Final Entry

It is not an exaggeration when I say that I would be taking TONS and TONS of learnings from EDS 113. The first thing amongst those learnings is about my misconceptions about the word assessment. I entered the class with the thought that assessment is merely an evaluation. I have never thought that this single word could have a great impact on the whole education system. It is amazing to think actually and still blows my mind. The power that this word has and as an educator, I must absorb everything that I have learned in this course. There are loads of information that this course has given and one by one, I will try to incorporate them into my classes. I will start with formative assessment. Honestly, this practice seems very much underrated considering that this has such a great impact in the teaching-learning process. All my years in school and even now that I am working as a teacher, summative ones always seem to be the most salient amongst the assessment practices. I also never knew that an assessment could also be a learning opportunity both for the assessor and assessee. Next is the constructivist approach to assessment. I have encountered this before as a theory of learning, never have I thought that I would encounter this again here in assessment. As I look back in my school years, the constructivist approach in activities I had experienced seemed most fun to do. It might be nervewracking sometimes, especially if they were done individually but with groups, they seemed like all play. The activities become the most memorable ones too when I do a recall. You most remember the moments you’ve done it and that’s very telling that I should let my students do them as well.  I would like to talk about amongst the tons of learning I have acquired from this course is the utilization of TOS and rubrics. Honestly, I have never encountered about TOS. Nobody within my circle, even my friends who are licensed teachers, has told me about it. It’s a foreign concept for me which is a little embarrassing considering its role to an effective assessment. And of course, the rubrics. For “an assessment task with the absence of rubric becomes merely an instructional activity. Another thing is that fairness must also be a constant in a classroom environment and rubrics is one to ensure that. Lastly, the importance of feedback. “Less teaching, more feedback” for my students, especially the feedback for learning. Give the students feedback but also ensure that I am not imposing too much and give them in a manner that still practices their meta-cognition.

When I studied in my first trisem in PTC the courses Theories of Learning and Principles of Teaching, I really thought that that’s the peak of learning in this program. Big words such as “theories”, “principles”, “learning” and “teaching” sold it for me. But upon learning assessment, I can say that I still have much more learn about the education system and its processes. Prior to the course, I really didn’t know that an assessment can be this valuable in the learning-teaching process. Now that I have become more knowledgeable about the implications of using assessment, I now see activities that measure student’s learning as an opportunity for them to learn too. Enhance student’s meta-cognition even when I am gauging their learning.

I really wish for my students to become critical thinkers. Students who can really stand the challenges of the life outside of school. Students who didn’t only learn about my subject but also in the process become independent individuals who will succeed whatever life throws at them and maybe also become gamechanger in their chosen fields. When you really look at education outside, even when I  was just starting in this field, the ultimate goal is to instill as much knowledge about the subject that I was teaching. Clearly, that is not the case now. I need to ensure that they’ll become competent people even outside. I cannot emphasize how important it is that I’ll be able to produce students like these. This is such an important matter that can not be ignored. So much is at stake for it not to be utilized.

Despite the hardship I have experienced under this program, I feel that so much has changed in me. Not just a better teacher but also an individual and I am thankful for that. And in this matter, I wish to extend everything I have learned to my students.

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Why we shouldn’t fear failure

Image result for mistakes

Image from Google.com

Mistakes. Mistakes. Mistakes. 

In the scope of the learning I have gained from Module 6, this is the topic that I am really interested to talk about. I can’t count the number of times I have committed mistakes. Growing up, it is something that I most dread about. My parents aren’t strict but mistakes in our household have its consequences.  In my younger years, I really fear to commit one for the reason that I have imposed upon myself—mistakes mean disappointment from my parents. And honestly, I didn’t like that feeling especially coming from the people that I adore the most.  In school, mistakes mean a long litany from my teachers and embarrassment from my classmates. Nobody really told me growing up that it is okay to fail sometimes. At least that’s what I can remember. A lot of people try to avoid failure for the reason that they don’t want to face its consequences. They want to do something perfectly the first time because it means less work which also means less earning. I am not saying that mistakes must be glorified but it would have been nice if I had someone told me that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself because honestly if I had learned from it then it’s still a win-win situation.

Action.

