As part of my post-session task from session 2, I observed a starter of an English lesson and a full geography lesson. Firstly, I'd like to say that I truly believe that observing lessons is a great way to spend a non-contact period. Secondly, I'd like to thank those people (who do not read my blog, I expect, as I expect few do) for allowing me access to their classrooms. I'll allow anyone and everyone to come into my classroom, but I won't alter what I'm doing. What I do day to day is what I do, and even if OfSTED come in, I'll continue to do the same.
In the English lesson I only observed the starter. The task was to observe full lessons, but who has the time?! The starter was obviously something the teacher had had on the go for a while as pupils had been paired up and asked to prepare a short presentation on the difference between two similar words. We saw two groups deliver theirs (on the words 'already' and 'all ready', and on the words 'illusion' and 'allusion'). I noted that the activity satisfied some elements of 'DR. ICE' by challenging (teaching someone else...) and the way that the activities engaged their peers (a moving around the room quiz and a very well-made video resource). I thought about the use of this in mathematics, but came to the final idea that this would be useful in revision only and would require too much work on behalf of pupil experts to deliver a session on something they're already competent with at a time where they should be spending time working on improving their understanding of other areas.
I observed the full geography lesson in which the class were representing their findings of an environmental survey in bar charts. The teacher referred to their graphs as 'A star graph' instead of 'a bar graph' and revisited this in her plenary. The two As stood for 'axes', S for 'scale on the y-axis', T for 'title' and R for something else (I forget, sorry). She had pupils peer mark and write the letters down on a mini-whiteboard when they'd met that criteria and those pupils who had succeeded at the task had 'A STAR' written down their mini-whiteboard. I liked this quite a lot and would hope to use something like this at some point.
On with this week's session...
1. Exploring Assessment
We began with a simple task. 'Draw a house'. I drew the house in which I currently live and we marked each other's work in pairs. One colleague took the 'house' part a bit far and drew a lighthouse, and my marking involved statements such as 'No Sky+?', 'This fence will need replacing soon' and (my favourite) 'This is a bit of a fantasy!' next to the sun. I think both would be valuable resources if doing this activity with a class as a humourous way in and a way to highlight that this is not how peer-marking is expected to be done.
We discussed the task and decided that the way to mark it would be to provide success criteria, but why provide students with a task without indicating how they are going to succeed at it? We repeated the task with criteria and marked against this, deciding that success criteria is a must for students to succeed in the exam system in which we currently teach.
The next task was around four assessment questions: "When do students need success criteria?", "Why do students need success criteria?", "What might the success criteria columns (in the task) represent?" and "Is success criteria for the benefit of students or staff?"
We then took off into two groups on each side of a double-sided whiteboard to discuss different types of assessment: Assessment of learning and assessment for learning. The discussions ended with the comparison of 'AoL' being a 'post-mortem'-style of assessment whereas 'AfL' was more of a 'health check'. We also decided that some activities (such as past exam papers) can be classed as both if they are used in different ways.
We completed this session by defining what Assessment of Learning and Assessment for Learning is as well as completing our self-audits.
2. Lesson Observations
We went into three different lessons to observe the use of AfL and fed back in the session after break. We saw a lot of AfL happening, none of which I found overly ground breaking, but did like the use of 'The Steps to Success' in a maths lesson rather than 'All/Most/Some objectives'. The lowest step with the lowest level objective is coloured pink, bronze, silver and gold with the objective level increasing through the colours. I thought this was an excellent way to show progress through a lesson. It also reignited my wishes for a document camera for my classroom.
There was more discussion time allowed for feeding back observations and findings from the post-session task.
4. Post-session Task
This session's task is tight on time, and is simply to prepare a planning log and action plan for priorities on working on assessment within lessons. The action plan is to identify three objectives for improving the use of assessment in lessons, the action that will allow this to happen and the success criteria for deciding whether the action plan has proved to be successful. A space for reflection is also to be added to allow for a later reflection.
The third session takes place tomorrow (22nd October).