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Learning Journey #6 March 10, 2014

Posted by jennienorgaard in Learning Journey.
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In class Thursday night we talked about different assessment practices more specifically, the 15 fixes by Ken O’Connor and the 8 big ideas by Damian Cooper. From these two different assessment practices, I personally like the 15 fixes more than the 8 big ideas. Throughout the majority of the fixes I agree that for the most part we should try to implement these assessment practices. However, there are a few that I am on the fence about such as number 5, which is “Report absences separately from grades; don’t consider attendance in grade determination.” To an extent, I agree with not taking attendance into consideration when grading our students. Although, I don’t think it is fair to give students an opportunity to have another chance to write an exam because they “skipped” the original date. I say this because if this was allowed more students would be missing out on the day of the actual exam to give themselves more time to study and prepare for the exam. It would be a totally different case if the student had a legitimate reason for not being there on the day of the exam, which is when I agree with the idea that we should be allowing these students another opportunity to write the exam. Apart from the idea of not allowing students who purposely “skipped” the day of the exam to allow themselves more time to study, I think students have to learn to be responsible for themselves as well. So essentially, I am not trying to say that I don’t want the best for my students and for them to be graded on what they learn as opposed to when/if they show up to class. I just think that to an extent, students need to be responsible for their own learning as well. For example, if they know they are struggling with the unit they are on, they should start studying for the exam earlier than what they normally would to ensure they have enough time to study everything. Or students can also try and ask their teacher or peers for help before the exam as well to try and better themselves. Students shouldn’t leave studying for the night before and expect to get a good grade in the end.

Another assessment practice that I don’t fully agree with is number 4, which is “Apply fair consequences (not connected to grades) for academic dishonesty and reassess to determine actual level of achievement; don’t punish with reduced grades.” I disagree with this one as this is setting the high school students up for failure going into university as things like plagiarism is not acceptable. I also think that by allowing this, it is like saying to the students that it is okay to just copy and paste something they find on the Internet for there assignment if they totally forgot to do their assignment the night before or if they don’t feel like doing it at the time. This way they will be given another chance to actually do the assignment as a form of punishment. This also ensures that they can redo the assignment instead of not handing in an assignment and receiving a grade of zero on it. (Or depending on what the expectations are in the classroom for assignments not handed in.) This is allowing lots of students to put off their homework as much as they would like if they have something else they would rather be doing. This is another case where the students need to be responsible for their own learning in the sense that they shouldn’t be copying and pasting things from the Internet for an assignment or project as they are not learning anything by doing this. Instead, I think they should be utilizing the resources provided to them online to better their understanding on different things and to learn more things in general. Overall, the Internet shouldn’t be abused and instead it should be utilized properly to better someones understanding of something and increase what they know.

In general, I don’t think that the behavior of students should be taken into consideration when assessing and evaluating them. But at the same time I also think that students should be responsible for their own learning and do whatever they can to contribute to their own learning rather than taking the easy way out on certain things. With the whole idea of not taking behavior into consideration when grading students I think that the playing field should be fair for all students as well. By this I mean that students who purposely skip class shouldn’t be given a second chance and expect to be treated like the students who actually deserve and could use the second chance they are given.

 

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Learning Journey #5 February 28, 2014

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After listening to the presentation from the Ministry of Education I learned a bunch of new things such as the plan for growth that they are planning at the moment. This includes things from: reducing the graduation gap between First Nations and Métis students and their non-Aboriginal peers by 50% in 2020, increasing the number of grade three students reading level by 20% so that they are “at level”, and a plan for an increase in the graduation rate of students. These are all great goals and things that definitely need to start happening soon. Especially since so many students going into high school or any grade for that matter are simply getting pushed through the system even though they below reading grade level and so on. I personally don’t think that students should be getting pushed through the system like they are. By pushing them through they are not learning anything and you are technically putting them in a deeper hole then where they first started. How are we allowing students to be successful by allowing them to be pushed through? I believe this because as you progress through each grade in school things start to get more difficult. So if your students are having trouble being successful in the previous grades, what is going to change for them when they are just getting pushed through the school system? What are they learning if any from being pushed through? Why are supports not being provided to these students to try and help them succeed instead of just pushing them through? How is this preparing students for University or College and the real world outside of school? To me this is just setting the students up for failure later on in life. It is also saying to the students that it is okay to not understand certain things and that you don’t necessarily have to learn it. I believe it is issues like this that students begin to have a terrible attitude towards school and their own learning. Due to this there is a fewer amount of students attending colleges and universities. Not only are they not going to universities and colleges but also it is making it more difficult for these students to get involved in the work force. 

Apart from this plan for growth, there were some controversial ideas that were talked about as well. Things such as the idea that if you wanted to get into the Faculty of Engineering and you were a high school student from Saskatchewan you needed a 92% average. If you were a high school student from Alberta you only needed an 85% in order to get accepted into this faculty. How is this fair at all? How can things be changed so that things like this don’t continue to happen? Are schools in Alberta that much better academically?

