When I was a parent for the first time I noted every single thing the tiny human did…and drove my pediatrician nuts because the moment something seemed out of the ordinary, she would receive a phone call. And then she gave me a piece of advice that continues to resonate almost a decade later and extend to most aspects of of daily life. That sage bit of wisdom was to, “Observe over a three-day period rather than every single moment”. For example, in the case of the tiny humans and eating, her advice was, “Over the course of three days, they should have some protein, some vegetables, some fruit, some starches…” and, well, you get the idea.
I’ve extended this advice of looking over a period of time, rather than a single point in time, to teaching and assessment.
Brain Target 6: Evaluating Learning
Assessment is tough and a letter grade doesn’t always provide the full picture of a student’s knowledge. Vicky Krug, Assistant Professor at Westmoreland County Community College, featured in the documentary Grey Matters: Teaching The Way The Brain Learns aptly describes letter grades from tests as measuring “a single point in time” of the learning journey. Krug continues, “The tests are good tests, but it’s one instance”.
Jeremy Mettler, featured in the documentary Grey Matters: Teaching The Way The Brain Learns, makes the case for measuring growth as part of evaluating learning (Brain Target 6 of the Brain Targeted Teaching Model), “Growth can be many different things from speaking up in class to working through math problems and for Mettler, “It’s probably one of my favourite things to measure because it gives me a more holistic picture of a student’s progress.”
Portfolios can help.
Portfolios are a great way to capture progress over time, painting a more accurate picture of a student’s knowledge base. If you're interested in building a more complete picture of your students’ knowledge base consider these tips to get started using a portfolio:
1. Outline the goal of the portfolio.Are you using it to track short term student progress, such as a unit study, or more long-term progress?
2. Who’s the audience?
Is it for you, the teacher, to have a tangible representation of your students’ progress? Is this for parents to obtain a more detailed picture of their student’s work load? Will it go to a fellow teacher? Is this a student project? Outlining the audience will aid in how the student’s work is curated.
3. Will you grade it?
If you are grading it, who’s selecting the work to be included? Have you shown students the grading rubric? Is the rubric standardized?
For more reading on Portfolios, check out:
Purchase the film
If you would like to order Grey Matters: Teaching The Way The Brain Learns for professional development, please click here.
More about the model
For more information on the Brain Targeted Teaching Model, check out www.braintargetedteaching.org.
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