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Element Three

Element Three:

Teachers plan, assess and report for effective learning.

I believe...

I strongly believe that teachers should practice assessment for learning not assessment of learning. In recent years there has been a strong push for standardised assessment such as the NAPLAN and the analysis, comparison and publication of results. I believe that this means little for the development of students learning and does not allow for a comprehensive insight into what students know, how they know it and what interests them. In order for assessment and reporting to be a positive inclusion in a classroom I believe there must be a heavy move towards long term formative assessment which is carried out with the intention of using it to change the learning environment to accommodate for students needs and learning styles. While summative assessment is an almost inevitable requirement within schools, I believe that students should never be taught for the test, but given the opportunity to learn content in a relevant and meaningful way, and then helped to develop the skills necessary to cope with these standardised tests when they are delivered.

In place of this, I believe that students and parents deserve constant constructive and positive feedback about their work and this should provide ways in which they can extend their learning. Similarly, I believe that students should have the opportunity to give feedback to their teacher in order to create a transparent, student-centred and transient learning environment. In this kind of environment planning is centred around student-guided learning, their interests, strengths and weaknesses and diversity in personality and ways of learning. I believe that outcomes can be achieved in an interesting, fun and engaging way, and that learning should go beyond the syllabus into life-long understanding.

I have...

Throughout my previous practicum and university experiences I have been exposed to many different forms of assessment. I have performed and analysed mathematics SENA testing for a kindergarten class and an individual year two student. This involved carrying out the test, asking questions which supported students’ answers, analysing responses with rubrics and reporting on their achievements. The reporting phase both indicated what they were able to achieve and placed them on an ability scale, but it also provided advice on where the student needed to improve and how this learning could be achieved. I have also administered running records, kindergarten wide comparative assessment and weekly spelling, mathematics and dictation tests. Each of these provided some information about student performance, however, in my own classroom I would shy away from using these in reporting as they lack an avenue to understanding students’ conceptual thought in achieving the answer.

I have also used a great deal of observation and note taking during lessons to assess how students were engaging in and understanding the tasks they were undertaking. As a part of this I found questioning to be one of the most beneficial tools in gathering information and looking for areas in which lessons need to be developed. I have found that lessons must be adapted and changed according to students’ responses and that by doing this not only do students enjoy the lessons more, but their achievement and understanding of outcomes also improves significantly.

I need...

In future practicum experiences I need to look closer at forms of assessment, reporting and engaging students and parents in positive feedback. I also need to foster better ways of initial student assessment on which to base my planning. It is difficult with the limited amount of time on prac to achieve cohesive programs which cater to all students’ needs and a means to identify their prior achievements and interests would assist me greatly in my professional development. Furthermore, I need to continue to attain resources that will help students achieve outcomes and diversify learning experiences. Finally, I need to better understand formal school reporting systems and how to use them for students’ best interests.

I will...

In my next practicum I will create an observation book as a living document of what each child has achieved and how they are developing. I will use it as a form of long term assessment and use it to create lesson plans and alter my teaching practice so it will best suit the class I am with. I will give students a chance to give me feedback by having a suggestion box and directly asking for their opinions. I will also ensure that each task has a clear purpose and outcome which is obvious to all students. In order to get to know the school community, I will write an introductory letter to the parents of my class explaining who I am and the outcomes I hope to achieve with the class. I will then follow this up with fortnightly notes which inform parents on students’ achievements and keep them updated with activities in class including work samples.  

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