As we embark on our (hopefully) fulfilling journey of shaping young minds and fostering a love for learning, it’s crucial to navigate the realm of assessments with a clear understanding of the three fundamental pillars: Assessment for Learning (AFL), Assessment of Learning (AOL), and Assessment as Learning (AAL). These three components not only guide our teaching practices but also play a pivotal role in student growth and achievement.
Assessment for Learning (AFL)
Imagine a classroom as a dynamic ecosystem where both teachers and students are co-creators of knowledge. That’s the essence of Assessment for Learning (AFL). In this approach, assessments are viewed as tools for understanding where students are in their learning journey, identifying misconceptions, and tailoring instruction accordingly.
AFL is about ongoing, formative assessments that provide real-time feedback to both teachers and students. It’s not just about grades; it’s about fostering a growth mindset and creating a supportive environment where mistakes are viewed as stepping stones to success. Through quizzes, discussions, and other formative assessments, AFL helps us make timely instructional adjustments, ensuring that no student is left behind.
Some effective examples of AFL activities include:
Formative Quizzes: Create short quizzes or assessments that students can take during or after a lesson to gauge their understanding of key concepts. Use the results to identify areas that may need further clarification or reinforcement.
Peer Feedback Sessions: Organize peer review sessions where students provide feedback on each other’s work. This not only helps in assessing the quality of their work but also encourages collaboration and the development of critical evaluation skills.
Think-Pair-Share: Pose a question or present a scenario, and have students think about it individually first. Then, they pair up with a classmate to discuss their thoughts before sharing with the larger group. This encourages individual reflection and collaborative learning.
Exit Tickets: Use exit tickets as a quick assessment tool at the end of a lesson. Ask students to answer a few questions or solve a problem related to the day’s lesson. This provides immediate feedback on their comprehension and helps in adjusting future instruction based on identified needs.
Concept Mapping: Have students create concept maps to visually represent the relationships between different ideas or topics. This not only assesses their understanding of the material but also helps them organize and connect information in a meaningful way.
Assessment of Learning (AOL)
Assessment of Learning (AOL), often referred to as summative assessment, is what most of us are familiar with – the end-of-unit tests, final projects, or standardized exams. AOL is like taking a snapshot of what students have learned over a specific period. While AFL informs our day-to-day teaching, AOL provides a comprehensive overview of student achievement and allows for accountability at a broader level.
As teachers, AOL helps us evaluate the effectiveness of our instructional strategies and curriculum. It provides valuable insights into the strengths and areas that may need improvement. While it’s essential for reporting and grading purposes, AOL is most impactful when combined with AFL, creating a holistic approach to assessment.
Examples of AOL activities include:
Traditional Exams: Standardized written assessments that test a student’s knowledge and understanding of the material. This can include multiple-choice questions, short answers, essays, or a combination of these formats.
Project-Based Assignments: Tasks that require students to apply what they have learned in a creative or practical way. This could involve research projects, presentations, or hands-on activities that demonstrate their understanding of the subject matter.
Peer Assessment: Involving students in evaluating the work of their peers. This can be done through group projects, presentations, or other collaborative activities where students provide constructive feedback on each other’s performance.
Case Studies: Real-world scenarios or problems presented to students, requiring them to analyze, synthesize information, and apply their knowledge to propose solutions. Case studies encourage critical thinking and the application of theoretical concepts to practical situations.
Performance-Based Assessments: Tasks that assess a student’s ability to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world situations. This could include simulations, role-playing exercises, or any activity that requires students to demonstrate their competencies in a practical context. Performance-based assessments provide a more hands-on approach to evaluating learning outcomes.
Assessment As Learning
Now, let’s delve into the transformative power of Assessment as Learning (AAL). This approach is all about empowering students to take an active role in their own learning process. AAL encourages self-reflection, goal-setting, and metacognition, turning assessment into a journey of personal growth.
In an AAL environment, students become partners in the assessment process. They learn to monitor their progress, set learning goals, and reflect on their strengths and areas for improvement. By engaging in regular self-assessment, students develop a deeper understanding of their preferred learning modalities and strategies and become lifelong learners who take ownership of their education.
Some great examples of AAL activities include:
Self-Reflection Journals: Students regularly write reflections on their learning experiences, identifying strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. This encourages metacognition and self-awareness. In my personal opinion, journaling really holds the key to transforming secondary education and should be much more widely practiced than it is presently. I have written an entire blog post outlining how to implement journaling in your subject area, here.
Learning Logs or Blogs: A continuous record where students document their learning journey, including challenges faced, new insights gained, and connections made with prior knowledge. This ongoing process helps them track their progress. Sometimes these are called ‘e-portfolios’, and Google Sites lends itself very well to this process.
