Ina Juan Learns Education

Welcome to my school blog. I haven’t been a student in more years than I care to admit, and much has changed in the way things are learned. I suppose it’s fitting that I learn this way, through an online course which plunges me directly into a kind of learning that didn’t exist when I was a student.

This Trimester, I am taking up EDS 113 which is Principles and Methods of Assessment. Please leave your comments and insights. Let’s learn education together.

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EDS 113: Final Entry: Assessing Assessments

I was looking forward to this course, even as we were looking at the list of subjects for the PTC program. As a new teacher, I make new assessments ALL THE TIME! And it seemed to me that, of all the subjects we had to take, this was the one that would really help me on the job. I thought we would simply learn how to make different assessments, BUT now that I’ve been through the course, turns out I thought it would be all about making different pen and paper tests. I guess I didn’t even really know what assessments are, before I took this course. It was a real eye opener.

The principles covered in this class served me in two ways, either they affirmed the policies of the school I teach in (so that’s why they make us do it that way!), OR, they inspired me to get more creative and bold about the assessments I give (I have an idea for an assessment! But wait, it’s hard to make, and it takes so much time, and  wah wah wah… No! Just do it! The kids will learn!). The course even inspired me to tweak my assessments as I was studying. I gave them a test wrapper, and self and peer evaluations. I’m not sure I did it completely well, like, I think I didn’t give them enough time and instruction on how to make the most of these tools of self assessment, but since they’ve never done it before, I think it’s a good start for when they do more of it in the future.

I also became more aware of the informal assessments that I can do in class, without having to really change my instruction plan, or my activities for the day, I learned to sort of just observe and take note. Who can do what? Who cannot? What can I do about that? It’s something that takes practice, I think, to be able to harness the vast potential that informal assessments offer in terms of the information we gain about how our students are doing, but also how we can give them feedback on their work so that they can improve and excel. I already resolved to use a clipboard next school year. I’ve even been looking in school and office supply stores for just the right tiny clipboard I could use, and formulating in my mind the forms I would use to keep track of my students with a clipboard. It will be like a tiny seatplan, with a code I will invent to mark the ones who are reciting, questioning, not paying attention, etc. With a space below for notes, especially for questions that I may not have answered in class but would like to get back to next meeting. I’m quite excited to do it.

It was good to learn about cyclical assessment planning, higher order thinking skills, and curricular focus, not because I hadn’t encountered it before, but precisely because they are so strict about these things in my school, but the principles behind it I only learned from this course. My school is also big on integrated assessments, performance tasks, clear and specific rubrics, and super strict about question formulation. In fact, all our formative and summative assessments have to be approved by either our department chair person or the assistant principal before they get printed and given to the students. Our quarterly exams have to be based on an approved Table of Specifications which are in turn based on the quarter’s learning goals (mostly HOTS) and subject matter covered. Before the exams are given to the students, they have to be checked and double checked for errors in format and grammar, and then, they have to be pre-tested on another teacher, to see if the questions are unambiguous, and if the students will be able to finish in the time allotted to them. The school I teach in is very particular and strict about the assessments we give, not only because we want to have the most valid and reliable grades, but also because our parents demand much from us. Some of them would actually come to school to question their children’s grades, and what is the basis, and why that other student got a higher grade, and things like that. It’s nerve wracking! Of course, teachers are human, and human errors may occur, but we are just as strict if the basis of the grade is sound. No amount of pleading or bullying will raise your child’s grade if his or her performance does not merit it. The thing is, you have make sure you can prove to these parents that the grade has proper basis, and this is only possible with valid and reliable assessments.

That being said, I think my biggest take away from this course is that assessments should NOT be about grades. That was my old attitude. My job as teacher is teach, then test, then grade. This class, EDS 113 showed me that assessments are not about grades, but rather, about LEARNING. We give assessments so that they will learn, for what better way to learn than to experience? We give more assessments to track their progress. Ok, they got the first part, we need to work more on the next part, we can go over that material again, we can practice some more. And once we’ve practiced and scaffolded enough, and when we know they’re ready, through their formative assessment results, that’s the time we give assessments of learning. We are not in the business of setting students up for failure. They will do well in their summative assessments IF we taught them well and properly.

