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What are some simple ways to get started using assessment, evaluation, and curriculum redesign?
What are some of the conceptual tools for assessment, evaluation and curriculum redesign?
What are some challenges I may face?
How can assessment, evaluation, and curriculum redesign involve parents and the community?
How can technology be used with assessment, evaluation, and curriculum redesign?

What are some of the conceptual tools for assessment, evaluation and curriculum redesign?

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Tim O'Keefe, a teacher at the Center for Inquiry Elementary School in Columbia, South Carolina, holds a coaching session with his colleagues.

Our goal in this workshop segment is to offer a few conceptual tools for understanding how students learn in effective ways.

Classroom teachers need some grounding in conceptual theory as well as an understanding of their local community to take full advantage of their teaching opportunities.

Below we discuss the work of several experts who have developed useful strategies for thinking about teaching.

Learning about Learning

Benjamin S. Bloom, a leader in the field, developed a way of talking about learning that is useful for conceptualizing how students gain knowledge. This is known as "Blooms Taxonomy."

The concepts in the chart below will help you consider the relationships between assessment and student process and performance. It also has implications for curriculum design, teaching strategies, and the evaluation of student work. Bloom believed it was important to address six cognitive levels for real learning to happen and be measured.

When we want to measure students' ability to recall or Remember knowledge We ask students to Define, View, List, Identify, Locate, Memorize, Review, Match, Name, Read, Recall, Respond And they produce the following: Label, Name, List, Definition, Fact, Test, Reproduction
When we want to measure students' ability to Comprehend We ask students to Classify, Cite, Convert, Describe, Discuss, Estimate, Explain, Generalize, Give Examples, Paraphrase, Trace, Restate And they produce the following: Classification, Citation, Conversion, Description, Discussion, Estimation, Explanation, Group of examples, Paraphrase
When we want to measure students' ability to Apply We ask students to Construct, Use, Utilize, Collect, Chart, Contribute, Demonstrate, Illustrate, Make, Record, Show, Teach, Translate, Apply And they produce the following: Building, Journal, Diary, Verbal explanation, Demonstration, Performance (as in "stage"), Lesson, Translation, Construction, Model
When we want to measure students' ability to Analyze We ask students to Summarize, Abstract, Classify, Dissect, Diagram, Distinguish, Focus, Infer, Deduce, Order, Investigate, Differentiate, Categorize, Separate And they produce the following: Summary, Questionnaire, Survey, Report, Graph, Chart, Outline, Diagram, List, Category, Plan
When we want to measure students' ability to Synthesize We ask students to Hypothesize, Devise, Formulate, Facilitate, Imagine, Compose, Combine, Invent, Create, Estimate, Produce, Forecast, Design, Predict And they produce the following: Formula, Invention, Film, Prediction, Game, Story, Poem, Solution, Artifact, Media Products, Machine, Advertisements
When we want to measure students' ability to Evaluate We ask students to Appraise, Conclude, Defend, Interpret, Judge, Editorialize, Select, Decide, Grade, Dispute, Rate, Discuss, Verify, Redo, Choose, Assess And they produce the following: Judgement, Panel, Opinion, Verdict, Value, Recommendation, Conclusion, Evaluation, Report, Investigation, Survey, Editorial

Mortimer Adler is another leading educational philosopher. He worked on the principle that the method of assessment should be linked to the method of instruction. For example, if we want students to become good problem solvers, then we should be teaching using a problem solving format.

A real life example might confront students with a problem. A copy of an instruction sheet on how to build a chair, perhaps, with a page missing. The student has to figure out a solution of their own and build the chair. This is an important concept for you to use when you design your methods of teaching, class lessons, and curricula.

Collaboration and Curriculum Mapping

Teachers who work together can plan a logical progression of performance assessments for their students. If you've never done this before, you may be surprised by the amount of assessment repetition you find throughout your school.

If you've done this before, please share your experience with others. If it's your first time, what are the obstacles that think you might encounter?