As a teacher, I really wish to have an environment that is accepting of mistakes. Honestly, in my early years as a teacher, mistakes are what I am trying for my students to evade because of my preconceptions that you wouldn’t really want to deal with its consequences and that it will only add as a burden in your life. Enrolling in PTC has changed a lot of things for me, not only in understanding the world of teaching and learning but as a person as well. And it is what I want to extend to my students. I can start by encouraging more and giving them timely feedback on their performances and works. Tell them what needs improvement but also not forgetting to amplify their progression. I also want to do this not only as a teacher but also a person outside of my work. I have two nieces that I love so much and I hope to be that person for them whom I had wished that I had growing up. A person who reminded them that mistakes are always a lesson and we can all learn from them.

I can speak the local language where I teach and when I ask students why they don’t try to speak in English when talking to me, mostly their answers are they are embarrassed to be the laughing stock when they commit mistakes. I always remind them that it’s okay and that’s how they can learn, by trying. In the future, this is the change that I would want to see with my students. The absence of fear in committing mistakes so that they will be encouraged to try harder. To be honest, since I have enrolled in PTC and applied what I have learned in my class a lot has really changed. Teaching and learning have been a lot more relaxed and fun. I can see the differences now but I still wish to see more of these positive changes soon. I can only try and fail and then try again. 🙂

Constructivist Assessment

I was one of those typical and diligent students. I allocate a big portion of my time when finals week come. My focus is 100% in studying, studying and more studying. I refrain from watching TV and would lock myself in my room for hours. I usually study at night and read and try to remember as much information as I can and then, in the morning, I review all of them. I remember feeling frustrated at times when I can’t memorize certain information. It’s tough because that’s the only thing that the assessment demands. I had no choice but to memorize all the lectures. Aside from a multiple choice, enumeration is the second best choice of my teachers. So, I need to remember again a huge chunk of information. Because of this,  I have developed a way for me to remember faster and it is through following techniques to recall better, e.g I would try to make a tune for a certain sentence and other types of Mnemonics. I also rewrite the important points as it worked for me and made me remember the information better.

As for the non-traditional type of assessment, I or my groupmates would keep on practicing multiple times until we were satisfied or until our free time permits us. We would usually set a special date for these practices. Collaborating; agreeing; disagreeing until finally, we could agree again. The preparation for this assessment really revolves around depending on the tasks we were given; a performance task or a written one.

As a student, what kind of assessment did you prefer to take? What types of
assessment were/are threatening for you? Why?

My personality as an introverted person influenced the type of assessment that I feel comfortable with although I didn’t mind doing performance activities if we were to work in a group. I just didn’t like to be in the spotlight. I prefer doing things behind the scene or accepting minor roles for drama or plays as I didn’t have much confidence back then. Safe to say, a quiet girl like me preferred standardized exams as I like being alone and being responsible solely for myself and blame game was to be avoided. I also enjoyed activities when it is being tied to creativity as I enjoy art, tinkering and building things. On the other hand, assessment which asks me to perform in front of people is the last thing that I enjoy. I didn’t like the attention it demands from me. If it was a performance activity but only my teacher as the audience then I wouldn’t take it hesitantly. My anxiety back then just didn’t sit well with performance-based tasks with a large audience.

As a teacher (if you are), what kinds of assessment do you prefer to give?
Why?

In my classroom, I prefer doing group activities. I will ask them to do a role play or writing tasks which will still be done in groups. As I am teaching an ESL subject, I see fit that performance-based tasks are much more appropriate and effective for them to practice their speaking skills. I usually choose tasks that demand them to open to talk. In my school, standardized tests are a requirement for our midterms and finals. I once asked my head if she would allow me to conduct a performance-based activity for the students instead of giving a final written exam, but for some reason which she hasn’t divulged the reason for her decision, she said no to that idea. Most of my group activities are during my class or for their projects. Honestly speaking, I really want my students to non-traditional assessments for finals. Why? Because I see how my students act towards written exams. They don’t only do it in my subject but the others as well. My school prefers that we give a multiple choice type of exams and what happens is that they usually finish a supposed to be 40-minute exam in 10. They feel indifferent towards these tests. It’s a matter of eenie-meenie. The students don’t even bother opening the questionnaires. It’s a disaster but they my school is nonchalant about it. Let those uninterested students do their thing and focus on the ones that actually give efforts. It’s sad because as an institution, we, the (staff) must all work together to cater to the different needs of our students and clearly, our standardized exams don’t do the job. We still have a long way to go and to be honest, a foreigner teacher like me can only do as much. But a small change is always a start of something bigger. Slowly, maybe, and we’ll get there.

