ECS 410

Week one: Assessment in the classroom means doing somethingwii for the purpose of evaluation. There are many potential reasons a teacher would implement assessment into their class which is why there are an abundance of aims for having assessments. One potential aim for assessing at the beginning of a term or semester would be for diagnostic purposes, as teachers may want an indication of how much prior knowledge on subject material students may have. Assessment may occur throughout a term or semester to evaluate whether students are actually learning what the teacher is instructing, but also for teachers to have an indication on what they may need to allot more time for. Teachers can also use assessment to indicate to themselves whether their lessons are effective or if they need to be altered if a large portion of the class does not understand something after a lesson on it.

Week two: There are lots of reasons for a teacher to assess in the classroom, most of them are student-oriented (as they should be), but there are also a few not so student-oriented reasons for assessing as well. The main reasons- and student-focused reasons- for implementing assessment into classrooms is so students can receive some kind of feedback on how they are progressing throughout a course. Assessments early on in a course can assist students by indicating where they may have areas they need to improve upon and allows for students to make the decision to seek out help before the term is complete. Teacher may also implement assessment for other reasons to benefit students. If group work is assigned and the teacher thinks it would benefit the students being in groups that are at similar levels in their learning, it may be beneficial for teachers to conduct an assessment in order to classify students into groups. One reason that isn’t so student-oriented for teachers to assess is for feedback for themselves. Teachers can often use assessment as not only how well students are learning, but how well teachers are teaching. For example, if a teacher spends 3-4 class periods discussing and practicing Pythagorean’s Theorem, but only 10% of the class demonstrates on an assessment that they understand then there is a possibility that the lessons were ineffective for the class or the assessment doesn’t reflect the practice.

Week four: This weeks reading called “What Meaningful Feedback Looks Like” provides an analysis on what it means to have meaningful assessments and feedback opposed to giving feedback that doesn’t actually help the student. The article notes that in order for feedback to be meaningful, that the assessment itself must also be meaningful and worthy of feedback. This is something I never really thought of before as I always felt that an individual can use feedback to improve upon anything and that anything worthy a person can do is worthy of feedback. Where I struggle with this idea is that I don’t understand why a teacher would assign an activity that isn’t worth assessment. To me having students do assignments that can’t be used to improve upon their skills seems pointless. Another point this article touched on was establishing clear learning goals, and one of the recommendations on how to do this includes providing students with examples of successful assignments to assist them with knowing the expectations for an assignment. This point I really appreciated as a student, as I find when teachers do this I am able to understand what is expected of me from assignment much better.

One thing that I never really thought about prior to the readings is that students may also need help receiving feedback. I never really thought about how students receive feedback differently from each other, and that some students must be taught how to receive feedback. This made me think of my own personal experiences with teacher feedback, as I actually rarely ever looked at the feedback teachers gave me throughout high school and even when I did I never really saw feedback as useful information. More or less, as a high school student feedback was only helpful for that particular assignment in my eyes. I cannot think of one time throughout my school career where a teacher attempted to help me see the value in feedback and therefore I went through all of my school career never really understanding why feedback was given in the first place.

One thing that I disagree with in the reading is the idea that receiving feedback from peers is more welcomed among student, opposed to feedback from teachers. I don’t often like to admit it but to me when a peer in my class gives me constructive feedback, I sometimes have the tendency to feel offended or threatened. This may be due to the fact that I may think too highly of myself and I don’t like to feel like I’m wrong, but this is the case. However, when a teacher provides me with feedback I am able to internalize this much better as I know that feedback is one important aspect to a teacher’s job.

Week Five:

Assessment is an integral part of the education system, but sometimes there can be a disconnect between what is taught in class and how students are assessed. For instance, one popular method of assessing in North America is standardized testing. While standardized tests have their place in the education system, especially at an academic level, it is important to impliment different types of assessment that will make all learners comfortable. That isn’t to say that we should just do away with standardized tests all together, as they are useful especially in education beyond K-12. For instance, one probably would agree that there is a certain set of knowledge that a doctor should know prior to practicing as a doctor. Another reason for standardized testing is to see how students preform relative to their peers. However, this is a problem as standardized tests will invariably contain information that may not be discussed in class.

This is why it is so important to implement different assessments into the classroom as different students respond in different ways to different epistomolgies, and that is what was touched on in the two articles. There are many different theories on how students learn, some students learn best in Behaviourist Theory, Positivist Learning Theory, Socio-cultural Theory of Learning, Constructivist theory or Cognitive Constructivist Theory of learning. 

Week Six:

On this weeks blogpost one of the prompts was have I struggled with a “less traditional” form of assessment, and following being graded on these blogposts, I would just absolutely love to talk about how I’m currently struggling with a non-traditional, and therefore, unspecific and too generalized form of assessment. Throughout my whole years of grade school most of the assessment I have had were very straightforward, these assessments had goals to work towards and very clear expectations- which is something beneficial to the well-thought-out traditional approach to assessment that is still being used after decades of practice. This is significant when speaking of less traditional forms of assessment, as the teacher would not necessarily know if this form of assessment would work without the prior practice. Tests, essays, assignments with rubrics and clear expectations can be assumed to work, as they are traditional. However, even the traditional approach to assessment may not necessarily work with all students, but there is a much better chance of the students being adjusted to this type of assessment. This is why it is so essential for the teacher to consider what is the best form of assessment for the class and make adjustments if needed.

