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Essay about What Is Formative Assessment

An area of my teaching practice I would like to explore is assessment both formative and summative. “The use of formative assessments, or other diagnostic efforts within classrooms, provides information that should help facilitate improved pedagogical practices and instructional outcomes. ” (Dunn et al. 2009:1). Within the classroom, there are many areas of assessment as teachers are assessing all the time especially when actually teaching.

In my experience, my previous knowledge and understanding of assessment within the classroom is an area of my teaching where I feel it is a constant battle to improve on and ensure the best outcomes for the children. Working in a large class group whilst discussing the topic of human and physical habitats, I found myself asking questions to the whole group and waiting for the correct response. I did not give time for any discussion and encouraged a quick response, pre-empting that I required the correct answer. The use of hands up showed that it was the same children wanting to answer and I picked these children as to be expected.

As a teacher, I have demonstrated my lack of understanding of how formative assessment works and shown how I was limiting other children within the group to contribute and to have an opinion. On reflection, the lesson would show more success if I had selected a child at random, for example using names on lolly sticks in a jar, randomising IT software and rolling a die etc. Any of these processes are very powerful as it keeps children on their toes at all times, so not knowing something no longer becomes an option, and it also stops myself asking a child who I know knows the answer just so I can move on within the lesson!

Dylan and William (1998:8) state that a particular feature of the talk between teacher and pupils is the asking of questions by the teacher. The learning is often unproductive in this natural and direct way of checking. Giving pupils enough quiet time so that children can think, process and then offer an answer would be a solution this problem. What can often transpire, a teacher answers her or his own question after only two or three seconds, and where a minute of silent thought is not tolerable, there is no possibility that a child can decide what to verbalize.

I have moments that I have shown doing this and wanted the answers quicker. There are consequences for my actions and how jumping in too soon can have a negative impact. The answers I receive from the questions in such a short time will result in only basic facts as these are the only style possible. Another is that the children do not even attempt to think of an answer, due to the fact that another question will be asked very shortly so why go to any effort of trying. Some children within the class know that certain others will answer the questions as they respond quicker and are more willing to take risks in public.

It is argued that “by lowering the level of questions and by accepting answers from a few, can keep the lesson going but is actually out of touch with the understanding of most of the class—the question-answer dialogue becomes a ritual, one in which all connive and thoughtful involvement suffers. ” Dylan and William (1998:8) I feel that on reflection there are several ways this could be improved. Giving the children time to answer a question, ensuring they are discussing their thinking in small groups or pairs in order for a nominated child to speak on behalf of the others in the group.

If I allow children a choice between different possible answers and asking for their opinions, writing down their own answers but then reading out a selection are all various ways to improve the formative questioning cycle. It is essential that any discussions between myself and the children should bring out thoughtful and reflective exploring the understanding of the discussion where all children are encouraged to be involved to think and express their ideas.

As stated in the Teachers Standards (DfE, 2011:12), that teachers should “make use of formative and summative assessment to secure pupils’ progress”. Formative assessment can alter the gap when comparisons of actual and reference levels provide useful information to the teacher. As a teacher, I should be encouraging the child to make judgements on their work whilst | assess the child’s learning strategies and compare against their learning objectives.

Myself and the child can share feedback about what was successful and how I feel the next steps can be achieved in closing the gap. The child is then expected to use this information to close this gap. There are situations during my lessons where I failed to share feedback and just gave the required next steps and expected the child to complete them. The encouragement from myself to the child to assess their own work has not been visible on a regular basis and I have not given set opportunities or time for these types of discussions.

Torrance and Pryor (1998:131) argue that while teaching, teachers are picking up information about the children’s knowledge and learning strategies through eavesdropping and impromptu observations and that they gauge the level of general understanding through a quick questioning session at the beginning and end of the lessons. This quick fire questioning is what I myself was doing and just wanted quick answers and this is what Torrance and Pryor (1998) supports. However, these techniques are used more to build on and assess their levels which actually can be fed back to the class.

Torrance and Pryor (1998) state “that, in general, teachers subordinate assessment to instruction”. To have effective formative assessment, occasions need to be available so that the aim of teaching is “subordinated to the goal of determining children’s level of achievement” Torrance and Pryor (1998:131). Children working in small focused groups can help to generate a lot of knowledge and skills whilst enhancing the creativity process of understanding. If a teacher is prepared to listen and observe, this time gives children space to generate a lot of discussion.

This type of talk and interrogation with each other about the nature of the task helps to scaffold the learning of the group and provide evidence of the children’s progress and how they collaborate to accomplish this. TYPE OF QUESTIONNING During guided reading sessions with small groups of children, I refer to the assessment focus as stated in the lesson plan for example “AF2, understand, describe, select or retrieve information, events or ideas from texts” (FCCE Primary, 2014).

Using this focus to question and gain an understanding of the child’s comprehension is an area that I want to improve on as| feel my questioning skills are not focusing on deep thinking. To accomplish this, would be to study and use Bloom’s Taxonomy to encourage higher-order of thinking by increasing their lowercognitive skills to deeper understandings and use these questions to provoke thinking. Torrance and Pryor (1998:24) support that “the teacher’s responsibility would be to maintain a key role in structuring the dialogue, bearing in mind her own assessment agenda and the kinds of’knowing’ she is looking for.

SELF ASSESSMENT Research shows that regular pupil-self assessment has a clear place in the formative assessment process by the pupil analysing and critiquing their own work and reflecting on their personalised teaching strategies. Sutton (1995) supports that a systematic approach to learning helps teachers underpin the belief that the process of self-assessment is a key element to learning. During my lessons towards the beginning of the 2nd half term, I reflected at the end of the week on the area of self assessment with my mentor (see Appendix 1).

It was clear to both of us that my presumptions of the Year 2 class that they knew how to self assess was incorrect and they did not understand the process of how to complete the task. I had asked during the week various types of self assessment styles for example, choose your best piece of work you have completed previously, using a coloured pencil can you highlight on the faces how you feel this piece of work has gone. On discussions at the end of the week, I realised that I had expected to self assess but had not given them any clear example of what they were actually required to look for.

With no demonstration of why they were looking at their work and what objectives they are trying to identify, on reflection, it is obvious that the children were never going to be able to understand the process and the understanding behind the self-assessment process. I agree with Black and William, Torrance and Pryor (cited in McCallum, no date, pg 8) that in their studies that a recurring theme is the importance of children understanding the learning objectives behind their work and that learning intentions are clear and concise.

The implications for myself, this would mean providing lessons on self-assessment and how to organise information to enable the children to access this. Researching various methods and speaking to other professionals on the different styles of self-assessment will lead to my practice being more effective as the children will develop skills to take with them throughout their education. As a teacher, giving dedicated time, consistent and frequent encouragement and planned strategies will also support the childrens abilitites to self reflect.

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