The great thing about all these ways we can us assessments in teaching is that they don’t have to be scary and difficult. Assessments can be fun activities that the students like, and therefore will engage their imagination and lead to deep learning. I once asked my daughter what her favorite subject is, and what topics she like best. Her answers were all the ACTIVITIES she enjoyed the most, which were the Bible Quiz Bee, and playing Kahoot*. These were both assessments, even if they were formative, they were still what got her interested so that she was motivated to study on her own, even beyond the given subject matter. Which means to me, as a teacher, that I really have to come up with engaging and innovative activities and assessments because that is how my students will learn best.

It feels good to look back at the course to remember everything we’ve learned, but I know I have much much more to learn. In my efforts to make authentic assessments with self and peer evaluations, and giving proper feedback, I ran into a lot of difficulties, because it was a lot of time and effort I had not anticipated. There are things you learn from reading and reflecting, but other things we only get better with practice, and since I’m committed to teaching for the long haul, I know I am looking forward to many years of practicing, and improving, self assessing myself on my assessments.

 

*Kahoot is a site on the internet that allows you to make multiple choice quizzes that the whole class can take at the same time, like a quiz show. If the classroom has internet, and each student, or even groups of students can be provided with a device that can go online, they can join the game and compete to answer correctly and quickly. At the end of the quiz, a winner is declared. The students LOVE it! Even our most disengaged kids come alive with Kahoot, and it doesn’t matter what subject or age, we all use it now, from lower grades to high school, on Social Studies, English, CLE, Science, etc. It’s a great site. Of course, kagulo if the internet fails (this happened in my class), but it’s worth it.

EDS 113: Module 4: What’s the score on scoring?

How meaningful have scores been? Based on your personal experience, are scores able to effectively inform both teachers and students about learning progress in class? Do teachers and students share common interpretations of scores? Or has it been a more common case that scores are mere numbers that are processed to fill in report cards?

I have been teaching for 2 years now. My second year of teaching just ended. The reason this blog and my final project are late is because I have been busy checking the last quarter’s assessments, finishing grades, compiling past assessments and lesson plans, and basically wrapping up the whole school year that was 2015-2016. I suppose it is timely for me to reflect on scores and grades tonight as I will distribute my students’ last report cards tomorrow.

In my personal experience, I feel confident that the scores and grades I have given accurately reflect how well they learned and performed in my class. There are those who are constantly fidgeting and chatting during class time, but who consistently turn in well-answered quizzes. These kids get high grades from me but low conduct marks. There are those who are very well behaved, quietly sitting and (presumably) listening, but comprehension and analysis leave something to be desired. They don’t get high marks from me, but they get a good conduct grade. I also have students who I feel know the answers but when they write their essays, they just give me one or two sentences or generalizations. They don’t make an effort to complete their analyses. They seem to expect me to fill in the details myself. These kids are always almost A! And every time I get a test like this, I write them notes about how they can complete their thoughts, and how I they have to show me what they have learned, becuase I cannot guess what is in their minds. Most of them catch on and do better in the next tests. Some still can’t seem to bother to push themselves harder.

My situation as a teacher is a bit unique in that I taught nearly all the same students in my past two years of teaching. One batch, I taught from Grade 2-3, and then another batch, I taught from grades 4-5. I feel that maybe my scores within the quarter, or even within the year don’t really reflect their progress, but I can tell from comparing their performance between years what progress they had made. From grade 2-3, quite a few of them are now able to give very specific examples of situations  or actions when I ask for them. They write very nice prayers and show better understanding. While my rubrics and standards have to grow with my students, I still feel that they keep rising to the occasion and try do better. If I teach them again next year when they are grade 4, the topics and skills are going to be significantly more difficult, but I feel confident that they will be able to do it. With my before G4, now G5 students, their groups presentations and papers used to be abysmal. They didn’t seem to know how to  focus their research, and present their findings comprehensively. Also, maybe because it as my first year of teaching, I didn’t know yet how to give clear instructions and expectations. Anyway, this year, they were much improved in working together in groups, figuring out the most salient points they have to report on, and presenting things clearly to their classmates. Partly because they’ve had practice, but also I guess because I gave them very clear guidelines. Next year if I teach them again, I feel I can give them more student-centered assessment tasks with less strict guidelines, to give them some space to be creative and determine the direction of their learning.

I know that for some students, they really run after the A and A+ grades in my class. They even approach me after I return their assessments to question how I graded them, and if maybe they could get a higher grade. I actually welcome this, because it is a form of learning from their mistakes, they are more likely to remember the lesson for a long time if they argued with me about it after an exam. Of course, that is if they accept their mistake and learn from it. But if they walk away still believing I am wrong and they are right, that is another story.

