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classroom based assessment


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#1 Chris Higgins

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Posted 06 March 2003 - 08:03 PM

I got some really interesting ideas from the Forum on marking which I fed back into a professional studies session on assessment today. :) The discussion did set me thinking about assessment in the classroom. What methods of classroom-based assessment do members of the Forum use? Do they just make mental notes of who is on task, doing well, struggling as they circulate among students or do they have a particular pro forma they use for example when students are doing group work?
“The end of all our adventuring is to find the place where we began and know it for the first time.”

#2 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 06 March 2003 - 09:06 PM

I train my students to use the analogy of traffic lights - red means I'm stuck, amber half understand, green - fully understand and ready to go for more.

They seem much more willing to quietly tell you they are on a red light than to say they don't understand and it gives you an entry point to give some individual help or extension.

Be very wary of having to assess kids all the time - this is known as DFES Syndrome and is to be avoided. One of its worrying symtoms is a surfeit of proformas. The dillemma reminds me of an old Manx expression "You can't make a pig any fatter by weighing it every day". Lessons are for feeding not weighing! We as a nation currently waste most of the third term in every year group "weighing" our children.

Make your formal assesments focussed on the key strands of the NC Attainment target and try and communicate what the different levels mean to your students and what they have to do to get to the next stage. Use your contact time for teaching and learning, this way you won't go far wrong.

#3 Dafydd Humphreys

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Posted 06 March 2003 - 10:25 PM

Sound advice there Andy. Another member of the 'mental markbook' club then? ;)

"I know my class - their strengths and weaknesses. I know, remember and work with my mentally recorded information, that's why I am a teacher. I only write it down for guests like you. You are no longer a teacher. You chose to 'inspect', rather than teach. You'll have forgotten the name of the school in a fortnight."

A.Teacher, 2003
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#4 Shamrock

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Posted 06 March 2003 - 11:31 PM

I train my students to use the analogy of traffic lights - red means I'm stuck, amber half understand, green - fully understand and ready to go for more.

They seem much more willing to quietly tell you they are on a red light than to say they don't understand and it gives you an entry point to give some individual help or extension.

Be very wary of having to assess kids all the time - this is known as DFES Syndrome and is to be avoided. One of its worrying symtoms is a surfeit of proformas.  The dillemma reminds me of an old Manx expression "You can't make a pig any fatter by weighing it every day". Lessons are for feeding not weighing! We as a nation currently waste most of the third term in every year group "weighing" our children.

Make your formal assesments focussed on the key strands of the NC Attainment target and try and communicate what the different levels mean to your students and what they have to do to get to the next stage. Use your contact time for teaching and learning, this way you won't go far wrong.

Sound advice, I shall try this with my victims. We had a seesion on assessment this week on the PGCE + I've just survived my college assessment. Computers refused to work, interactive smartboad was very dim. Ended up doing paper and pen assessment and then we paced out a long ship in the playground. i get my feedback in about three weeks! : ;)

My college insists on weekly written assessments :upset: . Never mind I'm winning, I think! seriously though do we really need so many assessments when we can tell how well or not the student are doing. Just added paperwork.

#5 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 06 March 2003 - 11:31 PM

Top quote Dafydd, one I will certainly use later this month with HMI!

We are certainly correct to question and ultimately ignore/subvert the orthodoxy which suggests that learning is testing. It is madness and more importantly hugely wasteful of our time, resources and potential.

#6 jo norton

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 11:33 AM

I wholeheartedly agree - too much time on testing, not enough trust in teachers - and we lose out on time for the subject, and actual learning.

I also have suspicions about all this predictive testing - how a logic, maths and spatial reasoning test can come up with a predicted history GCSE grade is beyond me.





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#7 Chris Higgins

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 08:28 PM

How does the traffic light system work in practice, Andy? I don't understand. :huh:
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#8 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 07 March 2003 - 11:58 PM

Chris
Its a simple and straightforward way for children to let you know they don't understand without having to say "I don't understand" or "I don't get it" - just an alternative way of encouraging communication without the risk of humiliation.

Another strategy is to say to a class, "When you put your hands up, 5 fingers showing means you're on a green light, one means red" - in these circumstances most faces will be turned towards you not towards each other.

No one likes to admit they "don't get something"........ are you on a green light??

Edited by andy_walker, 08 March 2003 - 09:40 AM.


#9 Darren

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Posted 08 March 2003 - 05:37 AM

I'm going to disagree with most of the comments made in this thread.

Regular assessment is an integral part of teaching and needs to be thoughtfully integrated into regular lessons. I have heard the 'weighing' analogy before and it has usually come from teachers who are somewhat 'old school'. You cannot cause learning without monitoring student progress, especially in critical skill areas. And you certainly can't cause learning with a mindset which sees teaching as 'feeding' information.

It all depends really - in some educational systems which are still trying to cause learning through methods which largely don't work, regular assessment becomes a burden. Unfortunately, this fits the mould of many systems today.

By the way, I do regularly record info on students - i find that whenever i write anything down, i am forcing myself to reflect on what is actually occuring.

