As students continue to learn online at home, monitoring how well students can retain what they are taught can be challenging.
With new skills, new academics, and a new teaching model, the assessment techniques require an update to something that can monitor their retention of knowledge, skills, and well-being. Parents and teachers must work together and use effective tools to ensure students are progressing as much as they would in a classroom setting.
Broadly, there are two types of assessment: formative, which focuses on short-term learning goals, and summative, which compares student achievement to expected skills at a grade level. Both the assessments are essential to identify student knowledge gaps and make informed decisions to determine students’ performance.
This post focuses on the formative assessment in online teaching, highlighting tips and tricks that educators or parents at home can use to identify students’ knowledge, retained skills set, and social-emotional well-being.
Share Learning Goals for Each Lesson
Educators must set specific and realistic goals for each lesson and inform students beforehand. If you share how students will be assessed, students are more likely to be prepared at the end of the class. For instance, if students are receiving instruction on division and you tell them they’ll have to complete 15 problems on their own at the end of the lesson, they’re more likely to be prepared to solve the problems. This can be a part of your regular online classes, and after you transition back to the physical classroom, you can continue with this assessment technique.
Following up on concepts that you’ve taught before and the concepts that may work as a base to understand the later topics. You can sometimes mix two or three assessment questions to know how much students have understood, what you need to revise, and what can be left. Based on students’ answers, you’d be able to identify the content they still need to learn. For instance, in a lesson on the food cycle, students can respond to MCQs or short answer questions. Using these, you can quickly assess their understanding of the concepts. You can use polls to make it engaging. Another important aspect of this type of formative assessment is using sufficient questions. To determine whether students have met their learning goals or not, make sure that you use an adequate number of questions. Typically, 5 to 10 questions per lesson do the work; however, it’s okay to find the correct number through the hit and trial method and determine the number of questions that work for you and your class.
Consideration and Feedback
Discussing student progress at regular intervals with students and their parents can help in identifying the areas of strength and weakness. Sharing feedback forms with parents and having a collaborative partnership with parents can positively impact students’ performance. This also allows transparency about students’ behavior and well-being which plays a significant role in their academic performance. Another essential thing to consider is that the same assessments may have different outcomes for students from other communities, cultures, income levels, homes, or speakers of different languages. For instance, a student learning English may underperform in math word problems.
Digital Journals and One-Page Activity
Every student is different. Not all learn at the same speed; one may like to engage in classroom discussion, while another student may be an introvert and wants to stay quiet during discussions. Assessments must address this individuality in students and ensure they get a fair chance. After-class exercises can benefit all students, and you can mix things up to provide flexibility to students. You can use Google Docs and create a journal bank for each student where students can share what they have understood, what they want to learn, and what they want you to discuss again; or 3-2-1: three things they learned; two things they found interesting; one thing they didn’t understand.
Jill Fletcher’s one-pager activity is also a great way to help students unwind at the end of every lesson. The one-pager activity requires students to write down one-page covering themes, questions they have, things they liked or anything they want to share on a single page. You can use Canva for this activity, and you might get surprised how amazingly this works for students and the whole classroom.
Art Is the New Assessment
Students do miss their classroom wall decoration. Collages, mindmaps, sketches, charts, and more creative vents that students used to engage in can be used in virtual mediums to share their thinking. You can find ways for students to be creative and use art to express their thinking and understanding. Allow students to be creative and create digital images, ads, slides or anything that they like to share their knowledge and express themselves creatively.
Peer relationships have been compromised due to online teaching. Online learning makes it more critical to include activities that foster relationships between students. Peer evaluation is a great way to engage students and encourage peer connections. You can assign a virtual buddy for the week or divide students into pairs at random to get them talking across the classroom as they assess each other’s learning. Another way is to assign activities to students in pairs and make them work together on small projects and evaluate each other’s learning along the process.
Give Space To Students As They Transition Back To School
Lastly, when schools reopen, you can use the information from your summative assessments to showcase student progress during the COVID-19 at-home learning. Students might have lost some academic skills during their home learning. In fact, as per NWEA, after summer breaks, many students lose 30% to 50% of skills learned the previous year in reading and math. You must use the information from the summative assessment to make adjustments in the curriculum and address individual learning. Periodic formative assessments should continue throughout the year to monitor students’ progress.
The sudden shift to online learning has been equally difficult for students and teachers. Addressing the fact that students’ social-emotional wellness affects learning, parents and teachers must work together and check in with students. Changes due to COVID-19 may require that students require some support to navigate through various challenges. As educators and parents, you must ensure they get the help they need and feel acknowledged.