In my private school in Thailand, I am encouraged to plan and do many mini formative assessments during the school year such as multiple choice questions and short written assessments/worksheets. At the end of the unit the students usually finished taking part in a written and practical assessments. However, assessments are much more than paper tests and final “no more chances” tests.
I believe teachers should have a wide variety of assessment techniques and use those to evaluate the students’ learning. Therefore, the mini assessments I do in class are important because it allows me to create differentiated tasks and to evaluate the students’ needs. As a result, I will be able to discover if some students may need more practice or time than others to master knowledge or skills. Every student is different and unique, either introverts or extroverts. In other words, some students might be better at speaking/doing, some are better at listening, while others are simply better at seeing/reading. In my case especially, the students are learning a second language as the demographic is mostly Thai. Teachers should always be aware of differences along with all the students’ abilities and skill level. In the future, this will help me plan for students and how I can get students to meet their learning outcomes by being flexible and differentiating their task set related to the learning target to improve and hone their skills.
In this article, I will be sharing some of my mini formative assessments in class based on the Basic Core Education of Thailand standard 7.7.1 – “Search for relevant information and explain relationships between the Sun, Earth, the Moon and other planets, and the effects on the environment and living things on Earth”.
Therefore, by using this standard the objective in this class is for students to apply their research, to explain their comprehension on the relationships between the Sun, Earth, the Moon and other planets.
- “DO’S and DON’Ts”
In this mini formative assessment, I generally make the list for my grade 7 and 8 but my grade 9 is proficient in making the list themselves. In grade 7-8, I use do’s and don’ts in the “Gradual Release Method”. I would have this prepared listed in a checklist worksheet for students to see visibly. I would do an example first in the “I do it” part and then I would check their understanding in the “we do it together”.
With Grade 9, the students would list 3 Dos and 3 Don’ts when using, applying, relating to the content based on the standard 7.1.1 (e.g. 3 Dos and Don’ts for behaviours of planets).
An example from a Grade 9 student:
Planets DO orbit around a star. They DON’T orbit around another planet.
For Grades 7 and 8, I believe it outlines the student’s expectations. As a result, the students will be more likely to participate in the “we do it together” part of the method because they can see the do’s and don’ts on their worksheet, and they had seen an example shown previously of how to do the activity on the worksheet in the “I do it” part. Based on Bloom’s taxonomy, this gives the students the opportunity to use what they understand and apply their comprehension by spotting the mistakes the teacher makes in the second example (e.g. I would purposefully make mistakes for students to correct by using the DO’s and DONT’S listed in their checklist worksheet). The teacher still leads the example but it requires student’s participation to complete it.
With Grade 9, the students would research and investigate based on guided questions to find the differences between planets and the Sun in the Solar System along with assembling evidence of their findings. As a result, by doing the “DO’S and DON’TS” assessment, (based on Bloom’s taxonomy) it gives me an insight on what they have researched and it gives the students the opportunity to use this. Along with the guided questions, such as how do planets move? Why? Does the Sun move? Why? Etc. The students will be able to describe and explain what they comprehend on the relationships between planets and the Sun in the Solar System. By the end of the assessment, this will allow me to provide valuable feedback on the students’ comprehension and as a result, I will be able to help encourage any improvements for the future.
- “Draw it”
Here is another mini assessment on how I would evaluate and determine whether the students have met the stated learning outcomes. I would ask the students to draw what they understand. I generally use this for all my middle school classes (from Grade 7-9). As I have mentioned before, students may find it hard to communicate their thoughts or explain what they have learnt in a second language. By differentiating and allowing the chance for students to draw what they understand gives students another manner to show their understanding.
An example of a “Draw it” activity for a Grade 9 student: Based on what you have found, draw how planets move in the Solar System.
With the Grade 9 example given above, the students are drawing their understanding and are demonstrating it based on what they have found in their research. Based on Bloom’s taxonomy, the students are demonstrating skills such as remembering, understanding and applying. As a result, through this medium, I can observe how they communicate their understanding of the relationships between the Sun, Earth, the Moon and other planets which are the objectives based on the Basic Core Education standard 7.1.1. Therefore, by drawing the relationship of the planets and the Sun, the students are creating a visual display to demonstrate how the Sun is in a fixed position and the planet’s orbit around the Sun.
3. “Yes/No chart”
In this mini assessment, I am able to ask students to list what they do and don’t understand about a given topic. They would create a table in their notebooks for what they do on the left side and what they don’t on the right. I would inform the students of my expectations by requesting them to be specific, overly-vague responses don’t count. Students have to be specific because specificity matters!
Here are some examples from the students in Grade 9.
This helps me to understand and evaluate based the Basic Core Education standards 7.1.1 and on Bloom’s order of thinking. It helps me identify what knowledge they have learnt, analyse and justify what they comprehend, along with what they don’t understand, and it gives the students the opportunity to self-evaluate their understanding by writing it in an organised list form. As a result, the students actively participate and the teacher gets an insight on the student’s comprehension of the relationship between the Sun, Earth, the Moon and other planets. Therefore, through this method of assessment, the teacher can plan and adapt for future lessons by combining the national standards with the students’ knowledge.
Overall, there are several other formative assessments to help identify what students can do with guidance and what they can do by themselves. The 3 examples I gave earlier are just some of the ways on how I implement formative assessments. I do like to involve students in active learning and focus them on their learning goals and objectives. I also believe formative assessments that involve peer evaluation or self-evaluation, helps students with the social construction of knowledge. Therefore, formative assessments should really provide feedback on precisely what they need to improve on. As a result, the teacher will be able to help the students advance and gain the skills necessary to be able to meet their goals and the school standards.
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