Evidencing learning has changed massively over the last few years – whether that is in Education, training or CPD. How can you review that progress is being made at the level of capability required?
I remember a lesson observation that I had and receiving a grade 2 with outstanding features….I felt uneasy that I didn’t receive the outstanding grade 1. The feedback provided stated that for my outstanding grade I had to ensure that I had evidenced progression being made by all the students. Had they all made progress? Yes, I was fairly confident they had, but how could I be sure that every single one of them had? And where had I evidenced this?
In my early days of teaching I started to explore various assessment for learning strategies that would consistently demonstrate how my pupils were progressing. I delivered many sessions of training and it became an integral part of my teaching. It is really a common sense approach, we need to able to provide meaningful and challenging feedback before the end of modules and course! We need to know our students starting points and their targets, and we need to ensure good communication with our students to help them progress.
So, how can you know that all your students are learning something in every lesson that you teach and how can we be better at this so that all our students can achieve the most progress possible?
Know your starting point!
Our starting point is always the student, knowing your students and their capabilities is essential so that you can build upon this.
To enable me to get to know my students I used to keep a class file with profile cards for all the students I taught. This included student photographs, seating plans, and their target data, past assessment data, and any relevant SEN, gifted and talented, or Pupil Premium information.
This is a system that was not new but utilising it in the right way was massively important and really provided me with the tools to ensure that I was well informed about the students which in turn helped me deliver a differentiated and personalised learning experience.
I used to use this folder as a working mark book to track pupil progress over time and because I worked on a carousel system it served to provide information from previous teachers. This was a valuable document, and provided evidence of patterns of certain types of behaviour with some students. It was also a good way to keep track of any interventions that were put into place and provided great evidence for parents’ evenings etc. There are now digital versions of this that make more sense.
What does learning look like?
We can’t evidence it if we don’t know what we are looking for! If you were looking for evidence of learning in any classroom you would most likely start by looking for general observations of gains in knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes. What does general observations mean? How do we prove learning is taking place through general observations and many teachers would argue: Do we need to prove this as we are professionals, however I think that is a debate I am not going to get into(not in this blog anyway!)
So what are we looking for?
Explaining something in their own words.
- Asking questions.
- Making connections.
- Recreating (rather than reproducing) information.
- Justifying their decisions.
- Explaining their thinking.
- Talking to each other.
- Active – doing something with the information.
- Reflecting at a conscious level.
- Offering analogies and metaphors of their own: Oh I get it – it’s a bit like…
- Re-drafting, revising, re-thinking and so on.
- Frowning (the penny is stuck) … and then smiling (as the penny drops).
I think it is important to plan in the opportunities to observe and for the students to record their learning so that it becomes a natural process and the only way it can become natural and instinctive is:
- If it is imbedded into every lesson and students understand that learning is happening all the time and in many forms,
- If recording the learning in non-invasive of the activity!
To make (and show) progress, you and your students need to know where they are and where they are planning to go! There are many ways this can be achieved also:
- Success criteria – Learning objectives, targets grades, and exemplar but many others too.
- Communication – whether that is through post it notes, stickers, comments on work or through digital methods it is absolutely crucial. You have to reinforce and support progress to enable it to happen!
Also if evidencing learning and planning in opportunities for progress is at the core of the learning experience demonstrating progress is easy!
Yes, being critical is important! We need to be critical and look at what we and the students are achieving with a discerning eye. The first thing I can hear you say well if we are being critical: are we assessing performance in this way or learning? Learning something in a single lesson could be a poor indicator on how well students might retain that information and how well they may be able to apply the information in a different context also.
Simply put, just because a pupil can recall certain facts at the end of the lesson does not mean he or she has necessarily learnt this information or that it has been transferred into the long-term memory. This is where your summative assessment activities are important.
Strategies that involve students explaining or recreating a concept in their own words either verbally, in writing or in a practical way are far more effective for identifying misconceptions and are great opportunities for providing high-quality individualised feedback and therefore ensuring greater progress.
Teachers sometimes avoid this type of AfL strategy because it can become time-consuming and can have obvious implications on marking and workload. Perhaps this is where educational technology like Kapture8 can enable time saving systems that can not only provide the ability to record all types of learning, and gather feedback but also to provide summative assessment. Making the continuous workflow for the student and teacher more stream lined and diligent can only enhance and improve performance at every level.
Book in your demo with Kapture8 today: www.kapture8.com