Actually, the peculiarity of my subject CLE, is that their CLE grade may not reflect whether or not they live truly Christian lives. I base my instruction and assessments on the school curriculum, and mainly it is about being able to understand and analyze the different aspects of our faith, even being able to give ways in which they can apply the values to their lives. But I can only assess them on their understanding of, for example, the Beatitudes. and yes, their grades will accurately tell me if they understood the beatitudes, know what they mean, can apply them to given situations, can relate the beatitude to the teachings and example of Jesus, they can even name saints and other people they know that followed each specific beatitude in their lives. But if a student got an A+ from me on the topic of beatitudes, does that mean that student is poor in spirit, meek, righteous, merciful, etc? And if they got a D or an F, does that mean they completely immoral people? No, of course not. I cannot follow them around and listen in to their thoughts to find out if they are sinful or holy. And yet the big, long term goal of CLE as a subject, is to produce students who are close to God and follow Him. How can I grade their spiritual lives? How can I teach them to be faithful and merciful people? If they help me or are good to me, or are well behaved during the mass, is that enough? Is it genuine? Or an act because they know I grade them in “Christian Life”?

I want my students to love God. But I don’t know if there is an assessment that can tell me if they do. And perhaps it’s not my place to score them on these things. Perhaps all I can assess them on is their mastery of Church scripture and tradition. And guide them to see why we believe what we believe, and how we can live it out. And model for them, and encourage them, and understand them. But whether or not they are good, loving followers of Christ is perhaps a final exam where the only grades are either heaven or hell.

EDS 113: Module 3E: Differentiated is different

Even in our pre-service training, before my first school year as a teacher had started, we were introduced to differentiated instruction and assessment. It looked really interesting to me, but in the course of learning how to teach by actual teaching, I found myself floundering in just one instruction and assessment plan, I couldn’t imagine keeping up with several. But I knew that some of our teachers did this, so I visited their classrooms and asked them about it.

differentiated

This is a differentiated assessment in second grade English, and it comes from the GLR or Genuine Love of Reading program used by the school. To get learners interested and inspired to read, there are activities to be done before reading the book or selection. The teacher asks students about something in their lives that will be related to the story they will read, they unlock vocabulary words they may be encountering for the first time, and then the teacher gives a teaser about what the story will be about. After they read the story together (with the teacher occasionally asking questions during story reading), the class is divided into groups, according to reading skill levels. And then each group is given a different activity to complete, according to their comprehension skills. The picture above shows the five different activities of the five groups in the grade 2 class I visited. Although the activities are differentiated according to skill levels, the teacher told me her students are pretty much at par with each other, except for one or two really exceptional ones, so she just groups them randomly.

After they complete this activity, each group comes up front to report on their work to the rest of the class. They do it in a particular order given by the teacher, designed to deepen the learners’ understanding of the story, as well as to showcase each group’s abilities. In other GLR activities, the teacher may not only give differentiated written activities to the different groups, but also oral or role playing differentiated presentations for the class to appreciate the story in different ways.

I like this program because it really helps children get interested in reading and eventually love it. Aside from making each story relevant to their own lives, the fact that the assessment after reading is differentiated means, no matter what level of comprehension you are in class, you know you have something to say about the story. And no matter where your talent lies, you can express yourself to your classmate in the way that best suits you.

I don’t teach English, so I don’t get to teach GLR in my class, but I do make my students read Bible stories. I’ve never tried this style of tackling Bible stories before, usually, we read the Bible as part of a prayer. But I think perhaps in the future, especially if I get to teach lower grades, I would definitely consider differentiated GLR style in reading the Bible.

EDS 113: Asst 2: Part 3: Insights and Realizations

What new insights and realizations have you gained from the assignment, while you were in the process of doing it and after the task? How will you use these insights outside of this course?

This assignment was actually quite enjoyable for me. I found the idea of looking at different assessments to categorize and compare them to be an interesting challenge. I looked forward to doing it that it’s the first assignment I submitted more than a day early. First time! At first, I was looking at different tests made by my co-teachers. I even attended some of their authentic assessments and took pictures. But in the end, all the assessments I used were my own. I felt more comfortable using them, because I knew the reasoning I used in coming up with these assessments, I knew the lessons and learning being assessed, and I knew the difficulties (if any) I faced in using each kind of assessment. I felt that using my own assessments in this assignment could give me a chance for self reflection. I can look at the assessments I had given and use what insights I gain in order to improve my future assessments.

