Assessment, Assessment!

It is hard to believe that my first week of pre-internship has already come and gone, and yet I feel like I have learned more in that one week than I have in the three years I have been at the University. I suppose it is a different kind of learning that I have been experiencing. As I spend time in my cooperating teacher and other teachers classroom, I find myself really starting to pay attention to what they are doing for assessment (formative and summative). I have really taken notice to how explicit everyone is when it comes to how they are assessing their students. For example, the first day of pre-internship my coop was assessing her grade 10 Foundations and Pre-Calculus class on all the sections they had covered up until the point of where she wanted me to teach them. Before she gave them the hand-in assignment, she made sure to go over an example of each of the questions that would be on the assignment, what each question would be worth, and how they could obtain full marks. I found it quite astonishing at how much she shared with them, based on the fact that my experience in math left me basically blind as to how I would receive full marks.

Formative assessment was something that I did not think many teachers would actually use– well I should not say that— I just did not think that teachers would use as much as some of my professors have been talking about. I assumed that they would use the odd “give me thumbs or thumbs down if you understand”, but would not constantly assess as I was told teachers apparently do. But as I sat and observed my cooperating teacher, I noticed that she was constantly assessing where her students learning was at, asking them “how is everyone doing up to this point?”, “where are you guys stuck?”, and then circulating around the classroom to assess how individual students were doing. As soon as I seen firsthand that my cooperating teacher was actually constantly assessing her students, I knew that even when she wasn’t being explicit with their learning, she was always assessing them, this was used not only for her benefit, but also the students. This constant assessment allowed her to see where she needed to take the lesson next, or whether she had to back up and reteach a certain concept in a new way so that students had a better understanding. As I started to teach that same grade 10 class, I noticed that I was trying really hard to make sure that the students understood what I was teaching them since it was the first time I had taught that course. Without knowing explicitly, I was consistently assessing where my students understanding was as I taught my lessons throughout the week. I found that I was worried about whether or not I was teaching the content correctly, so I was continually asking the students “do you guys understand”, “how is it up to here”, “can you give me a thumbs up or thumbs down with your understanding”. However, as the week continued on I could start to assess students based on their facial expressions (blank stares are a lot more revealing than raising a thumb) and by circulating the classroom and looking at students individual work.

Another form of assessment that I had the students complete was a summative assessment piece on the two sections that I had taught them. I was at first quite surprised that my cooperating teacher was actually letting me create a quiz for her class, but then I understood that this pre-internship was meant for me to try these types of things. So as I sat down to create the quiz with my field partner, I realized how hard it actually was and that I could not just throw together a few questions on a piece of paper and call it a quiz. We spend quite a bit of time meticulously creating questions that we made sure were not only hitting the outcomes we wanted them to reach, but were also similar to the examples we had given them in class. When it came to marking these quizzes, I also had a tough time with some questions on what to give for partial marks. Some students chose to answer the questions in a way that was different than what I taught them, but somehow still managed to get some type of an answer (it was not always the right answer). But even though I struggled with some students work and how to make sure I was consistent with my marking, I actually had fun grading them. I should mention that the quiz was an open book quiz and they could have used their notes if they wanted to. I think the next time I teach this course, I would not let it be an open book quiz because I found that students spent more time shuffling through their notes than actually working on the questions. And instead of really showing me they knew what they were doing, they would just copy down the steps they seen in the examples but change the numbers. That to me did not necessarily show me that they knew 100% what they were doing.

Below I have attached my lesson plans from the week, the handouts I gave to students, and the quiz they wrote on Friday.

4.4 handout

4.4 lesson plan

4.4 part 2 handout

4.5 lesson plan

4.5 handout

4.4 and 4.5 quiz




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