 

What could’ve been and what could be

Last semester I was placed in a similar situation. We were asked to reflect on the reasons why we go to school. Was it to learn, acquire and develop skills or simply just finish school, get a diploma and finally get a job? Did I go to school because I wanted to really learn or I just simply needed to get those grades that would, in the future, reflect the kind of a person I was in the past? These types of questions have made me realize that I had a very different reason to motivate myself in going to school. It felt like the circumstances created in my school environment where to get good grades, finish school with flying colors and finally land a job. Had I known about assessment:

I would have a different feeling towards it learning and school. I would have actually enjoyed more of my time in school rather than having that constant feeling that there is always something to dread. I would have looked forward to going to school every day instead of waking up and feeling like making up excuses just to skip class.

I would have gone to school because I would have realized by then that the things I would learn will be beneficial to me because I have understood their possible implications in my life. I wouldn’t study because I needed those good marks but rather I want to because I know I can and will use these skills in the future once I am out of school. Sometimes, I would question some of the topics in my subjects and why they needed to be learned. I didn’t see them as something of value because they didn’t hold any relevance in my supposedly current life back then and my future.

Had I known assessment, I would have been more focused on the process of learning rather than getting to the end. I would have enjoyed the journey of the learning process and had a deeper understanding of concepts of each lesson and not just general facts.

These are the things that I would have wished for my younger self and now, as a teacher, I would want the same things for my student. It would take so much effort on my part as I am only learning these concepts now and my school doesn’t really have the kinds of assessment. The only salient assessment we have are the summative ones.

As a teacher and currently a learner of this concept, one thing I need to remember is to ALWAYS make this part of my every day teaching experience. Practice it with my students until we both have the mastery of this skill. I believe I should take advantage of assessment. Before enrolling in PTC, I was really a traditional teacher. But now, I try to share the responsibility of learning as much as I can with my students. I don’t simply feed them all the information. I also felt that I have been more creative in my teaching practices and activities; as a result, the students have been more interested in the lessons. There’s also been an improvement in the classroom atmosphere. Slowly, I really wished that as I practice assessment in my everyday classroom situation, my students would too. One step at a time, I guess!

Mini Module: Self- and Peer Assessment

Why do I strongly support the utilization of self- and peer-assessment in learning? The answer is metacognition. I am now in my third trimester in PTC and I have encountered this word more than a couple times and the important role it plays in learning. Metacognition is the process of critically reflecting one’s way of thinking.   Metagconition is only one of the great benefits of using self- and peer assessment but I believe is the main reason of why one should make it a part of their instructional design. Teaching students to critically think entails many positive learning outcomes. They become independent learners thus making them less reliant on the teacher for information. They are able to think by themselves and as a result, this hones their capabilities to be creative in problem-solution tasks. A student who can come up with different alternative solutions will surely do well in a real-life situation because that same student will possibly find multiple ways to overcome a problem in comparison to a student who became too dependent on a teacher in learning thus failing to enhance to develop his creativity. The transfer of knowledge is much more feasible from a student who is a critical thinker.

Enrolling in PTC, Self-and Peer assessment has been a commonality. Rubric is an integral part of the courses. The first time I have encountered them in PTC program, I felt like questioning my professor. “Why is she giving us an additional task to our already piled up to-do-list?” It felt like a burdened that time so I wasn’t really motivated on doing it. But I still continued to assess my peers as it was part of the course and I enjoyed making comments on their work. I also remembered when we were tasked to self-assess. That assessment really baffled me, because prior to that I didn’t have much experience with self-assessment. I was thinking, “Why is my teacher giving me the freedom to score myself? Of course, I would give myself a high rating”. But the opposite clearly happened. I was very hesitant in giving myself a high score. My subconscious was telling me that one way or another, my professors are going to learn that I wasn’t true to the assessment and also that I somehow felt too overly confident of my skills if I was to give myself a high rating. So, what happened was, I gave myself scores that I believed I truly deserved or maybe lower ;).

The same thing also happened to me with peer assessment. I was put in this position between being fair and wanting better scores for my classmates, who are also my friends. In the end, I gave my friends the scores that I think they rightfully deserve.

This just might be one of the many struggles a student may encounter with the use of self- and peer assessment but with the right preparation, clear instructions, well and fair developed criteria from and by the teachers, students will stick to what they believe is true to them because, in the end, they know someone needs to learn something and that learning is more important than falsifying the scores which will only result to their friends not learning at all.

Module 3: Principles and Methods of Assessment

For the most part, for what purposes have you been assessed as a learner?

