Assessments and Data

In my student teaching internship, I assessed students in a variety of ways.  These included informal and low stakes assessments, formative and summative assessments.  I did a unit on the American Revolution with my seventh grade social studies classes.  The formal pre- and post-assessments align with the central focus and essential question of the whole lesson sequence (Students are identifying cause and effect relationships between the events leading to the American Revolution. Their essential question is “What caused each revolutionary moment, and what effect did that moment have on the road to revolution?”).  It also aligns with two Washington state grade level expectations for social studies; GLE Social Studies 4.2.1 “Understands and analyzes how individuals and movements have shaped Washington State or world history” as well as GLE Social Studies 4.3.2 “Analyzes multiple causal factors that shape major events in Washington State or world history”.  The assessment asks students to identify three causes and effects (of their choosing) that led to the American Revolution, and then asks them to identify the four key events that are the focus of the lesson sequence (Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, Lexington & Concord, and Sugar Act/Liberty Incident).

The following bar graph  shows the pre-assessment scores (blue) and the post-assessment scores (orange) for each student.  The pre-assessment was taken at the beginning of the lesson sequence (Lesson 1) and the same assessment was given as a post-assessment (end of lesson 5).  I was very transparent with the students and told them the pre-assessment is identical to the post-assessment.  I made it clear that I was not trying to trick or surprise them and instead wanted to set them up for success. This data shows that all students made significant gains.

Graph 1

The bar graph below shows the class average on the pre-assessment compared to the post-assessment.  The class average on the pre-test was 17.69%.  The class average on the post-test was 74.70%.  This is class growth of 57.01% between the pre-assessment and the post-assessment.

Graph 2.PNG

All students scored highest on the Boston Massacre question and on their cause and effect question if they used the Boston Massacre as the event.  I believe this is due to Lesson 3 in which we spent a lot of time discussing the event in detail and then students did a blame ranking activity individually and in small groups.  This was followed up by a whole class discussion.  This was clearly effective in helping students remember the four groups involved in the Boston Massacre and in identifying the cause and effect relationship between events connected to it.  Students commonly confused the Sugar Act and the Boston Tea Party.  Both events involved taxes which caused students to get them mixed up.  I didn’t expect this because I thought the names made it obvious (Boston Tea Party involves a tax on Tea, Sugar Act was a tax on goods with sugar), but the data clearly shows that I did not effectively create a distinction between the two events in the minds of my students.  The whole class scored highest on the parts of assessment that involved the Boston Massacre.  This shows that the ranking activity in Lesson 3 was helpful to student understanding and knowledge of the event as well as the cause and effect within it.  This unit came at the end of my student teaching.  If I was there for longer, I would have used this data to inform future instruction.  It is clear that I need to clarify some of the content before moving on.

In my future classroom, I plan to collect and use data in the same way I did during my student teaching to best meet the needs of my students.

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Assessment & Feedback: Reflecting on the Start of My Internship

These past weeks, I was able to gain some firsthand experience in things that I had only learned about in theory in classes and books until now.   Before I arrived, the seventh grade social studies students were studying the slave trade.  They were also learning about author’s purpose as part of the social studies department working with the English language arts department to promote crossover between content areas.  My mentor teacher uses an online program the school district pays for called Actively Learn to assess students.

actively learn 1

Here is a screenshot of the Actively Learn Post-Test.  As you can see in the image, it allows you to tag questions with learning standards so that you can collect data on how students are doing on specific standards.

I was able to give the students a post assessment using this online tool.  All students have laptops at this middle school.  They are able to log in and submit questions as they move through the test.  As the teacher, I can see all student progress and responses, and give feedback in real time.  The students were very engaged, and eager to make any needed revisions based on the feedback I provided.  The teacher dashboard allows you to compare the students pre-test scores to their post-test scores.  This report can be done for individual students or the class as a whole.  This is good for progress monitoring and collecting data to inform instruction.

Another way technology is utilized in the classroom is through an e-learning classroom called Canvas.  Students submit daily classwork and assignments into this learning management system, which I was then able to grade on my laptop and post quickly to the online grade book.  This allowed for a quick turnaround of feedback so that students could learn and make revisions to resubmit for a higher score.

high five.jpg

Teachers and other staff award the tickets for both behavior and academics.

