Monday, February 17, 2014

50 Books in a Year Book #6: Differentiated Assessment

You know you're a teacher find an education book that has a title that sings to your soul, you buy said book, read and mark up said book (as so much of it gels with your thinking...) and can't wait to get to school to talk about the strategies with your friends...

Gosh, I'm an edu-nerd (that's a word, look it up!)

I don't know if I've ever talked to you about my teaching philosophy. Here are my core beliefs:

1] "Fair isn't always equal".
2] Data (hard and soft) should drive all decisions.
3] Students need to read, write and think every class period.
4] 21st century skills are essential.
5] Relationships are key.

The one thing I have a hang-up with is differentiated assessment,which puts a real kink in #1, 2 and in some ways #3, so when I saw this book at the used bookstore I had to buy it.

This book is an easy and fast read and has loads of useful information.

There are even aspects of the book that can be put into practice immediately.

Such as the following holistic model, which has been modified to assess vocabulary.

Things in the book that gel with my thinking:

1] Feedback: It needs to be prompt and helpful, and it should go both ways. Discuss questions that many missed and why the answer was wrong, and carefully consider the validity of any student complaints about a test.

Put feedback questions on the final page of a test. Example: "I can (circle: well/somewhat/not at all) do [learning objective]" or "I still need more help with ____________"

2] Outcome fairness: Tell students how they will be graded, from the very beginning of the class (or unit). Provide rubrics or checklists so students can self-evaluate as well. Base students' grades only on his/her individual contribution to group work.

3] Teacher assigned projects
Students have a choice of content not product or of product not content.

Things I'm working on:

1] Multiple assessments

2] Student designed formative assessments
Send a Problem

3] The use of logs to show evidence of learning
Content Area Logs
Reading Response logs
Dialog journals
Narrative logs

4] Student choice projects
Compacting: students may select an activity to do while others do more a more traditional unit of study
Students who have a strong interest in a particular subject may wish to work with you [the teacher] or a community mentor to design an independent study of an area of interest.
These projects must engage the students in something that is challenging, must be involved in a real-world task or application, must be learning through doing, must be created in such a way that the student can tell what needs to be completed next and the student must be able to communicate his or her learning.

In the end, she has a 12 step process for incorporating differentiated assessment into your classroom. I like #12 the best. After finding a type of assessment that works for and after using this type of your assessment in your classroom with feedback from students, it says, "Keep trying this form of summative assessment until you feel comfortable with it. Then try another, and another."

I think I'm well on my way.

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