Wednesday, 3 January 2018

10 Tips For Great Assessment

Assessment is a part of human nature. We assess on a daily basis without even realising it: assessing the dangers of crossing the road; assessing whether we have time to sit for coffee of whether to have a take-out; assessing whether we need to take an umbrella. It's no different in education.

When teachers go through he training process they are taught about the importance of assessment and the differences between formative and summative assessment. In fact, this is drummed into us from day one right through to the day we qualify and beyond. 

Assessment is an integral part of education but is a topic that sparks much debate. What are the benefits and drawbacks to assessment? What is its purpose? What effects does it have on the child? Love it or hate it, it's here to stay! 

My 10 tips below will help you to make 2018 a great year for assessment.

1.  Use technology
Technology is fun and students love it! Be creative about how you set assessments - try  Powerpoint slideshows, internet research, form filling tools, apps etc. Technology is also a much faster way of recording assessments than filling out paper forms. You can save paper, and save time. Technology will also give you more options for recording and storing evidence, and makes it easier to share your assessments with others.

2.  Think about location
You should be assessing at every opportunity, not just on "assessment day". Assessment should be something that embeds seamlessly into the process of learning, rather than an extra task on the ‘to do’ list. Assessing children as they learn can have a direct and immediate impact. It will also save you time, as you won’t be putting off assessment until later!

3.  Use a framework to ensure progress
A clear framework will make it easier for you to see each child’s next steps, and to set appropriate targets. Curricular targets can then be set to move pupils on in their learning as opposed to setting a general target score.

4.  Track pupil progress
Regular tracking highlights gaps in learning, and brings to your attention more quickly those students who may be struggling or falling behind. It’s a good idea to track and compare groups of children who have similar needs or who are vulnerable. This will help you to plan interventions, set meaningful targets and differentiate your lesson plans.

5.  Match it to your curriculum
Formative assessment is an important tool to help you to teach and support pupils to learn. Assess only those things that tell you something useful. The most relevant formative assessment will highlight the areas of your curriculum that are strong, and those that need more coverage or resources.

6.  Record evidence
Evidence is important to back up your judgements and to share for moderation purposes. This could include examples of pupils’ work, photos, videos and sound recordings. Parents also love to see their child’s achievements, so multi-media evidence is a great way to engage them.

7.  Be clear on your progress measures
Moderation is important to ensure that there is consistency in assessment across the school. Are you all singing off the same hymn sheet? Does everyone know how to recognise "working towards", "on target" and "exceeding"? Making sure that there is shared understanding helps maintain smooth progression between year groups. And your bank of evidence comes in handy here to support your judgement and to compare with others when moderating work.

8.  Make it easy to share
Summative data is usually easily accessible as this is mostly comprised of National Test results and other formal tests such as reading tests, phonics checks, spelling checks etc. Occasionally you may be asked to show your formative assessment alongside your summative data (Ofsted, Estyn, Senior Leaders, Governors, Local Authority etc.). Would you be able to find and show them what they’re looking for quickly and easily? This is another area where using technology may help. Sharing assessments with students is also important: they need to know how they are performing, where they need to be and how to get there.

9.  Communicate with students
Make sure that your students understand what is expected from them and how they can achieve it. Giving children very clear lesson objectives, learning outcomes, specific targets and descriptions of their next steps will help to motivate them along the way. They should also be given opportunities to self-assess and peer assess so that they take ownership of their own progress.

10. Link formative assessment to everything you do
Use a good tracker to link formative assessment to everything you do

I love to make assessment fun for my students. The key is to come up with activities that students enjoy and where they don't realise that they are being assessed - a bit like hiding the veg in creative ways for children who refuse to eat their greens! I can't wait to try out my newest resource that I have been working on over Christmas - the "Big Idea Challenge Relay". Children get to work on an answer for thirty seconds before moving on to the next question. They then get an opportunity to self-assess or peer assess their answers. The activity is fun and fast paced, and children love the freedom to move around the classroom on the given signal and the competitiveness. 

This is a great way of testing prior knowledge before introducing a new topic and assessing how much they have learned at the end of the topic - can students beat the score they got first time round?


You can try out "The Big Idea Relay Challenge - Seasons" for half price until Friday 5th January. If you do, please leave me a comment with some feedback. The links below will take you to my TPT store, TES store and Facebook Store respectively.

 TPT         TES  

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Black Friday Sale - Help for Frazzled Teachers!

Traditionally Black Friday in the UK has been the last working Friday before Christmas, when offices, factories and shops close and the festivities begin - literally! It has tended to be quite a rowdy yet good natured celebration with lots of parties and festive fun.

Over the last three years Black Friday has come to represent something else in the UK as the US tradition of shop 'til you drop on the day after Thanksgiving has started to take off. It is now believed to be the biggest shopping day of the year. We don't mark Thanksgiving here but we can shop 'til we drop with the best of them! And although I won't be hitting the shops I will be filling my trolley with lots of teaching goodies.

