An Alternative Way to Assess…….

Assessment FOR learning, to me, is the most important part of an assessment. Thinking back, I realized that I did not understand the value of assessment FOR learning during my internships and first couple years of teaching. It was not until I was actually  assessing my own students, and trying different ways to assess,  that truly learned the importance of it. Zhang (2016) describes assessment FOR learning as:

Assessment for learning is described as ‘noticing, recognizing, and responding’….These three processes are progressive filters. Teachers notice a great deal as they work with children, and they recognize some of what they notice as ‘learning’. They will respond to selection of what they recognize (p.258).

In terms of the article this week, I thought the study about learning stories and assessment Zhang(2016) conducted was impressive. The question “do ECE settings in NZ support the approach to assessment of learning taken by the ECE quality assurance authority of NZ” (p.255) was certainly valuable in my eyes. Why wouldn’t an educator or parent want feedback on the education their child is receiving. In saying that, I didn’t quite understand what the study was actually about until I began reading it.

I found it interesting that all of data collected was collected by himself. Phenomenographic interviews are extremely time consuming and difficult to decode alone. Zhang (2016), had several findings in this study and organized them in three sections, each with seven categories. The practitioners experience, parents experience,  and the ERO approach were the three sections. I will review some of the findings that stood out to me below.

One of the practitioners  admitted that “in terms of you presenting something the parents like portfolio books, they do, they like to see the pictures, they like to read everybody” (Zhang, 2016, p. 260). I can totally relate to this. Parents love to see their children demonstrating their learning during conference or meeting times. As well, another practitioner discusses how learning stories allow for great communication with parents as well captures important learning milestones. For me as a teacher, communication is the key to success for my students.

There were many good reviews from the parents as well. One being, “I think what we are getting from the learning stories is a wonderful documentation of her time at the kindy, something she would love to flip through, it’s colorful, it brings back memories” (Zhang, 2016, p. 261). There was no doubt in my mind when reading the article that the parents would have an issue with this assessment. Learning what their child can do and looking at their strengths can definitely be exciting for parents. Learning what their child can do and looking at their strengths is definitely be exciting for parents.

A few imitations were addressed in the findings. Four main consequences include that learning stories can be subjective, selective, time consuming, as well superficial. When thinking about someone assessing a child through a learning story, it truly is coming from one lense. Therefore, one can be arguably subjective and selective. Learning stories are also time consuming. This means that the time that a practitioner could be spending interacting with the child but instead are busy observing and collecting data. As well, “a lot of learning stories are very basic, you know it tells you what the child did in the sandpit, but it doesn’t go into the relationship, it’s about you know the relationship between the children and cooperation and the patience they have with each other, it’s all those sort of things, you need to look into deeper” (Zhang, 2016, p. 260).

Overall, I believe that learning stories are a great tool for assessment FOR learning. However I agree with Zhang (2016) that this should not stand alone when it comes to assessment. As stated in his research, there are many different types of assessment that should be used to assess our children. He states that “both the practitioners and parents regarded learning stories as an assessment tool that had both strengths and limitations, with the practitioners stating explicitly that there are a range of other ways that are essential for assessment of learning, and learning stories should not be treated as the only, or best, way of assessing the children’s learning” (p. 265).

OVERALL, I believe that  it totally depends on the needs of the child when considering an assessment!!!!! Do you agree?!

Thanks for reading!

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The Importance of Documentation.

What does documentation mean to me? Well, to me, it is recording students knowledge in a variety of ways to see what they can do and what they know. So, basically, it is about collecting different types of data to ultimately see what students know.

After reading Rinaldi(2004) ,and reflecting on my own experiences with documentation, I feel like I have a much deeper understanding of it. Many aspects of documentation described by Rinaldi  were attractive to me. Some of her ideas I have actually have attempted to do in my own classroom (so it was nice to know I am not completely off in terms of documentation).

One idea I liked that Rinaldi spoke about is allowing children to have the freedom to explore and come up with their own theories. She states “making listening visible means to be open to the theories of the children. The elements of observation, interpretation and documentation are strongly connected. It is impossible to observe without

interpreting because observation is subjective” (2004, p.4).  Allowing children to do this is not

always easy as teachers. We have tight timelines and certain outcomes that need to be covered within a year. However, giving students that extra time to explore can have huge benefits as it is another way that students can truly share their knowledge. This ties into the next aspect of Rinaldi’s idea of documentation I liked. The idea that the  actually process of student learning is much more valuable than the final outcome or the final assessment. Rinaldi (2004), states that “from your documentation, the children can understand not only their processes but what you value as meaningful for their learning processes” (p.4). In my own classroom, I do my best to document their process of learning. For example, when working in small groups in both literacy and numeracy, I write notes about each student in a notebook every time I work with them. Once I get to report card time, I gather all my documentation and notes on the student to help decide on a final mark.

