“Assessment should always have more to do with helping students grow than with cataloging their mistakes.” — Carol Tomlinson
Assessment in an integral part of instruction determining whether or not the goals of education are being met. It is used to measure the current knowledge that a student has. It meets many needs for many individuals. Through assessments we continually ask the questions,
Are we teaching what we think we are teaching?
Are students learning what they are suppose to be learning?
Is there a way to teach the subject better, therefore promoting better learning?
Assessment affects decisions about grades, placement, advancement, instructional needs, curriculum, and in some cases, school funding.
Teachers are engaged in assessment every minute they are in the classroom. As teachers, we are always observing, noting, and evaluating. Because assessment in completed integrated into the fabric of curriculum, our evaluations are just as accurate (or not) as the classroom experiences we design for our students. The learning standards and Common Core lead us to give particular kinds of assignments. The key is to offer a variety of assessments, both formative and summative, to help our students show us they are meeting the learning targets.
I am currently in the process of designing a multi genre inquiry unit on WWII and the Holocaust with a social studies teacher and amazing colleague.
The unit brings social studies and English together in order to promote coteaching and collaboration among these two content areas with a focus on building students literacy skills and historical knowledge. Combining the new C3 social studies standards and the Common Core literacy standards promotes critical thinking, close reading and students creating their own multigenre text on a specific topic and theme about World War II.
For the final project (and summative assessment) students will create a Multi-genre blog that incorporates five different texts (fiction and nonfiction) grounded in specific historical documents to highlight a common theme prevalent in WWII.
Reading closely and writing narrative, argumentative, and informative/explanatory are core learning targets for 8th grade students as described in the CCLS. There are limitations to each of these writing genres when taught in isolation. Allowing students analyze, synthesize, and evaluate historical text (primary and secondary sources) in multigenres allows students to see the depth of history and personal accounts. This in turn builds empathy and understanding that history is living and breathing. Allowing students to be researchers and writers enables students to use higher order thinking and comprehension skills while at the same time tap into 21st Century skills as digital citizens and creators. Students will utilize technology for research and writing to produce a blog that presents their understanding and learning of this inquiry unit on WWII and the Holocaust.
Additionally, throughout this four week unit there will also be formative assessments to help teachers gauge students knowledge and understanding about historical events and the writing process. Formative assessments range in “formal and informal assessment procedures conducted by teachers during the learning process in order to modify teaching and learning activities to improve student attainment.”
Examples of formative assessments for the unit include:
Student-teacher reading and writing conferences
Weekly Literature Circles Discussions and Reading Notes Presented on Google Slides
Weekly Articles of the Week with Written Short Response Reflections with Actively Learn
Fishbowls, Socratic Seminars, and Class Discussions
Self Assessments & Reflections