Using Assessment in Classrooms

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Using Assessment in Classrooms    

School has changed tremendously since the days of one-room school houses. Children are now a central part in the learning process, they are given personal responsibility of their education. The current thinking about assessment in classrooms is that assessment is a daily process, involving a high teacher to student communication. Numerous ideas exist on the advances and uses of assessment including the use of classroom discussion, tapping into prior knowledge, and formative assessment. These ideas culminate in the example of teacher Marilyn Burns.  Burns (1995), Founder of Math Solutions Professional Development, says “I now approach assessment in an intentional way and incorporate it into every lesson” (p. 26).

“Incorporating assessment into classroom discussion serves two goals: it provides insights into students’ thinking, and it ensures that no student is invisible in the class, but that all are participating and working to understand and learn” (Burns, 1995, p. 29). Classroom discussions are one way that students can show their understanding of a topic. It is a wonderful way to show how students are thinking.  By asking students verbal questions teachers can look at their thought processes on a deeper level.  When students verbalize their thoughts, it helps them to further understand the content.  Burns likes to see children interacting; it is a way in which the students can help one another learn.  The students’ comments become very beneficial to everyone’s learning process.  Instead of correcting the mistake automatically, teachers should ask questions leading the students to the correct answer themselves. During these class discussions it is imperative to ensure all students participate at an effective level.  Teachers can use this information to assess their students’ understanding of the topic as its happening.

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In the article, Linking Formative Assessment to Scaffolding, Lorrie Sheppard, Dean of the School of Education at the University of Colorado, gives strategies to illustrate various ways of learning that can take place in the classroom through assessment. The first of which includes discovering prior knowledge. The use of pre-tests should be a common classroom activity where children can use what they already know to help them process new ideas. Once teachers are aware of their students’ understanding of concepts, they can modify their lessons in order to accommodate the child’s knowledge. One example of an assessment that uses prior ...

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