There are two systems that are in place for giving positive reinforcement and feedback on a school-wide level at my school.  One is to give students High Five slips.  These are tickets that are given as a reward and can be redeemed for prizes during lunch.  I had the opportunity to hand these out to students who were working hard in class.  Students were very excited to receive one, and other students were quick to change their off-task behavior after seeing a peer being rewarded.  An additional method that the school uses, which I absolutely love is postcards!  When students do something good, teachers can look up the student’s address and fill out a postcard which the district then sends out in the mail.  The postcard is colorful and features the school mascot.  I had fun writing some postcards for students that were exceeding expectations in class.  The postcards are something I want to do in my future classroom, even if it is not something used school-wide.  I would have been really excited to get a compliment in the mail from a teacher when I was in middle school.

I have officially completed the first three weeks of my student teaching internship.  It has been a positive and informative experience so far.  In this short time, I have already learned a great deal, set personal goals, and made improvements.   I am excited to continue to grow as an educator.

 

“With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” The Power of Teacher Feedback

6.4 Using Assessment to Provide Feedback to Students

Teacher’s feedback to students is timely and of consistently high quality.

“With great power comes great responsibility”  

The sage advice Uncle Ben gave to Peter Parker (Spiderman, if you’re not familiar with Marvel) is highly applicable to teacher feedback.  Teachers have the power to profoundly impact their students either negatively or positively with the feedback they give.  The value of feedback to student learning is my biggest takeaway from this course.

feedback-model

This graphic illustrates the process of giving calculated, purposeful feedback to students.

Feedback comes in many forms — formal, informal, verbal, and written.  High quality feedback is value neutral, focuses on intended learning, and identifies strengths and weaknesses.  When giving feedback, teachers need to be mindful of how much the student can address at one time.  In other words, do not overwhelm them with too many things to fix at once.  You do not want to cause the student to give up.  Timing is key, feedback needs to be given within a reasonable amount of time so that student are given optimal time for learning, reflection, and to make changes/improvements.  Descriptive, effective feedback helps promote a growth mindset in learners.  Feedback can be used to strategically close gaps in student learning and understanding.  When a student receives a grade on an assignment, they need to understand why they received that grade.  This includes knowing what they did well, and what they need to work on.  In other words, excellent feedback encourages students to participate in metacognition and to take accountability and ownership of their learning.  Too often, students receive a grade on an assignment without any explanation.  This is a great disservice to the learner.

feedback-7-things

This graphic shows seven helpful pointers concerning feedback from teachers to students.

In my current position as a paraeducator I don’t have opportunities to give formal written feedback, but I will in my future teaching career.  When giving feedback, teachers need to carefully consider their word choice.  I am guilty of verbally giving vague praise and feedback such as “good job” or “nice”.  While these types of statements may make a student feel good in the moment, it doesn’t give them anything valuable or useful to work with.  Research shows that ineffective feedback can do more harm than good.  Since my knowledge of feedback has expanded, I have been working on giving strong specific feedback.  I will tell a student “I like how hard you’re working” or “I like how you are prepared for class and ready to learn”.  This is more powerful than general approval.

As I get closer to my student teaching, I am thinking about the feedback I will receive.  I want to learn and grow as an educator and for this to happen, I need feedback from my mentors. I will be actively modeling the growth mindset I want to promote in my students.  During my student teaching I will need to be receptive to constructive criticism.  This will come easily to me because I like learning from those who have more knowledge and expertise than I do.  I need to be able to translate the feedback I receive into practice and actions.  Feedback is a necessary part of the learning process for students of any age or ability.  As a lifelong learner and teacher, I will be both giving and receiving feedback in an effort to further my own learning and my students’.

Video on Feedback

Sources:

Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007, March). The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77, 81-112. doi:10.3102/003465430298487

Seven Things to Remember About Feedback. (2012, August 21). Retrieved from http://inservice.ascd.org/?s=feedback