My interest in the idea of sharing pedagogical purposes comes directly with the contact I have had with the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning at Monash University in Australia. Now each of these teachers were very active in establishing learning agendas with their classes. The impact they were having was inspiring. Each classroom tool can have a purpose beyond delivering content, and this needs to be shared.
I suppose the purpose of this website is collate, crystalise and open dialogues about how to increase this within classrooms. As the quote from Carl Bereiter illustrates this classroom methodology can empower our students.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Things you can find out about your class and teaching if you don't mark books

This is a post script to the alphabet analyser article.

I have crunched some numbers for one of the classes that used the alphabet analyser, which has allowed me to ponder the following things.
1. How effective is the Alphabet analyser as an assessment tool. Is it relaible?
2. How effective the lesson was
3. Are both of the above the same across all ability ranges.
4. How to move students forward.
All done within the time I would have been marking their books. Remember I assessed at the begining of the lesson and at the end, solely using the grid that is based around the national curriulum. Obviously professional judgement is a large part of this.

A note: I have split each SAT level into three, A, B and C. With A as a "ready to move onto the next level", B "comfortable" at this level and C as a "just scraped in." We use a similar system at school. I have compared these levels to level I have reported to parents this year.

So here is some data.58% of the end of lesson levels match their reported level.21% of the begining of lesson levels match their reported levels.21% of the levels at the begining of the AA are an over estimate of their "actual" level.So, it looks like this tool could be useful. It seems obvious as a class activity students have been helping each other, but maybe the sharing the fact that I wanted to use this as an assessment tool has been heeded. This could also explain the overestimated scores. A change in my classroom practice will resolve this and i will base the number I assign not just on this piece of paper but with a conversation to verify student understanding. I also have a list of who i overestimated, so i target these first.They should not be copying!

I must point out that the above thoughts and next steps would not occurred to me if I had just marked their books. I would not have had time.

I next pondered was it as accurate across ability levels or was it just the bright motivated students.A breakdown of students just scraping into level 5 showed that 33% match the target at the beginning of the lesson and 66% at the end. The students working at level 6 and above had a 13% match at the begining a 62% at the end and a 25% no match . I think all this says is that the end levels are better quality assessment of students of all ability. I must also point of that my two weakest students in this group both match their target at the beginning of the lesson. What does this show? Motivation? That the longer tests are a burden on them and therefore underestimate their performance? Random error?It certainly making me think about these students in a detailed way. Their levels are low and the alphabet analyser certainly confirms the lack of vocabulary these students have. This something I can do something about.

I'll not bore you ( if i have not already) with the scoring system I have used to make checking the progress made during this lesson. On average the students progressed by a whole SAT level. One student made no progress. Again the reason for this is not obvious but it has certainly drawn my eye to a quiet student who does not appear to be progressing in my class. I know numbers are a bit arbitary but they do reveal things gut feelings would miss. Only 3 students made the minimum of 1/3rd of a level, two of which I can explain by general attitude and performance levels, and the fact that they used to sit next to each other if you know what I mean. I will show them the boring numbers to show them why they will not be in the same group. The other is more of a mystery. This student works well during lessons, but does get a little confused from time to time. Again it is easy to target this student for a little one to one during each lesson.

Five students made more than two levels of progress. These were distributed across all ability levels, indicating the "pitch" of the lesson reach all. I will share the data with them as a way of giving concrete praise for making real progress, i think this is especially important as all abilities are represented here, so it not just my bright motivated students get pats on the back again.

So they you have it, an hour thinking rather than ticking, i know my students better and have clear targets for students in the next level. It has targetted knowledge, students ability to learn and classroom management. So from a lesson that my gut told me went very well, I have found some real room for improvement.