Monthly Archives: November 2014

Evaluations for Multiple Intelligences

In Chapter 13 of Classroom Assessment in Action, Sherman writes about multiple intelligences theory and how it can impact instruction and assessment. Examples of intelligences include auditory, visual, musical, special, mathematical, and kinesthetic.

In thinking about instruction to different intelligences, concepts can be presented in different methods specific to the intelligence. For example, when teaching the concept of diffusion to my Life Science class, I presented it in a variety of ways. Diffusion is the movement of particles from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration. First, I verbally gave the definition while showing a picture of what diffusion is on the projector. These methods covered auditory and visual. Next I had the students get out of their seats and grouped most of them to represent high concentration and then put one student by herself. One by one the students from the high concentration group walked over to the one student, representing the process of diffusion. This method would appeal to the kinesthetic learners.

The same could be done for evaluation or assessment of multiple intelligences. The normal method of assessment is by paper and pencil with words but sometimes pictures with students having to identify parts of the picture or having to draw a picture of the concept. Rarely do we give students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, kinesthetically, for example. This mostly has to do with time and practicality. Evaluating students this way would need to be done one by one which is impractical. From my written test, I wonder how many of my students who got the multiple choice questions wrong about diffusion, would have gotten it correct of they were able to demonstrate it by drawing a picture or grouping students together and moving them. I may have to ask them…

Shermis, M.S. & DeVesta, F.L. (2011). Classroom Assessment in Action. Rowen & Littlefield.

Shermis, M.S. & DeVesta, F.L. (2011). Classroom Assessment in Action. Rowen & Littlefield.

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Looking at MAP Scores of 7th Graders

Quality Schools International (QSI) uses Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) to assess students in Language Arts and Math. MAP assessment measures student growth in an area over time. This assessment is a computer adaptive test.   This means the computer adjusts the difficulty of the questions for the student. Each question is based on how the student answered the previous questions, so each test is tailored to each student.

I will focus on the MAP scores for Informational Text for reading from September 2014 for 7th graders. This helps me to see how these students are reading their Life Science textbook. I am aware that the lower scoring students will not retain the information that they read in the text. This means I may need to help this by asking or posting questions before they read or I will have them write down important words or definitions from the text.

There are thirteen 7th graders for the Reading MAP results. I have all of these students in my Life Science class. Of these students, two have very low scores, both of them are at 1-4% reading level compared to other students their age. One of the students is at the 97-99% level in reading compared to others in 7th grade. A large portion of the students are at the 19-38% level compared to other students at their grade level.

In conclusion, it was very helpful for me to look at these MAP reading scores for the 7th grade students in my Life Science class. I am aware of some students who may need help in understanding the text book when they read it and I am aware of a couple of students who may need extra challenges so that they are not bored in class.

Evaluations Based on Grades and State Testing

“What grade did you get?… That was an easy test… I just can’t seem to get good grades in this course. The use of good or bad in speaking about scores received implies a restricted notion of what the grades mean. These perceptions of grades reflect the limited meanings attached to them by stakeholders, but more important for our purposes here is that such attitudes surrounding grades reflect the need for understanding the way they are arrived at as well as understanding that they are communicative devices intended to provide information to the student and other stakeholders about progress.” (Shermis, 2011, p. 364).

This quote from Classroom Assessment in Action reflects what we tend to think about when mentioning the word “grades”. Students tend to be more concerned about the grade than if real learning took place. What Shermis tries to stress in this chapter is that many factors are involved in grades and before we come to conclusions we need to understand the factors that have gone into each grading situation.

Thus, the use of student grades as a factor in evaluating teachers is complicated. If the meanings and factors surrounding the grades of the students can be communicated, then it may be used to evaluate a teacher. But if a teacher is just being evaluated by the grades of their students without any background or meaning, then it would not be a good way to evaluate the teacher.

I think the same way about using state test results to evaluate a school district. If I am to evaluate a school district, I would look at the state test results but that would only be one factor in my evaluation. I would like to know more about the students and the district so that more meaning and understanding can be given to the state tests.

In conclusion, grades and state testing must be understood in a given context in order to use them for evaluation purposes.

Shermis, M.S. & DiVesta, F.J. (2011). Classroom Assessment in Action. Lanham, MD: Rowan &            Littlefield.

H3 Reflection and Observation of Class Management

H3 – Honor the classroom/school community as a milieu for learning. To me, H3 means that the classroom and the wider school community is a place for learning, for teachers as well as students.

