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assessment for learning

February 24, 2013

monitoring well

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This week broke the back of our summer onslaught with a shift from 43 degrees to 24 yesterday.

Respite.

temperature

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Each weekend this term while I have been harnessing content to fill a 1500 word requirement on

Literature Review of Best Practice in Assessment and School Evaluation

for our first assignment at uni, my mise en place included a floor fan to establish the cross breeze ventilating my study, and disguise the laptop’s contrail.

contrail

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During a sweltering week at the IWB-face (where mine is an imminent promise, and slideshows necessitate data projector bookings from the library along with extension cords and powerboards and an after-hours Edmodo post for those-who-missed-out), my year 12s undertook a reading room speed-date to explore representations of identity, year 11s planned an island paradise scenario to engage their thoughts on Lord of the Flies, and year 10s generated a cross classification map of clues for murdering short story genres with a team of  investigative assistants.

Clues Detective

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What have I learned?

  • Learning remains a complex and engaging praxis
  • Mindset is critical
  • Measurement of learning is problematic
  • Motivation and engagement are essential preconditions to learning especially through ensuring accountability and applying novelty/ variety, paradox/ challenge
  • I inhabit a flow stream when monitoring students’ thinking on a moment-to-moment basis in each of my classes
  • Studies recommend ongoing formative assessment where observation, strategies and feedback loops serve to monitor, differentiate and re-direct learning to enhance achievement in a sustainable practice. Yes, that means popsticks for random name generation; thumbs up/down for voting-in-feedback and scoring participation levels; lineups for extent barometers and reading continuums; tickets out the door for revealing muddied waters
  • This process can be challenging, inspiring and exhausting
  • Behaviour generates data-noise and mediates learning
  • Where I’m aiming is the zone of proximal development for up to 32 people at any one time within the constraints of context (room, time of day, emotional fallout, temperature)
  • Beyond the classroom, I am leading change to improve our school’s learning culture.

Now we’re on the tightrope…

tightrope

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As a Humanities team, our focus is design for learning. Partnered focus has emerged between staff working within the same curriculum scope, and collaborating to archive resources, write tasks and monitor effectiveness. We are embedding Australian Curriculum requirements. We share our experiences.

How this plays out in a community of practice is the work that promotes visible learning: Cognitive coaching, especially reflective and planning conversations; modeling; sharing best practices in meetings, exchanges and observations. Building trust and understanding. All this heart-and-mind core art/science business.

heart and mind

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From the visceral to the cerebral academic paper, and in closing:

Selective assessment, and especially feedback as a key component of learning to learn, is identified as an effective means of yielding good assessment practice in the literature. Through common language, iterative process with reference to AITSL teaching standards as well as the Assessment Reform Group’s principles of assessment for learning, and focus on fine-grained assessment taking precedence over broad classifications of student performance (Andrich, 2002), beginning with the end in mind is shown to be a crucial means of enabling school leaders to drive improvements in assessment for learning. This will involve a complex and continual adaptive process of learning, unlearning and relearning our understanding of students’ thinking in order to employ quality feedback and assess for learning. Operating within this unified sphere where assessments are deliberately constructed, data are generated and inferences drawn to drive school improvement, system level evaluation and principles of educational measurement can effectively serve as supportive frames of reference for ongoing best assessment practice.

And a coda via TED:

Selected references

Andrich, D. (2002). Implications and applications of modern test theory in the context of outcomes based education. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 28(4), 35 – 59.

Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded formative assessment. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

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