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Samples of Formative Assessments Used in the Classroom:

Formative assessments are an excellent way for any educator to evaluate the on-going learning in the classroom. Having been a student teacher in a kindergarten classroom, formative assessment activities have been an every day and extremely important part of my teaching process. Gathering information about my students' abilities and their comprehension levels was vital to making sure that I am reaching my students and helping them to learn as much as possible. I have used many different forms of formative assessment in my teaching, a few of which include questioning, student work during lessons, worksheets, participation in demonstrations, and observations.

Questioning is one of the fastest but sometimes most useful ways to assess students for comprehension and understanding. It can be used in any subject area and with any student. But the important part is to make questioning appropriate to each student and their ability levels. For instance, it is important to consider that a student with a learning disability may need more time to respond to a question than do other students, so giving them a warning of an up-coming question can be useful. Also, the wording of questions are not always appropriate to all students. I have tried to consider this carefully as I have worked in my student teaching placement. In the activity pictured below, I varied my questions and activities to assess the different students I had. I divided my students into two groups, one of which consisted of struggling students and the other consisting of more advanced students. For the students who were struggling, I assessed their basic understanding of the values of pennies and nickels through questioning, but for the more advanced group, I assessed their understanding of groups of pennies and nickels through questioning.

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The work that students produce during a lesson is also very useful to formatively assessing their understanding. For instance, students in my classroom were working on learning about adding two numbers equaling less than ten during a mathematics lesson. As I demonstrated on the board, the students followed along doing their own work on individual pieces of paper. During this particular lesson, I was limited in the amount of time I had to teach because of a school assembly earlier in the day, so I used written responses such as these to help me to assess if my students were able to follow along with the lesson. Similarly, written responses of students on activity sheets during a lesson help me to see if the students were able to understand the lesson. For instance, I had the students in my classroom conduct an inquiry activity about magnets during this lesson. To assess their learning during this activity, I used response sheets such as the one pictured below. As you can see in this image, the students made predictions about the pictured object being attracted to a magnet or not. Then the students put a pencil X on their correct predictions and a red X on their incorrect predictions.
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Worksheets are also something students can respond to during a lesson which helps me to understand their learning. Although I try not to use a great deal of worksheets in my teaching, the ones I have chosen to include have been fun and motivating for the children but also informative for me. One set of these worksheets included these Spongebob pages which I differentiated for the ability levels of my students. I also used worksheets to formatively assess my students' problem solving ability. As you can see below, I used several different forms of problems including problems which required the understanding of more than one parameter, the use of numbers, and planning to solve a problem.
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Having students participate in class demonstrations and the responses they provide can also give a great deal of insight into their understanding. I try to have my students as actively involved in their learning as much as possible. One way of actively assessing students is by creating a group graphic organizer. The photograph here shows a Venn Diagram I created with the help of two different groups of students as we compared and contrasted pennies and nickels. I have also learned a lot from having my students come to the dry erase board and demonstrate their answers on the board. Shown below is a photograph of a series of drawings I did for my students to demonstrate how to spend ten cents on more than one item. This activity allowed me to assess if my students were ready to participate in our classroom store activity which was to follow the assessment.
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Observations of students as they are working together during lessons is also a great way to formatively assess my students. I try to have my students work together on a regular basis and then travel among them as they work. Pictured below, you can see images from the Magnet Circus I held in my classroom and images from a lesson I held on balance scales. Through the observations I made during these lessons, I was able to tell which of my students appeared to understand the concepts I was teaching and which did not. This helped me to decide the direction of my later instruction.

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Samples of Summative Assessments Used in the Classroom:

While studying at The College of William and Mary, I have also had a very detailed training in creating reliable and valid summative assessments. As part of this process, I have learned how to create a table of specification from which to plan out my assessment questions and then chart back my students' results. This Table of Specification was one I created for testing my students for their learning about magnets. It shows the cognitive levels at which I believed that students should be taught and tested on the SOL objectives. This Table of Specification is one I created for testing my students on their knowledge about plants. As you can see in the table, I have charted the results of my students' assessment back on to the table.

From the different Tables of Specification that I created, I went on to develop different assessments which consisted of select-response questions and supply-response questions. Each supply-response question was accompanied by a rubric which could be used to evaluate the value of the open-ended responses given by the students. This test was used shortly after teaching a week long unit about magnets to my class, and this test was used later during my student teaching experience after teaching my students about plants and caring for the earth. Both of these tests were created to be appropriate for testing kindergarten-age students and were administered aloud to each student one-on-one. This process took a long time, but I feel that it gave me a fuller understanding of my students' learning. After administering these tests, I also thoroughly reviewed the outcomes of the assessment. In this analysis and reflection I closely examined the test results of my students on their plant test. Within it you will find a great deal of information including Table of Specification with test results mapped, a bar graph displaying those results (pictured below), aggregated analysis of class results, analysis of three individual students' tests, an analysis of the validity and reliability of my test, and what improvements I believe can be made to my test.