 

Learning Journey #4 February 21, 2014

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After reading this textbook, it emphasizes the importance it is to involve your students and their parents in all possible ways in your class. Not only involving your parents and students in the classroom but also encouraging students to go home and share what they are learning with their parents. This included everything from the assessment process, providing the students with feedback, having “open house” events at school for the parents to come and watch, to the evaluating and reporting process of the students in the end as well. Before this class I knew that it was important to get the parents involved in what it was their children were learning in school, but I didn’t realize that it was necessary in getting the parents involved with the evaluating and reporting process of their children as well. I actually didn’t think that was even possible to do prior to reading this textbook. After reading this textbook it all makes sense why we would involve the parents and students in everything that we can in and through their learning journey. This way there will be no surprises or upsets with the final grades of the students learning. When the parents are involved through this whole process they can help their children do better in school and the parents can become a part of their children’s learning journey. It is also important that parents are involved in their children’s learning so if there is any misunderstanding or disagreements with students’ grades, parents and teachers can talk about it right from the beginning and not when the marks are already submitted. I realize the importance it is to involve parents in their chid’s learning journey as they can help out teachers at home when teachers are not there and available. Parents can work at home with their child on their learning if they know where their child is at and what they are trying to reach in the end.

Learning Journey Week #3 January 30, 2014

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In this class we talk about assessment and how it is continual feedback that teachers provide their students with that inform them how well they are doing. However, from this I am struggling to understand different ways in which we can assess our students in a math classroom apart from the traditional homework checks, quizzes, exams, and projects. To an extent, I believe that this isn’t a fair way in assessing our students at all because not all students are good at writing exams; there should be more appropriate ways in which students can express their knowledge and what they have learned in the class than through exams. It is one thing to be able to memorize the process/steps in how to do different problems as opposed to actually understanding how to do it on your own. In this class, we also emphasize the importance it is to have an ongoing assessment instead of a one-shot assessment at the end of each unit through exams.

From my EMTH 200 class, Rick always emphasized the importance it was to teach to the bottom 2/3 of the class and monitor/look after the top 1/3 of the class. This is important because we want to ensure that all of our students understand the knowledge they need in the appropriate grade level they are in so that they don’t just get pushed through the system in the end. In saying this, it is also important to make sure to give the top 1/3 of your class material that they can work on that both challenges them and increases what they already know so that the class isn’t a waste to them. This goes along with the quote we were given in ECS 410, “When a teacher tries to teach something to the entire class at the same time, chances are, one-third of the kids already know it; one-third will get it and the remaining third won’t. So, two-thirds of the children are wasting their time.” -Lillian Katz. So from this we can see how important it is to know where each and every one of our students are at when it comes to learning so that we can make our lessons based on all our students and not just the majority of them.

In this class, we talk about the importance of ongoing assessment and providing our students with feedback to help them understand what they are doing well and what areas need improvement. So my concern to this is how does this happen in a math class if the only forms of assessments are through homework checks, quizzes, exams and the occasional project?

Apart from doing ongoing assessment, we also learned the difference between formative and summative assessment throughout this class. Formative assessment aims to discover what the learner knows, understands or can do with intent to inform our teaching or learning as a result. Summative assessment aims to discover if the learner knows, understands, or can do a predetermined thing.

OCRE January 26, 2014

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On January 23rd and 24th I took part in an On Campus Research Experience with my fellow math majors. Due to OCRE I had to miss a presentation for ECS 410 that I believe would have been pretty helpful to take part in. However, during OCRE I took part in a variety of activities with all the math majors and we brought in five different guest speakers that were very helpful. The guest speakers included: a high school principal, a first year math teacher, a first year teacher teaching abroad in England, an aboriginal math professor and three city police officers. From these presentations I took in a lot of information that will be very beneficial for my journey to becoming a teacher and for the hiring process in the years to come. All of these speakers had interesting presentations that provided us with different information that will be useful for us and allow us to grow and become better as teachers.  Along with all the guest speakers and professional development that occurred during these two days, the bonding our group of math majors did brought us closer together as a group.

OCRE 2014

Assessment Vs Evaluation – Week #1 January 16, 2014

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After the first week of ECS 410 I have gained a better understanding of the difference between assessment and evaluation. Prior to this class, I had always thought these two things were the same. I thought that assessment and evaluation were just the “terms” used for how teachers gave you a certain grade/mark for each class. Instead, assessment is the feedback/comments in which you get for your work on how you did while evaluation is the grade/mark you get for your work.

After reading chapter two, I also learned that there are two different kinds of feedback that we can provide our students with. The first one being descriptive feedback, which “gives the learner information about their learning that helps them self-reference and plan their next steps.” This type of feedback usually: “comes during or after the learning, is easily understood and relates directly to the learning, is specific to help students improve, is an ongoing process/conversation about the students learning, and it deals with the performance of the work and not the person writing it. (p.17) The second type of feedback is evaluative feedback, which “tells the learner how he or she has performed compared to others (norm-referenced assessment) or as compared to what was to be learned (criterion-referenced assessment). (p. 17) Evaluative feedback is usually expressed by grades, numbers, checks, or other symbols. This type of feedback informs the students of what they understand and what they need to improve on, but it doesn’t tell the student how they can improve.

I think this is a topic that needs to be discussed more in other Education classes since clearly, there is a significant difference between assessment and evaluation. And if it weren’t for this class, I probably still would have thought these two things were the same.