The school has a comprehensive, well set out assessment-policy which I have tried to familiarise myself with during my second four week university block away from the school, as I sourced a copy of it during my serial weeks along with a number of other school policy documents both required for (and beyond) the school-policy professional activity exercise. I have found this has helped me get to grips with the procedures within the school and has helped me fit in.
Though the school assessment policy document is comprehensive in its description of the responsibility for planning of and approaches to recording and reporting of assessment, and the use of assessment results. It also interestingly, takes time to highlight the importance of using whole class assessment as a means of reflecting and evaluating one’s own teaching practices; something which the PGDE course has stressed is a central part of the modern-day teaching profession.
More specifically however, I have also been fortunate enough to witness the effective use of a variety of assessment practices by my teacher in the classroom which I feel has been invaluable in furthering my understanding of styles of assessment and how these work. Indeed while I was aware of many of the features of the school policy document, I feel that to see these in action in the classroom is a process which cannot be communicated in written form.
That said, I have been aware of the majority of these as they feature in Assessment is for Learning (AiFL) and Building the Curriculum 5: Assessment (BTC5) policy documents and so this combined with the provision of information in the school assessment policy guide placed me in good stead to look out for these in practice. Two Stars and a Wish The two stars approach was something I was familiar with the workings of through our use of it in assessing our own poster-display work in ULT/ELT seminars. It was however interesting to see how differently children responded in the classroom.
Beyond engaging with the terminology far more than my fellow-students (who often mixed up the order) children seem surprisingly keen to improve if they can and focus not only on the two stars element, but also focus (positively) on the wish – seemingly happy to take advice on what to do better next time (again, sometimes more so than my PGDE colleagues)! Self Assessment I feel very positive and encouraged by the use of self assessment by my teacher who has demonstrated how effective this approach can be in identifying both success and problems equally.
Indeed self-assessment appears to me, to allow children to feel as though they are playing an active role in the learning process as a whole and not simply a subject of learning and assessment. The thumbs (up, middle or down) approach also seems appealing as it is very efficient in that it allows a simple yet comprehensive snapshot of how pupils rate their own understanding. Further follow-up questioning also seems to be an effective part of the self assessment process.
She has also demonstrated however that self-assessment is not limited to the simplistic thumbs or traffic-light colour approach (which was most obvious to me), through her interesting use of a traffic light workbook stamp which children are required to colour-in (green, orange or red) on their own work, before detailing a short reason to justify their choice which provides useful and often specific feedback on teaching which would seem to be a useful tool in the reflection and improvement process.
Peer Assessment The use of peer assessment appears prominent in my teacher’s classroom presumably because she so eagerly embraces cooperative learning and thus children are often not only self- assessing their own work but also that of their partner or group. I feel this could be an effective approach to introducing peer assessment of individual work to a class who have not experienced this before – as it may well demonstrate the importance of being polite (but honest) when assessing other pupils work.
Formal assessment I was fortunate enough to observe my class being formally assessed on both writing and spelling during my serial placement. Though the need for a comprehensive awareness of assessment is arguably now greater (now that I am giving my own lessons) than was the case during my observation weeks, and it is difficult to discuss something which took place so many weeks ago, I feel I am able to reflect on these early experiences enough to be able to appreciate the key elements of formal assessment.
I believe I have an awareness of the principled approaches needed to implement formal assessment. Ultimately I feel my teacher’s competent and varied use of these approaches to assessment (even at this early stage of my placement) has given me the working awareness needed to implement them and also the confidence to begin to take steps towards using a greater range of these in a number of my future lesson plans.