The assessment comparisons gave way to insights I don’t think I would have come up with just reading the articles and answering the forum questions. I realized that assessments don’t only take the form of actual tests, or even games or activities that challenge their knowledge and skills. Even just observing my students, letting them express themselves, taking note of their questions during discussions, is a form of assessment. Informal assessments can be very useful to teachers as formative assessments, to make sure the students are progressing well in their learning, to keep the class on track, and to be able to adjust instruction if it doesn’t look like they’re getting it all right. I think in the future I have to be able to harness and record my observations to this kind of assessment better. When I have class after class in one day, I would rarely be able to tell who said what, and what questions were raised in my different sections in different levels. I found a video on The Teaching Channel about using clipboards in informal assessments, and I think I want to do this when school starts again in June next year. It will be very helpful to me to keep track of the results of informal assessments. And also, because we give separate grades on effort and conduct in our school, I will have a better record of how hard they work and how they behave, so that when PTC time comes along I have a more comprehensive report to give my students’ parents.

Another thing I realized is how comfortable I am with formal/traditional assessments. I use them a lot in my instructions, even my seatworks or formative assessments tend to be traditional. I think it could be because I was tested this way when I was a student, I always did well with paper and pen tests, I even kind of enjoy them up to now. It is easy for me to write questions and check answers, they take up very little time for me. In our school we are required to give one authentic assessment every quarter, and that authentic assessment (we call them performance tasks) is equivalent to the weight to two traditional quizzes. I always struggle with the preparation, scaffolding, process, checking, and grading of these kinds of assessments because there can be a myriad of right or wrong ways to do things, sometimes I don’t know if they’re not doing well because they didn’t get the concepts, or if because they are struggling with the medium. I want to be fair, so I usually couple a group grade with an individual grade, to make sure no one slacks off if they are grouped with classmates who just naturally excel or do all the work. And that means double the checking, instead of less checking.

But I’ve also realized that sometimes, the students learn the lesson better through the authentic assessment process. Even if it is a summative assessment, in terms of it being graded, they are still not only assessments OF learning, but assessments FOR learning. They learn a lot from being given tasks outside the regular paper and pen tests. And if you ask them at the end of the quarter or end of the year what “lesson” they remember the most, they will tell you the activities they enjoyed the most, or challenged them the most, or that struck them the most. The lessons are remembered through interesting activities. Which means that even though I struggle with preparing, making, and giving authentic assessments, they really are the way to go in getting the students to deep learning.

I am a new teacher, I don’t have a lot experience yet. I think my growing into giving authentic assessments will happen over time. For now, I will struggle, as I make things up and learn from my mistakes. I should consult with other teachers and observe their own authentic activities. And as I try new things and improve as I go, I will eventually have an arsenal of authentic assessments I already know how to do and can prepare and give with more efficiency.

For now, I just have to be brave and dedicated to improving myself as a teacher, and use what I have learned from this assignment to get better at using assessments and giving them.

EDS 113: Module 3D: “Teacher, what does ‘peer’ mean?”

Last quarter, I gave an alternative assessment project wherein step one, was to discuss among their group a certain parable from the Bible. And then step two was to individually sit with another group of classmates and teach them the parable that you discussed with your group. And because all these groups are discussing and teaching all at the same time, I would not be able to watch all of them discuss, learn, and teach their classmates. To give me a clearer picture of their performance, I gave them peer and self evaluations every step of the way.

One peer and self eval form for the group that sat together to discuss their parable. One self evaluation form on how they feel they did as a small group discussion leader. One peer evaluation form on how the group they taught listened and participated in the discussion. And one peer evaluation form on how the group discussion leader was able to teach their assigned parable.

peer and self evals 1

Needless to say, I had piles and piles of little forms for me to comb through and I had to design a tallying system to give me a clearer picture on what these assessments say about my students and how they see each other. It was so tedious.

Funny enough, when I first introduced them to the self and peer evaluation forms, the most common question I got was, “Teacher, what does ‘peer’ mean?” Whoo boy. I guess this means that up to that point, they had never yet been asked to assess their classmates. So I had to explain very carefully that they are, in a way, “grading” each other. But that, first, their evaluation should only serve to validate my own observations. Meaning, if they all make a deal to give each other perfect scores, that doesn’t mean they will all get perfect scores. They might get much lower for pulling a stunt like that. But also, that it gives them a chance to reflect on their performance, and therefore try to always do better next time.

