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Reflective Commentary


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  • 1. Workshop Reflection“Our greatest joy, no matter what our role, comes from creating. In that process people becomeaware that they are able to do things they once thought were impossible. They have empoweredthemselves, which in turn empowers those with whom they interact.”(SPDU‟s website, R. Quinn, 2001) It is Day one of a three-day workshop on assessment.On this day, I beganfigurativelywith new eyes. I plannedto recreate my assessment practices. My new challenge was that ofteaching others to learn how to learn. No longer is it the teacher‟s role to be a keeper of theknowledge and assessment. Teachers, students, and peers, need to be a part of the assessmentand learning process. Over the past few years, I embarked on apersonal journey of learning how Ilearn best. I have taken ownership over my learning strengths and weaknesses. I have become areflective learner that uses feedback to learn. Letting students taking ownership over their ownassessment will help them to learn how to learn. I have come to know that effective and properformer assessment has students learning how to learn. I began my journey to empower myselfand in turn, it would be my duty as an educator to empower those around me. Saskatchewan Professional Development Unit (SPDU) provides professional growthopportunities in the areas of, curriculum and leadership. In 1987, SPDU was created with avision “to increase the effectiveness of inservice education in the province” of Saskatchewan( SPDU‟s ( values foreducators include being autonomous and responsible decision makers, problem solvers,researchers, learners, and reflective practitioners.Based on the foundation of their values, SPDUworks with a team of classroom teachers to develop and deliver programs, resources and
  • 2. services. SPDU works with the advice of these educators for valuable input so that the resourceswill be teacher friendly.Assessment Essentials: Supporting Student Learning through Assessment Practices Ian Krips, the associate director of SPDU facilitated day one:Assessment Essentials:Supporting Student Learning through Assessment Practices.Ian Krips has been the associatedirector for the past five years prior to that, he was a classroom teacher. The three day workshopwould be his last, as his future endeavours will bring traveling to India for one month to workwith teachers a new position as senior administration for SPDU. It was an honour to learn fromKrips,as he is a knowledgeable person in the area of assessment. The outcomes for the day were to: Learn about 8 big ideas in assessment that should guide assessment practice in all school. Develop personal assessment literacy by reflecting on current practice and connecting that to literature and research on assessment Explore and identify ways to use assessment information in supporting learning outcomes. (SPDU, 2012a, p. 2) The morning began with a self-reflection of our current practice within Cooper‟s (2010)eight big ideas.Kripsencouraged participants to view the new information presented throughoutthe day. The purpose for my learning was to view the day through one of Cooper‟s (2010) eightbig ideasin assessment for learning: “Assessment is a collaborative process that is most effectivewhen it involves self, peer, and teacher assessment” (SPDU, 2012a, p. 3).Assessment for
  • 3. Learning uses a variety of assessment tools and strategies that provide ongoing evidence of astudent‟s learning. This becomes the evidence demonstrating the growth of each student‟smastery of an outcome. Descriptive feedback from the teacher, peers, or a personal self-reflection begins the process of learning. Most importantly, it is what is done with the evidenceand feedback that determines the level of growth. When students believe in the process they willtake ownership for their learning. Learning begins with the outcome. Outcome-based curriculums have many „layers‟.Unraveling the „layers‟ is a necessary process that allows for a deeper understanding of whatstudents need to know and be able to do. Krips took the participants through this process bymodeling the process of unpacking an outcome. Through this process, comes a deeperunderstanding of what the students need to know and be able to do, as well, the kinds of evidencethat will be gathered to measure success. Setting the criteria is the most important job of theassessor as it acts as a guide for the learning process. In order for effective learning to take place,students need to know what they will be learning and how they will be assessed. The key is toalways link the feedback to something the students can control and change. I had been through the process of unpacking outcomes many times, however, this time Iwas stretched further by the facilitator to have a deeper understanding of assessment strategiesbased on Blooms‟ Taxonomy. I found this a difficult process to create specific criteria based onthe verbs and content. It was an amazing day of learning!Assessment Essentials: Formative Assessment Practices
  • 4. Ian Krips, the associate director of SPDU facilitated day two:Assessment Essentials:Formative Assessment Practices.The outcomes for the day included: •Formative assessment cycle •Learning progressions •Formative assessment strategies •Tools that support formative assessment •Differentiating assessments •Working with pre- and post-assessments. (SPDU, 2012b, p. 2) The morning began with a formative assessment task called student response systems,using letter cards.We had to make a choice from a list, turn and talk to discuss our choice. Ifound this to be a great way to assess students in full group. It was also very engaging as aparticipant. I will defiantly be using this strategy in the near future.Krips delivered qualityinformation at the same time, modeled facilitation tools that can be used in leadership positionsor within the classroom environment. Our learning focus for the morning was the role of theteacher as facilitator. Putting learning first was the message. Key practices in the role of theteacher included: collaboration,big picture, hands down, all students voices being heard,goalsetting, and metacognition to name a few. A clear direction of the formative learning cycle by Tuttle (2008) was addressed alongwith designing the learning process. This process stretched my thinking as a learner. It beganwith the curricular outcome and had me as a learner; work on the learning progression needed toget to that outcome. This progression listing enabling knowledge followed by sets of sub skillsneeded to get to the outcome. This process was another amazing processthat stretched me as a
  • 5. learner by adding appropriate formative assessment tasksthat would provide evidence along thecontinuum of progression.I will be using Tuttle‟s (2009) book Formative Assessment:Responding to Your Students as a key resource to guide myfuture research. This research willallow me to explore deeper into the various effective forms of the formative learning cycle.Assessment Essentials: Grrrr…ading and Reporting Outcomes Day three was titled: Assessment Essentials: Grrrr…ading and Reporting Outcomes.Asthe title suggests, grading and reporting are difficult topics to discuss as it brings about a lot ofdebate and strong emotions including frustration. The day was facilitated once again by IanKrips. After two full days, Kripscontinued to be an engaging facilitator. His wealth of knowledgein assessment permeated through his presentation and guided activities. The outcomes for theday included: •Sound grading principles •Issues in grading •Outcomes-based grading Grading practices that engage students •Grading as communication. (SPDU, 2012c, p. 2) The day began through an in-depth examination of scholarly literature pertaining tograding. At our table each learner read two articles making key points about grading. Onceshared, common themes about grading emerged from the articles (SPDU, 2012c)which included: marks should be based on achievement not behaviour or effort (achievement only) multiple opportunities
  • 6. learner responsible for learning, learner is meaningfully involved clear criteria - transparency learner a self-monitor and foster internal motivation practice should be used to inform instruction criterion referenced reporting public education piece(SPDU, 2012c) unbiased– pedagogy. Grades and motivation was a topic of discussion that is of interest to me and will beexplored further in my research. However, a large portion of the day was devoted to assessing incommon groups. Within the group, individually each member marked and scored the same mathtest out of 100. Within the group a 40 percent grade span existed when interpreting results on thesame grade six math test. The same math test was then assessed individually within the groupusing a 4 point rubric resulting in a more accurate score of a one point score. Closer yet, a moreaccurate tool to assess was used a rubric with specific criteria 0-4 with half point increments. Thegroups grade span using this tool resulted in the most accurate score with only a half point spreadwithin the groups‟ assessments. This scale with half points was taken from Marzano‟s (2010)book titled: Formative Assessment and Standard- Based Grading. This book will be used in myresearch of formative assessment and student success. The workshop and reflection have led me to bigger questions:How can educators useassessment to help students want to learn?How can we change practice so that assessment is notteacher-centered but rather a part of learning that takes place every day?