This page will host my reflections on the assessment and evaluation experiences I encountered during my Pre-Internship. I will post the different tools I used, and discuss: what worked well? What didn’t? What would I change, and how?
Throughout my Pre-Internship I used several instructional strategies combined with different assessment practices. Among the assessments and evaluations I used were: Discussion, Fist of Five, Exit Slips, Journal Entries, Reader Response Questions, a Problem-Solution Essay (including the writing process: Purpose Statement, Outline, and a Peer-editing and revising session), Annotation, Spoken Word Performances, Resumes, and a Visual Flow Chart (similar to a Venn Diagram). These strategies were used between my ELA B10, ELA 20 classes, and a lesson taught in Life Transitions 20. I also created two unit plans with a partner and a teacher resource package, and used many of those strategies, in addition to a class magazine, historical persona essay, eye witness or observation account, and more.
Throughout the Pre-Internship block I used discussion as a form of assessment. I used different methods, including having general conversations, asking direct questions, and using “cold call.” For the most part with my ELA B10’s discussion worked quite well. Since there were 33 students, I always felt like there was a never ending abundance of students to ask questions or prompt for further explanation. At first discussion was a little be tough for me because I was just getting to know the students, and we had not yet formed a bond of trust in our relationship. I tried to be very encouraging and help students reach for answers. I also didn’t let students off the hook. When they said “I don’t know” to an opinion question I asked them to think about it for a minute, and I came back to have them share. This way they didn’t feel the pressure to answer on the spot, but it didn’t show that that type of response would be tolerated. There was one situation where I told a student I was coming back to them, but another student answered the question and I never made it back to her. Instead of volunteering her comments, she simply zipped up her books and checked out of class in her mind. The worst part is that I didn’t notice, and it was my partner who told me afterwards in her feedback. Over the rest of the term I made sure I asked her questions frequently and always went back to her. Lesson learned: never tell a student who rarely participates that you will be coming back to ask them and not follow through. It only demonstrates that they can get off the hook easily. It will be tough to make sure I never do that again, but it’s something I’ll have to get used to as a teacher.
To assess whether my students were comfortable selecting a topic for their problem-solution essay, I asked my students to participate in a Fist-of-Five. A few of the students didn’t participate, even after my asking a second time. For the students that did show me a number it helped me to know where the general comfortability level was in the classroom. I was able to ask a few questions and clarify what I meant for students who had lower numbers. I don’t think I would change this method of assessment, because it was a simple tool and even with a few students refusing to participate I was able to see how the majority of my students felt. It was quick and easy, and I had nothing to mark! It also showed to me that students who weren’t comfortable answering might not be comfortable showing their hands.
I also used exit slips to assess my students’ knowledge. After modelling how to complete the graphic organizer for their problem-solution essay, I asked my students to write on the piece of paper that I handed out “What 3 pieces make up the structure of an essay?” The answer was supposed to be introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. Most students understood that from my hints to refer to the board and out word cloud (literally the shape of clouds with each section written inside one of three and ideas about them around it – like a concept map). However, some students thought that was too simple and couldn’t be the answer so they copied down all the notes from the board! Others used words they thought I might be trying to trick them with, like “transitions” or “supporting details” and “evidence.” I think that any teacher would get answers like that from a class so diverse as mine. I used them again when we started poetry to ask the students what they wanted to learn about in poetry. It helped to shape the way the lessons went, but we had to place a limitation on what we could do because our cooperating teacher asked us to use the poetry from his unit. Since more than 3/4 understood what I was asking and supplied the correct answer, I think it was sufficient and I would use them again.
Another method I used for assessment was journal entries. I gave them a topic (“Spring is a lie” – it happened to be the first day of Spring and it snowed), and wrote a journal entry with the students. I wanted to model that writing is important, even in quick little blurbs that don’t seem to add up to much more than a few thoughts. Every student participated in this activity, and I think that the cooperating teacher actually collects their journals to assess and evaluate. If I were to change anything, it would be to ask the cooperating teacher how long he usually has them write journals for first. I don’t know if four minutes was too much or too little as I had students who were done sooner, and others who were still writing after I moved onto the next portion of the lesson.
