Learning to Assess both Students and Texts

In this week’s text, I expect to learn about the different types of assessments and strategies for effective assessment of both students and texts.

The text covered standerized and high stakes testing.  Here again, I see a lot of negative opinion and not much in the way of strategies to use these tests as assessment tools or to use preparation for these tests as learning opportunities. 

I would like to see teachers use the standards and testing information to help form their curriculum choices and see where they need to boost student achievement. 

I understand the text’s perspective that the teacher is in the best position to know the students’ current level of understanding and to help them improve from there; however, many children have been left behind in this sense, in that they were allowed to progress slowly behind their peers and told that this was their best and was good enough for them.  The achievement gap that we see between students of color and white students suggests that students of color were disportionately affected by this.  We need to find ways to support all children. 

The use of rubrics, portfolios, student-teacher conferences are all pretty new to me.  As an older student, I did not experience this type of evaluation during my primary school years.  As I learn about using these strategies through teacher training and experience being evaluated in these ways, I am becoming more and more comfortable with the process and can see the value of such assessments. 

The use of rubrics is valuable in so many ways.  Preparing a rubric helps the teacher to think through the assignment and the learning goals.  Sharing the rubric with students before they do the assignment helps them know what the teacher is asking for and how to do well on the assignment.  After the assignment, a rubric evaluation really helps the student to see where they did well and where they can improve. 

I particulary like rubric for writing assignments. I think they work particularly well with learn to write activities.  If the teacher provides this type of feedback, along with activities to help students improve on the areas being evaluated, the students will learn in a very practical way how to apply strategies and techniques to improve their work and academic outcomes.

I like the use of checklists and student-teacher conferences.  I think this also helps the teacher to clearly communicate her expectations and give students feedback on how they are meeting these expectations.  I can see this working very well as a formative assessment.  I would be careful as a teacher to use this type of evaluation as a tool to encourage communication and improvement.  Such close scrutiny of behaviors can have a negative effect if the student’s feel they are failing or if they don’t know how to meet the teacher’s expectations.

Portfolios are new to me and I have exactly one experience using them as a teacher candidate preparing my portfolio.  I haven’t gotten much from my experience, but I can see how such a tool could be used beneficially.  My own experience creating a portfolio has been stressful and not very productive, but I feel this is because there hasn’t been enough support throughout the process.  In general, we are given direction on what is expected and a date far down the road when we will be evaluated; however, there has been no workshops, or conferences along the way where we can see how we are doing and get some advice.  We are, in general, told to work with one another for this type of support.  However, none of us really know how the finished work will be evaluated and at grad. level, very few of us know each well or see each other often enough to create this type of support group. 

As a teacher, if I were to use portfolios as an assessment tool, I would learn from my experience and make sure I provided students with a lot of time, support and feedback as they created their portfolios. 

I would like to think of a way to use portfolios within Social Studies courses because there are so many aspects to the Social Studies discipline in creating a portfolio, a student could see how these different disciplines link together.  For example, I could see having students choose a location, and collect geographic, demographic and historical information, then follow the local news in that location and write about the current events analyzing the information with what they know from their research.  The artifacts in the portfolio could be maps, charts, essays, summaries, newspaper and magazine articles and even video/audio newclips if they were using an online portfolio application.  The portfolio would show the students’ ability to collect and draw information from all these types of sources and to analyze that information.  The students could share their portfolios as they are working on them and present them when they are done.  The whole class would learn about the places the students researched.   

I found the information on how to evaluate whether a text is the appropriate level for students to be very helpful.  This is the first time I have been given information on how to do this.  It will be very helpful as a teacher to be able to gage the students’ ability to read the text and know what kind of support to give them. 

I liked the example given about the teacher who realized that she needed to give the some students some background information before reading The Kite Runner.  She didn’t just decide that the text was inaccessible to the students, but rather created pre-activities to help make the text accessible.  The students learned all the background information and got more out of the reading the book. 

This is a good example, of cross-curriculum studies with literature and Social Studies.  I imagine this was a Literature teacher that included Social Studies to help the students understand and enjoy the book.  However, a Social Studies teacher could use literature to help students understand and enjoy Social Studies.  As a Social Studies teacher, I would like to include literature in my curriculum.  Whether I am teaching History, Geography, or some other aspect of Social Studies, there are classic pieces of literature that can bring the time, place and import of events alive for students.  Just as Literature students were able to get more out of reading the The Kite Runner by learning about Afghanistan, Social Studies students could get more out of learning about Afghanistan by reading the The Kite Runner. 



About susanm2012

I am a teacher licensure candidate at University of St. Thomas. This blog is an assignment in my Reading for 5-12 students.
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