I think they took it to heart, given that I made similar forms for our group work this year, as narrated in my previous post, each student will be part of an initial group that focuses on one event in the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, and a second ‘regroup’ that will compile their different events into one book. This time, I felt it would be more efficient to only have two self and peer eval forms, one for each group they were part of. And, to emphasize reflection, there was now space on the forms to give their reasons as to why they rated themselves and their peers that way. They (well, most) really took it seriously and honestly rated themselves when they felt they did not do as well as they should have, their self ratings tended to match their peers’s ratings on them.

peer and self evals 2

Peer and self evaluation forms take a lot of time to read and tally. Add this to grading the alternative assessments, it really takes away precious minutes and hours from other important teacher tasks, like instruction planning, preparing instructional materials, collaborations with other teachers, and of course, spending time with your students outside the classroom. However I find the value in doing this, especially for group works where the teacher cannot observe everything that goes on in a group, but also as a tool and skill that the students should learn to use, to be able to give useful feedback to each other, and to exercise their metacognition and self reflection in enhancing their deep learning.

EDS 113: Modules 3B&C: Formative-Summative-Traditional-Alternative

So, partly because in my supervisor’s classroom observations, she encouraged me to get more creative in my teaching styles, and try more student-centered methods (I do so love to lecture and she wants me to get away from that), and partly because I am taking this topic in class on formative-summative and traditional-alternative assessments, I got a bit braver this quarter and devised extremely student-centered instruction plan with an alternative assessment in the end.

It was so hard. Harder than I thought. I lost a lot of sleep, and I almost got sick.

To think, I was expecting to do less, because it’s student centered. I told them from the start to do their best because they will be teaching themselves. So in my head, that should mean I’m not teaching them as much, right? But the level of preparations and step by step guiding, feedback, guiding, feedback loops took at toll on me. I have yet to sit down and reflect on the whole process because although they have already finished their final projects and are now preparing for their quarterly exams, I have yet to check them (tomorrow, I will do it. I have to get this blog out of the way first, because it is already two weeks late).

Let me explain. The idea is, for their final alternative assessment, they, my 10-11 year old Grade 5 students, should come up with a book, which narrates the story of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. One book for each group of five students, and each student will be assigned two pages which will focus on just one event. Put the five event pages together, and the group will have produced a book. That’s the end goal.

To get to that goal, all the students who will be focused on one certain event, for example, the Agony in the Garden, all those students will be grouped together to read and discuss and learn the event. And for me to see if they learned it well, plus for them to teach their classmates the said event, they have to present a report to the rest of the class about their event. This reporting is the formative assessment (assessment AS learning) which will allow me to see what they read and learned from the Bible, while working together on their assigned event. After they do their oral report, I would ask them questions and give them feedback, and then they have to write a group report on what they had shared with the class. This written report is partly formative and partly summative, because it is graded, but it also serves as a way for me to see if they were able to take their learning and my feedback and write a proper report about it. And if not, I should be able to tweak the instruction plan, or at least give them further feedback, to get them to their end goal.

So we’ve scaffolded their understanding of their individual event through a collaborative activity which is the group oral and written reporting. I take their group reports, check and comment and grade them all, and because I want this to be an assessment FOR learning, I photocopy each report with my comments 6 times each, so that each student can look at the group report, see my feedback, and learn from them. ALSO, I make them do a self and peer assessment on this activity, but that’s for a different blog post.

I then return the group reports, and make them sit down to individually make their own two pages contribution to the final book project. This is a summative assessment (assessment OF learning) which I will be grading individually. When they had finished their pages, they will sit with their final project group, put their pages together to produce their book with the five different events in the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. The book is also a summative assessment, the grade of which will be the same for all members. And this step of the project has a separate peer and self evaluation form, which is part of their individual grade as well.

It was a loooong process, and somehow in my head at first it all made sense. My supervisor approved it, so I guess it was sound. But I had to really hustle with the feedback, and the photocopying, and their self and peer evals were part of the grade, so I had to tally those, and there were all these glitches, such as, what will you do about students who were absent when the group was supposed to sit down and put the book together. I can’t give them the group grade because they didn’t work on the book. I had to take the absentees and have them make another book. Which makes some books incomplete, and the absentee book has some pages that tackle the same event.

While I was stuck in school over time, photocopying hundreds of pages of group reports, neglecting my other duties to my other grade level students (I also teach Grade 3), my homeroom duties, even my mommy duties, I kept asking myself, why am I doing this? Why didn’t I just stand there, lecture them on the events, and then give them an exam to see if they got it? Why am I pouring all my time and energy to the photocopier just so that each student gets a copy of the group report? Why am I putting myself, and them, through this long and tedious process? Will they learn better? Will they be better people? Will they love God more?

