A rude shock

This week, year 9 completed their first assessment task for the year. It was a speech to be presented on a protest poem, and required them to investigate and analyse a protest poem/song using the skills they learnt in class.

Listening to and marking their tasks on Monday afternoon was eye opening. Students were SO concerned about the form of the task (a speech) that the content which students were required to present was overlooked by them. Suddenly, all the brilliant and insightful discussion which is characteristic of this group fell by the wayside. Instead what I saw was mumbling, confused students, who were summarizing rather than analyzing.

It really made me realise that some forms of formal assessment really aren’t assessing the students’ knowledge. I also realized that I should have been more vocal in the design of the assessment task. Because it is a class I share, I went along with, and trusted the leadership and experience of, the teacher I share the class with. When I thought about the process more carefully, I realised how differently I had gone about planning the assessments I had given to my year 7, 8 and 10 class. Especially in regards to year 10, who required a considerably modified assessment, I thought long and hard (for weeks, actually) about how I was going to design an achievable assessment which both demonstrated what they had learnt, how effective the methods I had used to teach them had been, what (or who) I had missed or let slip through the cracks. But I also wanted the assessment to be an opportunity for them to apply skills they had learnt, and gain a sense of mastery.

I felt like I had let year 9 down, partly through a lack of communication with the teacher the class was shared with, partly through assuming that the other teacher was teaching the same thing I was and had the same ideas about assessment, and partly for not considering their assessment as thoroughly as I had considered the others.


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