My Formative Assessment Design(FAD) process begin with a post in September, call FAD 1.0. Since that post, I have learned more about assessment design theory. I have also learned about providing effective feedback. Using the knowledge I have gained since September, I have redesigned my FAD 1.0 to FAD 3.0. The new and improved FAD incorporates technology, student choice, creativity, and communication. Take a look at my FAD 3.0 which can be found here
Over the course of CEP 813, Electronic Assessments, I don’t think my beliefs about assessments have necessarily changed, rather I think hot assessments are approached have changed. My time spent in CEP 813 has had me looking at the assessment being given in the classes I support and caused me to think as to how the assessments being given could be redesigned to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding.
My first belief I stated in my first CEP 813 blog post was ALL students need to be given the opportunity to demonstrate their learning. This is still at the heart of what I believe, however what has evolved over the course of my time in CEP 813 and quite honestly my teaching career is how we assess students. Students today were born in the 21st century but are being educated with a 20th century learning model. In Module 1, we learned about social efficacy and how it bore the 20th century learning model. According to Shepherd, the ability to solve the problems of industrialization and urbanization by teaching students skills and facts that would ultimately, serve the needs of industry(Shepherd 2004). Learning is evolving, yet a 20th century education model is still be used to teach students skills for jobs that are either no longer in existence or are going away, why haven’t assessments. As I think more about this, I have come to realize there are assessments being given that haven’t changed in 20 years. That is a sobering thought as I was in high school 20 years ago. As teachers, we need to ask if current assessments being given are allowing for ALL students to demonstrate their learning, I would be hesitant to respond with yes, especially knowing current assessments limit the ability of some students to demonstrate their understanding. In module 2, after thinking about assessments, learning shifted to how assessments can bridge teaching and learning. As a teacher how and when I gather feedback through assessments can help guide my instruction. It also goes in line with giving students the opportunity to share about their learning. As classroom have become more technology infused, more opportunities have arisen for students to demonstrate their learning. Teachers however need to be cautious when using technology tools to ensure there is a purpose and it is not just scanning a worksheet into a pdf and putting it online. Another caution teachers need to be aware of is the technology skills of their students. Today’s students “may read on digital devices, and on the Internet, but these activities are probably not the sorts of activities that lead to the development of new literacies skills (Leu, Kinzer, Coiro & Cammack, 2004; Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, Castek & Henry, 2013). Students need to be taught how to use technology in an educational environment. Technology such as Nearpod, Twitter and other technologies allow students to have choices in how they demonstrate their learning in a way other than a paper and pencil assessment.
My second belief about assessments is assessments need to be free of bias. In my original blog post I stated, that as teachers we need to understand when we are writing an assessment(especially those paper pencil ones), is the assessment allowing for ALL students to understand what they are being assessed. This includes understanding vocabulary, sentence structure, the structure of the test,etc. When students get to the assumption, it shouldn’t be a surprise or GOTCHA moment. In my career as a special education teacher, I have often found myself wondering why students are being assessed the way they are and why are they being asked. The purpose of assessments needs to be looked at and when redesigning them, the students who will be taking those assessments need to be examined as well. In CEP 813, we looked at how feedback is being given. Feedback according to Vygotsky,feedback should ideally meet students where they are but also help them get to a new level of understanding. He identified this as the Zone of Proximal Development. Going back to have assessments not show cultural bias, this integrates understanding of how each student learns and their background as well as their learning development when giving feedback as well. Feedback is most effective according to Hattie and Timperley, The authors note that “the most effective forms of feedback provide cues or reinforcement to learners; are in the form of video, audio, or computer-assisted instructional feedback, and/or relate to goals” (p. 84). Thinking of my students, particularly English Language Learners and special education students, being mindful of the type of feedback and how it is being given should be done so without cultural bias as well. Digital tools can provide the opportunity for cultural bias free assessments. Technology such as Twine can provide the opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning and understanding by designing a game using their knowledge and background to build the game. Twine can also give teachers the opportunity to design assessments in which students choose their own adventures. In my Twine creation, the goal is to have students listen to either John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech or Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a Dream Speech.” By providing choice students aren’t being asked to answer the same question as every other students, rather they are applying their background knowledge and new learning to demonstrate their learning.