#10 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 08 March 2003 - 09:38 AM

You cannot cause learning without monitoring student progress

I course you can't and no one is suggesting you should. "Assessment for learning" has an integral place and I am sorry to disillusion you is not a new idea!
My classes have very clear assessments focussed very clearly on the five skill strands of the NC AT. The levels are communicated to them in a way they can understand and they are guided to and encouraged to set targets to reach the next level. I think we could probably agree that this is fairly sound practice? This process though important impinges on my classroom time in a minimal way. What I certainly don't do is walk around my class room with a tick sheet!
Assessment takes place in the context of meaningful historical activity (i.e. not tests) and the bulk of it is done in my time outside of the lesson.
I will not waste any of the invaluable contact time I have with students testing, "weighing", assessing for learning, or whatever you want to call it. Students need "feeding" simply because they are students and do not possess the intellectual capital I do. This does not mean I pump facts into them Gradgrind fashion, it means I set up and structure opportunities for them to learn drawing on my own knowledge, skills, experience and resources. Let's face it if this wasn't important you could get an LSA to do it for a third of the price!!

What I really cannot countenance or comprehend is the centrally imposed testing regime wasting half the third term in nearly every year group. Or the ridiculous regime of setting "targets" at different key stages for level achievement which ultimately distorts educational practice thoroughly. Some teachers have even found themselves in prison as a consequence of the pressure they have been put under!

In my experience teachers who become obsessed with record keeping, data and assessment are usually attempting to compensate for shortcomings elsewhere. ;)

Edited by andy_walker, 08 March 2003 - 09:21 PM.


#11 neil mcdonald

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Posted 08 March 2003 - 08:56 PM

Assessment does not have to be formalised by any means. I once was inspected by HMI whilst a Year 9 class were soing their assessment. They were role playing the Nuremberg Trial. The lesson she watched was where each side prepared their case and the judges 'ruled' on what consitituted guilt etc.

The only writtent work I wanted to see were their rough notes and the rest was filmed with a camera.
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#12 Darren

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Posted 08 March 2003 - 09:59 PM

Ooh i love provoking passionate responses. No offense Andy you sound like a good teacher - i actually have yet to see a teacher obsessed with data and record keeping, that would surely be a waste of time. Obsessed is a stong word though, the most amazing teacher i have ever seen had profiles on each of their students, collected in a folder with a photograph of each student. He was able to do this because he had very small classes.

The one point you make i still strongly disagree with is the 'feeding' remark. Do you really know each of your students well enough to say that everything you know and do is best for them? The reality is that you have classes made up of students with very different needs, learning styles and interests. There is no way you can cater for that by structuring and feeding lessons based on your knowledge.

You sound like a good teacher, as i said, but still a good teacher teaching in a teacher led, old school way. The future of education lies in finding out what the students want to do and structuring around that - although i grossly simplify here. The longer we persist with current models the longer we cater for a few whilst ignoring the majority. The real danger is that with the internet growing as it is, and online courses becoming more sophisticated, school's could become redundant.

As a child, if i was given a choice between sitting in a classroom of 20-30 kids, with a teacher who treated us all the same and who didn't really know me, and told me what i should learn - and learning which centred on me and know one else - i know which i would rather do.

#13 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 08 March 2003 - 10:45 PM

the most amazing teacher i have ever seen had profiles on each of their students, collected in a folder with a photograph of each student. He was able to do this because he had very small classes.


I'm sorry to hear that, you should encounter some better ones

Do you really know each of your students well enough to say that everything you know and do is best for them?


No, but I have I have a better idea than they would have!

The future of education lies in finding out what the students want to do and structuring around that


oh dear

#14 Dafydd Humphreys

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Posted 09 March 2003 - 02:35 AM

I think the forum has been invaded by DFES drones intent on:

a) shortening school holidays (contrary to experiences elsewhere in Europe)
B) breaking the teacher-student-teaching room symbiotic relationship
c) standardising the curriculum into a handy 100-lesson 'teach by numbers' ready-made assessment and lesson plan via QCA
d) record and monitor every aspect of assessment on paper/computer for external use
e) removing the need for professionally qualified and trained teachers and replacing them with unqualified 'facilitators' who record the 100 kids sat at PC screens 'individually learning'

Solves the teaching recruitment crisis, gets a lot of money for the ICT companies, increases the job prospects for the massive amount of people about to be laid off from ICT jobs over the next few years...

A shiny happy future.

Thankfully Wales has opted out of this nonsense. Ireland, Scotland, France and elsewhere know that good teachers are valuable.

I wonder if any of our international colleagues would like to comment on some of these crazy ideas dressed up as 'thinking out of the box' by snake-oil charmers and charlatans?
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#15 Darren

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Posted 09 March 2003 - 07:00 AM

My word such a defensive response! It is unfortunate that some of you can't respond in a more constructive way.

I think some of you need to reach out of your comfortable History niche and do some reading on teaching and education in general - it may help you reflect on what you are doing. Even without that i find it surprising that you don't see the major problems inherent in a system which was based on theories of mass production.

Dafydd - your vision of the alternatives are far different than mine. In fact what i see is a system that is completely open not restrictive. It would certainly also require professionally qualified teachers - just requires a major change in approach. What is the DFES by the way - if i am to be a drone i would like to know! I am one of your international colleagues.

Andy - It is clear that you very little about what your students need.




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