Graphic Organisers: Students create visual representations of their understanding of a topic by connecting concepts and relationships. This not only reinforces learning but also allows them to see how different pieces of information fit together. An even better way to do concept mapping is to upgrade to Mind Mapping (a distinct process created by the late Dr Tony Buzan, with whom I was very lucky to enjoy a video call with several years ago). I’ve written an entire blog post about ways to organise information, which includes Mind Mapping, here.
Peer Teaching or Tutoring: Students take turns teaching a concept or skill to their peers. This not only reinforces their own understanding but also provides an opportunity to receive feedback and correct misconceptions. From an AAL perspective, this works best when both the ‘deliverer’ and the ‘receiver’ have already grasped the fundamentals of the topic being taught.
Goal Setting and Monitoring: Students set personal learning goals, breaking them down into smaller, achievable targets. They regularly assess their progress toward these goals, adjusting strategies if needed. This encourages a sense of ownership and motivation in their learning journey. Again, I believe this is best facilitated by the journaling process.
Striking a balance
While each of these assessment approaches has its unique role, the magic happens when we strike a balance between them. AFL guides our daily interactions with students, AOL provides a snapshot of their overall achievement, and AAL empowers them to become active participants in their learning journey.
So, fellow teachers, let’s embrace the ABCs of assessment with open arms. Let’s use Assessment for Learning to inform our teaching, Assessment of Learning to measure overall achievement, and Assessment as Learning to empower our students. Together, we can create classrooms where learning is a collaborative adventure, and assessment is a compass guiding us toward success.
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Educational facilities need to offer students a lot more than merely a space to learn; nurturing learning environments must be safe and secure.
Security installations like monitoring systems, security personnel, emergency alert systems, and access control on campus are crucial for many reasons. These campus systems play a key role in maintaining the safety and well-being of students, educators, campus staff, and visitors.
Here are five reasons why campus security is fundamental.
The primary purpose of any educational facility is to provide students with a safe and secure environment. Otherwise, learning will not be possible. Students must be protected from physical threats like violent attacks, vandalism, and even theft.
It’s no secret that schooling institutes in the United States often experience devastating shootings. Moreover, school shootings are not the only safety concern, and these events are not secluded to the USA either. Fortunately, implementing sufficient security measures can significantly reduce the chances of violent crimes occurring on campus.
Access control and security personnel can restrict weapons entering campus while monitoring systems and emergency response measures are just as essential. With this, students can feel safer on a day-to-day basis.
Criminal activity on campus won’t just impact students; crime can also affect staff, employees, visitors, and the facility’s ability to operate. If classroom equipment is stolen or vandalized, no doubt classes will be put on hold for a while. Moreover, replacing equipment and lost lecture time will be a significant setback for the campus, lecturers, and students alike.
Campus security is not only about ensuring criminal activity is kept at bay; security measures also ensure emergency response to various situations. In case of unpredictable natural disasters, physical threats, or even a medical emergency, security systems should alert local responders immediately.
Campus security personnel and campus monitoring are two factors that will ensure emergency response is adequate. With this, security personnel must be trained in responding quickly to various kinds of emergencies, while local responders such as police or paramedics are en route to the campus.
Educational facilities are the home of various valuable assets, including pricey equipment, personal belongings, research materials, and classroom furniture. Campus security measures ensure property is protected from theft and vandalism, which will benefit everyone who ventures onto the campus for any reason. Campus security measures protect property the same way home security measures do.
Peace Of Mind
Peace of mind is one of the most invaluable benefits of campus security. While access control monitors and manages who is allowed to enter and exit the premises, it also provides peace of mind that’s critical for successful learning. Students and lecturers can focus on coursework without having to worry about their safety.
Some of the most common campus crimes include burglary, theft, vandalism, assault, harassment, stalking, property damage, sexual offences, and cybercrimes. While these crimes remain a prominent global issue, security measures can effectively secure schooling environments to ensure students can learn and thrive.
Slides are a staple of effective teaching, corporate presentations and workshops. They’re so ubiquitous, in fact, that many of us don’t realize just how much of a legendary, legacy technology they are. I was surprised to learn during my research for this blog post, for example, that MS PowerPoint was released way back in 1987! PowerPoint and other slide-based information delivery systems have stood the test of time because they are, essentially, extremely effective content presentation tools.
Slides are here to stay – that’s undeniable, so let’s discover the common mistakes teachers are making when utilizing them (note to reader – I have made ALL of the mistakes I’m about to mention at some point or another in my career, so I’m a real expert on this topic!).
