If You Hate Doing Assessment, You’re Doing it Wrong

If You Hate Doing Assessment, You’re Doing it Wrong

by Dean Shareski

For many teachers, grading and assessment are the duties of teaching most would rather avoid. I get it. For many these things get in the way of learning in that they are contrived , mandated, artificial and time consuming. My personal evolution with assessment has been
challenging, but as I continue to tweak my workflow, I am discovering that this is a powerfully enjoyable experience. Listed below is the final assessment that I gave to my students.

Tech Tasks
A simple summary and assessment about the quality, consistency and timeliness of your work. Grade yourself between 20-30% percent of the course.
Blogs
Grade yourself between 15-25% Use a rubric or your own standard based on your favorite blogs. Be sure to reference the criteria discussed on the course assignment page.
Mentorship
This will be a challenging one for some of you but the core of this will be your interview with your mentoring teacher. I would like a report that highlights your involvement as well. Grade yourself between 20-30%
Social Learning
This will be about a one page report answering 2 questions: What did I contribute to the learning of others? What did I learn from others? 10-20%
Final Reflection
This will be a media presentation of your learning. This will be the only assignment that your teacher will grade exclusively. You decide between its value of 10-20%
As I review these final assessments it provides insight into student learning and my teaching skills. For many, I watch and read their responses with a smile as they document and share their personal learning journeys. I’m always pleased to see that for each student, different aspects of the course resonate and have more impact then others. There are a few students in each of my classes that I can tell are simply going through the motions and I continue to take responsibility for decreasing that number. Teaching online is particularly challenging and this term with 38 students I have had a difficult time staying connected and supporting all my students in ways that I would like.
However, by in large I continue to love the fact that I get to watch students truly awaken to new possibilities and connections that most had never considered before my course. My continued reliance on a great network of educators that support my teaching makes me feel incredibly blessed and fortunate to model and help my students develop their own networks. As much as I enjoy seeing them excited about new tools and new ways of communicating, I’m more jazzed about seeing them find people that will sustain and support their learning well beyond the time frame of this course. I love the fact that many of them chose different tools and methods of sharing their final reflection.
Those of you who have allowed student choice for assignments have likely experienced the pleasure of students who are not just engaged but truly invested in learning. That’s the reason we teach. I’ve been fortunate to see this from the vast majority of my students. In some respects I felt I didn’t provide the quality experience for my students as I may have
done in prior years. Yet, I saw some of the best work from students this term. While many are dreading the end of the year grading barrage, I love it. I know not every student loves this course but every student has to share with me and their classmates what they have learned. I enjoy when some are honest and open enough to discuss their struggles with with me. I also provide feedback via audio for each student. After all, as Joe Bower once said, “Assessment is a conversation, not a spreadsheet.”   I’m fully aware of the latitude I have to provide this kind of freedom and control for my students but before one simply dismisses it, I would highly recommend using this type of assessment to some extent in your own classroom situation. Assessment and evaluation might become a treat instead of everyday drudgery if you help students learn to evaluate themselves.
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