Sunday, January 23, 2011

Different types of Assessment

During the past week I've been involved in assessing the Grade 3 students' oral presentation for their How the World Works unit of inquiry.  The students have been inquiring into natural and man-made processes and disasters.  Since each student has chosen his or her own process/disaster to investigate, the way we are assessing their knowledge and understanding is through performance assessment - and as a Geography teacher assessing their knowledge and understanding about this particular unit of inquiry is right up my street.

Performance assessments not only look at what students know, they also look at what students can do with what they know.  This form of assessment has been described as "taking knowledge to the doing level".  In this particular case the doing involved using Web 2.0 tools to support an oral presentation.  Since the PYP is a concept-based curriculum I was also seeking to see how the students could demonstrate their conceptual understanding of form (what is it, how is it formed?),  change (how does it affect the Earth, how does it affect people?) and connection (how can we be prepared and respond?)

Students have also been involved in assessing these oral presentations - peer assessment is something that has been developed during this unit.  In general students have presented to small groups and I have asked  2 of the students to be looking just at the communication skills - is the presenter speaking at a good pace, not too fast or too slowly, is the presenter loud enough, does the presenter look at the audience?  The other students are listening to the presentation with a view to asking questions at the end if they need clarification or further information.

Self assessment is very important too.  Some classes have now started their own ePortfolios to collect and display their work.  All students have paper portfolios so this is an extra, and is used to display work that will not fit easily into a folder - such as these sorts of Web 2.0 presentations.  Recently portfolios were sent home and the classes that had an ePortfolio had an extra page that went home so that parents could see their child's work online.  I was delighted to read the comments that came back from the parents - many of whom recognised that their children were already far ahead of them in using these tools.

When looking at assessment I believe it is important to think about how much growth each student has made over time - this is why I am so keen on developing the ePortfolios more.  As they move forward from one grade to the next the ePortfolios can go with and grow with the students - and by looking back at the work samples that they have added students will be able to see just how much learning and progress has taken place.

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