“Can we PLEASE do our summative assessment today?” This isn’t the general response teachers receive about assessment tasks but it makes me so happy to know that the student’s in my class are excited, not scared or nervous about assessment. Of course throughout the year we have openly discussed assessment and the idea that it is an opportunity for them to show what they know and for the teachers to see what still needs to be reviewed, taught and learnt. I always say to my students that the most important thing is that you try your best, if you try your best and we both know that you have, then everyone will be proud of you. This continual reminder has definitely helped to build this positive atmosphere around assessment.
So before we began we discussed the criteria (which was also discussed throughout the unit). I wanted to see if they:
- Knew and could apply the scientific method
- Create a ‘fair’ test
- Could be clear about what was being measured and how they were measuring it
But I didn’t just want to see their scientific understanding, I also wanted to see how well they could now document their learning completely independently. They would each have their own iPad and record their experiment using Explain Everything.
So with a variety of materials at the front of the room I posed the question to be investigated, which material is the most absorbent? Some children quickly formed ideas about how to create an investigation to test the materials, others took longer to think it through and some needed a bit of prompting to remind them to have something measurable. But soon they all had begun, I did however see one child struggling, new to the English language and needing support. This make me question assessment itself, what is the purpose? Yes of course I want to see what the students knew and could do independently, but does this mean that I offer no assistance and simply watch them struggle, of course not. I believe that every opportunity is an opportunity for learning and this is where anecdotal notes are best used, simply recording a few notes about the support required and then working together with the children that are still not quite ready for independence, this way no opportunity for learning is lost. This reflects the idea that assessment should not only be used as a record OF learning but also FOR learning, student and self reflection also becomes a big part of this.
Overall, I was really impressed with their scientific knowledge, their ability to apply it, and to also simultaneously use technology and create a written record of their work independently. Well done, 2Z! But what made me even happier than knowing that they had done such a great job was the students excitement for their own learning. This was not only evident throughout the task but also the next day when parents commented on the excitement shared at home, one student even brought her mum into the class to show her the video she had made. But for all the other parents who haven’t yet seen their child’s remarkable video about ‘Which material is the most absorbent?”, don’t worry, they will all be uploaded to their personal e-portfolio soon!
Check out S.B.’s video: