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Monitoring and Assessment is at the heart of all good teaching. Discuss.

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Introduction

Monitoring and Assessment is at the heart of all good teaching At the start of my teaching career AfL was a phrase that was beginning to crop up on a daily basis and it is an acronym for a process I will always have to be aware of within my chosen career path of teaching. The word 'assessment' can mean almost anything therefore it is imperative that we are careful when attempting to define its boundaries. Lambert and Lines (2000) define assessment as "the process of gathering, interpreting, recording and using information about pupils' responses to educational tasks" ( 2000 pg 298-309). While this is an acceptable definition of assessment, Graham Butt(1997) expands on this definition by proposing that assessment has four main roles within teaching and learning. 1. Providing feedback to teachers and students about each child's progress in order to shape their future learning (a formative role). This is similar to the diagnostic role of assessment in pin-pointing the precise needs of an individual child. 2. Providing information about the level of a student's achievements at a particular point, for example at the end of a school year or at the end of a Key Stage (a summative role). 3. A tool for filtering students based on qualification (a certification role). 4. Assessment helps people to judge the effectiveness of the education system as an evaluation role. Little was known about the formative role of assessment within teaching and learning prior to the work of Black and Williams (1998). By 1997 it was clear the assessment emphasis within England and Wales was focused on summative assessment practices such as end-of-key-stage levelling rather than an ongoing profile of student learning and understanding. ...read more.

Middle

Setting tasks also allows me to see if the learning objective has been achieved. I used the traffic light system as another method for assessing the students which allowed me to conclude whether the lesson was successful and whether to proceed with the following lesson in the scheme. Challenging activities was an assessment opportunity for me to see what the students understood rather than see what they just knew. Oral or written feedback from the students was another assessment opportunity to see if the objectives were being achieved. I hoped that through formative assessment I would be able to collect rich evidence of students' understandings. My aim was not only to find out what they know and what they do not know but also, and most importantly, what they partly know. I believe that teaching is about helping learners realise this and then help guide them through and improve their part-knowledge to a fuller understanding. Formative assessment is a more effective way of assessing students than assessment of learning as it provides ways of helping students in moving their knowledge and understanding forward. Lambert and Weeden (2007) stated "For formative to be effective it is essential that teachers share their understanding of important ideas with their students." (2007 p11) They believed within the Geography curriculum that rich questions should explicitly recognise the interaction between the physical and human world and in responding to students' answers teachers can emphasise the importance of this interaction. I also believe that the opportunity for peer discussion is a major tool in the development of a student and always try to encourage some discussion within the classroom. Creating a classroom culture in which students feel they can reveal current understanding and be helped to firmer understanding is an essential ingredient in making formative assessment functional. ...read more.

Conclusion

Students are also much clearer about how to improve their knowledge, understanding and skills." (Warden Park School Profile, 2009, pg.9, see in Appendix 5) The school has done this by setting up CPD sessions for all staff to assist each other through sharing good practice and ideas within these sessions and students' progress is consistently improving and also putting up a display in the marking room for the use of all teachers displaying good practice of assessment of learning and assessment for learning. This is also demonstrated through different activities performed within a lesson for example collective memory skills activities along with in depth feedback lessons based on how to improve their knowledge and improve their answering within assessments. (See in Appendix 6) Ofsted possibly saw that some departments implemented assessment strategies slightly better than others and as a consequence, set a target to ensure good practice was shared. Due to this recommendation the school has now made progress in making formative and summative assessment a priority to ensure students' learning. This is supported in the detailed feedback they give after an assessment has been taken and the detailed reports that are given to each student in every year group. It is hoped that these entries have highlighted my understandings of these words that are so commonly used in our daily discourse and the 'thread' that connects all these terms and have explained some reasons why I have come to these conclusions. I believe that there are thousands of teachers who in their different contexts share the same interest in developing effective pedagogies through formative assessment and through that we all believe at the heart of teaching and learning are students; therefore, at the heart of any 'learning', 'assessment' and 'assessment for learning' must be students. ...read more.

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