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 Three: “In a digital, media driven, globalized world, educators are faced with the challenge of mediating traditional notions of what it means to be literate with new and Ever emerging skills and interests in technology and digital media.” Teachers are Challenged with assessment for “new literacies” do you leave, as assessment for a traditional literacies such as reading and writing print these texts is far easier because of the familiarity of it. “New literacies,” Such as understanding image, sound, gesture, movement, and text, is important for teachers to assess, as it is more common for an individual to be interacting with technology is a form of literacy today. Using technology opposed to print base literacies requires a different mode for creating meaning, which is why it is so essential for teachers to introduce multi media literacy modes into the classroom and to be assessing how comfortable and successful a student is while interacting with multi media literacies. Unfortunately, in my experiences through elementary and high school, I don’t remember any teacher doing any lessons that pertain to the practice of multimedia literacies. In my experience, I feel as though teachers and educators expect students to have an understanding of how to make sense of information communicated through multimedia as long as their students can make sense of information communicated through print-based texts.

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.

Week Seven: Tim R. Claypool and Jane P. Preston argue that the necessary steps to incorporate learning and assessment techniques that parallel to aboriginal worldviews could be one way to assist in Canada’s interests for improving the education for aboriginal people. Claypool and Preston argue that while westernized worldviews are very rigid and structured, an aboriginal worldview would be a more holistic approach – using the example of the medicine wheel to demonstrate the connectivity of all aspects of life. So when aboriginal groups of people were asked how students can be more successful throughout school, the aboriginal participants took more of a holistic approach. The grandparents representatives in the aboriginal culture, as well as the representatives from aboriginal organizations both emphasized a holistic approach. Both groups argued that for students to be successful, first students must have a sense of self or a sense of belonging for them to feel comfortable in their learning. Students must feel comfortable in their environment before they can actively take part in their learning. This can be challenging for aboriginal students if their worldview isn’t being considered in the teachers approach to teaching the curriculum content, as well as the teachers approach to assessment. This not only makes me consider aboriginal students worldview, but the worldview and the class experiences of all students in a classroom. With that in mind, somethings I would ask my co-op teacher in regards to assessment would be:

  1. How would you ensure all students feel comfortable in your classroom before learning takes place?
  2. How would you ensure students are comfortable, what are the indicators of a student feeling as though they “belong?” If a student didn’t show these indicators, would they be assessed differently?
  3. How do you make assessments that align with all your student’s worldviews? Have you created different ways to assess for different students?

Week ten: As the Canadian population increases through immigration, our public institutions are becoming increasingly more diverse. With more social diversity, as students tend to differ in socioeconomic status, the needs for students also become more diverse. For example, a Student who was born in a Third World country, whose first language is not English will have very different educational needs in comparison to one of their peers, who may be Canadian born and the Balkan the English language their entire life. This is where the educational approach of differentiation comes in. Differentiated instruction is instruction that is specifically tailored to different students, or a group of students, needs in mind. Well teachers can use the approach of differentiation for instruction, teachers can also use this approach and how they conduct assessment. In order for differentiation to be successful, the teacher must consistently be assisting and responding to their student’s work. Teachers must assess to identify their students strengths, and respond by creating assessments that would ensure the students and being successful using their strengths. This requires a lot of work, as a teacher must always be observing and listening to their student’s needs to make adjustments which can be challenging in a class of more than 25 students.

With that being said, I think one way my philosophy for assessment has shifted is that I used to believe that there was a “correct way” to assess different lessons, but I now believe that there isn’t a correct way to assess lessons, but there is a correct way to assess each individual learner. Teachers must be tentative to each of their students’ needs so they can have a differentiated approach to assess student success. And part of being attentive to their students, teachers must be aware of the different worldviews present in their class, which is proposed in Claypool and Prestons article. Being aware of different students’ worldviews will assist in what kinds of assessment will be used in the classroom, assumptions require a less traditional approach to assessment, and other students will be more comfortable with traditional forms of assessment, such as testing.

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. 

