Posted in Reflections, Insights, and Realizations

Assessment is a Learning Journey

EDS113_FINAL eJOURNAL
      If there is one thing I am taking home from this course, it is that meaningful and effective assessment is a learning journey. This journey should be aligned with objectives and instructional strategies. Its result is both teacher’s and student’s evidence. It is a directional process that must continue to happen, so that it can bring progression and promotion. Assessment happens before, during and after a lesson or unit or chapter or quarter or year. These assessments can be formative or summative, formal and informal. Of all these, the formative, taken from the word “form”, brings molding and change. Each given task or activity, whether pen-paper or not, must be designed to bring out the knowledge and skills of a learner. Knowledge and skills can be executed (by the student) and be assessed (by the teacher) traditionally or non-traditionally.
       I am for learner-based curriculum, therefore, I do believe that the goal to learning is to be able to create. To construct a better understanding and application in real-life, is the target. And using the assessment that is suited to the child’s learning style and background, while aligned to learning objectives and instructional strategies is the effective one.  Differentiated assessments cater to the uniqueness of a learner. While to be reflective gives depth to how and what one has learned. To be able to self- assess is a mature process of knowing what we know, how we know and how we can apply it in reality. To do peer-assessment is also one way to give and receive feedback objectively and critique constructively. In all these, assessment is geared to producing growth in a learner.
       I am a teacher-mom, and our family is an advocate of homeschooling. I am for non-traditional assessments when it comes to quarter tests. According to DepEd’s website, the percentage distribution for the computation of a subject’s summative assessment is divided into three major areas. They are written work, performance task and quarterly assessment. For us, the standard 20% quarter assessment can be executed non-traditionally. With the use of appropriate rubric and scale, the learner can be assessed effectively.
       I will quote my favourite apologist Ravi Zacharias, “Do not think of every question as a doubt, think of every question as a door.” As a teacher, the question I must give to my learner should be a door through which he exits with confidence that he can still learn, is learning, or had finally learned. 
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Posted in Reflections, Insights, and Realizations

Choosing to be Effective Amidst Issues and Actions

EDS113_Module6_eJournal

      Rubric, feedback and test construction, are my top three issues on which I learned to take more action after having module six.
       I am a homeschooling teacher-mom in the Philippines, and a lot of my materials are DepEd approved balanced with others that create a Christian curriculum. One that we advocate passionately and with much conviction. In relation to this, these three mentioned above takes a lot of planning and careful attention.
     Beside taking into account texts from the books, I plan how the progression will happen over a span of a year. I decide which topics go together and can work in collaboration with other subject matters every quarter. On a weekly basis, a culmination of creating art about the topics of the week happens. And everyday, we as a family, appreciate what we have learned and think about how to share through conversations.
     We apply realistic instructional strategies to make the rubric and scales work for our children. They are provided by our trusted learning hub. A constant revision of it and at times my own addendum are what I use depending on the needs of my children. We discuss them to my kids’ other learning provider, such as from swimming for PE, and guitar lessons for music, as well as in arts and practical arts. Performance- based subjects like these need more of rubric and scales to make assessment effectively objective.
     Formative feedback in various forms is a constant in our daily interaction. My husband and I have agreed together with our academic/family advisor that progression to another topic doesn’t have to be as fast as the book suggests. We decide whether our child is ready to progress to the next level of difficulty when we see them fit. And assessments help us do that objectively.
     Test construction. In our community of homeschoolers a seminar on this particular topic is conducted at least every quarter. Parents like me are trained and reminded as to how we can make assessments in the correct format. Test or task items should not confuse our learners, instead, it would help us reliably and validly assess their knowledge and skills.
      Paper and pen assessments need to be in the level suited to the test takers’ understanding, aligned with the learning objectives and instructional strategies done during the lessons. Our conversations with our kids, our activities with them, our guided remarks, are all geared toward helping them succeed on their daily learnings. Daily learnings that they will carry on a long term.
       Our learners’ response like their inquiry to learn, their openness to instruction, their acceptance of mistakes and failures, their respect for change would make them willing to create better and more.
       This module made me realize that there maybe a lot we are doing right, but there’s more that we can do better. I hope and pray that I can execute these learnings I got, so my kids can have the “effective” from me.
Posted in Reflections, Insights, and Realizations

