Evidence of student achievement for evaluation is collected over time from three different sources – observations, conversations, and student products. Using multiple sources of evidence increases the reliability and validity of the evaluation of student learning.
(Page 39, Growing Success, 2010)
The Grade 7s were given several rectangular and triangular prisms to choose from, while the Grade 8s got a cylindrical container thrown into the mix.
While students worked on the task, my coach and I wandered the room with our clipboards, observing students working independently on the task. Occasionally, we'd ask questions to clarify our understanding of student thinking. We made notes in a different colour, on the same recording sheet that we had used a week earlier, when students had worked in groups on another, similar problem. This allowed us to observe growth (or lack thereof) over time, based on feedback we had given them on the previous task and two quizzes they had taken in between.
My coach had worked long, hard hours to create differentiated task sheets that included measurements for some of the containers to scaffold and accommodate the task for some students. In one of my Grade 7 classes, we also used a third task that was a grade below level, as well as an alternative task, several grades below level, that a small group of students did in a separate space, with our in-school support teacher (instead of the popcorn prism task).
Taking into consideration 3 students who were absent that day, this left approximately 16 students in the room for us to observe, converse with and assess.
- the rich, authentic assessment data we were collecting (while doing personalized, precision teaching in the moment!)
- the near impossibility of the teacher task, had there been only one teacher in the room!!!
Even with two teachers and several students missing, we just barely got around to see all 16 remaining students in ways that allowed for reliable observational assessment. But the assessment data we did manage to collect gave us and incredibly fulsome picture of what each student knew and could do when it came to thinking about and measuring volume of various prisms.
Even the lesson itself was better for us having talked it over multiple times and refined it based on the things we had observed students doing and saying during previous lessons in the unit.
Experiences like this one confirm for me the complexity of teaching in a diverse learning environment and the necessity of putting into place systems whereby those educators who want to can partner regularly with other teachers to co-plan, co-teach and co-assess.