Friday, June 15, 2012

Lesson Delivery 5: Assessment and Grading

What are you doing for initial placement in your program and classroom? Are you doing any needs analysis/assessment? If so, what? Can you share a resource or strategy?

What assessments are you using on a regular basis? What do they look like? Why did you choose this type? If you have any resources to share, please email them to Dr. R as an attachment.

What standardized testing is occurring in that environment? How are you using the results of the standardized tests in your classes?

Are you doing any performance assessments? If so, what?

Have you employed a rubric for grading? If so, which? Please share by emailing them to Dr. R as an attachment.

What are your challenges in grading? What have you discovered about grading? Do you think you are always fair in your grading or do you wish to be better?


Patrick said...

One thing that I've been struggling with in all areas of my time teaching here in Honduras is my students’ unwillingness to speak English or produce it on their own in writing. This holds true for the area of assessment.

One of the ideals I'm trying to press home to my students is that it is better to try and make a few mistakes than not try at all. This means that students receive credit on homework for at least trying to do it and points in class for participating orally. However, I'm weary to apply this principle to tests and quizzes. I don't really know why but I just am. Tests and quizzes to me are "Go time" and the final assessment as to whether one comprehended the information or not.

The other thing I've stressed in my assessment is simple grammar. I don't know how many times I've had to ask: "What does a sentence need? Should names or be capitalized or not?" and the like. The simple (and sad) fact is that this information has never been stressed in earlier education and now I feel as though it is my duty to stress it.

Lack of materials has also made it hard to assign lots of meaningful homework (students are used to making copies of vocabulary sets for this). I want to students to know the material well and be able to use it but not overwhelm them with new methods and practices during my short time here. So while I do use some familiar homework styles I also introduce some new ones and use them on tests and quizzes as well.

Other than that my only reservation in assessment and grading is that the grade book I have been given is a paper one. I feel leery about not having a back-up method of recording student grades. My thinking is that paper can be bad news in areas with so much humidity rain and the like.

Kate Mastruserio Reynolds & Patrick Reynolds said...

I think you may be over shooting the mark in term of objectives. What do you want them to do learn to use the language or have proper "simple" grammar?

Why do you think they are SO afraid to use the language? That's where you should start; when you know the motivation, you can work to counter it. Then, you can move onto "simple" grammar. Does that make sense?

Mee_xiong04 said...

I'm teaching English in summer immersion camps and there are no tests or quizzes. We at the end of the three day camp, we have what is called Eigo-kai where students will have to perform their My Story, a story they wrote, and camp skit.

My story is an activity where students have to write a story whether true or not and present it on the last day of camp. After they finish writing their story, they practice it over and try to memorize as best as they can. When they have to present, they'll have to do it without looking at their paper. We don't have any formal tests, but by having them present their story all from memory is a form of assessment. The best story wins first place.

It is the same with Camp skit. The teacher is the facilitator. I help the students brainstorm ideas and they choose one. They'll have to write their own dialogue and afterward I correct the errors. They perform the skit all from memory and the best skit wins.

So in this case, there are no formal form of assessment like testing and quizzes, it's on student performance.

Kate Mastruserio Reynolds & Patrick Reynolds said...

You may recall from the FLG 400 assessment class that performance assessments are quite good and valid measures of the learners' abilities.

Heidi Gradall said...

Seeing as my clases are so informal, there´s no grading standards or need to give grades. The first time I gave a quiz to my students, none of them came back the next day! I have found that in my situation quizes are only valuable if they get imediate feedback, self correct, and keep without a grade. I tend to employ lots of mini, informal quizes as reviews and for myself to judge whether they have actually understood the material or not.

The homework I assign has to be fun, like learn a tongue twister or else it doesn´t get done. I don´t have a problem with assigning a tongue twister as homework because they have to recite it the next class, and this is a way to individually test their speaking abilities. I haven´t gotten much practice in grading, but each day I make up the equivalent of a worksheet of examples that we go through together in class. I feel comfortable creating assessments, but struggle with making sure to use vocabulary that I know has been learned, and grammar that is an appropriate level, not too advanced. I think that during class I feel free to use examples that include new vocabulary, but for quizes I think it´s important that they know all the vocabulary, but that the questions are all different than the practice questions.

Nessa said...

As a teaching assistant I'm not responsible for grading my students. In fact, it's in my contract that I'm not even allowed to do such things as correct homework for a grade. That doesn't mean, of course, that I'm not assessing my students.

Most of my assessment is informal, formative assessment. I use my classroom observations to help my plan my lessons. Although I sometimes use similar lessons, I always need to alter them for each class - my students may be nearly the same age, but they aren't at the same level. It's also easiest for me to informally assess the students when I have clear objectives for the lessons.

Flossie said...

My frustrations are a little different from my collegues. I don´t have alot of control over my tests. The students have a weekly quiz that is already prepared and then a final exam that i have no control over. I´m not a huge fan of this although i do understand the reasons for the madness. Still attendence is not a part of their grade and while i was told that most students are motivated enough since they are paying for the classes, i do think that attendence should be weighted into the grade. Students in our basic classes get automatic 10s on the quiz if they come to class every week, which I suppose does make attendence into a motivating factor but my intermediate and advanced classes have no such extrinsic motivation.

I have often been frustrated by the questions on the quizzes, although most are pretty good, and it´s frustrating not to have control over my student´s assessments. I´ve also been told not to teach to the test but i´m a little unsure about how not to do that when the test is such a big part of their final grade.

I wish I could be doing more alternative assessments. I will say that having the tests and basic lesson plans already created makes my life easier but i´d like to see what i could do with complete creative freedom. I´m a newbie though so i do appreciate all the ideas i´m gathering now.

Talia said...

In this camp we do not do any assessments, placements, exams, or anything. The only thing that we are here for is to help students practice there English as much as possible and hopefully improve in a stress free environment. The only time we ever come close to grading them is that we have awards for students that do the best in each of the three English activities. We only use these awards to motivate them to do there best though. We arent grading them, we are just motivating them to do well.

Mikayla Schroeder said...

@ Patrick,

I found myself doing the same thing at first. When I asked a student a question, such as "How old are you?" I wanted the complete answer of "I am __ years old." After a few days of dialog practice, I realized students understood the questions and would give the most simple answer. ("Eight." or "I'm eight.") For a while I stressed putting it in a complete sentence, but after a week or two, I was just grateful that they understood the question and could easily respond to it. Being that my students are children who don't have much background in English I realized that I should be encouraging them to speak, and giving them positive feedback when they give a correct response, even if it is short of a complete sentence. Just understanding the language and speaking it, no matter how little, is a success for these students. They are, after all, beginners.

cjdrummer said...

I don't get to write tests for the students, so I don't have much experience with that type of assessment. However, during the lessons that I teach, I am able to assess the students on their understanding of the material by asking comprehension questions or having them do activities and see how well they understood the lesson. I think that these kinds of assessments are the best ones to have. Written tests seem to bring a lot of unnecessary stress for students.

Kate Murray said...

My situation is a little different, since I am the live-in tutor for this family and for that reason our classes are more on the "informal" side. An "exam" form of assessment would feel really out of place. That being said, with the oldest boy who is 18, we have spent the last 3 weeks working on preparing for his English exam he has next month as part of entering into a University. We downloaded practice exams from the internet and I have been going through each part with him each week. Since I am nearing the end of my stay here, I consciously saved one of the exams in its entirety so that I could use it to assess him and the work we have done over the last 3 and a half weeks. The exam is made up of a text and 5 "questions": True/False, Comprehension, Vocabulary, Fill in the blank, and essay/composition. I plan to give him the exam this week just as it will be in September: 1 hr and 30 mins to answer the questions and of course without any help from me. After I grade it, I plan to use our remaining 3 days focusing on the major problems that he still has as evidence from the test. Having seen how he has done on the practices, I know that he's not going to get a perfect score though that's always what you hope for as the teacher. However, I thought for his benefit the assessment would be best done with some time leftover so that we could really talk about what he did wrong and hopefully I can give him last minute tips, strategies, and lessons on how to avoid whatever mistakes he makes on his actual exam.

Elyssa said...

@ Kate Murray
That sounds like a really great idea to help your student learn! I especially like that you are administering your ‘test’ with time afterwards for follow up learning. I have been monitoring progress but haven’t really administered any assessments besides a needs assessment that I created for my student. I am currently taking the online assessment class and that is teaching me a lot about how/when/why to assess. I know that once the class is through I will feel much more confident in preparing and administering an assessment. My student meets with me for extra help online and is taking a formal English night class in Chile. He receives formal assessments in that class.

MC said...

The major assessments I end up doing are homework checks. My tutees will often have me check their homework from their schools. This is a great way to assess where they need the most help in. I found that my Japanese tutee was less skilled in writing than reading by checking her school work. Since the homework checks happen almost every meeting, I can get a good idea as to where my tutees are improving and declining.
Since I am tutoring one-on-one, I don't have formal grade to give to my tutees. I do, however, keep an informal scale of hoew they are growing. I don't show them, of, course, This is something for me to use so I can try to balance out the four skills.

Heather said...

Working at summer camps, there isn't supposed to be any formal assessment of the students. I still did end up doing some informal assessment of my homeroom class, since I worked with them the most.