#1: Putting too much text on each slide
The content needs to be readable, and not overwhelming. When we fill our slides with text, we tend to not only make our sentences too small for learners at the back of the class to read, but we also present too much information at once.
Whilst we often have a lot of stuff to get through in a lesson (especially if you are teaching exam-level students), consider spreading the information out over more slides. 3 sentences per slide on 3 slides, for example, is better than 9 sentences all crammed together on one slide.
#2: Making students copy from slides
Here are the problems this causes:
Children have different writing speeds, and you’ll always find that the majority of the class are sat around waiting for the slow students to finish copying.
It dramatically slows down the pace of your lessons, making it difficult to keep to a curriculum map schedule (if done repeatedly).
Copying notes from slides is one of the most ineffective ways to learn new content. According to Make It Stick (a book I highly recommend) when no effort is required in the learning process, learning doesn’t last very long. The book’s authors cited one study where students were allowed to copy notes word-for-word on some material but were made to rephrase other material in their own words. When tested afterwards, students did a much better job of recalling the material they had to put into their own words.
So, how do we solve this problem, especially when we have so much content to get through?:
Consider providing printouts of slides with blank spaces for the children to fill in along the way. I remember one of my Biochemistry lecturers doing this at Bangor University when I was an undergrad there and I loved it – not least because I was getting accurate notes to take home, but also because I had to focus on the lesson in order to fill in the blanks correctly. Whilst this is perhaps not the most effective way to learn content out of all the methods available, it does solve the problem of pace (i.e., you won’t go too slow using this method).
Consider differentiating texts by using the methods outlined in this blog post, in order to make large paragraphs more digestible for your learners.
#3: Not making slides interactive
Include some exam-style questions along the way during your slide presentation to break up the lesson a bit. Consider word-matching activities, fill-in-the-blanks, or even just questions with allotted time for the students to answer. Perhaps you could embed a link to a live-quiz app (such as Blooket, Quizlet Live or Kahoot!) into your slides to get your students competing in a healthy way.
#4: Not sharing the slides with the students
It’s so important to make the slides available to your students once the lesson is over, and for some classes it may even be appropriate to share them before the lesson begins.
VLE and LMS platforms, such as Google Classroom, Moodle, Firefly and others are perfect for this.
With pre-university students, such as IBDP or ‘A’ – Level learners, I often find that it’s helpful to share the slides ahead of time, as the students can then read ahead before the lesson begins.
Whichever method you choose, just make sure the materials are available to your students. That way you cannot be criticized for not providing the resources that your students need to revise for their tests and assessments.
#5: Reading the slides to the class
This is an absolute no-no for teachers and is an obvious behavior to avoid to those who are more experienced in the profession. For new and trainee teachers, however, it can be a challenge to present slides without reading from them.
Teachers tend to read from slides for two main reasons:
Lack of subject knowledge/lack of reading ahead
Consider the following solutions:
Freeze your slide and move to the next slide on your computer. Quickly glance at, and read, the slide on your computer screen before presenting it to your class. This will help you to re-phrase the content into your own words.
Print out a copy of the slides for yourself and have it in your hand during the presentation. Again, this will allow you to read-ahead in ‘real-time’.
This sounds obvious but READ AHEAD. Never present a slideshow without reading over it first (avoid sourcing a slideshow from a third party on the internet immediately before a lesson begins).
Practice pronouncing key vocabulary and technical language before the lesson begins.
Other mistakes teachers are making with slide presentations
Getting the visuals wrong – include nice pictures, charts and graphics where possible, and make them big enough for the class to read. If you’re stuck for time, then SlidesGPT can use AI to make a visually appealing slide presentation for you with just a few prompts (FYI – always CHECK the slides once generated). In addition to this, MS PowerPoint now comes with visual suggestions and can make slides visually appealing by using its AI Copilot feature.
Not annotating slides – if you have the technology (e.g., a smartboard), then annotate your slides as you present them. Circle key words, underline key phrases, add extra information and even re-phrase things. This will serve to make the content clearer for your students.
Conflicting colors – Are your slides readable? Always check the color balance before you present (red text on a black background, for example, is notoriously difficult to read!)
Unclear fonts – avoid Brushscript! Calibri, Comic Sans and Arial tend to work really well for presentations.
Shameless plug – check out my Powerful Public Speaker Certificate Course
If you are interested in some excellent Professional Development for you or your team, which focuses on making your slide presentations as perfect as possible, then check out my Powerful Public Speaker Certificate Course. This can be delivered online or on-site. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to book me for this training.
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