Week six: Curriculum policy and politics of what we should learn in school speaks on the issue of mandatory classes, optional classes, and the outcomes and expectations for teachers instructing classes. School curriculum and what needs to be taught in schools has always been a subject for discussion, as many people value different subject areas more than others. Many educators do not necessarily agree with what is being taught in schools, and how it should be taught. However, it leaves them with little option to choose what they would like to teach as public policy dictates what will be learned in the classroom. “Public policy is about the rules for seizures governing public sector activities,” (Levin, 8) and and this would include schools and how they function. Policies are created on a certain authoritative level, and usually the view of the leads are taken into consideration when implementing new policies, but voter interest is also important when it comes to policy making. The popular opinion of those votes is usually what is implemented, as many governments don’t have any interest in going against the popular opinion and risk being voted out. However it is not necessarily an easy task for politicians to implement policies that everyone agrees with, as many people hold inconsistent beliefs or values that are compatible with other beliefs. This is the problem with school policy, as many peoples opinions contradict with their other opinions. For example “people can be in favour of more testing” and simultaneously be in favour of “more creativity” to ideas that contradict each other.

Week seven: Teachers are meant to teach aboriginal perspectives at this time and do not know how to. He just must be aware of the Socio economic differences that make up the classroom and have the capability to educate all students on what causes these differences. Dwayne Donald speaks to this, as his family’s reserve was disbanded after treaty signing to “benefit” and colonialism and settling in that area. The Canadian government did not want the reserve land to interfere with their plans for a city, so therefore Donalds belongs to a community that is no longer in existence due to the development of Edmonton. This is significant, as many students may have cultural ties to communities that no longer exist or that they no longer have immediate family ties to. It is the teachers job to inform the students accurately of the history of aboriginal cultures to preserve the culture itself. Colonialism had a lot of implications on aboriginal culture, as colonialism made it more welcoming for settlers to take routes in Canada, it had terrible implications for aboriginal people. Aboriginal people may have felt “chased away” and forgotten about while the settlers benefitted on a land that belonged to Aboriginal people for thousands of years. Dwayne Donald does note that this was not necessarily the case for his own family dynamic of aboriginal culture and European culture. Donald notes that his family of blended cultures had a positive relationship and they respected each other immensely. He argues that in order to “honour” the treaties, people must first be educated on aboriginal “issues.” For example, Donald argues that the University of Alberta is on aboriginal land, but if someone were to conduct a survey asking, “what is the historical significance of the land that the University of Alberta is located on,” very few people would know this land to be traditional aboriginal land. Informing students on information that pertains to Aboriginal issues around them would benefit all students, as education is what gives students power to make a difference. You can’t make a difference if you do not know there is a problem in the first place. Educating students to be responsible students while meeting treaty education outcomes.

Week eight: Throughout my experiences in school I have found that many of the examples of citizenship education that were exemplified in my schooling was aimed towards creating “personally responsible citizens.“ I remember a few times throughout high school having to do volunteer hours and having to reflect upon my experiences doing volunteer work. In most classes we were expected to be quiet when the teacher was talking. We were to follow the rules of the institution that are really set rules. This would include not questioning why we were learning what we were learning or asking any questions that may push boundaries. There were two classes throughout my whole key to 12 education that were aimed towards being justice oriented citizens, one being my grateful social class, but mainly my grade 12 AP English class. My grades 12 social class was mostly justice oriented just because of the content that the teacher was expected to teach in the curriculum already. But my grade 12 AP English class, my teacher Ms. Miliotis, treated each one of us as her equal. She didn’t really assign any homework, but conducted a lot of class discussions. She always let us explore and create how we wanted, and let us discuss what we were passionate about in relations to social justice. Many of the students in my class had a passion for social justice and it was a safe space for us to explore our passions how we wished.

Week nine: I would consider my experience in schools very sheltered, as my family always lived in Pearl or suburban communities. Most of the students that would have attended my schools will be Caucasian. In fact, in my room at community school I only remember there being less than 10 students who were not caucasian in the entire elementary school. I wasn’t really exposed to diversity in my community and I never really got to see the implications of Socio economic differences. I thought I did it because my mother worked at a used cut city facility and she always attempted to make me understand what white privilege is, and to insure I recognize that first Nations people and other my Nordie groups are merchandising oppressive in society. However, I was never able to fully understand this until I started my job at Ranch Ehrlo. Now I understand how narrow my world he was prior to my employment. It’s hard to see how these courses are oppressed until you see the consequences of oppression.

Week ten: I could see how mathematics could contribute to the idea that there is only one right way so there would only be one right narrative. Maybe because I come from a place of privilege, I never made those connections or felt that school was impressive towards me. There are lots of classes where one narrative is expressed a majority of the time, and if one were to internalize that a mathematical approach is the way to approach life then maybe one would also internalize one narrative for the over encompassing truth. I would argue that schools institutions teach you not to question a story, so therefore teach you to not question the narrative you’re taught and who it benefits. But I would still not agree with the statement that math would be oppressive to a specific group or groups of people.

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