Similar to Fist of Five, I had my students do a thumbs up or thumbs down check in. I asked them to make the call of whether or not they were comfortable starting the essay. This was after we had been working on the writing process for awhile. They had already chosen the topic, wrote a purpose statement and completed a graphic organizer. I liked using this for the same reason as using the Fist of Five – students could make their own judgement call. Within a matter of 15 seconds I could see how the whole class felt, and I asked students who were not comfortable starting the essay to see me outside of class for additional support.
Another form of assessment was the essay outlines. Students made an outline of their essay based on the ideas they generated from their graphic organizers. Our cooperating teacher asked us to use his checklist for marking the outlines out of 25 marks (5 for each paragraph). These ideas were to be included for the introduction: a hook, 3 sentences about the main ideas of the essay, and a thesis (from the purpose statement); body paragraphs: main idea, at least 2 supporting details and at least 2 pieces of strong evidence; conclusion: re-stated thesis, 3 sentences to summarize the main paragraphs, and a clincher to end the essay. They were to write out all of the points they would make, including main idea for each paragraph, sub points or supporting details, and the evidence to prove these points. It was clearly stated to make it as detailed as possible, with the idea that someone else could write their essay from the outline with their passion and voice. I liked that this assignment was graded, because when we gave students the opportunity to re-do it after giving them feedback from the first go around, 90% of the students chose to improve their grade. I wish it didn’t have to be marked at all, but I am afraid that without the motivation of getting a better grade, the outlines would have been done even worse than they started out.
Afterwards, I evaluated the essays produced from our writing process. The majority of the students achieved well because their outline was very detailed and on the right track, and so it was a matter of typing out the essay. My cooperating teacher asked me to use his marking sheet (below) to grade the students’ essays. If I could change one thing about this assignment, it would be to use a rubric with that shows the different levels of achievement (i.e. unsatisfactory to outstanding), because I had a hard time making the judgment calls based on these ideas. Although it contains the ideas that were supposed to be included, I had to form my own idea of what each level should receive for a grade because it is more of a checklist than a rubric.
Mark Breakdown for:
- Ideas /15
o thesis statement, logical main points, relevant sub points, specific supporting details and examples (researched only if necessary)
- Organization /10
o attention grabbing introduction, intriguing transitional ideas to the thesis statement, logical organization of paragraphs and supporting details, transition sentences, restated thesis statement, concluding details, clincher
- Voice /10
o appropriate to the topic: confident, humorous, sarcastic, heart-felt, serious, etc.
- Sentence Fluency and Word Choice /15
o well-written and complete sentences, effective use of short sentences for emphasis, effective use of longer sentences for description/elaboration
o word choice is correct, vivid, precise, descriptive
- Conventions /10
o correct punctuation, capitalization, format (including documentation if necessary)
During my pre-internship I also assessed the annotation assignment. We allowed the students to complete the assignment in class individually, following the process of reading poetry that they had already completed in TAPS with different poems. Then, at the end of class we had a discussion about the poem as a whole group. If I had more time with the students, I would have taken in the assignments to provide feedback and a summative evaluation of the steps to reading a poem that we had studied. I think this assignment worked well, and as I circulated I spoke with different students about their annotations, and it was clear to everyone what the purpose of the assignment was.
Reader response questions was yet another form of assessment that I used during my pre-internship. Sometimes I collected the questions to comment on, and sometimes I had students discuss them in pairs, groups, or as a class. These questions were designed to help the students analyze the textual features of a literary text. The questions were also used to ensure understanding. The student all worked at the questions, to various degrees, but it worked best when students were not working individually.
For a more creative assessment, I used oral presentations of poetry and spoken word as my tools. After a lecture and discussion about haikus, the students were given class time to create their own haikus. At the end of class they presented them to the class for a mark out of five. While I liked this idea, in the future I would choose to have the oral presentation after the students have had time to experiment with several different types of poems and give them two minutes to present their writing each for a brief sample, and formal oral presentations. The spoken word assignment was a group poetry assignment (please see the B10 April 4 lesson for further explanation) that was presented at the end of class. Students were to experiment with using their voice to passionately convey their messages in a manner similar to acting, but without actual stage actions (gestures and body movement only).
The assessment and evaluation methods I spoke about above were used with ELA B10 class, and some of them were also used in the ELA 20 class. I would say that most of the activities worked quite well for the most part, and I am happy about that because as an English major these will be strategies that I use often in my classroom! I had positive experiences with all of these methods, and there isn’t much I would do to change these techniques. Hopefully I can add more assessment and evaluation techniques to this list after Internship!