Construct. Differentiate. Reflect. Repeat…

EDS113_Module5_eJournal

     Preparedness. Its value became so real to me not in one instant but in the multiple times I needed it to pass an exam. Nothing could be more fulfilling than answering confidently, a question in essay or other form, before or after lecture, announced or not. It gives a sense of accomplishment in a different level especially when the topic is my favorite. For I can fully remember it because it was interesting. I went to class with questions in mind and I came out with answers. After a discussion, a lecture, an experiment an experience. But  I could say that, because my mind was only excited for the ones I was interested in, then those topics I didn’t like, were the ones I didn’t choose to understand and learn. For my immature self said , I don’t think I would need to know that.
     However, summative and high -stake assessments are more like life and death situations for the learner in me. Someone who is thinking about her OFW parents to provide for her studies. On top of that an educational insurance that can only supply the five years of university life. And any extension for the allowable period would mean additional expense for her parents. Adding to this, is the pressure that of a sibling who is following her footsteps of being a responsible sister. Failure in school equates to wasted time, wasted money, wasted opportunity. Failure to pass a subject or progressing to the next level or to graduate means wasted future.
     And where will you go in a society that equates diploma as ticket out of poverty. So what would a Filipino learner like me do? Study. Study and absorb whatever it is that is taught to me. Be it something I would need in life or not. Please do not get me wrong. I am not whining.
    I was given the chance to study in a prestigious school. My parents ‘upgraded’ me to a private secondary school after studying in our town’s public elementary. They said, that since they were earning more and with my excellent grades, they would like to send me to somewhere they couldn’t afford when they were my age. How can a child like me not be grateful for that trust, and ‘gift’ if you may call it.
    So I burned the midnight candle as other would say and prepared for the first difficult exam I ever took. A secondary school entrance exam, all written in English. Math ,Reading, and Science were the bulk of it. Essays had to be written in English. I did not want to take it, as passing would mean being separated from my childhood classmates and friends for good. But I did it, and I passed.
    Then came the career aptitude test of 3rd year, followed by the three college entrance exams from universities who offered my chosen course. To top it up, was the NCEE, from which I had to reach a percentile that must be on the passing rate as required by the quota course I was applying for.
     Again, I got the required NCEE rating, and passed in two out of three universities. In college, I underwent various kinds of assessment. There was an oral exam for the Bill of Rights. Numerous practical tests of ‘move system’, where specimens with mixed questions are written to answer. With the pressure of a time limit per station, we needed to answer a minimum of three questions ranging from identification by multiple choice, true or false, enumeration and one short-sentence explanation. It was grueling. Preparations we needed to do, were countless sleepless nights of individual and group reviews. Creating pnemonics for lists of whats and whos.
      I experienced being laughed at or humiliated by a panelist in my oral revalida. It was a case study of a patient I had and the plan I will do for his rehabilitation. I reviewed the classic book, case and analyzed the experiential case I handled in my internship. And then when I discussed, I had moments when the inquiry became more personal than professional. That panelist was stricter than my college dean who was part of that 3-man panel. Anyway, thank God I passed  and I couldn’t be more proud of myself. Then when our group bagged the best in thesis award after defending it. Oh boy, we could already smell the toga for graduation and imagine wearing our college ring.
     But the reviews I enjoyed most were the times with my grandfather. It was about mathematical problems. Because I wanted to know how to problem solve, I asked him to give me at least ten questions every night to practice the process, on top of my homework. And I enjoyed that because he never got mad, and he never shoved me away or stop me from me asking him to give me exercises.
     Twenty-five years forward, I am now a teachermom. Of two wonderful boys who are more inquisitive, creative, confident, and vocal than me. My learning in this module particularly is that, they are the center of what I am doing. My husband and I chose this path to homeschool. And it is not an easy task. We call it intentional parenting. And I am just amazed how different disciplines can be taught, and they learn in a non-threatening environment. They can speak out their minds without being labeled ‘talkative’ or disrespectful. They can present their portfolios with confidence and much understanding. They can open conversations with grown-ups or kids their age about topics applied in real life situations. They can infer and create, and find connections from one subject to another. They are not ashamed to share and let others know what can be beneficial or not.
So, in conclusion I’d say, construct…differentiate…reflect….repeat. 
 
What do my learners need? How can they experience this lesson? Are we learning in meaningful ways? What can we do more? What should we do less or stop?
Construct. Differentiate. Reflect. Repeat…
Posted in Reflections, Insights, and Realizations

Assessment for a Teacher-Learner Like Me

EDS113_Module 4

     I consider myself a nervous learner. I was excited to go to school way back when my older cousin started her journey. I volunteered to take the challenge at the young age of five. Little did I know that teachers could be mean. I mean, I have seen how strict one could be when a homework was not turned in, or when you look at the paper of your seatmate during tests. And I thought, there is no turning back except to excel.
    I liked learning. I have always been a fan of the show in Channel 9 called “The Start of Something Big”. I’ve always been inquiring from various sets of encyclopedias and other reference books. I like knowing things not to brag about them but the urge to know a fact and most especially the truth.
     But when it comes to being assessed, I have was not fond of it. Though I would study and burn my eyebrow for it (so to speak). There were disciplines I would be so inclined to like Biology and History. And that’s where I would almost always put all my energy into. That was why I took a paramedical course. I thought of assessments as ‘needle holes’. They certainly are not easy passages to get to the next level.  Almost always especially in elementary and high school, I would suffer from, to what my mom calls ‘tension diarrhea’. I have nervous energy that I just have to pass. Then in college, the numerous formal and summative tests were just too exhausting. I could count in my fingers the times when journals , surveys or interviews were done with the idea that they were formative assessments for me and my learning growth. Or then again, we were not told that our behaviors and performance were being observed.
      To get a high score or to a minimum, a passing grade, was mostly the #schoolgoals during my time. You need to get to the next level. Failing is a not an option.
     If I had only known that I could be told about objectives. If I had known that my teacher’s instructions were made to guide me learn the process. If I had known that assessments were not created to scrutinize me, but to find out what works and what not. Maybe I would’ve taken learning in school as not long and hard journey, but a road that leads to more progressive discovery. I would have enjoyed it more.
     I would have not felt so scared when our so called “Justice League” of college professors enters our hall and gives us the pre- and post- lecture quizzes. I would have not felt ‘not good enough’ when my Health teacher in high school told me that I could not pass for a such a highly esteemed profession. I would have not felt a failure when my Orthosis-Prosthesis professor gave our batch a general passing grade despite our efforts in memorizing and analyzing the functions of all content and equipment he taught.
     I would have not asked myself the question “why is it so hard to get to the next level?”. My college days were by far the most challenging of my learning years. I also just wonder if I was mature enough to take that kind of responsibility, or was I just performing not for my own learning, but as a gift of gratitude for my parents who toiled in some far land to support my studies.
     Now that  I am a teacher to my young learners, my sons. I am a ‘trying hard’ when it comes to balancing between learning the truth and having them apply it effectively in their lives. I am an advocate of godly behavior and I believe that no knowledge is far more important than using all that you have for the glory of our Maker. To be able to use our knowledge and create for the good others.
     In our homeschool group, we create activities for our learners to experience as much as life in the real world than inside the confines of the classroom. We do not neglect though the required and formal assessments of the government or our provider (Homeschool Global). We use rubrics, a number of informal assessments like journals, interviews, and our learner’s portfolio that they present every quarter. Narratives from both parents support the quiz and test scores of our learners. Our learners present their ‘favorite’ project or creation per subject alone, in a one-on-one interview with our Family/Academic Counselor.  We parents just supply the materials that our learners’ would need to use to make their ideas turn into reality. I am one proud teachermom who witnessed, just recently and for the very first time, my 5 -year old present and answer on his own (with me outside the room). Also at the end of each year, our boys are to take OLSAT. It is one formal assessment that we allow our kids to take.
     I am a daughter of OFWs and so learning was given to me mostly by my teachers, grandparents, uncles and aunts. Now  that I am a mother, I want to be an active participant in my sons’ journey. More than material providers, I want to be in the forefront or even sidelines of their learning growth. In order to do this, I must be equipped with the right tools, to create a curriculum suited and applicable for them. I should be able to create learning objectives, and perform instructional strategies that will lead them from superficial to deep learning. I must have the right knowledge to do assessments that would make our teaching-learning journey a successful one.
     I must do this so I could be an effective teachermom who shapes and re-shapes my sons’ learning journey, because it is my responsibility as a parent to do this. My husband and I are here to prepare our boys in ways we believe are right for them.
Posted in Reflections, Insights, and Realizations

You and I AS We Learn

EDS113_Mini Module (Self- & Peer Assessment)
I remember my high school days when we were asked to check our seat-mate’s quiz. It was a challenge because I had classmates who were honest in accepting their errors, and there were those who secretly asks you to “alter’ their  erroneous answers.
So my teachers knew it will be a matter of honesty and integrity. Instead of checking the one beside you, they would ask us to pass our papers forward, per column. Once collected in front, column A will exchange papers with column C. Sometimes it would be random so there’ll be complete unpredictability. Because  of tight friendships, some would really change their friends’ answer into the correct form. And when there is strife, for vengeance sake, even the correct answers would be changed to make it look like it’s an erasure. Because back then, an erasure means wrong answer. However sad that was, those were the extreme measures my teachers in the past, would implement just to stop cheating.
Now that I am a mom and a teacher to my boys, I still have to balance my thoughts between telling them the right way, and letting them experience the situation. Letting them find out if their decision is right and beneficial, or wrong and uncomfortable.
Peer and self- assessment for me at this point in my EDS 113 journey is more like assessment AS LEARNING. Here is the true measure of one’s honesty, integrity, objectivity, fairness and even humility. Not just a measure of the learner’s knowledge, but more on character. I believe that a true learner is someone who gains knowledge and successfully applies it to his life. He applies that knowledge to become better as a person who thinks, acts and creates for himself and for the community he is in.
At home, we learn the basics we need to bring out to the community. Our community are the school, the workplace, the church, the village, town, city, province, region,  country and the world.
A wise mentor of mine once said, you cannot give what you do not have’. And I still live that proverb in my life.
As a learner, not just in school, but school of life, I must know how to see myself in a very honest way. Am I seeking for truth and fact. Is it applicable in my life? Is it beneficial for me? Would it make me a better person? Would it help others if i know about it? Am I growing as a person because of it? Or should I stop what I’m doing, and just enjoy watch others learn or fail? Learn or fail in school, in the community,  in life.
As an educator, how do I teach or coach my learners? When I teach them an idea, make them experience it, and assess what they have acquired in the process. Am I doing the right thing for them? With them?
Whenever my sons, make inference and connections of facts in books to their life as a child, I stop and listen if they got it. I ask them questions that would make them think of knowing its effect. I engage them in a meaningful talk about character when I hear that what they are saying is veering to a destructive direction. Sometimes they accept my argument . Sometimes they keep their opinion, and honestly say that don’t agree with me. I let them use their voice to speak of what they know, how they feel, which they understood and did not.
Assessment AS learning, in self and peer assessment is wonderful but challenging thing. And yet it is an actuality of life. Of the real world. It maybe just an exercise in the classroom, for some who resent or abuse it. But like parenthood, with proper guidance, criteria are there to help assessors become objective about it.
I think those who fully know if they have learned, are those who welcome corrections without developing grudge. They are those who view self and peer critique as a way to learn what is better, and not who is better.
Posted in Reflections, Insights, and Realizations

Plan Together, Assess Together

EDS_113 eJournal Module 3

In the editorial page of Glen Hass, retrieved from ascd.org, a paper I critiqued in my EDUC103 course, he said there that there are four major contributors in designing a curriculum. These are the scholars, the parents and other citizens, the educators and the learners.

     I want to particularly single out the learners. He said that they are the major untapped resource in curriculum planning and yet they have the best position to explain many advantages and deficiencies of present curriculum. He added that the student-teacher planning has 6 aspects:
  1. what to be studied
  2. why are we having this learning activity
  3. how shall we go about it
  4 where do we do the activity
  5 when will do it
  6 who will do each part
As for us educators, we have the role to:
– provide structure for planning with others
– inform and offer recommendations
– bring together contributions from all sources
– work out a recommended plan of action for curriculum change
– seek the unifying norms as we work with others
– evaluate and interrelate the contribution from other disciplines
     Highlighting two things here, the learners can join the planning, and the teacher should offer, evaluate and recommend plan of action. Now this is for the curriculum.
     When we go in detail , when we go in the classroom, these all must reflect what we aim for our learners. Our goal for them individually. For they are the center of our teaching. Their learning is our main concern.
     We are not doing our jobs if the assessment we do  does not serve its purpose. Our assessment  FOR their learning must target clear and achievable objectives. Our assessment OF their learning must reflect the knowledge and skills they need to ready them for the next more complex level. And while these are all being done, our assessment of them AS their learning transpire, should show their independence and their meta-cognitive skills in action. Hence, they know their capabilities, are self-sufficient, can solve independently and create beautifully,
Posted in Reflections, Insights, and Realizations

Assess to Know, Assess to Act

 

EDS113_Module 2_eJournal

Learning. How do I know if it is happening? There is a way to know.

Assessment.

To assess my learners skills, knowledge and abilities not just after, but most especially during the process of learning. While my student is engaged in the topic. While he is thinking. While he is speaking insights and opinions. While he is drawing or singing. While he is solving problems. While he is creating.

I need to gather evidences and then I will know. Know if the experiences I created for him usher him to fully understand the concepts presented.

A learner’s creative outputs are evidences of his understanding. Can he apply them in real situations? Does his knowledge show in his living?

As an educator I must not be afraid to modify, change, revise an experience or activity that produce positive results. And if needed so, that I will never repeat the ineffective ones.

As I have learned in my previous courses here in PTC, and this semester’s class, I as an educator must respect and consider each individual’s learning style. That I am to base our curriculum in the learners and never lose focus of them. My regard for our students’ learning style, can help them to successfully reach achievable aims, missions and goals (of the country, school and class) as well as objectives (subject lesson). Assessment is not for mere scores and recognition. It is our guide to know if our students’ learning is improving, while our teaching or instruction is advancing.