Classroom management is a vital component of our job as teachers. I was able to observe a teacher in our school community and see the principles I have been learning in class come to life in a classroom. Of particular interest to me was how she dealt with disruptions. When one student was disrupting the class, she moved close to the student while she kept instructing. This is known as proximity and the disruption stopped. Next, a student was giving an answer and the room was not quiet so we could not hear her. The teacher replied in an empathetic voice, “I am so sad that the other students have forgotten how important you are.” Fay and Funk confirm the use of empathy and using it to draw attention to the classes’ behavior (2009, p. 163). In this case, the teacher was implying that the class was not being kind to their fellow student by not being quiet and listening to her.

I have used proximity in my classroom and find it effective in minimizing the disruption, while allowing the continuation of instruction or an activity. While observing, I was able to see the use of empathy as it relates to classroom behavior. With each of these strategies, student learning was not disrupted, but in fact enhanced as empathy shows students the feelings others may have when we don’t listen well to them. The next time in my classroom when others are not listening to a fellow student while giving an answer, I hope to use this strategy.

In conclusion, the school community for my internship is a rich resource for learning. By observing other teachers, I can see principles of class management in action that helps me understand them better and inspire me to implement them in my classroom.

Fay, J. & Funk, D. (1995). Teaching with Love and Logic. Golden, CO: The Love and Logic Press.

The Practical Use of Surveys for KWL in Life Science

In Classroom Assessment in Action, Shermis (2011, p. 324) introduces a helpful instructional memory device known as KWL. KWL refers to:

Before learning, K – what do students KNOW about a topic

During learning, W – what do students WANT to know about a topic

After learning, L – what do students LEARN about a topic

In order to get the information that is helpful in these 3 areas, we can use surveys for assessment purposes. For instance, before I began the unit on cells in my Life Science class, I asked the students what they knew about cells.  I wrote what the students shared on the board and it gave me a better picture of where each student was in terms of knowing this topic.

During learning, it is important that we as the teacher receive feedback and assess our students’ progress in learning the unit objectives and then also our effectiveness in teaching the topic. Many kinds of informal assessments can be given during this time to find out what we need as teacher to determine if we need to review again or teach the information in another way. An informal survey could be asking the students by a show of hands if: 1) the topic is still fuzzy (still do not understand fully) or 2) they understand it and can explain it. We want our students to understand and if they do not, we need to know this in order to change our strategy for learning the topic.

Shermis (2011, p. 335) tells us that assessment during learning is similar to assessment after learning but is different in that students are looking at what they have learned. After our unit on cells, I made a survey for my Life Science students asking to reflect on their learning and give me feedback. These are the three questions I asked:

  • Which was your favorite activity this unit?
  • Which activity should be changed, added or deleted from this unit?
  • How long did you spend studying for the unit test (approximately)?

Surveys and inventories are valuable tools to help we as teacher to assess where students knowledge is located for a specific topic. I hope to keep learning better ways to use them well in my classroom.

Shermis, M.S. & DiVesta, F.J. (2011). Classroom Assessment in Action. Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield.

The Relevance of Essay Questions for my Life Science Class

I teach at Quality Schools International (QSI) in Sarajevo, Bosnia. QSI distinguishes between A-level learning and B-level learning by how students can use the information they have learned. B-level questions on a unit test are those that test to see if the student has mastered the learning objectives for that unit. A- level questions on a unit test show the teacher that the student has not only mastered the learning objectives, but that they can also use that information and apply it to another situation.

I use essay questions in my unit tests to see how students can apply their learning to new situations. An example of this is a question from my last test in which students learned about photosynthesis and also cellular respiration. The essay question was this:

Suppose a volcano threw so much ash into the air that it blocked much of the sunlight. How might this event affect the ability of animals to obtain energy to live?

Other essay questions I may use will ask the students to compare or contrast two processes. I may also ask their opinion of what is the most important part of a process or a part of a cell and why they answered the question in that way.

Essay questions play an important part in my assessments because I can find out how the students are thinking and how they can think about information when asked to apply it to a new situation (Shermis, 2011, p. 192). I want to know their opinion and give them an opportunity to show me their thought process and creativity.

Shermis, M.S. & DiVesta, F.J. (2011). Classroom Assessment in Action. Lanham, MD: Rowan &    Littlefield.

Shermis, M.S. & DiVesta, F.J. (2011). Classroom Assessment in Action. Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield.