As I make my way through my summer reading pile, the one that has risen to the top is Talk About Assessment by Damian Cooper. The book starts with 8 Big Ideas about Assessment.
- Assessment serves different purposes at different times.
- Assessment must be planned, purposeful and accurate.
- Assessment must be balanced and flexible.
- Assessment and instructions are inseparable
- Assessment, to be helpful to students, must be in words not scores.
- Assessment is collaborative; self, peer and teacher.
- Performance standards are essential and must be criterion-referenced.
- Grading and reporting requires teachers to exercise their professional judgement.
Looking at my current practice the big idea that is most evident in my classroom is #3, that assessment must be balanced and flexible. My students advice to next years class is to always have a conversation with Mrs. C and to have a plan to meet the learning outcomes. Their are guidelines not timelines and suggestions for demonstrating understanding, but ultimately a conversation can change any of this. When I look to see what I gather as evidence of learning, it varies. Blogs, exits slips, presentations, performance tasks, oral reports, foldables, image analysis, conversations, emails and lots of choice. With one notable exception, no tests this year. I have been moving in this direction for a number of years and this year I did it, however I wonder if it should be a part of, or perhaps a choice in, a balanced assessment plan.
The big idea least evident in my classroom is #2, assessment that is planned purposeful and accurate. I have taught social studies 9 about 5 times now and I am getting closer to hitting the essential understanding targets, but I still find myself flying by the seat of my pants every once and awhile and missing the target. I know what I need to do and I am envious of the math department at my school that has sat down and mapped out their essential understandings, formative and summative tasks. Now I need to do the same. The author, Damian Cooper, talked about how he used to leave the Evaluation portion of his lesson and unit planning blanks and I can totally relate. While some of my planning is bang on, and you know when that happens. Students are engaged, the classroom is humming and together we are moving towards a goal we all understand. And some of the time I get part way there, but then I stumble with a poorly designed rubric or timelines gone sideways. This is the piece that our Social Studies Div 3 cohort was working on and off over the last couple of years, but we have not had the consistency of meeting and talking to get it done right. But I know this is where I need to concentrate my energies.
Where are you at? What is most or least evident in your teaching practice?