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Emily Bennett

V. Assessment Practices and Impact on Student Learning

I. | II. | III. | IV. | V. | VI. | VII. | Resume

       In my opinion, there are two main purposes of assessment.  First of all, I feel that assessment can help to guide instruction.  Secondly, teachers can use assessment to judge the students' comprehension of the given topic. 
       There are many types and ways of giving assessments, and to choose the correct kind can sometimes be challenging.  However, if a teacher varies the method used, assessment can be most effective.  For example, one day, a teacher can design a performance assessment, another time a pre- and post- test, a portfolio, and yet another day the teacher could use student self-assessment.  These are a very small number of the multitudes of ways used to assess students.  Variety is the key to running a successful and properly assessed classroom.

    I included Artifact #1 to show my use of rubrics to grade social studies interactive notebooks.  These are notebooks we use every day to record activities done in class, notes, drawings, etc.  They provide me with a great tool that I can use to see how my students have learned each day.  As we work on learning activities in the classroom, I am able to constantly walk around to informally assess their understanding by reading their reflections written in the notebooks.  Also, I have a rubric that I use to grade each unit, which the students are very familiar with.  In this artifact, I included improvements I made to my rubric to make it more suitable for ELLs in the classroom.

    Artifact #2 is a needs analysis I conducted using several of my ELL students in my classroom as the subjects.  The purpose of this type of assessment was to figure out what my students might need, and to help me guide my instruction.

ARTIFACT #1 

Field Project

Emily Bennett

George Mason University

 

 

Field Project

Introduction

            One assessment tool I use to track student learning in fourth grade social studies pertains to the use of interactive notebooks, and in this case, the study of Jamestown.  I teach two different classes of 24 students each.  All students are fourth graders, and are mostly all 9 or 10 years old.  Eight of the students in each class are ELLs.  I work in Dual-Language school, and teach English and Social Studies in English, while students take math and science in Spanish.  While with me, the 8 ELL students are being immersed in their less-dominant language, and therefore, I make accommodations based on this difference in language levels. 

Assessment Rubric (see Appendix B)

Description of Assessment Tool, and Outcome or Objective to be Assessed

            During social studies, I use an interactive student notebook in class to organize and keep all notes, activities, and responses to information learned in class.  Each student is responsible for keeping their notebook updated, because this notebook will be their study guide for all major tests, and also, the notebook itself serves as an assessment tool. 

            The notebook is broken down into a preview (accessing prior knowledge, or warm-up activity) section, a notes section (where students glue the reading or information they need to know), and a process section (in which student reflection, activities, or analyzing information is done.)  During each unit, I am able to see after each lesson that a student has or has not mastered the specific topic by looking at the preview section of his/her notebook.  (In this specific rubric, the SOL objectives that cover the study of Jamestown will be addressed:  VS.3 and VS.4.)  In addition, at the end of each unit, I collect notebooks and grade them using a rubric I have developed.  Therefore, students receive grades for notebooks, final tests, projects, and any other classwork or groupwork assignments done in class.  I feel that this way, students’ abilities are reflected in their grades in a fair way.

            I normally use the same rubric to assess the interactive notebook for my mainstream students and ELLs.  I make modifications, however, during the unit.  For example, on p. 29 of the notebook (see Appendix A), the process activity tells students to imagine they are an English person who is about to leave for Jamestown.  Students must write a letter to someone in England explaining why they are about to make this hard journey.  Mainstream students must use comprehensive sentences with correct structure and grammar that addresses the content, and ELL students must only have shown that they understood the content, not taking into account the way they formed their sentences.  Therefore, I have modified specific lessons based on language ability, but I have not modified the assessment rubric I use. 

Rationale of Changes and Adaptations I Made to My Assessment Tool

            My scoring rubric for the Jamestown interactive notebook unit is used for both ELL and mainstream students.  Based on information gleaned from O’Malley and Pierce’s book, Authentic Assessment for English Language Learners (1996), I have implemented some changes and adaptations to my rubric to make it more suitable for ELL students. 

