I am very grateful for work of Bambi Betts, Grant Wiggins, Ellen J. Langer, and Robert Marzano. These four educators have had the most profound effect upon my understanding of effective assessment of student learning.
Ellen Langer’s book The Power of Mindful Learning helped me to understand that delaying gratification, rewarding “right” answers, and demanding rote memorization aren’t essentially helpful learning approaches. Langer radically shifted my understanding of the human mind and how I should be teaching. In altering my view of what learning is; Langer helped me to seek alternative assessment tools for my students. My enduring understanding from Ellen J. Langer is that learning needs to be done with a heightened sense of awareness and reflection.
Bambi Betts changed my understanding of assessment in that she has painstakingly researched and introduced me to a plethora of ideas regarding best practice in assessing students. Her Principals’ Training Center for International Educators course, Assessing Student Learning, helped me to grasp much of the latest research regarding effective assessment and how to best apply assessment strategies in the international school classroom. My enduring understandings gained from Bambi are that assessment must be intrinsically valued by the students and should be viewed as applicable to the real world.
Grant Wiggins work with Understanding by Design has affected me in that I now view assessments as a tool for, rather than of, student learning. This has had a direct effect on how I proctor in my classroom. Back in the 1990’s, I viewed unit tests as a time to sit at my desk, catch up on correcting papers, write memos, and file my students’ work. Today, I utilize formative, summative and pre-assessments to teach, learn, reflect and observe trends in my students’ learning. This has been a fascinating transformation for me. My enduring understanding from Grant Wiggins is that assessment design is non-linear and constantly evolving.
Robert Marzano‘s work in summarizing research then offering practical strategies that work in the classroom has helped me grow as an educator. His writing and speaking style is straightforward and non-threatening. He is a master educator that I strive to emulate. I was fortunate to view many of his lectures via videotape and I cherished these opportunities. I find that Marzano’s work is oftentimes a point of discussion with fellow educators at both HKIS and elsewhere. My enduring understanding from Marzano is that contemporary students need to be assessed on both academic as well as interpersonal habits.
As of this writing, I am in the process of designing a common summative assessment that is meaningful to the 21st Century learner. My hope is to employ Photo Booth computer application so that students can interview each other with specific, group tested questions in order to demonstrate their new learning in World Religions. These interviews will be viewed and evaluated by the 4th grade team of teachers. I hope to pilot the assessment this year and instill it into the curriculum for grade-level use next year. My learning from Marzano, Betts, Langer and Wiggins will be applied to this practical learning tool.
It is an exciting time to be a teacher. Developing meaningful and authentic assessment tools is one way that I create substantial and meaningful learning.