Monday, July 22, 2013

Assessment Insights Thanks to Summer School

I'm posting today a bit later than usual because I was busy working on my report cards. The report card template we are using in summer school is different from the Ministry of Education ones we use during the year. It is only a page long, with one comment box for the teacher and a smaller one for the student. Completing these report cards were not as onerous or taxing as it usually is in November, February, and June. I wondered why, besides the obvious, and came up with a few reasons.

1) Assessment was a daily practice.

Every day, I brought the students' notebooks home with me to examine. Even if I wasn't planning on marking any of their assignments, I'd peek to see how far they had progressed in major tasks. I'd write a comment or a question on their pages and return them. It was gratifying to see how some of the students, immediately upon entering the class, would flip through their notebooks to see what changes and additions had been made. Because it became a habit, spending time perusing the wiki or their notebooks seemed like a natural part of the day.

2) Small class sizes made assessment quicker.

Sixteen students - what a great size to manage! Knowing I didn't have thirty to process meant that I could spend more time reading and thinking.

3) Re-visiting assessments provided evidence of changes in understanding.

Some of my students chose to re-do selected assignments because they didn't comprehend the task the first time. With a half-day of instruction, that granted me a half-day of time to have a second look at work that I might have already deemed "finished" and remark it.

4) Stress wassn't as high in the summer.

My husband has remarked on how much I appear to love teaching summer school. It's a change of pace, a new challenge with delightful students and new staff members. I don't have to worry about many meetings, or team gatherings, or extra duties. When I feel relaxed, I don't mind doing work related to something enjoyable, even marking.

Which of these reasons could I apply to my September-June teaching situation (otherwise known as "regular school" or "normal school" to my students)? I can't make every class a small one and I can't change the report card format, but I can make an effort to put aside time every day to reflect, return to old assignments, and assess. Keeping me happy might also mean I'd be more likely to mark with a smile on my face instead of a scowl.

This is my final week of summer school - Friday, July 26, 2013 will be the last day. I'll miss these students and spending my summer like this. I'll add some more photos to this post, not related to assessment but just as another opportunity to share our activities.

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