Testing Times

At last it’s the half-term holidays and all of us are enjoying a well deserved break from the classroom. The autumn hiatus offers teachers and students a welcome opportunity for rest and relaxation: a chance to get away from the rigmarole of planning and delivering lessons or designing and marking tests. The reality however for most teachers is that the work will follow us on our holidays.

For many of us this will be an opportunity to assess that first major assignment on our courses, to deliver on the promises set out in our SPT comments. It is a chance to provide some detailed feedback to our students and set a standard for the quality of work we expect to receive in the future.

With this in mind, perhaps coupled with a feeling that we have once again sabotaged our own holiday, we are likely to reflect over our teaching practices. We may ask ourselves some questions: How do we gauge the understanding of our students in the classroom? How can we ensure students are getting enough feedback early on to enable them to develop? Indeed, how can we gather and assess enough work from our students to provide meaningful feedback for those development talks early in the term?

With our next inset day at IEGS just around the corner I find myself planning a short workshop on how to incorporate technology in the classroom to engage learners and, rather ambitiously, to lighten the load on teachers.

We all know what works in the classroom, but do we know what works better?

Ewan McIntosh, CEO of NoTosh and the keynote speaker at IST‘s Practical Pedagogies conference, talked of how teachers tend to plateau after around 3-4 years in the job. As we embark on our teaching careers, we find ourselves on a steep development curve until eventually we find a style of our own and a way of working that is comfortable. We are okay. McIntosh notes however, that as innovators, it is not okay to be okay.

This was a point echoed by Jesper Ersgård (Lärarfortbildning) during our last inset day when he spoke to the staff on the subject of John Hattie’s Visible Learning: as teachers we all know what works in the classroom, but do we know what works better?

Last year, after a conversation with one of our science teachers, I started using Socrative as a method of formative assessment. Not only has this tool enabled me to gauge whether students understand the material we are covering during a unit, it has also made the correcting of tests more efficient. Socrative generates reports on each student which you can easily share in the student’s portfolio too.

In short, Socrative has helped me answer some of those questions I’ve faced during past holidays and regain at least part of my autumn break.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s