Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: Assessment – A Celebration of Learning!
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Slice of Life: Assessment – A Celebration of Learning!

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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.

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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!!!

 

 

10 Comments
  • Avatar
    Kevin Hodgson
    Posted at 10:08h, 28 June Reply

    Nice connections to eating and learning … yum
    Kevin

  • Avatar
    Kathleen Sokolowksi
    Posted at 10:26h, 28 June Reply

    Love this post! “Assessment” does strike me as judgmental and without heart, but I know that is not the case, especially reading what you wrote here today. It’s natural and informative and helpful. Now how to make school assessment feel that way? I think teacher evaluations linked to assessments and report cards are one thing to rethink…final, heavy judgments on what is an on-going process. Happy Summer to you ladies!

  • Avatar
    Terje
    Posted at 10:42h, 28 June Reply

    It would have been a rather unpleasant experience if you would have been left on your own and people would have watched and judged you. Assessment for learning sounds supportive rather than judgmental. Happy Summer!

  • Avatar
    Diane Dougherty
    Posted at 12:08h, 28 June Reply

    Enjoy the summer!
    I love that you made the connection to assessment in your post bout dining on blue crabs. It is an unfortunate truth that “assessment” conjures up so many negative emotions and memories of being evaluated and found incompetent or barely competent. Those of us who are of a “certain age” remember only evaluations, never assessments. The difference (to me) is that when we assess we are monitoring and informing instruction. As a beginning writer (even in college) I don’t recall feedback during the process, only after a piece was submitted.
    Anyway, I will look forward to reading your posts again in September.

  • Avatar
    Amy
    Posted at 12:18h, 28 June Reply

    Oh yes! I love hard shell crabs. They are a summer tradition for my family. I’m glad you know how to eat and enjoy them. Such a clever post. Thanks for sharing! ~Amy

  • Avatar
    Linda Baie
    Posted at 13:06h, 28 June Reply

    Have a lovely rest of summer! On your own, it might have been a loss of the experience of eating those wonderful crabs. Love this: ” We wish assessment was viewed more as an opportunity model – the opportunities ahead of us. Assessment should be a celebration of next steps.” I think that it helps to think of assessment coming from many, teachers, friends, peers in the classroom, and hoping it’s helpful to progress.

  • Avatar
    Tara
    Posted at 14:03h, 28 June Reply

    I love the way you connect the dots between life and education. Those crabs look delicious! Enjoy your break!

  • Avatar
    Cathy
    Posted at 02:24h, 29 June Reply

    Oh, this post made me hungry for crab.

    Then I got past that to concentrate on your important message. This: “We wish assessment was viewed more as an opportunity model – the opportunities ahead of us.”

    Cathy

  • Avatar
    Gina Ralston
    Posted at 23:55h, 01 July Reply

    I love your analogy! Assessment is often given a bad name, but it’s not a bad thing! How will we know what students can and can’t do until they show us on their own? Thank you so much for sharing this!!

  • Avatar
    Matt Renwick
    Posted at 18:05h, 21 July Reply

    A simple yet powerful post about the importance of formative assessment in guiding students to become independent learners. Well done!

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