presentation reflections.

Presentations – by Joel and Jaren

Interesting to see a presentation on presentations! I think presentations are a great way for students to learn from one another. It leaves room for much more student-led learning and less teacher-talk. However, I think students should have options in their topics because choice always empowers their learning. Further, public speaking is a skill that students should acquire. Creating a space where they feel safe enough to explore this skill is essential.

Demonstrations of Learning – by Merrissa, Jamie, and Riley

This topic was a little tricky to grasp, because essentially any work you have students complete is a demonstration of their learning! However, as it was presented, the major point was that students need varied and multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning.  This is something that the text continually comes back to. It is not enough to have one method of assessment that you use repeatedly. If a student gets test jitters, but the only assessment you use in your class is tests, their mark will hardly be a reflection of what they have learned. However, when you give students all sorts of opportunities, you will gain a more authentic picture of what is being learned.

Portfolios – by Austen, Andrew, and Shane

I think portfolios is my favourite method of assessment that I have learned about thus far. Maybe this is because Val is having us do portfolios for one of our ELNG classes and I am enjoying it so much. As a teacher, you gain such insight into students’ lives and learning with portfolios. I also think it creates such a beautiful artefact for students to have later on in their life. The one drawback is the amount of marking it requires from the teacher, although if you choose to have students only pick a few specific items for marking it might lighten the load!

Below is a great video on the uses of portfolios:

Backward Design – by Rob, Randall, and Steph

It is interesting because the first time I encountered the idea of backward design was last semester. It was explained very well, and to be honest, I was quite confused. However, it is a term I have become very familiar with this semester, and now I cannot imagine planning a course or assessment for a course any other way. I think both students and teachers get the most out of schooling when both understand the destination. Planning backwards ensures that your goals are met. I feel like it could take a while to learn to plan this way, but I am sure after a while it would become natural. You, as a teacher, would have to be very organized and certain of your outcomes. A thorough  knowledge of the curriculum would also be necessary to design a course in this way.

Projects – by Ariel, Elaine and Kristine

Projects are a great alternative to tests. For too long, schooling was based on tests and examinations. Projects give students a lot more freedom to “demonstrate learning.” I think this has become particularly popular with the movement of inquiry-based learning, where students are required to be more active learners. Projects can take a variety of forms, but typically call for a lot of creative expression from the students – which is key. Having students come up with projects they’d be interested in, is a good way to get the ball rolling. Again, the more input students are able to have, the more likely they will be engaged in the learning.

Learning Logs – by Kristen, Cassandra, and Carlie

I’m not going to lie, personally I don’t love learning logs. I think this is because in education we are expected to do so many of them. However, to be fair, usually in retrospect I appreciate them a lot more than in the beginning. Often, they feel like a chore at the beginning. Then, as time goes on, it is really nice to be able to reflect back on where I was at. I think learning logs are really helpful for developing metacognition in students, and this is vital to them being life-long learners. I would definitely consider using learning logs in my own classroom, but I would need to have students engaged in learning that is meaningful to them to have any success with this method. I think that is attainable, and I hope to create a classroom where that happens.

Written Assignments – by Stacy and Brittany

As an English major, perhaps I am partial to written assignments. Actually, I just genuinely believe there are so many options for written assignments, and it is so open-ended. There are a number of different styles of writing that students are expected to do in school, but that also leaves a lot of room for student choice, particularly in an English class. Creative writing, specifically, is awesome for not only getting to know your students, but also opens the floor for exploratory writing without asking them to necessarily master a skill. At the same time, I realize that our English curriculum has moved from a literature-based curriculum to a language-based curriculum. There are 6 strands of language: listening, speaking, viewing, representing, reading, and finally, writing. Writing can’t have such a place in a classroom that the other strands are ignored, and often English high school classes place a great emphasis on writing. We need to be careful of what students and/or cultures we marginalize when we do so.

Tests and Quizzes – by Sarah, Jolene, and Ally

Finally, the dreaded tests and quizzes! Tests and quizzes have certainly gained a negative name for themselves in the field of education, and perhaps rightfully so. Often tests and quizzes stress a single right answer and don’t leave a lot of room for student expression. Further, such emphasis is placed on tests that many students have a hard time performing under the pressure. It is unfortunate because then many student grades do not reflect accurately what the student knows or can do. Needless to say, tests can be quite limiting. At the same time, many teachers have a hard time getting away from this form of assessment, and I don’t necessarily think it always has to be bad. There are certain subjects that are more akin to tests than others, such as math, or potentially science. It is more difficult with a subject like English though. However, if a test is deemed a necessity, I think there are ways to create tests that call for critical thinking and ask students to comment the significance of the text studied. There are ways to write tests that go beyond mere recall of facts.

In summary…

I have been able to learn a lot about the different methods of assessments through these presentations, and they complimented the reading from the text. There are means of assessment that I have never had experience with, that have now peaked my interest. For example, the research from my own presentation on peer and self assessment really challenged some of previously held beliefs and opened my eyes to all of the benefits. Most of all, I have learned the significance in including students in all levels of assessment. It has been mentioned time and time again that assessment is not only more effective, but more authentic when students are involved – and that only makes sense! I have thought seriously about the different ways to include in assessment, and I know this will be something that I continue to consider as I move into internship and then my career.


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