In looking back at my original post I realize my second and third beliefs around assessment were essentially the same. As I was writing this post, I began to think about another belief about assessments that I have been exploring over the course of terms 1 and 2 of the school year as well as my time in CEP 813. In fact, taking CEP 813 has caused me to critically look at assessments being given in the classes I currently support. I went back to my Assessment Design Checklist 3.0 to look at the questions I wrote and what stood out to me was Does my assessment give students effective feedback? I began to reflect on this question and turned it into my third belief statement, I believe all assessments should give effective feedback. In module 2, we learned there are critical issues when designing formative assessments. One of those issues is a systems issue, meaning currently assessments, classroom, state and other assessments given are currently used to determine a student’s progress. When assessments are designed according to, Bennett (2011) says, “We can make formative assessment more principled, from a measurement perspective, by recognising that our characterisations of students are inferences, and that by their very nature, inferences are uncertain and also subject to unintentional biases. Bennett suggest in order to make assessments bias free, teachers need to get to know their students by understanding how each student learns and understanding how students have developed their learning-ie where are the students coming from? By using this information teachers can move towards developing assessments free of bias. Understanding how students learn and how they have developed as learners will help when giving them feedback. As teachers there needs to be an understanding of how feedback is being given. If a student is coming from a background in which feedback was just given. Formative assessments such as exit tickets can help students provide feedback to their teachers and in turn help teachers reflect on the lessons to ensure all students are learning. Content Management Systems (CMS) such as Schoology allow for assignments to be housed in one place, grades to be assigned to individual assignments, thus allowing for student’s progress to be monitored. I am currently designing a Schoology course for the English 9 class I support during the second semester of the 2018-2019 school year to provide a blended learning experience for all students in the class. As I am designing the course I am looking at how Schoology could be used to provide feedback for students, there are activities for students to demonstrate their learning and provide feedback for teachers, but my co-teacher and I are working on providing opportunities for us as teacher to provide feedback to students. I am curious to learn more about gamifying the classroom. In module 6 I was introduced to Twine and I am curious as how to further design my creation for CPE 813 to bring it into the classroom. I think there is a lot of potential, but it is working on how to bring it into the classroom and making sure it is assessing student learning and allowing for teachers to provide feedback.
Overall, throughout the semester, my thinking around assessments has been challenged and I have found myself, as usual, applying my knowledge from my MAET classes right away into my classrooms. Electronic Assessments have the potential to impact the classrooms I am in, but it is working on designing them so they free of bias, provide effective feedback and allow for all students to demonstrate their learning. This shift is happening, albeit slower then I would like to see it happening, but I think once it has happened there will be a positive impact on education.
Bennett, R. E. (2011). Formative assessment: A critical review. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 18(1), 5-25. doi: 10.1080/0969594X.2010.513678
Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81–112.
Shepard, L. (2000). The role of assessment in a learning culture. Educational Researcher, 29(7), 4-14.
This for my CEP 813, Electronic Assessment class, I used my assessment plan from my previous post to formulate a game based assessment for the English 9 classes I support. Prior to designing my gamed based assessment, I needed to understand the internal grammar and external grammar of my semiotic domain. The semiotic domain for the English classes I support is the English language. The goal of my game based assessment is having students demonstrate their understanding of ICEing quotes. The semiotic domain for the English classes I support is the English language. The goal of my game based assessment is ICEing quotes. The external grammar for would be how students would use the ICEing strategy in academic writing. The internal grammar is identifying textual evidence, introducing it and explaining it. The goal of the game based assessment is to have students increase their understanding of ICEing a paragraph and allow them to write strong paragraphs when citing textual evidence.