In terms of the  Dahlberg, Gunilla, Moss, Peter, Pence, Alan R  (2007) article, they did a fantastic job explaining the elements of pedagogical documentation. As I was reading chapter 8 and taking notes, I made a specific chart with all the elements of pedagogical documentation. Check it out below:

Elements of Pedagogical Documentation
  • Does not assume what the child does is a direct representation
  • Reflexivity and self reference
  • Process of visualization
  • Vital tool for the creation of a reflective and democratic pedagogical practice
  • Central role for meaning making
  • Communication, Interaction, and observation
  • Building relationship with student/other colleagues
  • Requires interpretive work and dialogue between pedagogues
  • Documentation can engage parents
  • Requires interpretive work and dialogue between pedagogues
  • Documentation can engage parents

Again, these were some of the main elements I picked out during the reading. Similar to Rinaldi,  one aspect of pedagogical documentation I really like is that it is the process of learning that means the most rather than the end result. “Pedagogical documentation’ as content is material which records what the children are saying and doing, the work of the children and how the pedagogical relates to the children and their work” (Dahlberg et al., p.144). I also like the fact they outline the importance of using a variety of methods to collected documentation. Audio recordings, collecting photos, handwritten notes are examples they gave.

One thing I took away from this chapter is the differences between pedagogical documentation and simply child observations. I appreciated that they included the section Why Pedagogical Documentation is NOT just Observing in this article.  I had not realized what the true difference was before and now understand that pedagogical documentation is a lot deeper than just the act of observation. “Dahlberg et al, (2007) state that, “It should not be confused with child observation. As we understand it, the purpose of child observation is to access children’s psychological development in relation to already predetermined categories produces from developmental psychology and which define the normal child should be doing at a certain age” (p.143). I feel as if those who disagree with this idea of assessment , have the notion that pedagogical documentation is simply just observing a child. Therefore, they would not think it’s a valuable form of assessment.

Overall, reflecting and engaging in these two readings was very informative for me. Reminding myself that it’s the process of learning that is most important for students was most valuable for me. As well, understanding what pedagogical documentation is made my understanding of documentation much deeper.

 

References

Dahlberg, G., P. Moss and A. Pence (2013). Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care: Languages of Evaluation, 3rd ed., New York: Routledge. Read chapter 8, Pedagogical documentation: A practice for reflection and democracy. Available as an eBook through the URegina library.

Rinaldi, C. (1994). Documentation and assessment: What is the relationship? Linked on UR Courses.

I learned about how to use POWTOON this week…and you?!

Wow, there are so many content creation tools! I am always looking for fun and creative ways to enhance my lessons in the classroom.

I like to try to incorporate new technology and new ways to present knowledge to my students. This way,  I can make sure I can reach all learners in some way. Once I am comfortable with a new tool, I like to let my students explore it as well. In saying that, I am aware that it can be very time consuming to do this for the a teacher. That is why I am excited to get this opportunity to explore a new one!

 

Out of all the wonderful options, I choose to check out Powtoon. I have never used Powtoon myself but have heard nothing but great things about it. I decided to download it to give it a shot to see how I would like it. Upon my exploring, I remembered watching a Powtoon video someone made for their summary of learning assignment last semester. I remember thinking it was pretty funny and actually, I quite enjoyed watching it.

After some investigation, I learned that the overall idea of Powtoon is to create or make animated videos or presentations. I picked out a couple strengths right off the bat. You can add several features into your videos such as music, voice recorder, and movement! You can also choose from a variety of presentation formats including and explainer video, marketing video, infographic video, ad, or just a blank Powtoon. Just for fun, I started creating my own Powtoon. It was super fun but I definitely need more  practice.

I guess one weakness would be that it is a bit overwhelming at first. I had to look up some YouTube videos on how to navigate the site. I think that it is going to take me a few tries to figure things out(just like any new tech!!!). I did appreciated how easy the the Powtoon dashboard was to work with. It included all the different templates, background features, characters, shapes, props, media, etc. Similar to word press, it is pretty easy to navigate to those main add ons. Another potential weakness I noticed is that there is a 3 day premium trial. I am wondering what all features will still be available after the trial. Hmm….

I definitely enjoyed investigating Powtoon. I think before I used it in the the classroom I would spend more time on the site! Once more comfortable with it, I think then it would be a great tool for students to use and

to share their knowledge with. As well, if teachers are looking for non-traditional ways to assess, this is a great option. Students who enjoy using technology might really excel using it. I also think if teachers have some extra time, they can create presentations with it. This would definitely enhance lessons and make them more engaging.

Have you ever tried Powtoon? Do you use it in your classroom? If not, how do you use it? How do you FEEL about Powtoon? What are your thoughts?