Standards-Based Assessments

P3: Practice standards-based assessment. This standard means not only aligning assessments to standards, but also using a variety of informal as well as formal assessments to elicit student voice and measure student progress toward learning targets and standards. During my internship, I frequently used both “Exit Tickets” as a way of encouraging students to self-asses their participation and personal progress toward the learning objective, but also to elicit student voice and receive feedback regarding what students learned during the lesson as well as where students feel they still need support or clarification. After reading through each “Exit Ticket,” I had a better understanding of where students were in relation to the learning objective and how I might tweak my lesson or activity for the following day in order to fill in gaps in academic knowledge or provide additional support or practice for the development of particular skills. When used effectively, student voice and feedback should inform teaching practices to improve student understanding.

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The example above is an “Exit Ticket” written by a junior student during our study of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. During the “Entrance Ticket” from the beginning of the lesson, students expressed confusion over the differences between themes and subjects, so I gave a mini-lesson on theme before we analyzed the first short story in the novel for potential themes. This student believes she successfully met the learning objective, evaluates her participation in the practice activity, and then explains how her understanding of truth was expanded, challenged, or changed as a result of the lesson activities and discussion. Moving forward, I will continue to use a variety of informal and formal assessments in order to monitor student progress toward standards and goals. It was encouraging to me watching students come to the realization that I was reading their “Entrance Tickets” and “Exit Tickets,” listening to what they needed and providing specific support. These informal pre and post assessments employ student voice in order to inform my teaching, but also teach students how to self-asses, giving them a stake in their own learning and achievement.

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Creating Organized Curriculum Aligned to Standards and Outcomes

O1: Offer an organized curriculum aligned to standards and outcomes. Organizing a curriculum around Common Core standards and outcomes, means choosing the standards and goals for the unit, as well as the desired end result or outcome, then planning lessons, activities, and multiples ways of assessing progress toward the chosen standards and goals. I had the opportunity to practice creating organized curriculum during my internship this year. Before beginning a unit on Debate—persuasive writing and speaking—I designed a unit outline identifying the three standards, skills I wanted to students to develop throughout the unit, and the way in which students would show evidence of learned skills.

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Mentally mapping out an entire unit in this way was challenging, but knowing what the end goal was, helped keep my lessons focused. Additionally, centering each lesson on specific learning targets kept lessons aligned with my chosen Common Core standards and ensured that each lesson was purposefully constructed to meet that learning objective. Furthermore, including learning objectives or measurable goals for each lesson helped make me aware of when to scaffold certain concepts or activities as well as to build on skills and deepen understanding as lesson progressed. Not only were daily learning targets beneficial to me as an instructor, but they also provided students with clear, purposeful, and measurable expectations for each day’s lesson. When students understand what is expected of them and why, they not only become responsible for their own learning, but also, they are able to self-assess their progress toward each learning goal. This opportunity for self-assessment teaches valuable skills in reflection and self-analysis by giving students a stake in their own education.