28 Jun Slice of Life: Assessment – A Celebration of Learning!
Last week we were in Maryland. We planned on eating blue crabs. We didn’t plan on receiving small group instruction on how to eat a blue crab.
First we were assessed:
- Have you eaten blue crabs before?
- Do you mind a bit of work for your meal?
- Where are you from?
- Do you get grossed out by eating lobster?
Then we were matched:
- You will order a half dozen –three each. You do not have the stamina for a dozen.
- You will order medium – you will never make it through colossal.
After that we received explicit instruction:
- First brown paper was laid out
- Then we were given a wooden mallet, a plastic knife and a fork
- The waitress modelled how to open and eat the claws and then watched us
- Then she modelled how to open and eat the body and watched us do one
This was followed by coaching from the side:
- People around us couldn’t resist giving us feedback and tips
- May I? was often asked as those seated around us offered suggestions
- We even received feedback on the use of the mallet – too hard or not hard enough
As we reflected on this experience we realized that instruction and assessment were inseparable. We were assessed throughout and we never felt judged or evaluated. The feedback we received did not make us feel badly. In schools, assessment and feedback is often perceived as a deficit model – what is wrong or weak. We wish assessment was viewed more as an opportunity model – the opportunities ahead of us. Assessment should be a celebration of next steps.
In many aspects of life, assessment is presented as an opportunity model. We believe we need to examine why it does not feel this way in many schools. As the adults, we have the power to define the role of assessment and how it is presented to our students. We all know we need feedback to meet our goals – it is essential to learning. Assessment will always be a part of our students’ lives. We hope to continue to put it in perspective and encourage students to seek and give feedback. We want them to view assessment as a part of learning – a helpful tool rather than a harsh criticism. We think it is all in how we go about it. We would love to hear your perspective!
Tammy and Clare
We will be taking a break from blogging during the months of July and August to work on some other projects. See you in September!!!