Response #1 Bryan Williams, Senior School Teacher, Balmoral Hall
In planning assessment for learning, it is valuable to consider the 3 Ds: dream, direction, and demonstration; each one offers a glimpse into necessary components of any meaningful assessment for learning experience.
– It is important for you to have a list of understanding goals (outcomes) that you share with your students, outlining exactly what you are hoping they can do by the end of the learning experience. It is your dream
for each of your students to be able to achieve the understanding goals, and that becomes much easier when your students know exactly what they are expected to learn. Showing your students specific samples of work that meets, exceeds, and even fails to meet those understanding goals, will give them a much better chance at successfully demonstrating their learning in the end. For your students, knowing what
they will have to learn is one thing but knowing how
to get there is another.
– Learning experiences should only include tasks that will help your students move towards the achievement of the understanding goals. Students should have multiple opportunities to practice small steps towards meeting those goals (of course, we are talking about formative assessment here). Feedback is critical. Timely, specific, relevant, and frequent feedback will help move your students in the right direction
and push them towards the finish line, but how will they show you that their understanding has changed?
– Offering students some choice in how they are going to demonstrate
their understanding can help boost confidence, creativity, and motivation. If the format they choose allows them to meet the outcomes, do all students really have to produce the exact same work? What is important at the end of the process is for each student to reflect on the learning experience and to be able to both present work that achieves the goal and to also clearly explain how their learning evolved along the way.
All teachers hope to take their students on meaningful learning journeys. In order to give our students the best chance at maximizing their learning, it is essential to share the outcomes with them first, to guide them along the path with both words and work, and to let them choose their performance of understanding.
Response #2 Rosalind Poon, Vice Principal, Richmond
One of my biggest AHA moments/journeys as a teacher has come through my work with Kathleen Gregory on learning maps. If you haven’t had a chance to read Rethinking Letter Grades
, I would highly recommend it! By focusing on the big ideas of a course, so that students have a clear understanding of learning intentions, and different levels of learning, I have developed different ways for students to show evidence of their learning. Along the way, I have used various assessment for learning routines to engage learners to feed forward learning.
Given the framework of the learning maps, then what factors do we need to consider when planning effective assessment for learning? Here are three considerations as I plan:
1. Class profile
– Before starting, I need to have a good understanding of the strengths and challenges of the individuals and the whole class. Play to strengths to gain confidence!
2. Clear learning intentions
– The big ideas in learning maps have helped to clarify the learning intentions for students. These big ideas get placed up on a wall the classroom, and all descriptive feedback is related to the learning intention.
3. Multiple access points for learning
– What are the entry points for students to start their learning? Everyone starts somewhere on the learning continuum, so how do give learners a place to start from, and with meaningful descriptive feedback, how do we push learning forward?