Friday, September 2, 2011

For the Love of Education!

Today was a professional development day. Having a day for professional development means that the students get a four day weekend and we get the pleasure of working within our departments and grade levels to improve and revitalize ourselves.

Truth be told, I don't mind PD days. There are kind of like going back to college, hanging with friends while we analyze content and expectations of ourselves, the students and the community (only better because I'm not just guessing what will happen I actually have some experience) and I always learn a little about myself.

Truth be told, I don't like PD days. There are kind of like going back to college, except for they aren't an easy A and I don't get the priviledge of skipping the class and bailing (not that I ever did these things in college!) when I get bored.

This years' focus *drum roll please*: Assessments

The positive of this focus: I am really glad we are going to get some hands on examples of how to implement formative assessments in our classroom. I can really use something that helps me determine what is of importance to grade, what should be used informally and what can be bumped up a notch. In all truthfulness I think all teachers can use a little more clear-cut guidelines of how to find out what is important without wasting our time in the classroom and at home...that just makes us better facilitators of learning and therefore our students attain more (right now my grade-level students are above the state average, but below--just slightly--of our annual yearly progress for No Child Left Behind), so we're doing good, but we could and should aspire to do better. That's what good teachers do.

So, what am I really writing about...I want to take this time to talk about a couple or three essays they had us read today.

1] Scenarios on the Use of Formative Classroom Assessments by Cassandra Erkens
Why I didn't mind reading this essay? They gave it to us as something that we could read on our own time or not. "No pressure" means I'm going to rise to the occasion...I'm funny that way.
What I learned? So, what did I learn from this article that I didn't have to read, but felt compelled to read because of their sneaky teachery tricks? We were supposed to read this keeping in mind that there would be somethings that we already do in our classrooms. I have used 'pre-test' for a grade and also to see where the students are in their learning. I love the idea of Laundry Day (read the article), as it sounds just cheesy and corny enough that the kid would have fun in my classroom. I have students do a self-analysis of most of the test we do first semester and most of the writing they requires thinking but everything works out and the students really feel like they've learned. I've used optional homework, various homework, quizzes, and informal communication. I definitely use the traditional forms of the grading system and am glad that they work in the modern day classroom.

2] Helping Students Understand Assessment by Jan Chappuis
Why I didn't mind reading this essay? Because we jigsawed this we didn't have to read the whole thing.
What I learned? Jigsaw is an amazing awesome tool for learning that I really need to use in my classroom more. When formative assessments are used properly students succeed on test and in the classroom. In schools that use assessments in this manner, the:
  • Formative assessment began with offering students a clear picture of learning targets.
  • Students received feedback on their work that helped them understand where they were with respect to the desired learning target.
  • Students engaged in self-assessment.
  • Formative assessment provided an understanding of specific steps that students could take to improve.
3] Formative and Summative Assessments Defined from Common Formative Assessment: How to Connect Standards-Based Instruction and Assessment by Larry Ainesworth
Why I didn't mind reading this essay? I really needed formative assessments defined clearly.
What I learned? There are three different types of assessments. We are really good at common formative assessments, we have aligned and use summative assessments...I really like the idea and want to have more classroom formative (ie. we don't grade them formally) assessments equitably across the grade-level in which I teach. I would also like us to have more communication across our grade-level about how we can help our students succeed in our classrooms.

And, I'm looking forward into delving into this topic more!


  1. I have two of those days next week, before the children come back on Weds. We're focusing on developing writing, I hope it's useful. Sometimes on these kinds of things I feel like I get bombarded with too much information and too many things that I couldn't possibly implement all of them in my classroom.

  2. I linked this review to the Essay Challenge page - you've made great progress in the challenge!

  3. I hope that those days aren't a waste of time for you either, sam, when they are a waste of time they can be extra long and tedious! our departmental focus is called MRI (missouri reading iniative) and will have a writing compotent as well. i'm looking forward to hopefully finding something useful! :D good-luck on your pd days.

    and, yes, carrie, almost finished! woot! :D



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