Monday, February 28, 2011

Teaching with Intention, reflection chapter 7

I am currently working with a group of educators in Central Ohio and the Literacy Connection. Our focus this year is Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller. This post is in response to chapter seven, Assessments, Reflections, and Next Steps.
Debbie's belief statement on assessment~
I believe formative, ongoing assessments enlightens and informs my day-to-day work with children.
 In this chapter Debbie differentiates summative and formative assessments. She shares this from Stephanie Harvey.
Stephanie Harvey likens summative assessment to an autopsy-examiners try to determine why a patient died, what the contributing factors might have been, and implications (perhaps) for future patients. But it's too bad, so sad for this particular patient.
I had to chuckle as I read this, while summative assessments do have a purpose to serve, they do not inform instruction nor planning for the kids who take them. Summative assessment does seem a little too late, doesn't it?

Debbie helps us understand the value of formative assessments in the classroom as a tool for instruction and planning. They inform the teaching before it is too late. Formative assessments allow the teacher to see the processes and understandings of the students as they are learning.

 Debbie offers these forms of formative assessment:
  • Conferring
  • Listening in
  • Observing
  • Examining
  • Charting student thinking
  • Reflecting, sharing, and teaching
Debbie's thinking is a pleasure to read, it is so grounded in what's best for kids. She has a clear understanding of kids and the work they do. She sees the value in observing kids at work and using this information to continue their development as a learner. 

Assessment in my room~

In an earlier post I developed my tentative belief statements. My tenative belief statement on assessment~
Ongoing assessment informs good teaching. 
I have utilized student conferences as an assessment tool for a few years now but, it struck me when Debbie said this in reference to conferring~ 
"...we learn valuable information about how individual children are processing what we have taught them."  
I realized observing the work of my students is something I need to work on. I often use conference time as an opportunity to re-teach the lesson. I need to take more time to sit and watch my kids work and ask myself, What do they understand for the lesson? What are they using, and using well? Where do they need to go next? How can I get them there?

Listening in
Capturing the language of the kids in my notebook or on a chart have become a way of teaching for me, I am not really sure I know how to teach without a chart, and I am sure I can't create a chart without the langauge of the kids! Capturing the magic of their words allow me to see their thinking and informs my instruction. Anecdotal notes help me to remember specific events in our room and allow me make purposeful connections throughout our instruction.

Reflecting, sharing, and teaching
Just like in listening in while kids work we need to listen when our kids reflect and share on their learning. Capturing their thoughts in our notes is so powerful. The share circle is one of the most powerful features of the workshop. Share and reflection allow me to hear and see where the kids are in their understandings. Kids can learn from each other as they share and question their own understandings. This is a time for the kids to reflect on their learning. As kids share I find valuable information for the next lessons and students find new ways process their learning. 

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