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• Assessments are vital component in my class; I use them s informal assessments to measure what the student know, miss conceptions, students lack of knowledge, how to group, the best guided lessons or creation of lesson (s) to aid with scaffolding and finally the amount of time that must be invested. At the end of the unit, the same pre- assessment can be given to see how the students understanding have grown. Pre- assessment can be use to create formal and summative assessments. The challenges faced by the use of the forms of assessments are to know which and when to use them. Another challenged is to know knows that an informal assessment could also be a summative and or formal assessment. I say this because if a student’s is able to verbalize, draw, clicker, or demonstrate his or her understanding in a form other than a formative or summative and this other form follows the benchmarks, the students have proven his or her knowledge.
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Guiliermo, I think you make several important points. Your last sentence reminds me of the importance of involving students in the assessment process. I really appreciated the information shared in a book chapter entitled, Involving Students in Assessment.
On page 86 the author says, "Despite initial resistance, as students learned assessment-
related skills, demarcations between roles and responsibilities with respect
to assessment blurred. They learned to take on responsibilities and many even appropriated
ongoing assessment into their regular habits and repertoires." Afterall, isn't that what we want for our students - the ability to take charge of their own learning in meaningful, productive ways?
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I have been reading the works by Marzano Research this year and have been changing my outlook on Assessments.
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In my limited experience, I have discovered that one has to be careful converting formative assessments into summatives. Most of the time, what is classified as a formative assessment involves casual settings, guidance from the teacher, etc. Summatives usually involve a more carefully controlled environment. What a student can demonstrate beautifully in a casual formative assessment they cannot repeat in a more "formal" setting. I think the key is repeated assessment opportunities. Then you can use a blend of summatives, formatives, formatives converted into summatives. Now, of course this all hinges on what you're using as assessments, how important retention is and whether or not test-taking skills are important to you. I've been doing a lot of research-both action and book-into assessments in a pilot for standards based grading and I've discovered that what one person defines as formative, another teacher might define as a summative or even just diagnostic. Vocabulary is a tricky thing. . . The important thing is as was said-demonstration of knowledge in appropriate context.
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I would agree that we should use care before turning formative assessments into summative assessments. I use formative assessments daily, and I think it is the constant reinforcement of the content through formative assessment that helps students gain in content knowlege while finding the confidence to be successful in the summative assessment.
Also, as I told a group of students, who hit the target the first time during the "On Target" engineering NES activity, that NASA does not try something once, see that it works and then launch. It takes several successful trials before NASA will launch the real deal. I think assessing student understanding should be the same way....we shouldn't just test them once, think they "have it" and move on...there is too much at risk.
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I don't think formative assessments [i]should[i] be converted into summative marks. They (formative assessments) are for students and teachers to see what the students understand, where they are, where gaps are (in learning and teaching). They are also like practice training for tests. I'd rather my students know what it is they do NOT know or understand before they run into it on a unit test.
At the same time, I have to admit that I do not utilize formative assessments as often or as effectively as I can. It's that stupid learning curve...I'm definitely working through the implementation dip right now - so March break is a good time to stop, reassess and fix things up again!
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I am also always working at improving upon my formative assessments.
I have my students complete daily bell work, but I sometimes fail to provide feedback everyday (sometimes I just forget in the craziness of the day), and rarely do I help my students "close the loop" - meaning that I don't always provide feedback on their responses to bell work - at least not individually (I have 140+ students daily). I would love to begin to develop a more student centered form of formative assessment with feedback that was constructive and efficient.
Yet, I do use the bell work responses to gauge student understanding of the content and to determine any areas that require review or re-teaching. I just wish I had more time to address individual student responses... Suggestions? Thoughts?
I'm using Class Dojo alot for my younger students - primarily my grade 7/8 students. It's beyond brilliant - and the kids are motivated too. It allows for positive feedback/points - whereas most of the others seem to focus on the negatives. I believe there needs to be a balance. I have to remember to hook it up to project the ongoing results more regularly. It IS good in that it gives instantaneous feedback in some areas - especially affective and learning skills. You can modify it for what YOU want to assess. I use some of the affective skills (positive feedback, active listing - and 3 steps leading to it so pretty well everyone can get at least one positive) as well as safety issues (I can do my safety "checklist" on this very effectively. I can also record who has completed homework - written homework down, etc. Check it out! Just google ClassDojo. It's in Beta version and the guys in charge of it are really keen to let it grow based on teacher need. You can also contact them for support - which, let's face it - is an anomoly!
Good luck - this may help a little.
I, too, am looking to improve in giving regular feedback.
Thanks for sharing the Class DoJo website. I had never heard of it before. It seems to be a nice way to record positive and negative student behaviors. I am wondering if you have had any negative reactions from students or parents for showing the students' behavioral 'scores' on the big screen for all to see during the period. I can understand how it might help to encourage positive behaviors, but I would probably not use it to broadcast a particular student's negative behavior(s). It reminds me of the strategy of "writing a student's name on the chalkboard" as a visual clue to that student that the behavior is unacceptable. I tried that once and decided it was more effective to address the behavior one-on-one. I wonder what the research says about the best way to assess and encourage positive classroom behaviors.
So far so good. In fact, I'm sending "report cards" home to parents every 3 months (or so) on their child. This is one of the features of Class Dojo; it, in no way, compares their child to any other child.
So far, the parents love it.
I have one young man with some social behavioural issues - which, after meeting with his mom, I now understand better. I staggered sending one set of reports home so it would not be obvious that he did not receive his for that time - he'd had a really bad run with behaviour and very little to acknowledge as positive behaviour. I felt that this really negative report would cause more problems than positive results from sharing his behavioural information.
I just finished reviewing an article about assessments that brought up some interesting points that I need to remember to consider in every unit I teach. The journal article is
called Assessing Understanding. It reminds us that we should look at 4 stages in an assessment cycle: diagnostic, formative, summative, and confirmatory assessments. It is an excellent article with lots of examples of how the author accomplished each stage in her school.
Thanks for bringing up for four phases of assessment. Like Meg, I have concerns about using formative assessments as summatives. They are two different things with two very distinct purposes. I use formative assessments so often that I sometimes don't even feel that a summative is necessary, because I know what my students know so well I could almost sit down and give them the grade they're going to earn on the summative assessment. But I know that my students need the summative, not only for their own academic growth and sense of accomplishment, but for practice on high stakes exams as well.
When students repeatedly experience success on tests and exams that they've been adequately prepared for they are more likely to have a positive outlook towards test-taking as a whole (and test anxiety drops dramatically). I agree that test-taking should not be our main concern, but like it or not our students will be tested throughout their entire lives. From standardized tests to end of course tests, the ACT/SAT, the GRE, and any other state licensing or certification exams they might need to take in life. I tell my students all the time that tests are "just an opportunity for them to show off what they know." But I'm talking about summatives, of course.
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I think formal learning assessments have really come a long way from the past but are still going through a big process of change. I feel that there should be more of an effort in using informal assessment to assess students as a lot of students have test taking problems and anxiety. In my studies recently I can definitely see a shift in thinking that formal test taking is the only way students can show success in a classroom. At the same time, there is a lot of pressure on students to pass formal state exams so I feel that classroom activities and informal and formal assessments should really reflect state exams so students understand what is expected of them and are familiar with testing formats. Sadly I think this is the only thing we can do as teachers. Formal assessment is a large part of life these days (it is always changing though) and familiarity is a great way to ease into a formal testing situation.
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