            One such change that I decided would greatly benefit my students was to discuss the scoring rubric with the students beforehand.  The rubric is set up so that not every page is assessed (since there are so many,) but rather a variety of pages are selected to be scored in order to show a full picture of the students’ work throughout the unit of study.  Two points out of ten are based on neatness, and two more points are based on the student having updating the table of contents.  The fact that 40% of the rubric is going to be predictable before even starting their work in the notebook means that the ELL students should be well aware of how to score the full 10 points.  This means that I need to have some additional lessons on what a table of contents is, and how to create one.  I have seen several ELL students who do not update their table of contents consistently, and it could be for lack of understanding of how to do so.  Furthermore, I could scaffold this part of the notebook for them by adding the page numbers, and leaving a space for the title of each page that they would fill in.  This would give me the same information about their knowledge, while at the same time “leveling the playing field” based on language levels  (O’Malley and Pierce, 1996. p.20).

            O’Malley and Pierce also write (1996), “…we recommend at least a four-point rating scale in order to allow for more differentiation in the middle range of performance” ( My rubric is based on 10 points, 2 being neatness, 2 table of contents completion, and the other 6 points for completing various pages correctly in the notebook.  To even further enhance this rubric, though, I will explain the way that I am grading the 6 points more clearly on the rubric.  Instead of simply writing “p. 29 process (2 pts.),” I will write, “Have you written your letter on p.29?  Does it include:  why you are going to Jamestown, the person you are writing to, and your name? (value = 2 points)” (p.47)

            Finally, every good assessment should involve some level of student self-assessment to make the experience more valuable for learners as they evaluate their own work.  I will copy one rubric for students, and have them self-score before I do my teacher scoring (O’Malley and Pierce, 1996, p.49).

            The modifications that I have discussed will be implemented immediately and  will help to ensure fair and equitable evaluation of ELL student achievement on this social studies notebook unit assessment. 

Addenda:  Appendix A, Appendix B

 

References

O’Malley and Pierce (1996). Authentic Assessment for English Language Learners. 

USA:  Addison Wesley Publishing Company, Inc.

 

 

 Appendix A:  Sample Interactive Social Studies Notebook Page (p.29)

29

Preview:  Look at the following pictures and predict why the English settlers picked Jamestown (located on the James River) for a place to settle.

 

(Glue maps to be flipped here)

-http://www.virtualjamestown.org/map2a.html (Colonization of Virginia Map)

-(map from VA atlas – from p. 27 of ssnb 2005/6)

 

I predict the settlers picked Jamestown as a good location for their settlement because______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Here are the reasons why they thought Jamestown was a good choice:  (write the reasons and make a sketch for each one)

1.

 

 

2.

 

 

3.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Process:  Write a letter as if you are about to leave from England to go to Jamestown, and you are telling your parents or friends why you are going (use p. 30)

Year 1607

Dear ______________,

          ___________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

                                                                             Love,

                                                                             ___________________

 

 

 

Appendix B:  Rubric Before Modifications and After

 

BEFORE

 

Jamestown Notebook Rubric

Neatness…….(0-2 pts.) __

Table of Contents Completion….(0-2 pts.)__

p. 29 process….(0-2 pts.)__

p. 29 preview…(1 pt.)__

p. 27 preview…(1 pt.)__

p. 25 process…(0-2 pts.)__

Total Points = __/10 = ___ % =  A   B   C   D   E

 

AFTER

Jamestown Notebook Rubric (STUDENT version) 

-Please give yourself the points you think you deserve.

__(0-2 pts.) Is your notebook very neat and easy to read?

__(0-2 pts.) Did you complete the Table of Contents?

__(0-2 points) Have you written your letter on page 29?  Does it include:  why you are going to Jamestown, the person you are writing to, and your name?

__(0-3 points)  Have you 1) glued your maps onto the top of page 29?  Have you 2) written why you think the settlers picked Jamestown?  Have you 3) drawn pictures to show why they picked Jamestown?

