My first key question regarding assessment that I would like to ask my cooperating teacher is: how do you decide the specific format you use for formative assessments? I would like to know how teachers know the best methods to use for formatively assessing students – especially as a new teacher. Is this something that teachers learn through trial and error? For example, if during a lesson I want my students to learn a new concept through research or information provided to them and then I want them to work through that new information with each other, would assessing them formatively work best through a jigsaw activity or a carousel? Is there a science or formula to deciding what sort of assessment to use? Or is it just something you experiment with as a new teacher and tweak as the years go on?
My second question about assessment has to do with differentiation. Differentiation is a topic that we, as future educators, have not had a lot of practice applying. It seems to be an extremely important topic in today’s classrooms (as it should be), especially with so much diversity in the classroom and students with such varying needs. How do teachers recognize which specific students require differentiation and how do they know what the most effective types of assessment are for those students? I worry that I will not be able to figure this out until it is too late in the semester and I have let those students down by not having the expertise to identify them and recognize the types of assessment they require to be successful. Is this another trial and error scenario or is this a skill that will just come with experience?
A third question I have regarding assessment is knowing when and how to most effectively use self- and peer-assessment. Are these types of assessments used in conjunction with every summative assessment? Is there a set number of self- and peer-assessments that should accompany formative assessment? Are these assessments ever taken into consideration during summative assessment (i.e., do they factor into a final unit or lesson grade)? Or is the grade that is given on a self/peer assessment arbitrary and is the actual act of assessing and practicing assessment as a life skill the important take-away during self/peer assessment?
While watching the group presentations for the 21st Century Assessment project, I was impressed with the variety assessments that each group came up with. Technology appeared to be a running theme in every group’s assessment. From a podcast to posting on Instagram, it is clear technology is important when considering different ways to assess students. A couple of groups made sure to specify that they would provide class time for students to work on their projects. Giving ample time to work on assessment projects during class is important for not overloading students with homework and allowing them a life outside of school. There were also some really good ways to provide differentiation specified by groups. One group would give students the choice of format they could provide their infographic in, be it digital or drawn by hand. Another group suggested strategically making groups so students who may be more comfortable with coding are grouped with students who may be coding for the first time. These are simple strategies to differentiate assessment that take no time to plan but foster inclusivity and encourage success for all students.
The assessment tools that each group used varied as well. Rubrics were quite popular with one group using a two-point rubric. Seeing how different groups decided to assess their assignment made me think about what sorts of assessment tools I would likely use in the classroom. Although choosing which assessment tool to use is a matter of trial and error combined with personal preference, I still prefer the tool my group chose which was success criteria. I like that it is a form of a checklist but also allows room for feedback in a comment section.