Element 3: Teachers Plan, Assess and Report for Effective Learning
In order for learning activities to be appropriately structured, scaffolded, implemented and assessed, explicit learning goals must be clearly defined and understood. Learning goals set the pace of the lesson and connect to Quality Teaching Framework elements such as Deep Knowledge, Connectedness, and Explicit Quality Criteria.
During practicum, I worked both independently and with my cooperating teachers to plan lessons in relation to specified learning goals. These goals were usually based on a combination of syllabus requirements and individual learning needs. While I have had little opportunity to independently design and implement whole units based on learning goals, I have incorporated goals into my lesson plans by defining a focus based on outcomes, indicators and class needs. During a stage 2 capacity lesson, I researched Mathematics syllabus requirements and consulted other resources such as Teaching Measurement (NSW Department of Education and Training, 2004) (Stage 2 Capacity Overview). These documents became my guide – allowing me to identify, plan for and track student progression.
My learning goals were based on stage 2 outcomes, however students needed to achieve stage 1 outcomes before they could move on. My capacity lesson sequences attempted to continually build on prior knowledge and meet lesson focus goals in order to successfully achieve these outcomes
A selection of lesson plans taught on my third year practicum. These lessons were designed to meet lesson goals set by the syllabus, and were guided by Teaching Measurement (NSW Department of Education and Training, 2004). Each lesson was a continuation of work already completed, with the aim of making knowledge about capacity relevant and achievable. Each session concluded with a class discussion and open-ended questions designed to create interest for the following lesson.
I have also come to realize the usefulness of backwards mapping for creating learning goals. This strategy allows for assessment and outcomes based learning, and requires teachers to plan backwards from the desired learning goal. This ensures that all learning experiences are relevant to the goal, and that students are adequately supported along the way.
During my third year practicum I was given the opportunity to observe and take part in the planning of a Science and Technology unit on simple machines. The unit was taught collaboratively across the year three classes and provided a variety of learning experiences. The unit integrated:
- Science and technology (including ICT)
- Creative Arts
Students engaged with a variety of resources and were given many learning opportunities:
- Immersion activities including classifying images and everyday simple machines
- Web-based exploration and games
- Literacy tasks including poetry writing, procedural recounts and reflection activities
- ICT work, creating movies, and e-journal entries
- Research, using books, the internet and practical exploration
- Design and make activities
- Art-based responses
- An excursion to Luna Park, to observe and record simple machines
This overview is edited from a unit created by Michele Williams and Carmel Denniss from St Charles School. I was given the opportunity to contribute to the design and implementation of the unit, which was taught collaboratively across the year 3 classes.
Assessment is an aspect of the Standards that I feel I need to work on this year. ‘Educative assessment’ (Groundwater-Smith, Ewing & Le Cornu, 2003) concerns feedback and improvement and allows students to take some responsibility for their development. This meets the Quality Teaching Framework dimensions of self-regulation and student direction. NSW Board Of Studies syllabus documents focus on outcomes-based learning, allowing assessment to move away from comparing students and focus instead on individual achievement. I began to see the merit in this while using a SENA test to assess a students mathematical development. The information I gained allowed me to plan lessons to aid his development
Bobis, Mulligan and Lowrie (2004) discuss the following strategies for assessing outcomes-based learning:
- Gathering evidence to assess ‘where are they now?’ questions
- Observation, using checklists, observation records, annotations on class lists and digital records
- Higher-order thinking based questions, asked during/after lessons, presented in written form or verbally
- Formalised tests, incorporating written and art-based responses
- Individual interviews
This year I will aim to use backwards mapping to create assessments that incorporate these strategies. I believe that assessments must cater to all types of learners, and not be restricted to written tests. I also plan to ensure that I meet Quality Teaching Framework standards by the providing students with the explicit criteria I expect them to meet. Through the provision of timely and constructive feedback, I hope to provide opportunities for students to self-regulate and aim for improvement.
I have had almost no experience with the formal reporting process, and I hope to address this during my professional experience. I will need to develop my understanding of how to use formalised testing results (including NAPLAN) effectively. I also recognise the importance of using assessment results to evaluate my lessons and strategies. Thinking reflectively and reflexively will enable me to create more effective lessons, address students needs in particular areas and continue my professional development.