Honestly, concepts such as metacognition, students as dependent learners, transfer are very new to me. These were never heard of back in my traditional school experiences. The assessment I was always a part of were done under OF learning and sometimes, FOR learning. The assessment OF learning always seemed to be the highlight and the most important part, though I am not saying it was not. Since the assessment of learning and this concept is foreign to me, I can’t really remember if I  was assessed for this purpose. Maybe I was, but at that time my teachers maybe didn’t know what to call it or clearly they failed in sharing this information with us.

After studying this module, in what new light do you perceive the purpose(s) of assessment?

Modules 2 and 3 had changed the way I perceive the word “assessment“. I used to take it in a negative light and was only a mean to somehow measure students’ learning capacity and to rate their intelligence. This conception I had can be partly due to the way assessment was done in my previous assessment experiences. Reading Module 3 made it really clear to me as to how important it is to do an assessment. Assessment is done not only to ensure that goals and objectives have been met but also to teach the students an important learning skill, which I have encountered multiple times when I started taking PTC, and that is metacognition; the ability to self-monitor one’s thinking and the progress of their learning. The introduction of assessment AS learning really solidified the importance of its purpose. We do not only want the students to achieve the learning outcomes but on the process, we also want them to learn to become better at self-monitoring their learning. Assessment AS learning entails that the learning experience for each student becomes personalized. If a student is aware of his/her own learning capacities and gaps then he/she can make adjustments, with the help of the teacher, that is most suitable for her/his learning needs.

Based on your personal experience/s, to what extent do you think have education practitioners purposely aligned assessment with instructional plans/ learning goals and objectives? What consequences do you perceive?

I am fortunate to have had encountered great teachers throughout my student life. Teachers who were successful in sharing and inculcating their knowledge to me. This question raised a bit of confusion, Were my teachers really good at what they were doing because they have aligned assessment? Were they just really good because they have an in-depth understanding of their subject content? Was it also about a mixture of talent and passion? I can’t and really don’t have answers for these. But I believe, if I was to base it on the type of education  I was getting during that time then I can say that my past teachers had utilized aligned assessments. And for those moments where I didn’t have a good grasp of the topics, those were the moments I believe that the purpose of the assessment failed.

Module 2: Assessment Frameworks Essentials

“Assessment is done with the student, not to the student” —-Te Kete Ipurangi

Teaching.Learning.Assessment. Assessment is as just as important as teaching and learning. At this point, I can safely say that assessment is a very important component for an effective and efficient education. Knowledge of the subject and pedagogical content is not sufficient for an effective learning to happen. Assessment should be utilized to serve as a scaffolding to make sure that goals and objectives are thoroughly met. Teaching doesn’t mean that there is always learning. With the help of assessment, these gaps are identified and tend to.

Substantive Insights. One of the most important things I got from this module was from Margaret Heritage. She said that assessment evidence should be about substantive insights. The evidence gathered should tell us what are the students thinking or what are the occurrences inside their heads. That’s why test scores cannot be so much of a basis in making detailed plans for improvements. Although when I look back to my student life, test scores seem to have always been the core of assessment. We underwent these different levels of test, within the school up to the national level, to gauge our knowledge. It seemed that assessment revolved around the results of these exams and that they made these changes and adjustments based on them.

Student Involvement. As much as assessment is done to the students, they shouldn’t be treated as the subject of the “experiment” only. They are much of a part of the planning and decision-making process. This, I guess, what educators mostly overlooked. They tend to forget that students inputs are of value in assessment. If they feel what they say is valued then they will be more motivated to participate in such efforts to identify what they need and should learn next. When they are more willing, this creates an atmosphere of openness thus giving teachers an opportunity have a closer look at their minds.

Feedback. Assessment without feedback becomes meaningless. When there is no feedback, there isn’t also an improvement. The results of the assessment must be discussed with the students. In my own experience, often times when the results are in, teachers tend to only tell the students on what to do next. They say you must do this and that without but forget the part in discussing the why’s and how’s. This action alienates students. It creates an invisible wall. Students don’t feel any attachment in working towards their own progress because teachers fail to create an environment where they feel involved. The data gathered and what to do next should be discussed with the people involved so that further clarifications can be made and also misunderstandings will be avoided.

 

Heritage, Margaret.2013,March 27.Formative Assessment for Middle School: Gathering and Analyzing Evidence.Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhL_sQwGl5c&list=PL9s6JUcLAVlAf7tEFUOyw4QWH0HMzm-D5&index=40