I still don’t know all the answers to all these questions, especially since I haven’t actually checked the books they put together. I also don’t know if I will ever do an activity like this again. But I will say this. I could see when I observed the different groups work together, that the students who usually have a hard time learning from my lectures and taking my tests, were really able to learn from their groupmates and display learning in their group and individual activities that I don’t usually see when I teach and assess them in the traditional style. Their grades get pulled up in group works. The smart, masipag, and competitive ones tend to just want to take upon themselves all the work of the group because they want to make sure they maintain their high grades, but since time constraints make it impossible, they learn to (because I step in and make them) delegate tasks and guide and help.

I learned that 10-11 year olds are not yet very efficient in working on their own. And they have to be given clear daily, weekly, and end goals to ensure they work within time constraints. I learned (well, I’m still learning) that sometimes you have to let your students get noisy, because it means they are communicating and working on something together. But that I also have to be right there with them every step of the way, to make sure they stay on track.

On formative-summative assessments, I learned that in order for an assessment to be truly formative, you can’t just be able to give feedback after the task, you also have to have some wiggle room in your instruction plan for adjustments when the plan isn’t working. And that summative assessments, especially alternative ones, have to have clear objectives and rubrics to guide the students to what we want them to produce.

I still prefer traditional assessments. They’re easy to make and easy to check. But I feel confident that as long as I am brave enough to keep trying to make alternative assessments that challenge me and my students to be better, soon I will be more comfortable in giving these types of projects, I will develop an arsenal of alternative assessments that I will know exactly what to do and how, and my students will benefit from these activities in great ways beyond the traditional type. In the meantime, I try and learn.

EDS 113: Module 3A: Reflective Teaching in Informal Assessments

How would reflective teaching skills enhance the effectiveness of informal assessment in facilitating teaching-learning? (What does it mean to reflect about teaching?)

Because informal assessments are not just about measuring learning of a student, but are also meant to inform instruction, reflective teaching skills will greatly enhance the effectiveness of informal assessments.

I am a great believer in reflective teaching. As I had written in a previous EDS111 post, I can’t help but keep asking myself, “What am I doing?” “Is this working?” “How can I teach this better?” Especially with my Grade 3 classes, where I teach all four sections. Sometimes a particular activity will be done in four different ways, if it was not as effective in a the first class, I adjust in the next class, then again in the next and the next. Like when I made up a game they were supposed to play in groups, and when I asked them to all sit together with their groups, they got so distracted and noisy, a lot of time was lost, and we would not have been able to finish the game if we continued as groups, so I made them all go back to their seats and continued the activity individually. In the next section, I still tried to let them play as groups, but this time, no more standing to sit with your groupmates, they just stayed in their seats. It worked! Of course what I am more concerned about, aside from the classroom management of making sure the game runs smoothly, is whether they are able to answer the game questions well, whether as a group or as individuals. If I can tell from the game that most, if not all, the students get nearly all the questions correctly, then I know from this informal assessment that they are ready for the next concept, or activity, or maybe even ready for their summative assessment. If they seem to have difficulty, this means we need more time to discuss the subject and get them over whatever is blocking their learning.

I do this with recitation as well. And this is one of my weaknesses because I tend to always call on the students who have their hands raised. Which means, I may not really know if the ones who don’t raise their hands are learning or not. I try to rectify this and call students even if their hands aren’t raised, to find out, not only if they are paying attention, but if they are understanding what we are talking about, and are able to make connections, analyze and evaluate the different concepts we are taking up. If the discussion is quick, and no matter who I call, hands raised or not, they are able to answer well, then I know they are ready for what is next. If they are having a hard time in class recitation, then that means I have to adjust something, sometimes it is just a matter of rephrasing the question. Sometimes (not often) it means we have to go back and present the input to them again, because maybe they forgot or misunderstood.

I think if teachers did not have this awareness, or constant questioning, with each activity and informal assessment, of “Are they learning?” “What are their difficulties?” and “How can I teach this better?” We would just barrel through with our lessons, discussions, activities and exams, and the students will either do well or do poorly, without maximizing the potential of what they can learn. Informal assessments can only inform further instruction IF teachers have reflective skills that allow them to use the results of informal assessments to aid them in enhancing or improving their teaching methods.