Posts Tagged ‘assessment’

Assessment..or How Guilty We Can Be

In Uncategorized on July 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm


I was thinking that some of us are not aware of the many assessment errors we make…I know I was and perhaps will be guilty of some so I thought I would make a list to remind myself. On the oher hand, I think we all need a reminder of what can go wrong because of our inherent human nature….but which should NOT impact children.

1. The “halo” effect
The teacher tends to give the same grade to the same students based on an overall impression (usually formed at the beginning of the year). Thus neither the little progress struggling learners make is noticed nor the minor errors the “good” ones have.

2. The “anchor” effect:
The teacher notices an outstanding/new approach of a student in relation to their work and will make THAT a standard for the rest of the classroom. Unfair, right?

3. The “Pygmalion” effect:
The teacher influences the results students have by explicit or implicit language/behavior (we all know that successful students tend to be more motivated and thus get to work harder and vice versa).

4. The “central tendency” effect:
It is usually the new teachers who fall in this category: they are afraid not to over- or underestimate learners and so they use “middle” grades.

5. The “similarity” effect:
The teacher takes himself/herself as a reference point in assessing students: that is, if s/he was a successful, hardworking student in their youth…they would most likely “punish” the students who do not follow this pattern.

6. The “contrast” effect:
The teacher assesses students based on the PROXIMITY of their work: we tend to underestimate a student’s project/test/product if it follows an outstanding one and vice versa.

7. The “logical fallacy” effect:
The teacher replaces the real indicators/standards of excellent work with others, which are tangential to the actual level of learning such as the effort the student put, the general qualities the respective student has (hardworking, discipline, determination etc).

8. The “order” effect:
The teacher grades different student products with similar grades and fails to notice the differences due to exhaustion or other mood-related parameters. 

9. The “teacher style” effect:
The teacher assesses in accordance to their own style: either focused on “quantity” of knowledge or on creativity, originality.

Do you think you were guilty of any of these? Because I know I have been sometimes and I need to remember that.


Teacher’s Assessment. Or the Inevitable Arrogance.

In Uncategorized on February 20, 2011 at 5:50 pm

I admit. I am not a good teacher blogger . I prefer writing poems and watching beautiful things. But I do have my “professional” wonderings and one of them occurred today.


What is it? How can we assess humans in the first place?


I read many of Alfie Khon’s articles and agree on many of the points he makes. Empirically (or by experience and reflection), I have had the same ideas and I have been as fervent opponent of homework and grades as he is ever since I became a teacher.


Going to the heart of the matter now, I think that, regardless of the assessment type, it is subjective to quite an extent. Even if you vary and combine the assessment formats (portfolios, complex projects, tests etc), you will fail in knowing exactly how much a student has LEARNT. Let alone how DEEPLY he has learnt. Or HOW LONG his learning will stay with him/her. You can only find out what he can DO on that task in that specific moment of his learning journey.


There are two points I want to make:

1. Teacher to teacher variation

Given the same “product” (which can be a story, complex project, report etc) there will not be two teachers who will grade/assess it alike.

2. Personal bias/experience

 Moreover, even YOU might grade it differently:

at different points in your teaching career (I read about a similar experiment). That makes sense, because we evolve as teachers (or regress in some cases – burnout signal). Our approach to teaching and education shifts in time.

depending on your students (the hallo effect). This cognitive bias appears almost involuntarily and you need to take a good step back to be aware of it. It can appear in regard to the students of the same class or students you had in different generations. Even kids can hardly manage it and I noticed that when they present final projects and have a peer-assessment session: if a kid with not so good a project presents his work after a very good /impressive one the tendency is to underestimate the latter.


On the other hand, if we did not assess students we would not know where they are on the learning (?) continuum. We could not plan for future teaching nor give them feedback so as to set own goals for learning.


So much for accuracy. Or our arrogance in using this word: “assessment”. I think we should add “our” (assessment).

What do you think?


*Photo credit: Morgue File, Anita Patterson 


REFLECTION with and by students

In Uncategorized on December 12, 2010 at 10:02 am

“We do not learn from experience…but from REFLECTING on our experience.”

This is equally true for any learner – may it be teachers or students. I will give you examples of our reflection process and how it unfolds within a unit of inquiry.

Reflection can be on knowledge, skills, attitudes and action/activity. It may be self-reflection, peer-reflection (when students reflect on their collaboration within the group), it may be oral or written, spontaneous or not. 

NOTE: All my students are second-language learners. I teach the same class of students from 1st to 4th grade. You can see how the complexity of reflection changes in time. 

Grade 1    Unit of inquiry: OUR SCHOOL 

We inquired into organizations – what they are, how they work, what are the responsibilities of each member etc.  Since it was the beginning of the school year I relied mostly on drawings as a form of expressing reflection. 

Reflection can be also on MY work – the activities I designed throughout the unit. I use students’ feedback to inform my future teaching. I always do that during or at the end of a unit. 

GRADE 1 Unit of inquiry – HEALTHY IS HAPPY

We inquired into food, hygiene, sleep, rest, and how they make us healthy. I will post examples of activities in future blog entries. 


At the beginning of the unit students had a a goal sheet. Basically, a bull’s eye -like paper – they would write in each circle every week until the last week of the unit. They would see whether they achieved their own goals (e.g. Ï want to go to bed early.”, or “I want to eat more veggies.”) 


We inquired into seasons, season formation, animal and plant adaptation to seasonal changes etc.

GRADE 1: Unit of inquiry: OUR NEIGHBORHOOD

We inquired into our surroundings, created maps etc. 


GRADE 1: IT’S OUR RESPONSIBILITY We inquired into connections between natural elements, cause-effect relationships (pollution, deforestation etc).


As students become more confident in using language I encourage free expression of their thoughts, ideas, opinions. We created a Learning Journey wall on which each students drew and wrote his/her learning “journey” – obstacles, successes, progress etc. I also had my own learning journey I would share with kids :). 



We also had Reflection Logs ( and I had one , too!) – I would share my reflections with students every day). 


I also use a Profile Sticker…Students would write their names and then we would have open-discussions on their choices. 



Now that we are blogging…reflection takes place there , too !:) 



How do YOU encourage reflection? 🙂