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Thinking Like an Assessor

1. Does Wiggins and McTighe's (2005) "thinking like an assessor" help one to be strategic in teaching because teaching is directed towards assessing learning?

2. Backward design requires the teacher to think like an assessor as well as an activity designer. Do you agree ? Does this help the teaching ?

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Does Wiggins and McTighe's (2005) "thinking like an assessor" help one to be strategic in teaching because teaching is directed towards assessing learning?

As a non-traditional teacher who was trained in the 90's, I can tell you that I was being trained to align my goals with my lesson and with my assessment, but my training was by NO means directed toward me being a critical thinker and assessing learning. This was only seen as a small part of my role in addition to artistic director, classroom manager, activity designer, attendance monitor, and creative teacher. I was trained to start my lesson planning process with goals and objectives and NOT with assessments. I was never directed to think about how to assess the really big ideas that I planned to teach, or to think about how to assess true understanding of the lessons I so diligently planned to teach. I did not think about

"What kinds of evidence do we need to find hallmarks of our goals, including that of understanding?"
"What specific characteristics in student responses, products, or performances should we examine to determine the extent to which the desired results were achieved?"
"Does the proposed evidence enable us to infer a student's knowledge, skill, or understanding?" (150)

At my last school, I was trained in Standards Aligned Curriculum, where we learned to assess first based on targeted skills we aimed to teach. I became more reflective about my daily and quarterly assessments. SAC helped me to reevaluate how I communicated learning targets to students and parents. I began to create tests before beginning a unit. I always make sure my assessments have a good target match and that the assessments are correlated to the standards and performance descriptors. I also learned to vary the types of questions that I used and type my tests so that students can easily read them and then write their answers. I made sure to write my tests at the appropriate reading level and to include visual, oral, and kinesthetic tasks. I also used KRSP or the three -story intellect verbs to cover gathering, processing, and application questions (Knowledge, Reasoning, Skills, and Products). Whenever I could, I engaged students in the assessment development process, and I provided a grade scale for them so they knew what constituted a certain grade. I wasn't trained in this technique until 2010. I wasn't trained to be strategic in teaching by focusing on assessing learning until that time. Too many teachers today have NOT been trained to think and teach like an assessor.

Here is an article that will provide you with more information:

Understanding by Design: Thinking like an Assessor
June 18th, 2007

http://www.huffenglish.com/?p=365

In "Thinking like an Assessor" (Understanding by Design) Wiggins and McTighe argue (I'm sure quite correctly, at least from my own experience) that teachers are not used to thinking like assessors; they are "far more used to thinking like an activity designer or teacher" (150). In other words, teachers "easily and unconsciously jump to Stage 3 : the design of lessons, activities, and assignments : without first asking [themselves] what performances and products [they] need to teach toward" (150). I am actually quite proud of my ability to think of creative activities and assignments, but I will also admit that they do not always really assess big ideas, and I have only ever composed one unit around essential questions (a Harlem Renaissance unit I wrote last year after Jay McTighe came to our school). I have felt a need to focus my instruction. Let's face it; there are a lot of great teaching ideas out there, and none of us has to reinvent the wheel. What is hard is making sure our students ...

Solution Summary

As a non-traditional teacher who was trained in the 90's, I can tell you that I was being trained to align my goals with my lesson and with my assessment, but my training was by NO means directed toward me being a critical thinker and assessing learning. This was only seen as a small part of my role in addition to artistic director, classroom manager, activity designer, attendance monitor, and creative teacher. I was trained to start my lesson planning process with goals and objectives and NOT with assessments. I was never directed to think about how to assess the really big ideas that I planned to teach, or to think about how to assess true understanding of the lessons I so diligently planned to teach. I did not think about

"What kinds of evidence do we need to find hallmarks of our goals, including that of understanding?"
"What specific characteristics in student responses, products, or performances should we examine to determine the extent to which the desired results were achieved?"
"Does the proposed evidence enable us to infer a student's knowledge, skill, or understanding?" (150)

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