This year I am joining in with the festivities by bringing Black Friday to my stores. Between 20th November and 27th November everything will be on sale. Window shopping is always welcome, so pop on over and browse.

Now is a great time to snap up that Christmas play at a bargain price  (new for 2017 is The Nutcracker, or Jesus's Christmas Party is a firm favourite). Or how about using my pack of activities to hold a Polar Express Week? And what about carrying on the Christmas feeling into the New Year by reading "Father Christmas Goes on Holiday"?

All of my Christmas resources are available in my TES (on sale all week) and TPT stores (on sale between 23rd November and 27th November), as well as my Facebook store.
TES Store    TPT Store   Facebook Store

And while you're there, why not sign up for news of the latest releases, special offers and free resources? Click the gift for more info.
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Happy Black Friday!

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Alert! An End to Lack of Productivity!

Hands up if you like to make lists! Let's face it, at this time of year it's more important than ever to be well organised - but that's a department in which I am sadly lacking... Christmas is just one big blur, and Christmas shopping tends to be crammed into one day when I hit the shops and hope for the best.

It's the same when I'm working - all too often I set out with good intentions only to get sucked (unintentionally) into surfing the net and before I know eight hours have gone by with little or nothing to show for it..

Well this year I resolved to do things differently. I have found a cheeky little device on Facebook that gathers together my products into themed collections. I have been playing with it all day (ahem.. refer to the previous paragraph and lack of productivity..). Now my Christmas resources are in one place - much easier than surfing. You can check them out below.
I will be adding to the collection over the next few days in time for my Black Friday Sale. Come back tomorrow to find out more.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Poppy - a History of The Poppy Appeal

Around this time of year we see poppies being sold everywhere, we buy them or make a donation and pin them on. But how many of us actually know why we do this or the story behind the symbol of the poppy?

The poppy does not glorify war. Rather, it is a reminder of why we should not repeat the cycle of history. More importantly, the poppy is the rallying call for us to support members of the Armed Forces and their families. The Royal British Legion does sterling work to support our veterans and servicemen and servicewomen in crisis. Some of their stories can be found here.

For this year's Poppy Appeal, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s famous poem, In Flanders Fields, is being recreated across seven locations. The Royal British Legion is encouraging people to #RethinkRemembrance and consider the meaning of the poppy as both a symbol of Remembrance and hope.

It is often difficult to teach children about remembrance and the importance of the poppy as a symbol of hope. I have created two resources that are aimed at children between the ages of 7 and 11 (although they could be used with older pupils too). The first is all about Remembrance Day, while the second tells the history of the poppy and why we wear it. Both are available in my shop and all proceeds will be donated to the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal. Let's give them lots of support by sharing this widely. Thank you for your support.

By wearing a poppy, you aren’t just remembering the fallen: you’re supporting a new generation of veterans and Service personnel that need our support.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Remembrance Day and Firework Safety

Hi all

This is a very special week for us in the UK. It starts off with Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night) and ends with Remembrance Day.

If you've managed to pick up my last post you will know that Guy Fawkes is one of those typically British customs with a rather nasty undertone. It originates during the reign of King James II when Catholic protestors plotted to overthrow him by blowing up the House of Parliament with him inside! Fortunately for him the plot was foiled. Unfortunately for the plotters this meant trouble. The plot was hatched by Robert Catesby and his co-conspirators but they had persuaded Guy Fawkes to guard the gunpowder kegs hidden in the cellars beneath the House of Parliament. An anonymous letter alerted the king and Guy was caught. Needless to say his demise was rather sticky (and very unpleasant..).

Today we still remember the Gunpowder Plot on 5th November, celebrating by lighting bonfires complete with effigies of poor old Guy, setting off fireworks and generally being merry.

This is a perfect opportunity to teach children about the firework code and fire safety. For older children I have prepared a useful reading resource packed full of facts and some worksheets to practise their comprehension skills. It is on sale for the next few days for just £1.60.

On Sunday we celebrate Remembrance Day. Remembrance Day takes place on the second Sunday of November when a 2 minute silence is held to remember all those civilians and servicemen and women who fought in World War I and subsequent conflicts. Church services and parades are held and poppy wreaths laid by cenotaphs and memorials.

At school children often come into classes to sell paper poppies, often without realising their significance. I have always made a point of telling them the story behind the poppy and why we wear them at this time of year. I have pulled together a similar resource that helps to inform children by putting them in control of their own learning. They can read the facts about Remembrance Day and answer questions. The fact sheets can be used in so many other ways: try getting them to make posters about how they can remember; or make a class memory book where children can write short memories about a person or a special pet.

More details of the British Legion's Poppy Appeal and lots of teaching resources can be found here

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