__ (1 point) Have you written a reason why people might want to move to a new place on the top of page 27?

_______________________

 

Total Points = __/10 = ___ % =  A   B   C   D   E

 

 

Jamestown Notebook Rubric (teacher version)

__(0-2 pts.) Is your notebook very neat and easy to read?

__(0-2 pts.) Did you complete the Table of Contents?

__(0-2 points) Have you written your letter on page 29?  Does it include:  why you are going to Jamestown, the person you are writing to, and your name?

__(0-3 points)  Have you 1) glued your maps onto the top of page 29?  Have you 2) written why you think the settlers picked Jamestown?  Have you 3) drawn pictures to show why they picked Jamestown?

__ (1 point) Have you written a reason why people might want to move to a new place on the top of page 27?

_______________________

 

Total Points = __/10 = ___ % =  A   B   C   D   E

 

 ARTIFACT #2

 

Needs Assessment

 

Emily Bennett

 

George Mason University

 

       I am a fourth grade teacher at Key Immersion Elementary School (Escuela Key), a two-way Spanish-English immersion school in Arlington, VA.  At Key School, all students receive math, science, and Spanish language arts instruction in Spanish for half of their day, while English teachers teach English language arts and social studies for the second half.  Therefore, all students are second language learners for at least half of the school day.  The school’s total population is 562 students, with 3% Asian/Pacific Islander, 3.9% black, 45% Hispanic, 47.7% white, and .4% unspecified (this number stands for two sisters from Ethiopia, one of whom I will focus on in this assessment.)  33.6% of students receive free and reduced lunch. 

        The English part of the school day is divided into a 60-minute block dedicated to reading, and the other 90 minutes is allocated to social studies and/or writing, and health.  During the reading block, an ESOL teacher comes to each classroom to service those ELL students who are reading below grade level.  The ESOL teacher either pulls the students out for that hour, or can work in a team teaching scenario with the primary reading (homeroom) teacher.  Several ESOL students who are at or above average reading level work with the homeroom teacher.  The vast majority of students, both native English speakers as well as ELLs, have had previous and uninterrupted schooling, and as the content standards for Arlington are rigorous, the academic pace moves rather quickly.  On the 2005/2006 SOLs, 97.6% of the Key School third grade passed the Reading test, 98.9% passed Math, 100% passed History, and 98.9% passed Science (all adjusted scores).

Curriculum Designer

I have been teaching for almost four years, and all of my teaching has been at my current school; I worked for two years in third grade and this is my second year as a fourth grade teacher.  Before that, I was a teaching intern for a full school year, moving between second, third, and fourth grade classrooms.  During this internship, I was working on my Masters degree in elementary education at Johns Hopkins University. 

I received two Bachelors degrees from Pennsylvania State University, in Spanish and International Studies.  Within these majors, I studied Spanish and German language, and was fortunate to have the opportunity to study abroad for two semesters in Spain and Austria. 

Last year, I took a Japanese I class, and in high school, I took three years of Latin.  I love languages.  It has been a passion of mine since childhood.  I think that having a solid background consisting of a variety of languages is beneficial to my students because I am not only able to communicate with parents in a variety of languages, but based on my experiences abroad, I am very accustomed to accepting and learning about cultural differences.  Also, I can appreciate the complexity of learning another language after going through the process myself.

My philosophy of education has been formulating in my mind since the day I entered elementary school.  Based on my own experiences as a student and as a teacher, I have realized that there are two key ingredients that need to be stirred into any good educator’s daily classroom practice.

            One of these ingredients that I think is so integral to the children’s learning and development is respect.  When students know they are being respected by their teacher, they are much more capable of learning because they are in a state of relaxation and confidence.  I have learned that to respect my students is to show that they are real people and treat them as I would want to be treated as a learner.  A parent of one of my students last year gave me one of the best compliments I could have received, which was, “My son feels so comfortable in your class because you treat them all in such a human way!”  I felt great to know that her son, a child with many learning and attention needs, went home to report a safe feeling inside our classroom. 

