Tag: formative assessment

Student Voice: Taking Interest so We Can Facilitate Action

Student Voice: Taking Interest so We Can Facilitate Action

As we begin to reflect on community spaces,  we did a deep dive into our community space of our classroom. In one of my previous posts, A Journey Into Design Thinking To Tackle Classroom Challenges, I confessed that I needed to go back to the “drawing board” and collect more ideas from the students so I can transform the challenge of”managing them” and more on empowering them with our learning environment. This is definitely a shift from my former thinking as a classroom teacher as I work on developing my student-centered learning environment and an “innovator’s mindset”.

Innovation starts not by providing answers but by asking questions.

-George Curous- #Innovator’s Mindset

So, I created a provocation with a Google Slide presentation of different interesting classroom spaces that I found from the internet and also included some environments from our own school. Then I asked the students to draw sketches of what they thought our learning space should look like. Yes, there were some students who wanted to put in a nerf gun obstacle course and jumping castle inside our classroom–they are 1st graders with lovely imaginations– but through questioning and dialogue, I was able to determine what elements of the learning space were important to them. I was also able to get some formative assessement of what their understanding of our central idea is, Community spaces provide opportunities to connect, as it related to our community of learning.

It was delightful to discuss with them what they felt we needed for our learning spaces and why they personally needed them. Some of the conversations made me laugh, others surprised me with their insight and awareness, while others made me feel a bit disappointed. Here are some of the ideas that came up during my interviews:

  • Have a space for relaxation so that students should take a rest. (3 votes for hammocks!)
  • Big whiteboards that we (the students) can write on.
  • Have our ‘own space’ and an ‘everyone space’
  • A place for some free choice.
  • We can eat inside the classroom.
  • A space just for computers.
  • A ‘mini’ makerspace.
  • More artwork displayed in our class.
  • Students should teach more.
  • A tent as a meeting area.
  • Pleasant smelling flowers. Plants in the room.

As I reflect on these conversations,  two things stood out to me: firstly, a desire to be trusted and given “space”, and how their ideas closely mirrored the elements of a learning space that are suggested from The Space: A Guide for Educators: spaces for collaboration, creation, showcasing learning, and quiet.

Image from the book: The Space: A Guide for Educators 

So as we move forward on this journey, I really want to facilitate students’ initiative to take ownership of their learning space and cultivate their interest in co-designing it. As I tune into their ideas, I will continue to collect data from them, finding out what’s essential for them to feel comfortable and confident. While this is just a beginning, there is something that is exciting about making changes to our classrooms, especially as I think about the cultural shift that is occurring through this process. I feel hopeful that when our students really feel listened to and their ideas valued, becoming more responsible for the classroom and our learning community is a natural outcome and not something that must be “taught” or “managed”.  I believe that when we, as teachers, show through our actions and words that we trust students, they rise to the challenge and have a desire to be co-designers and collaborators in their own learning.

What experience do you have with this? I’d love to hear your ideas and gain your insights! Please make a comment.

 

Teaching with Intention: 4 Ways for Improving Formative Assessment

Teaching with Intention: 4 Ways for Improving Formative Assessment

I’ve been binge watching webinars by Dr. Dylan Williams, and if you don’t know who that is, well am I glad you came to my blog because I am going to share of some of his techniques for embedded formative assessment. His ideas have really made me take pause when it comes to assessment for learning in my classroom. There’s no way I could distil all his wisdom into this blog post but I will offer you 4 techniques that he has shared in one of his recent books on assessment.

  1. Plan your questions!  Questions should be clearly focused and link to the key concepts of the lesson. The questions should be worth asking and answering. Those questions should “hinge” on the direction that the learning needs to go next.
  2. No hands up, except to ask a question. This can be a powerful technique in improving student engagement. With this strategy, you ask the question first, then pick a student at random. Picking students at random can be as simple as using Popsicle sticks with student names on it (put the names BACK into the container though so they don’t think that their turn is over and they disengage), or using a tool like Class Dojo which can randomly select students (although awarding points for their answer is not necessarily encouraged).
  3.  Wait! And Wait AGAIN! After posing a question, give it a 3-5 second pause. Dr. Williams suggests that you let the students know that you are providing them more time to think so that students don’t rush and give more thoughtful answers. And then after a student answers, give wait time again so that students can reflect on the idea given. As teachers we shouldn’t be in a hurry to validate or correct answers. We should allow students the opportunity to respond to the idea shared.
  4. Avoid questions altogether. It has been suggested that asking questions shuts down discussion because there is a “right” and “wrong” answer. So, if you have reluctant learners, sometimes its best to provide a statement and have students evaluate the idea and give justifications for their response. For example: “Donald Trump claims that the election is rigged.”  Right now, especially if you are an American, you began to think whether you agree or disagree with that statement. You can imagine how discussion could ensue from this statement, right?!

So hopefully these ideas will elicit some inspired action in your classroom this week. And if you can’t do them all, then what can you do? What is one small step, one idea, that you can take to improve how your generate and use formative assessment in your classroom?

 

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Judy Imamudeen

Judy Imamudeen

Developing learners as leaders is my joy! As a highly qualified International Baccaluearate (IB) teacher and educational leader, I am committed and passionate about executing its framework and empowering students in creating a future world that works for everyone.

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