My goal for the assessment is to have students demonstrate their ICEing skills. ICE stands for Introduce, Cite, Explain. Using Twine, students will be given the opportunity to choose between two famous speeches from the 1960s. John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address and Martin Luther King Jr’s I have a Dream speech. Students will listen to the speech through a video that contains subtitles, thus allowing them to listen and read the speech at the same time. Once they are done listening to the speech, students will need to demonstrate their understanding of ICEing by selecting a quote from the speech the listened to and use that quote in a paragraph using their ICEing skills.
Using my Assessment Design 3.0 Checklist, students are given the opportunity to demonstrate their learning by combining technology and a paper/pencil activity. The game based assessment allows all students to demonstrate their learning. Students will also demonstrate their prior knowledge when applying the ICE strategy. Using Twine has a lot of potential to add game-based assessments to the classrooms I support. Eventually, the goal would be to have students create their own games, then using those games, have students be assessed using assessments designed by their classamtes.
Click here to go to the start of my game-based assessment.
In my CEP 813 class, we are looking at game-based assessments. At the beginning of my MAET program, I learned about a guy named John Paul Gee, who is considered a guru in game-based assessments. He has come back around in CEP 813, providing insight in using gamification in education to assess student learning. His interested was peaked as he observed his son take great interest in learning a new game. This is similar to what I see with students I work with specifically around a little game called Minecraft. There are others out there, but that is the one that comes to mind. Gee takes note of how literacy has changed noting, “[I]n the modern world, language is not the only important communicational system. Today images, symbols, graphs, diagrams, artifacts, and many other visual symbols are particularly significant. Thus, the idea of different types of “visual literacy” would seem to be an important one.” (Gee, 2003, p. 13) This change in language has made its way into education with educators taking notice and working to bring this “new” language into education.
In my current teaching assignment, I support 3 general education English 9 classes. As I was reading through the lesson, I begin to think about the literacies used in English. Students learn reading, writing and speaking. But taking into account Gee’s observations, how students are reading, writing and speaking has changed. Think about how often have you been reading a paper written by a student and the texting lingo pops up? How about the use of emojis when students are posting online? To go deeper, Gee talks about Internal and External Grammar. Huh? In the context for English class, Internal Grammar is the principles and patterns that govern “proper” English language as understood in the classroom. External Grammar is the principles and patterns that govern “proper” interactions for English speakers. As I read this I began to think about the students I support-English Language Learners and Special Education students and consider the impact Internal and External Grammar has on these students. It may make it a challenge for these students in particular to understand the English language. Through in the writing and reading part possibly leading to more challenges for the students I work with. Bringing in the ideas of Gee, how could game-based assessments help support the students I work with? The first level would be to have students demonstrate their understanding through the completion of the game. The completion of the game would allow me to assess in a different way if students are understanding the lesson or not rather then using a paper and pencil test. Once students demonstrate their understanding, assessing their understanding could be brought to another level by having them create a game. But there is caution when using game-based assessment, the entire game doesn’t need to go back to the semiotic domain to be able to assess with it; however, the procedural rhetoric of the game should reinforce the key ideas you’re interested in. In other words, how are you assessing student learning?
I was recently introduced to Twine. If you don’t know what it is (like me) here is a video that sums up what it is. It has the potential to bring a game like atmosphere to the classroom. When I first looked at Twine, I was wondering how it would fit in my world of English 9. The more I read and the more I thought about things, an idea began to formulate. I saw an idea from a follower in my PLN and decided to create a game in which students were practicing their ICEing skills. In taking this approach students are getting the opportunity to demonstrate their learning in a way other than pencil and paper. It also allows students to deeper with their learning and apply what they already know. Now to design the game using Twine……Here I go.