            Seeking to promote motivation for learning is the second factor that must be a part of an educator’s methodology.  When students are learning a second language, many feel awkward, uncomfortable, shy, or less confident using the second language.  Offering praise, and providing fun and interesting ways to learn new information are some of the best ways to increase motivation.  This ties in with the affective filter that Krashen talks about (Mitchel and Myles, 1998) because with this theory, childrens’ attitudes and emotions play a large part in whether or not learning is achieved.  When children feel frustrated and stressed, they do not have motivation to learn, but when the opposite feelings of excitement and self-confidence are present in a learner, they will be able to more easily develop the second language.

 

Interviews

I teach social studies in a whole-class setting with no outside assistance from an ESOL teacher, and so I believe this subject is the one I could improve upon the most.  Therefore, it will be the most beneficial one for me to focus on for this project.  This is the subject that poses the most challenge for the ELLs in my class for two grave reasons.  First, most of the text available is written at a fourth grade reading level, which is too high for many of my ELLs.  Second, the subject matter (VA History) requires a certain level of background knowledge of US history, which makes it especially difficult for those students. 

I chose to interview six students in my homeroom class who are identified at the lowest ESOL levels in the class.  For my assessment, I asked eight questions that served as a form of pre-assessment, review of background knowledge, and an evaluation of learning preferences.  The purpose of these questions was to find out if some of my previous social studies instruction had been effective in the past (question #3,) background knowledge of cardinal directions (question #1,) background knowledge that could be used for making effective connections to historical events (#1,) and questions on learning preferences (#4-6.) 

I also used notes from previous and current-year parent conferences to guide my analysis of these students, because I believe that the parents of these students can provide valuable information to help me design units that will better accommodate their needs.  

 

Student Files/Institutional Data

            Many student test scores are available to me as a teacher, as is a file that shows the educational background of the student, languages spoken at home, and previous teachers’ conference notes.  I am able to use all of these pieces to create my needs assessment for these six students, in addition to the data that I collect personally.

            I found that 4 students speak Spanish, 1 speaks English, and 1 speaks Amharic at home.  All six of my subjects have had a pretty consistent schooling, although some have been much more interrupted than others.  One student has attended three different schools in two different counties in five years, and judging by her levels of performance in comparison with other fourth graders, the moving has not been good for her education.  We have met with the mother, social worker, teacher, principal, and special education teacher in several different meetings, and have decided to start testing her for learning disabilities, to see if that is a factor, since she has received a lot of extra support this year and has not made significant progress. 

            Another boy who has had a very difficult home situation worried many of us, and we got together to discuss him this year as well.  He lived with his father in Bolivia for most of his life after his mother had come to the states when he was a baby.  Just recently, his father was incarcerated, and he was forced to come to the US to live with his mother.  He, understandably, took being separated from his father and dealing with the stress and preoccupation about the safety of his father very hard.  Also, he found it difficult to adjust to the new rules and structures present in his mother’s house, as well as the different type of schooling he was now exposed to (his previous school centered primarily around religion.)  He was accustomed to performing at the top of his class, and it is frustrating for him not to understand everything that goes on in class.  

Sadly, David’s reading teacher reported that when he was meeting with her in the small ESOL group (of 5 students,) he started pulling out chunks of his hair whenever he read a word incorrectly.  This behavior has since stopped after it was brought to appropriate staff’s attention and we provided other means of stress relief (squeeze ball and rubber bands.)  He is working hard and is becoming more relaxed in the classroom as time passes, but this continues to be a concern of mine, and it is important to me to work to lower his affective filter as much as possible. 

 

Student Assessments

            My student interviews showed that none of the students had heard of a civil war in their countries.  I thought this question would help further understanding by tapping into prior knowledge and making connections between their countries’ histories and the US history that we will be studying.  Collier sites O’Malley and Chamot, who state that the “activation of students’ prior knowledge is considered the first step in any meaningful instructional activity.”  In fact, though, this question proved to be useless for these purposes, because the students had not heard of a civil war before, but I hypothesize that they might just not know the term “Civil War,” while they might understand the concept if explained.  This vocabulary will be important to explain further as we study, and I will ask the question again in a different way to see if any of the students have heard of or experienced a war within a country before. 