In the article ‘The Trouble With Rubrics’ by Alfie Kohn, he argues that rubrics aren’t good because they produce grades and that research shows that students “tend to think less deeply, avoid taking risks, and lose interest in the learning itself” when they are graded. I would argue that there needs to be research done on students who aren’t graded and the quality of work that they produce. Speaking from personal program I wanted to be in. I would argue that abolishing the grading system is a very harmfulexperience, grades were an external motivator as I wanted to achieve high grades. I especially wanted to achieve high grades in my later years of high school to show to universities that I was a capable student and that I should be admitted into the idea as society still places a significant emphasis on grades. Top universities aren’t looking for students that get check marks for completing a task. I wouldn’t want a doctor whose acceptance into medical school was on the basis of a task simply completed.

ECS 210

Week One: “The Problem of Common Sense” is an article pertaining to what it means to teach using your “common sense.” This article explains the experiences of a woman going over to another country that has a very different way of conducting the school day than the traditional western way that she attended school in, and is expected to implement these favoured “common sense” ways about doing school. The real problem about using “common sense” to teach in a classroom is that it caters to only one demographic that is the most privileged. This is important to recognize when teaching a diverse classroom of children as it’s important to recognize what children are being privileged though the teaching of this information.

Week two: Apparently the traditionalist approach to curriculum is very common in high schools in North America, which makes sense because I remember in both of the high schools I attended many teachers used this approach. Even in University, many professors use this same approach. I remember a few practice assignments throughout a course until the very last few weeks of school and then suddenly having what felt like 100 assignments due all at once. This is exactly what the seventh and last step of R.W. Tyler’s procedure for a traditionalist approach to curriculum. The seventh step of Tyler’s approach states that a teacher must “determine of what to evaluate and the ways and means of doing it.” This is why many teachers in high school still do final exams to this day- as they follow a traditionalist perspective. This perspective has both positives and negatives associated with it. The best part about a traditionalist perspective is that students are somewhat comfortable with this approach as it has been the common practice of teachers for many years. Students can feel comfortable that there is some sense of predictability even when taking a new class with a new teacher as the two teacher’s approaches shouldn’t differ that much. However, there are also negatives aspects of using this approach to a curriculum. A large portion of assessment tends to take place at the end of the curriculum instead of throughout as it is the last step in the traditionalist approach to curriculum. Students have the possibility of feeling overwhelmed with the amount of assessment at the end of a semester. This also prevents students from having the opportunity to having an indicator of where they nee extra assistance prior to the end of the year with the lack of assessment throughout a curriculum.

Week Four: When people think about the ideal student and what it means to be a good student they usually privilege a certain type of student. When you hear the words “good student,” a specific person may even come to mind, as usually there are certain characteristics that make up a “good student.” Typically “good students” follow expectations and orders, and also receive good grades in the process of responding to what is expected of them. The fact that certain characteristics apply to “good students” is complicating and causes a lot of pressure for both the student and the teacher. It applies pressure to the student to conform to what society wants from them- to exhibit the characteristics of being a good student (although some students are not capable of exhibiting these characteristics), but also applies a tremendous amount of pressure on the teacher to “produce this type of student” (Kumashiro, 2010).

Students often resist learning new things if the learning does not align with their prior knowledge on a certain subject. It is important to have students reflect upon this in their learning to help the teacher identify why their beliefs are the way they are, and help the student understand where their beliefs come from. If a student is not meeting the standards set out by society, it is important to identify why they are not meeting these standards. Students may not be meeting standards due to feeling uncomfortable with their learning, as all students learn in different ways. This is important for the teacher to identify as the teacher would not want to favour certain ways of learning and in turn oppress other ways of learning.

Week Five: In this week’s article Learning From Place by Jean-Paul Restoule, Sheila Gruner, and Edmund Metatwabin details out a research project on Mushkegowuk and the significance of location in their community. This research paper uses information acquired on a ten-day river trip with youth, adults, and elders from the Mushkegowuk community and focuses on the importance of the river within the community. The reason for this paper seeks to understand the ‘critical pedagogy of place’ to identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments and to identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places. This is done through storytelling, and the sharing of information from the people in the community on this ten-day river voyage.

The purpose of the ten-day river voyage inherently is involved with reinhabitation and decolonization. Throughout the paper many people from the Mushkegowuk community have the opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences with the river. This alone promotes inhabitation, as this is a way of identifying, recovering, and creating a space that assists in a healthy environment. All of the people whose experiences with the river were mentioned throughout the article have positive experiences with the river. Identifying these positive experiences educates others of the importance of this river on the members of their community. These stories, specifically from the elders in this community, can assist in educating the other members in the community to utilize the river in the best way possible. 

These stories also assist in identifying the best decolonization methods for implementation. For example, one statement from a community member from Fort Albany, First Nations identifies the impact that colonization had on their community’s language: “So you use paquataskamik if you are fluent (in Cree) and if you are a young kid you use noscheemik … they confuse, they’re not saying it properly. That’s too high a word for them so they just use the simple word, noscheemik.” This is one of the impacts that residential schools have had on the Fort Albany First Nation’s community. Identifying these implications of colonization assists in decolonization. 

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