I’m knee deep in reports at the moment which, as it always does, brings my assessment practices into sharp focus as I scan and condense what I know about my students into a small comment box. This is a good thing – there is nothing worse than our practice becoming stale through lack of reflection so, while I don’t particularly enjoy writing 400 reports, I do like the opportunity to question, probe and refine the way I do things, especially thinking about the rapidly approaching new school year.
So how do I assess now? Teaching ICT to students in Grades Prep through to 6, I keep copious anecdotal notes where I comment on things they can do, focusing on the ‘essential learnings’ currently specified in the Victorian Essential Learning Standards. When I started teaching ICT last year, I quickly deduced that the VELS standards for ICT were obviously not designed to be a complete and all encompassing ‘curriculum’ so I used them, ISTE NETS and various other bits and pieces I’ve collected to try to come up with a more rounded picture of what students needed to cover in their 1 hour a week with me. From this, I gathered some headings and focus statements to help me identify what I’m looking for and commenting on each week. It’s not perfect and, with 1 hour per grade to teach/assess/guide/problem solve/coax/share excitement with, it doesn’t always stretch far enough and there are frequent blank boxes.
I also have checklists of major bits of work and ‘skills’ – for the Preps this starts at ability to log in unassisted and moves on to skills like changing the file format of digital pictures or organising their files in a meaningful way in Grade 6. I also use this to keep track of the feedback I give to them through rubrics and self/peer/teacher assessment for their project work throughout the year.
What’s the problem? I’m aware that my system does have gaps and I’m conscious that I don’t capture everything that the students can do through my notes. When I was in the classroom, I liked the combination of formal and less formal assessment to give me a more complete picture of what my students could do and what we needed to work on next. I feel like I’m lacking that in my current role. The students do a typing test (old fashioned of me, I know, but I think it’s an important skill) and I’m pleased about their improvement in results during the course of the year. But I’d like a few more tools like this in my toolbox to help me achieve a more rounded picture of my students’ skills, particularly when I get to see them for such little time each week.
Over to you – any ideas? What do you use to assess your students’ ICT skills?