All students got the question correct that asked them to identify North and South on a compass rose.  This knowledge will help when discussing the US Civil War.  All students except Aliyah knew that the North won the Civil War, except it is possible that she knew it too, since she went further to say that Ulysses S. Grant won the war.  With some clarification to make sure she understands that it was not just one person who “won,” she seems to have successfully remembered that piece of knowledge after having preliminary classroom discussions on the subject. 

I asked how students study for social studies tests, and found that 5 out of 6 use the interactive notebook in which they glue important information during class that they need to know for the tests.  Aliyah again answered differently, but it seems like since she said “My mom tests me,” I think that her mom uses the notebook, also, as a reference to quiz Aliyah for tests.  When I asked if the students liked reading better in English or Spanish, I should have included Mahlet’s L1, because she is learning two new languages besides her L1.  I wonder now if she prefers reading in her L1 (Amharic, from Ethiopia,) but I predict that she tends to read more text in English, based on comments from her father. (He said that she speaks only English at home with her fifth grade sister, as she usually does with him.) 

When asked how students liked to learn best, I received a variety of answers.  Two preferred to watch movies about the subject, two liked making things, one liked reading for information, and one liked listening for information.  The two who understand spoken English fairly fluently were the ones who preferred to watch movies.  I do not feel that the rest of the students fully comprehend videos that are shown in class. 

 

Implications for Final Project

Based on the information I received from the student interviews, test scores, and parent feedback, I have delineated goals for a final project that will fit with my students’ English language development, as well as social studies learning needs. 

Wong states that “A critical feature of dialogic approaches to TESOL is ‘learning by doing.’”  I will design a Civil War unit that will allow for multiple hands-on learning and writing activities.  Also within the unit, I will provide texts for students to read that are written at appropriate levels, as well as plan chances for discussion among students so that they can practice oral language and listening skills.  I will use Hansen’s Comprehension Questions to drive student discussions about the text they read to help solidify understanding.  (“What do you remember?”, “What else would you like to know?”, “What does it remind you of?”, and “What other things have you read that it reminds you of?”  (Freeman, 2000.)  In addition, I will show short video clips to provide graphic context that will help explain much of the complex vocabulary that is required for this social studies unit. 

I believe that my plan of teaching this unit, capitalizing on the students’ learning styles will be the best way to enhance their learning.  Every good lesson addresses the four parts of language development (reading, writing, speaking, and listening,) and I will plan all four of those components into the lessons within my unit (Peregoy & Boyle, 1997.)  Using a hands-on approach, adding visuals, creating a platform for student discussion, and providing appropriate reading materials will greatly add to the success of the English language learners in my classroom, as well as the rest of the students.  My greatest hope is for the students to feel comfortable and successful, and by keeping these goals in mind, my Civil War unit should function very well for these six ELL students. 

  

 

References

 

Collier, V.P. (1995). Promoting Academic Success for ESL Students: Understanding

Second Language Acquisition for School. Jersey City, NJ: NJTESOL-BE.

 

Freeman, D.E., Y.S (2000) Teaching Reading in Multilingual Classrooms. Portsmouth,

NH:  Heinemann.

 

Mitchel, R. and Myles, F.  (2004)  Second Language Learning Theories (2nd ed.). 

            London, England:  Hodder Headline Group.

 

Peregoy, S.F., & Boyle, O.F. (1997). Reading, writing, and learning in ESL: A resource

book for K-12 teachers (2nd ed.). New York: Longman.

 

Wong, S. (2006)  Dialogic Approaches to TESOL:  Where the Ginko Tree Grows.

Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

 

 Appendix A

 

Student Interview

 

 

1.Have you heard of a Civil War in a country other than the United States?  Who was in this war?

 

2.Label this compass with North and South.    +

 

 

 

3.Who won the Civil War in the United States?