The timing of taking CEP 813 is perfect as the classes I support are in the process of looking at how we assess students. My co-teacher and I are looking for ways to assess student learning to get an idea of whether or not students are grasping concepts being presented in class. We are working towards implementing a blended learning model, more student choice, as well as voice and self, paced learning. There is the potential for students to be in different places as students progress through a unit. To help us as well as student demonstrate their learning, we are implementing an exit ticket and sharetracker system. Both items allow students to show their learning and to let us know when their learning is completed.
Click here to go to a screencast of exit ticket screenshot.
In the above screenshot and screencast is the directions seen on the homepage of the Schoology page. The purpose of the exit ticket is not to be a gotcha, it is to get honest feedback from students. It will be communicated to students, to be honest with their feedback as it will help guide our instruction as their teacher. The goal is also to put learning into the hands of our students and allow them to have a say in how they learn and how they demonstrate that learning. It is also Below is a screenshot of the questions that students will answer at the end of the day.
Click here to go to a screencast of the explanation of the exit ticket.
When designing an assessment, it is important to use the information to design instruction, thus responding to student learning. By giving students the opportunity to provide feedback on the days’ lesson, as teachers, we are learning from our students. If students are demonstrating they understand the lesson, they are ready to move on. If through the feedback on the exit ticket students are not understanding the lesson, it is an opportunity to meet with that student the next day. In looking at my Assessment Design Checklist, this falls in line with the questions:
Does the assessment help students build on, go deeper in, and extend their prior learning?
Do the results of my assessments respond to student learning?
Using an exit ticket also allows us as teachers to reflect back on the lesson to see if the lesson and assessments are being effective. If not, then as teachers, we need to adjust our lesson and assessments and respond to student learning.
The school district I currently work in uses Schoology as it’s learning management system. I first used Schoology at the start of my MAET program way back in 2013 and at that time, Schoology was a blip on the radar. As things came back around and I began using Schoology more, I began to learn about the many features it has to offer. Schoology has come a long way since I first used it. One of my favorite features of Schoology is how they listen and respond to their users. They are active on Twitter and are when issues are brought to their attention they are quick to respond. Schoology is working to make their product educational use friendly.
As a special education teacher, I am looking at how to best meet the needs of my students on my caseload as well as the students I support in the classroom. Schoology offers several features to do this. I have had the opportunity to increase my knowledge of new features offered through Schoology. One of those features is the ability to have tests and quizzes read to students. This is amazing! It took a number of tries for me to figure out how to do this however and that in my opinion is one of the pitfalls. It took some time to figure out where to find resources on how to set up the read-aloud feature. I searched on Schoology’s help site and reached out to my PLN on Twitter. Once I figure out how to get to the feature, I then needed to figure out what program to use to record myself reading the questions. Once I figured that out, I needed to figure out the steps to export the audio file and then import it into Schoology. Needless to say, the first go around was stressful, but in the end worth it. I think it is a great feature that is underutilized by teachers in my district. The ability to allow students to have the choice as to whether or not they could have an assessment question read to them is huge. Throughout my teaching career, I have learned that not all special education students want to be taken out of the room to have a test read. Even if they do, the pace of reading of the questions can cause some students to be impatient. The audio feature in Schoology allows students to make the choice as well as allow them to remain in the classroom with their peers.
Throughout CEP 813, I am asking questions around assessments given in classes I support. One of the questions I looked into for AD 3.0 was regarding assessments and whether or not assessments are used to respond to student learning. Feedback needs to go beyond providing correction, but rather lead students to learn and fill in any missing gaps. As I have progressed through this class and professional development given through my school, I am learning that feedback not only needs to be immediate, it needs to be given in a way that leads students to new learning. As I asked this question I began to realize the assessments being given in the classes I support, isn’t designed to respond in the best way to student learning. I am realizing assessments not only need to give students a voice and choice but when teachers give feedback, we need to look at the results of the assessment and make sure our teaching reflects the learning or lack of learning taking place.