I really enjoyed these weeks’ readings as I feel that change and adaptation are integral parts of education. Both readings discuss what assessment is compared to what it should be. The focus on changing current use of Assessment is very important because it currently tends to be very judgmental, based on personal characteristics, and is not ongoing.
When discussing her experience with assessment, Tomlinson states, “It was difficult for [her] to move beyond their judgmental aspect” (2). I had never thought of assessment as being judgmental as that is all I have known. The types of assessments seen most often only cater to students who are able to memorize facts and copy them onto the test paper. Through my own experience I know how difficult this is. I am the type of learner who understands the large ideas of a unit but has difficulty memorizing the small details. Tests cause me to freeze up and are not really an accurate depiction of my knowledge. I did have one English teacher in high school that did a wonderful job of incorporating all of the learning styles into our assessments. We were permitted to pick a novel, allowing us to explore our own interests, and pick out of a list of assignments to display our understanding of the book. Kinesthetic learners could perform a scene from the novel, a musical learner could write a song, and a visual learner could draw a reimagining of the cover. This type of assessment encouraged students to have a choice in their education, which encourages interest and is something I plan to use in my teaching career.
Another common problem with assessment that both readings discuss is that rather than assessing student knowledge it focuses on the students’ traits. Much like assessment being judgmental this occurs so often that we do not even notice it. The most prominent example being when teachers grade for participation, which does not show if the student has learned anything. If the student is an introvert, being told they have to speak in front of the class is detrimental, and will most often result in the student feeling uncomfortable and not speaking at all. The calm and open atmosphere you want in a classroom will be quickly filled with nervousness and anxiety, at least for that specific student. Being an introvert I have experienced this for many years and would dread going to class where I new I would be pressured to speak, but would relax as soon as I attended Drama or English, classes where I knew that there would be no pressure to talk. It was there that I would feel more comfortable and share my ideas with the class.
Traditional assessments are also very final. However, when students are tested at the end of a unit with no assessing throughout, as is common practice in our school systems, the results will be skewed. As stated before, I am personally not a very good test taker, partially because my learning style does not match the type of exam that is commonly used, and partially because I feel rushed. My grade three teacher was the first to notice my struggles. She noticed the difference between my worksheet marks and my test marks, and made sure to allow the entire class as much time as needed on tests, which improved my marks. This would not have been caught without assessment throughout the year. The ongoing assessment allowed my teacher to observe the differences in learning and test taking styles within my class and adapt to better meet students needs.
I find the reading in “Our Words Our Ways concerning. The chapter discusses education needing to address the needs of First Nations students. This concerned me because I am worried about assessments creating these cultural labels and stereotypes. I believe that since every student’s upbringing is unique one must account for all of his or her differences, regardless of what cultural norms have been set. I believe that culture alone, is not the only unique aspect of students. Even when they have the same cultural background, they still have different learning styles.