 

 

 

4.How do you study for social studies tests?

 

 

 

5.Do you like reading better in English or in Spanish?

 

 

 

6.To learn best, do you like to:   (circle one)

a.       listen to information?

b.      read for information?

c.       watch movies for information?

d.      talk with others for information?

e.       make things to learn information?

  

Appendix B

Student Data

 

NAMES:

1. 

Aliyah

2. 

Jacobo

3.  Franklin

4.  Mahlet

5. 

David

6. 

Ivan

SOL Score

English Reading

(2005/6)

 

287

 

N/A -exempt

 

N/A -exempt

 

410

 

N/A –was not here yet

 

N/A –was not here yet

SOL Score

Social Studies

(2005/6)

 

295

 

341

 

476

 

476

 

N/A –was not here yet

 

N/A –was not here yet

DRP Score (2006/7)

 

29

 

exempt

 

exempt

 

42

 

exempt

 

exempt

Schooling Interrupted?

Yes–very!

-K-2nd gr. in Montgomery County, MD

-3rd-Barcroft Elem. in Arlington

-4th-Key

School in Spain until halfway through 3rd grade

Came in 2nd grade from Bolivia, at Key ever since. 

At Key for all of school career

Came from Bolivia this year, did K-4 in religious (7-day adventist)

private school there.

Completed K-4 in Ecuador, came this year to start 4th at Key.

Languages Spoken at Home

English, but does not have a very strong L1- weak Spanish and English base

Spanish

Spanish

Amharic (from Ethiopia)

Spanish

Spanish

Previous teachers’ comments – (anything surprising?)

Is being tested for learning disabilities right now, because all schools have reported slower learning.  Is receiving extra help from reading teacher a few times a week during lunch and recess.

Low level in math and science reported from grade 3 teacher, but progressing well this year with practice.  I am tutoring him in English reading 2x / week, and much progress has happened in reading comp. & English language.

In 1st, 2nd and  3rd, spoke mostly Spanish in English class.  This year, he speaks English – is progressing well and works very hard on homework, projects, etc.

Was reported as shy and silent in 3rd, but is coming out of shell this year and being much more social. 

At beginning of this year, started pulling hairs out of head out of frustration/ stress. Was reported and many teachers have been watching him, working with him, giving support.  Hair pulling has stopped. 

Recently has started playing a lot in class and fooling around when he gets bored/ doesn’t understand language.  After meeting with mom about it, he is much more focused and mom is helping support more by daily communication with me through notes in Ivan’s planner.

Parent support at home?  /Parent Comments

Lives with mom at home who works a lot to make ends meet, lots of financial stress at home.

Dad works in Spanish Embassy-diplomat- parents recently separated and mom moved back to Spain.

Mom works in art after-school program at school, is in constant contact with teachers, gives lots of support at home.

Parents separated, lives at home with dad.

Lives with mom-mom cleans houses of several kids in our class, so there is a network of native English speaking parents looking out for him.   In Bolivia, lived with dad, but dad went to jail and he was forced to come and live with mom in US.  Was extremely difficult transition for him at beginning. 

Lives with mom at home.

Question #1

Didn’t understand question

No

No

No

No

No

Question #2

Correct answer

 

Correct answer

Correct answer

Correct answer

Correct answer

Correct answer

Question #3

Didn’t understand question.

Correct answer

Correct answer

Correct answer

Correct answer

Correct answer

Question #4

“My mom tests me.”

 

“With my notebook”

“Notebook”

“Notebook”

“Read notebook”

“Read notebook”

Question #5

English and Spanish (?)

Spanish

Spanish

English

Spanish

Spanish

Question #6

Watch movies

 

Make things

Watch movies

Listen for info.

Read for information

Make things

ESOL Levels:

Couldn’t find in file

Oral-2

Reading-6

Writing-2

Oral-3

Reading-3

Writing-3

Oral-5

Reading-5

Writing-5

Couldn’t find in file

Couldn’t find in file