Image Teachers in the same grade level should work together to make sure that the curriculum is coherent, cohesive and well integrated among the various classes. The same process should be mapped out throughout the various grade levels in the school, to avoid repetition and to plan a meaningful growth of cumulative knowledge. This is known as "curriculum mapping," and has been explored at great length by Heidi Hayes Jacobs. Curriculum mapping begins when teachers record what really goes on in their classrooms. It continues with a careful and honest examination of the school's aggregate curriculum, with an eye towards identifying gaps, redundancies, and opportunities to restructure curriculum. An example of curriculum mapping and collaborative planning might involve teaching story telling. A student studying storytelling might start in elementary school learning about simple story boards that involve both visual and linguistic abilities. In middle-school they might progress to more complex narrative strategies that include character development and dialogue. Later in high-school they might try their hand at writing a short novel or movie script. This progression of skills and knowledge needs to be mapped beforehand and carefully coordinated among the various levels of faculty and administrators.

Teachers should be careful to make sure that the teaching plans are developmentally appropriate. For more information about this concept see our Resources section.

Portfolio Building

Portfolios can serve as a method for assessing and tracking student work both within the classroom and across grade levels. Instead of numerical evaluation that transmits fairly limited information about student performance and understanding, some say that portfolios provide a far richer and more detailed record of student development. This is a controversial issue. Many experts feel that portfolios also raise thorny issues. They may be hard to assess across a classroom, and may create difficulties in evaluation as they progress up through the grades levels. Universities generally require a record of numerical grades. Also, portfolios may make it difficult to ensure that students are meeting state standards.

One of the purposes of portfolios is not merely studying each work in the collection. Only when you study the works in relation to each other do you fully realize the power of the portfolio.

Another important process of portfolio building is the active involvement of the student. This kind of active communication between student and teacher has several tangible benefits. The student is able to define their own goals, which help the teacher to plan future lessons. This process also gives students the opportunity to reflect on their performance. Portfolios help us to answer the questions: What is revealing, important, and valuable to the student?

The portfolio serves three basic functions with regard to student work:

  • It helps you and the student to collect the work.
  • It helps you and the student to organize the work.
  • It helps you and the student to present and assess the work.

If the student is including work from several teachers in a portfolio, those teachers must work together to decide on portfolio basics: Where will the portfolio be stored? What types of materials are acceptable? Who are the custodians of the portfolio? If electronic, is the portfolio backed up periodically? How secure is the portfolio?

A Few Creative Approaches to Building and Assessing Portfolios

The following list covers the types of portfolios you might consider using to assess your students. Some of these choices may help create a social environment where portfolios can be used outside of school -- perhaps by employers in evaluating potential workers, or by college evaluators.
1. "Developmental" or "Growth" portfolios tend to focus on a specific subject area and provide a way to document improvements. They can also be used to follow a student's progress from year to year.
2. "Teacher Planning" portfolios are a collection of student work done at the very begining of a semester (or the beginning of a teaching module) that gauge the ability levels of a new class.
3. "Proficiency" portfolios are a collection of work in a variety of areas that can be used to determine graduation eligibility.
4. "Showcase" portfolios contain an assembly of a student's best work done during their entire educational career.
5. "Employment skills" portfolios are a collection of assignments that demonstrate the student's readiness and ability to work.
6. "College Admission" portfolios are a collection of student work during their educational career that can be solicited by admissions officers to judge an applicant's potential for success at an academic institution of higher learning.
This list is based on the work of Anna Maria D. Lankes.

Here are a few ideas about the kinds of things that can be included in student portfolios.

  • Self-assessment
  • Rubrics for individual items
  • Teacher comments and narratives
  • Peer reviews
  • Parent comments
  • Tapes of audience reaction to presentations
  • E-mail discussions (threads or transcripts of live chats)

You could also incorporate mock trials, athletic events, recitals, and similar performance assessments in videotapes, transcripts, or photographic form.

Wrap Up

In this workshop we've reviewed three techniques you can use as you begin to redesign your curriculum. We've given you an introduction to some of the concepts of cognitive development and student learning. These ideas may help you as you rethink your current methods. Does Bloom's conceptual framework seem to make sense? Can you see ways to apply it to your classroom. Do you agree with Adler's linkage between assessment and teaching strategy? Have you ever worked collaboratively with your colleagues in mapping your students' education? We are not trying to advocate any particularly method in this workshop, but hope that this discussion has provided a solid conceptual foundation you can use in your classroom.

Workshop: Assessment, Evaluation, and Curriculum Redesign
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