Welcome to my blog. I was inspired last Friday as I spoke with a teacher in our division. She said the simple word “THANKS”. I wasn’t sure what I was being thanked for but she elaborated by telling me that the work I had done on the Assessment website was greatly appreciated and that lots of people were reading and using the information. That inspired me to start blogging again. I hope that this will be a spot for me to write some of my thoughts and learning about assessment and a place that I can share with others.
Damien Cooper writes what he thought assessment was at the beginning of his career and how his thinking changed over time. I have similar thoughts to him. For a good part of my teaching career, I gave very little thought to assessment. I thought the world of assessment involved a strong mathematical background, not a pedagogical background, and had very little to do with the classroom. It was something that I had to do to fulfill a job requirement I think. I now know that assessment is an absolutely essential part of the instructional process. I know that without effective formative assessment, I cannot help students move forward. The difficult part is that assessing for mastery of an outcome is complex and involves not only assessing to evaluate but assessing so that students understand what needs to be done to improve as a learner. To help students understand, it is essential that the targets are made clear to them and that they share in the responsibility of learning. My favorite definition of mastery is from the book “Learning Targets”. Mastery is a progressive learning process under the learner’s control improving the ability to think and behave in increasingly intelligent ways. Rubrics and performance tasks are tools useful in the assessment process and effective feedback is essential to the process.
As we move forward with using GradeBook in our elementary schools, I know that many colleagues are asking very good questions and may even be wondering about how this major initiative will change their professional life. Be assured that this will be a learning process. At the moment, there is probably not one single person that has all the GradeBook secrets or answers. However, there are many who have good fitting pieces of the puzzle. While there will be quidelines and suggestions that come from Division Office, it is the work of teachers that will make this a success. There are already many good questions coming my way, many about general principals of assessment.
Please look to this blog regularly for writing about frequently asked questions that I am hearing about. And I end by saying thanks. Thanks for reading and thanks for the hard work you do every day to ensure that our students are successful. We are in this together and I look forward to our work together as we relentlessly pursue success.
Wishing you much success with assessment and instruction this school year.