in learning as well. Another important aspect that is talked about in this chapter is how we as future teachers need to take advantage of peer assessment and self-assessment as much possible. It is important for teachers to assess students but it is also important for peers to assess one another. It is beneficial to gain different perspectives from each other. The teacher ultimately does not hold the golden key to learning. We all do!

Some thoughts I have now after reading this chapter are will student-centered teaching be very beneficial in the future? I think a student-centered teaching approach is a great way to help your students get more involved in their learning. This way you also have an idea of what it is your students want to learn and be evaluated on. But at the same time how will you be able to monitor every student’s needs/learning abilities and evaluate every student equally when all your students are at a different learning level? How beneficial is a student-centered learning approach then if 100% of your students are not benefitted from this approach? Then my final question is how do I go about teaching and evaluating students in the best possible way that benefits all students equally?