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Demonstrated Growth for a Group of Students Over Time through Formative and Summative Assessments:

Assessment is not an activity which is done once and is finished. It is important that teachers assess often and on-going so that we know how are students are developing. One way in which this can be accomplished is through the use of techniques such as KWL charts, which show "What You Know," "What You Want to Know," and "What You Learned." This photograph shows a KWL chart about plants which I used as a beginning activity with my students when starting our unit about plants. This chart was created later during that lesson to assess what students know about our needs for life and what they believed plants need for life. In the bottom right corner of latter chart you can see that my student voted on which plants would do best or worst: one without air, one without water, one without light, or one that had everything.

During this plant unit, I also implemented another form of assessment that can be used to examine student learning over time. As can be seen in the image below, I gave my students a pre-assessment and post-assessment of plants. Before teaching my students anything about plants, I asked them to each, "Draw a plant." When asked what they should draw, I just repeated that I wanted them to draw what they thought of when they think of a plant. Many of my students drew flowers in vases or simply designs of flowers, such as the one done by this student. After teaching a full week about plants, I presented my students with another piece of blank paper and again asked them to, "Draw a plant," but this time I also told them, "Think of everything that you have learned about plants in this last week and use it in your drawing." As you can see, this student was able to demonstrate in her post-assessment drawing that she learned that plants have roots, leaves, grow in the dirt, and need rain (which she told me is represented by the blue lines). Many other students also made these improvements to their drawings and demonstrated a great deal of growth during the unit.

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I additionally feel that portfolios are a good form of assessing growth in students over time, and these pre- and post-assessments of plants were part of a larger portfolio my students created on plants. This image below shows the components of the completed portfolio for this student which included written work, art, a song with associated physical activities, drawings, and other materials.

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Developing a Lesson or Activity Based on Student Assessment Results:

As a teacher, I feel that it is important to base my teaching on my assessments of students. Without doing this, I can move on in my teaching while my students are left unsure or confused about what I have previously covered with them. One particular time that I used the direct assessments of a student to create an activity was when I was working one-on-one with a student in language arts. During these tutoring sessions, I was able to conduct a great deal of formative assessment through observations, questioning, and evaluations of written work. I also conducted summative assessments with this student, including an observation survey and a spelling inventory; both of which I closely examined and evaluated. Please see my examination of the observation survey results. From these assessments, I developed seven lessons individually tailored to this student's needs. As a culminating activity, I created the game pictured below. My student was shown to be an emergent reader, so I was working on developing her alphabet knowledge and initial letter sound recognition. In this game, the players draw from a stack of cards that each feature a picture of an object that starts with one of the six letters on the board. The player must identify the initial letter sound and then move their game piece to the next place on the path which features that letter. During my observation survey and through getting to know the student, I also learned that she loves Spongebob, so I developed the game with a Spongebob theme. For an added element of game challenge, a player that lands on the snail, Gary, loses a turn, while a player who lands on the starfish, Patrick, gets another turn. My student adored this game, which allowed her to practice her learning and for me to have even greater assessment data about her knowledge. For instance, I learned that this student was still having difficulty visually distinguishing between lowercase n and lowercase h.

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Another example of a time in which I directly used my assessment information to develop a lesson plan for a student was when I worked with a special needs student in my classroom. I observed the student throughout his day, spoke with his special needs teacher and my cooperating teacher (his general education teacher), and examined his IEP and created my own IEP At-A-Glance. From these experiences, I found that this student has difficulty counting and making one-to-one connections between numbers and objects being counted. I then worked with this student directly to assess just how well he counted. I presented him with a line of twenty counting chips and asked him to count as high as he could while pointing to one chip at a time. After he did this, I cleared the chips and placed them back out, once again asking him to count the chips. I found that he could only count accurately up to 13, then skipped 14 and 15, and then counted higher but inaccurately the numbers above. Based on this knowledge, I created this lesson and the accompanying game pictured below to help him develop improvements to these skills. The student would use a spinner to determine how many spaces to move, and the student would need to read the numbers as he moved his game piece. He would then need to go back to the beginning of his path and count with his finger one-to-one each of the numbers he has already passed. I then reflected how this lesson went to see just how much my student benefited from the activity.

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