Monday, July 6, 2009

Chapter 5: Considering Evidence of Learning in Diverse Classrooms

As a note, each chapter poses several questions. Please do not feel obligated to answer each question by number; rather, use them as a guide for you to respond to the reading and share your thinking about the ideas in the book.

1. Assessment is a critical feature of both UbD and DI. Explain why that is the case for each model separately as you understand them. Also explain how assessment links the two models.

2. Chapter 5 offers three key principles of assessment (photo albums vs. snapshots, measures that match goals, form follows function).

  • What are the big ideas implicit in each principle? Identify specific actions that teachers can take to act on each principle.

  • Explain how each principle matters for successful curricular planning and for successful differentiation.

3. This chapter suggests four classroom assessment practices that honor student differences while promoting critical learning for each student (assessing before teaching, offering appropriate choices in assessments, providing feedback early and often, and encouraging student self-assessment and reflection).

  • What common teacher beliefs and practices do these guidelines challenge?

  • Identify specific examples of each principle in practice.

  • What would change for students in our classrooms if we appropriately followed these guidelines? For teachers? For learners?

4. How would assessment following these guidelines promote learning for a wide range of students rather than simply measuring it?


Chelsea said...

Chapter 5

Assessment is a critical feature of the UbD and DI practices. It gives the teacher insight into a student’s or a group of student’s knowledge, understanding, skills, and interests. It also allows for the teacher to tailor a unit of study to a student’s needs, challenges, and learning styles. The “photo album vs. snapshot” principle to assessment views each assessment as one moment in time, as opposed to several assessments giving us a body of evidence, which provides a bigger picture of the student as a learner. To understand a student more thoroughly we cannot base our understanding of their learning profile on one test. Many assessments, formal and informal; formative and summative; or written, verbal, visual, and performance tasks all paint a better picture of a student’s understanding and skills together, rather than depending on one form of assessment to demonstrate a child’s comprehension. Not every student demonstrates her understanding and skills in the same manner. Teachers need to plan and use a variety of these assessments to match all students’ learning preferences, as well as expose them to others. When teachers think about “measures that match goals” they need to ask themselves, “Does the assessment fit the goal of the curricula? What are the students supposed to know, understand, and be able to do?” A student needs to be able to explain his thinking in some way. Once a teacher has the goal(s) in mind, then she can look for ways a child can demonstrate understanding through a variety of ways to explain, and then apply this knowledge to a new situation. When planning for an assessment teachers need to understand the intention and audience of the results and what the content is and why it is necessary. This ensures that the form of the assessment follows its function. Students need to learn to become better learners through reflection of the process from which they learn. They need to observe and understand the results of an assessment to grasp their strengths and challenges, and then set goals for future learning. As teachers we need to coach students with ongoing, timely, and frequent feedback. These practices take time and effort that some teachers are not willing to or comfortable with putting into a unit of study. However, assessing before teaching gives the teacher and students valuable information that drives instruction and learning. Pretests or preference surveys allow teachers insights they need to provide a variety of opportunities for all students at any entrance level. Providing students choices gives them autonomy and allows them the opportunity to understand their needs and interests better for future experiences. Giving feedback in a timely manner, and frequently, helps students to become more proficient at the concepts or skills needed. Students learn to understand their strengths and challenges, and set goals. Self-assessments and reflection gives students the opportunities to become “metacognitive, adjust their performance, and use strategies to assist” in the learning process. All this gives them more ownership on their learning and take pride in their accomplishments, further building their confidence to take risks. When the practices discussed in chapter five are implemented the culture within our classrooms changes to one of mutual respect, community, and pride. Teachers should not deliver or present the content. Rather, they should facilitate and support the learning process driven by the students. When students understand the value of what they are learning, how and why they learn the way they do, and how to apply it to life’s experiences they become empowered and excited about the idea of “school.”

Anonymous said...

WOW! I am glad that I have taken on the task of reading this book again. I am such a strong believer in many of the premises in it, and while I think that I am actively practicing many of the premises, I have become aware of the gaps that have been created by my lack of diligence in keeping the practices up.

The question, “How would assessment following these guidelines promote learning for a wide range of students rather than simply measuring it?” is the key question for me in this chapter. I can think back to times in my own education when the teacher gave one test and based a grade on this sole piece of data. A student learned the information by the time the test rolled around, or not. After the test was given, there was no point in going back to learn the information, we were moving on. How sad…If something is worth assessing, it is worth learning. Therefore, I will make a commitment to a reenergized diligence to give more regular pre-assessments, to make my lessons include multiple varied formative assessments, and to give my students reflection time as methods of making learning about more that measuring progress in an attempt to promote learning.