27 November 2017

Assessment for Learning

Our key focus this year has been assessment for learning. This involves learning intensions, differentiation and formative assessment. These three components are required in providing an essential framework within which to facilitate children's learning.

We have always been good at telling the child what we want them to do. We have moved this onto sharing what and why they are leaning something new. This key additional information allows the boys to know what they are learning, why they are learning it, but most importantly, how they can demonstrate they have learned it. It allows them to self-evaluate their learning, set targets for themselves and get to understand their learning needs.

Providing the 'what' and 'how' without the learning intention might look like this:

"Today I want you to paint a picture of a rainbow. ('what') Here is a chart of rainbow colours that we have been looking at this week. You will be given a piece of white paper, a long flat-headed brush and some watercolours. Make it the most beautiful rainbow you can ('how').

The same learning intention, now including the shared learning intention:

"Today I want you to paint a picture of a rainbow. ('what') Here is a chart of rainbow colours that we have been looking at this week. You will be given a piece of white paper, a long flat-headed brush and some watercolours. Make it the most beautiful rainbow you can ('how').

"The only thing I want you to focus on, and it is the reason for you painting a rainbow, is to practice using your brush to blend each of the colours of the rainbow together. You are practising this skill of using your brush to blend colours, an important skill in art. ('why')

Sharing the learning intention means that children are more likely to get straight on with the task and will be more focused. The framing of a learning intention provides children with a clear focus for their learning for a specific lesson. These intentions are phrased as "To" or "We are learning to" statements.

We work to link our differentiation to the learning intention. Once the 'what', 'how' and 'why' has been clearly shared with the boys, teachers can set differentiated tasks to assist the varied abilities to meet the learning focus and to have success. We do not need to set different learning intensions for different abilities, we are able to amend the task and still meet the focus of the lesson and intention.

Formative assessment is the key at this point. It is the ongoing, daily assessment that is essential for knowing how a child is progressing and how they understand the learning focus for the day or week. Through effective formative assessments, teachers can amend an activity as it is progressing; amend a subsequent lesson or even a unit of work. They will know if a boy, group or the class has understood and demonstrate the learning intention and what to do next. Different teachers may use different strategies including; Near Pod, exit surveys, plenary sessions, teacher's observations and the marking of work to ascertain the level of understanding of the boys. Through this they are better able to review the effectiveness of a given lesson or lessons and make changes to ensure the boys are learning and are appropriately challenged.

These three key components, learning intentions, differentiation and formative assessments raise standards and help learners to make progress.

Targeting Assessment in the Primary Classroom - Shirley Clarke,1998

I wish to congratulate Nathan Liu who has been awarded honors for his preliminary grade violin exam. Fantastic work Nathan.

Mr John Stewart

Head of Junior School