Several forms of formative assessments can be found in the lesson plans I implemented during my teaching at Polaris.
For the first lesson, From Stones to Selves, I utilized a game to pre-assess my students observational skills – a fundamental skill utilized throughout our Story Telling with Art Unit. The concept map students created as a class was also a formative assessment used to measure their ability to make close observations and connects between art and the world. Students completion of the Creature Bio playsheet provided another opportunity for formative assessment. The writing students completed on these playsheets demonstrated their thinking and allowed me to analyze these documents as data; using these playsheets, I was able to identify which students were struggling to meet objectives, which students were meeting the objectives, and which students where exceeding the objectives. Knowing the levels of proficiency students had achieved gave me direct insight that I could apply to purposeful differentiation of instruction.
During the second lesson, Home For A Friend, an important assessment came in the form of student interpretations of art. While observing the artwork of contemporary sculpture artist Eva Funderburgh, students made interpretations about the meaning of the work and considered the reasons for the artists artistic choices. Student interpretations can act as formative assessments that address a students understanding of the language of art, art making techniques and practices, and concepts related to the art. A writing assignment during this lesson called 3 Goals provided another opportunity to assess students. Students were asked to write 3 goals for aspects of their stone they could work to emphasize in their artwork. Goals can work as a form of formative assessment as they address students current understanding and their areas for future improvement. Knowing students goals allowed me to differentiate my instruction to help them achieve those personal goals.
In both lessons, my circulation of the room during student work time provided an opportunity for formative assessment through inquiry questions and one-on-one discussions with students. These brief interactions allowed me to hear about my students struggles, successes, and goals for improvement. A general assessment of the room allowed me to adjust my instruction to better accommodate and fulfill my students needs. These adjustments to instruction happened during each lesson; for example, changes included giving students more or less time to work on an activity based on students ability to meet the objectives, addressing behavioral issues and further expressing expectations, reorganizing the order of lesson parts to better meet student objectives, doing a demonstration or verbal instruction to address issues several students are facing, regrouping, changing seating placements or altering seating style (standing, bouncy chair, rocking chair) of students to better fulfill their needs and support their learning, introducing elements that better suit a variety of learning styles, addressing confusing vocabulary or concepts more clearly or age appropriately and so much more. Discussions also served as important formative assessments of students understanding in both lessons. Using pre-planned inquiry questions, I asked students questions to assess their understanding of concepts, vocabulary, and big ideas related to the lesson which allowed me to better tailor my future instruction to suit students needs. Discussions also provided the opportunity for students to express their struggles and strengths with the art making process – giving me direct feedback for ways I can further support them.
Student reflective activities completed throughout both lessons acted as forms of summative assessment. At the end of each lesson, students participated in a “critique” activity that allowed them to reflect on their learning experiences and express those ideas.
The most significant summative assessment for these two lessons came in the form of the Student Exhibition at the end of the semester. Students work was formally displayed and doors were opened to parents and teachers as a gallery show. The exhibition included work created at all stages of the learning process (rather than just displaying the students final product) in order to show their journey while exploring the content. As a class, we viewed all of the students work. Students participated in an activity to help them make interpretations about their peers artworks. We had a discussion that addressed each students art including statements about great ideas, room for improvement, craftsmanship and individual interpretations. Seeing the students work all together gave us an opportunity to assess their growth and learning throughout the unit. Their sketchbooks, paintings, sculptures and writings all acted as artifacts of their learning that we viewed as a whole to see their progress and proficiency with the lesson objectives.
Click on the buttons below to see a newsletter sent out to parents during this Polaris teaching experience and to learn more about the Student Exhibition at the end of the unit.
Documentation of Learning
Throughout the semester, Layne (my co-teacher) and I kept a blog that documented students learning throughout the unit.
Discuss student learning observed from the blogs. How can you provide evidence that concepts, skills and outcomes/objectives were achieved by the students?
Click on the button below to view our blog for our teachings at Polaris Expeditionary Learning School.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Assessments
Room for Improvement
Discuss strengths and weaknesses (unit topic not clearly defined when assessment developed, objectives are vague or to broad, assessment doesn’t adequately measure the quality of learning, achievement is clearly defined through the assessment, etc.) and possible modifications to assessment and instruction plans and teaching.