The first day, I started by asking everyone to tell me their name and something they like doing outside. I knew I was supposed to get an intermediate class, but this seemed like a way to not only get students more comfortable talking in class, but also to let me know if I was suddenly going to have to revise my lessons radically upward or downward!

Besides that, the biggest thing was the project we worked on. Each student created a brochure about a national park (working in a group, but creating their own brochure), and I asked the students to turn them in to me. I wrote up an index card for each one, trying to include at least two or three things I thought were well done, but also at least one mistake or place they could improve upon. I didn't give any grade, but even beyond the hopefully constructive nature of the comments, it didn't seem appropriate for the students to spend that much time on a project and not receive feedback.

Ashley said...

Well since I am tutoring we don't really have any "grades" but I do try to silently assess them to see how they are doing. I usually do this by asking them a question which can only be answered using one of the things that we had gone over in previous weeks. If they are able to answer relatively quickly with a proper sentence or a proper grammar point the I consider their understanding and learning a success. I've never actually told them that I was "assessing their knowledge" though to see if they had learned anything. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing. I suppose had I told them then they may have been more inclined to practice and memorize the things we had gone over since they knew I would be asking them questions involving the things we had discussed. But at the same time, by me not telling them I can really see whether or not they have really picked up and can apply the things without too much "memorization" and more just natural instinct and reaction.
I would say around 85% of the time I was pleased with their responses. However there were times that they had forgotten things that we had just learned the week before and that could be because of the aforementioned reason. I'm a little worried about when I will actually teach a class though, because I haven't had any real experience grading or truly assessing my tutoree's so I am worried that I will assess and grade them wrong. Or on the wrong points and not only confuse them because they don't know what I'm asking for/assessing but also possibly make it too difficult. In which case I won’t be truly grading their knowledge and understanding but more like how discouraged and confused they can get. :(
These are all things that I worry about, but they are also things that I will have to figure out and decipher along the way when I am actually doing it first hand in a real classroom setting.

Jennifer Speier said...

Assessment is one of my pet peeves where I am working. Students receive grades for the following: attendance, projects, quizzes, homework, oral interview, participation, and effort and commitment. There is also a final exam. It is frustrating because we aren't given rubrics or guidelines for measuring participation and effort and commitment and together that is 20% of the grade.

Quizzes are made by the teachers and are given at the end of each unit. I try to have a mix of skills on all of my quizzes: reading, writing, listening, grammar, pronunciation. I also try to integrate skills as much as possible.

Our final exams are written by the publishers are there are a lot of mistakes which is really frustrating and just seems unprofessional to me. Whenever we as teachers try to say something needs to be changed, no one listens to us.

The oral interviews are done by staff members. The students are in pairs. They has been little to no standardization in the interview process beyond what aspects we are grading. But the questions asked and the amount of time no. The amount of time is always a problem, teachers conducting the interviews have to get through a whole class in like 30 minutes. Grr.

In the classroom I use lots of concept check questions and I do thumbs up/thumbs down/thumbs to the side to see comfort level on the current topic. I also am using a blog for student reflection. Their answers and the way their answers are written help me assess the progress.

Regardless that their comments are not recent, I would like to respond to something Patrick and Mikayla touched on. My students as well have problems not using complete sentences in written and spoken occasions. This is something that I regularly ... work on.

I accept short answers, but then have the class turn them into long ones. I definitely don't take off points for short verbal responses. Writing has also been a struggle because the rules are either really different in Spanish or the students just don't learn how to write properly. Either way this is a focus in my classes because I know the other teachers don't work on this skill. I start out by explaining the skill and it is something we are conscious about every time there is a writing assignment. But again, this isn't something I would lower a grade for massively.

Jennifer Speier said...

Oh dear. I just realized I wrote all of that and I didn't touch on all the things I needed to.

The program has an initial placement exam and I always do a mini needs assessment for my classes. This helps me see not only were their weaknesses are, but what skills and activities they want to be doing in class; after all, it is their money, I want to make sure I am helping them achieve their goals.

Once our students complete all of the levels of the program, they are taking the Michigan Exam. They are in talks now to change this though, due to price. The results are used to show what level our students are leaving at and where in the program we need to reinforce to raise the level.

We use project based learning at my school so depending on the course, there are definitely performance assessments along the way.

Rubrics are a sore topic....I really try to use rubrics. Last year I had some great ones, but when I came back to the school I forgot to bring them with me and no one else seems to have them, which means I guess that no one else is using them. I have an oral one that I found that suits me well.

Challenges in grading. At my school there is lots of pressure for student retention and passing students. I would say that has been my biggest challenge because I feel the need to up grades to pass students because we don't want them to fail and leave. I do try to be as fair as possible, but I am in no means perfect, whether it is due to time or emotions I know I could become more objective.