When I am teaching how to teach, one of the dilemmas I have is what to teach first in the ‘teaching process’ (lots of teach/teaching there!). Although many will assume that planning is the obvious starting point, to me the starting point is always what the child knows and therefore, what do they need to learn. This needs to be assessed and so for me the starting point is observation and assessment. This waffle is all about the basic of managing the process of assessment.
If you find something difficult – involve the children to help you.
In its basic form, assessment is all about ascertaining where the child is in their learning and where they need to go next. While teaching, I needed to develop was a system that allowed me to record and store this assessment in order for it to inform my future planning. The systems that I created/used were unique to me and I am not saying that these are the most effective for you to use. However, they might give you some ideas and if they work for you, go for it 🙂
Involve the children – You were probably not expecting this as the first point, but to me it is the most effective way of managing and implementing the system. We want the children to be involved in the process as much as possible. This will allow anyone appraising your lesson to see how embedded assessment is, as well as reminding you to record the assessment.
Don’t hide that assessment grid/tracker as if it is something secret, make it apparent and on the table
Don’t hide that assessment grid/tracker as if it is something secret, make it apparent and on the table – and involve and inform the children – saying things like – “I’m just going to make a note of what you said then, it really shows how you understand that” or “Let me make a note of that so I know I have to support you with that tomorrow.”
Post It Master! – I have to confess at this point that I was a post it master! This was my way of recording assessment, mainly due to the fact that they would fit into my top shirt pocket along with a pen. I found it easy to take the post it, write down the child’s name and what I had assessed. Again this was transparent to the child and sometimes a child would say – “do you want to write that down on a post it?”. You can have different coloured post its for different days or subjects and these can either be attached to the back of your lesson plans or your tracker sheet for future reference.
Mr Wilson’s clipboard – Anyone who has seen me teach at university will be aware that I tend to put things down and then forget where I put them – this is usually the clicker or my whiteboard pen! This was the same in school and to help remedy this situation I had a clipboard that had sellotaped to the back a label which read – “Mr.Wilson’s Clipboard – please return!”. On the board I kept my lesson plans and my tracker sheets. This allowed me to always have somewhere to record my assessments – whether this was just a place to stick my post its or a place to add a comment to my trackers. This helped me keep everything in one place. My teaching assistant also would add assessments to the clipboard, so involving other adults within the assessment process.
Don’t assess everything – In order to manage the assessment process you need to decide what to assess. It would be impossible to assess everything and you need to decide what you will assess and when. Initially go for the extremes – often referred to as the ‘ows and wows’ – the children who could or did go further than the lesson objective and those who didn’t attain it. These will have the biggest impact on your future planning and will allow you to plan for progression for those children. Establish early on that if you have written nothing, then they got it. As you progress with your procedure, start to include responses to those alterations. If, for example, you identified that a child needed to work on odd and even numbers, then record the next day the impact of that change – did they now get it. This is really important to demonstrate the impact of your interventions.
Recording assessment is a skill which you develop as you get more experienced. You need to establish routines which work for you and which also meet the aim of assessment which is to impact on children’s learning. See what other teachers use and reflect on these and then adapt them to create your own procedure – remember there is no ‘correct’ method of recording your assessments. I do wonder at this point whether there is a place for ongoing assessment within higher education. Should I be assessing student’s understanding on a tracker sheet and then changing my future session plan to promote progression, or providing additional reading to support learning? Or has the emphasis of the assessment process been relocated from the teacher to the student? Within higher education is it the student who is responsible for their own assessment and tracker? Something I will ponder as I finish my latte :).
I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas, please add them in the comments below or send me them to be via twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, google+ or email.
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