Assessment is a huge challenge for me.
I see most of my students 45 minutes a week and I teach about 300 students over the course of a week. As a previous post discussed, I have recently been working on the learning goals and focus of my lessons and projects. Now that I have semi-solved that issue I am now working on assessment.
This year I also have a new classroom setup with an Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) at the front of the room and the computer facing it. This makes it impossible for me to see the student screens if I'm demonstrating something at the front of the room (we don't have wireless, so a wireless computer controlling app for the iPhone is a no go). In my former labs I didn't even have a wall to project on, so all demonstration had to happen through Apple Remote Desktop on the students screens. As a result, part of the challenge this year is getting used to a new classroom configuration.
These changes and realizations have caused me to be extra reflective in what I do and why in the classroom.
It has worked wonders for checking that everyone 'gets' what we are doing. I have found more of my students retaining the steps and more capable of applying their knowledge to other functions of the program. One of my 4th graders exclaimed today, "Ms. Hertz, I can insert a picture all by myself! I did it!"
Of course, even a simple sounding procedure such as thumbs up/thumbs down needs to be practiced, so I'm excited at the possibilities for ensuring that my students are getting the base skills I want them to have so we can begin to push toward more complex, content-based projects.
In addition to these assessment goals, I have been clearly stating the learning goals at the beginning of the class period and restating them at the end. For instance, "Today you will....." and "Today we......" I've found it makes ME even better reflect on what we accomplished for the day.
A big factor, I believe, in my ability to implement these new practices is that, now in my 4th year teaching in a lab, I have most of the big stuff down so I can now focus on more reflective practice than before. I also have a school climate that is more organized and more predictable than my previous 5 years. This gives me more time to focus on my students, not on the fact that there are 5 teachers out and I have to cover a class for 3 hours.
I'm excited to keep trying new ways to check for understanding and to focus on how and what my students are learning in a more organized, deliberate and meaningful way.