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Article: Assessing During Home Learning

27 Apr 2020 General, Preschool, Preparatory and College

How parents and teachers can assess students’ progress during home learning

Over the last few months, parents, teachers and schools have faced a large number of new challenges, as they strive to support the home education of all students. It is vital we continue to provide an exciting and motivating learning journey for our students. This will ensure they continue to progress throughout this academic year.

Assessment is a fundamental part of an effective curriculum and a successful school. It provides the basis of informed teaching, helping students to overcome difficulties and make good progress, as well as ensuring that teaching builds upon what has been learned. It is also the means by which students understand what they have achieved and what they need to work on.

In these unprecedented times, teachers and schools across the world have had to adapt the way in which they plan, teach and assess the progress of their students.  Meanwhile, parents and carers have taken on a much more important role in their child’s education. It is important to manage our expectations of our students during this challenging time and take into account the pressures and anxieties they face. However, whilst learning from home is quite different to learning in school, learning and progress should still be key.

Assessment at Mount Kelly Hong Kong

What does assessment normally look like? How do we assess students’ learning in school?

Assessment drives learning. As teachers in school, we are constantly assessing our students so that we are able to shape and adapt our teaching to meet their individual potential and improve their learning progress. Assessment in school also helps students understand their own learning, as well as providing parents and carers with better information about their child’s attainment.

On a daily basis, teachers assess children in many different ways. During lessons, they make assessments through observation and questioning, as well as working alongside students so that they can extend their learning.

Observation

Observation is a valuable method of assessment. For example, in a younger, pre-school setting, observing students at play is a key method of assessment against the Early Learning Goals. This offers insightful information about how each child interprets the world and applies the skills and knowledge they have learnt. Teachers often record these regular observations on sticky notes as evidence of children making progress to share with colleagues and parents, as well as inform future lesson planning.

Questioning

When planning a series of lessons, teachers consider the types of questions they want to ask their students, from the simple retrieval of facts through to more complex questions that require higher-order thinking skills. This allows teachers to make judgements as to the level of a student’s understanding and highlights any areas that need to be revisited.

Marking and Feedback

Verbal and written feedback to students about their learning inspires new learning. The dialogue between student and student, as well as the dialogue between student and teacher, give teachers an insight into a student ‘s understanding. Written feedback in the form of marking work in books recognises what students have achieved well, in addition to guiding them towards future improvement.

Testing

When we talk about assessment and pupil progress, tests and exams are the first things that come to mind. Whilst these formal types of assessment play an important role, it is the combination of assessment types that is crucial.

Teacher assessing students at Mount Kelly Hong Kong

How does this translate to home learning for teachers?

Teachers have had to adapt the way in which they assess their students’ progress during the current school closures. Technology plays a huge part of the home learning experience and many teachers now use video conferencing apps, such as Zoom, to engage with their students on a daily basis. This regular face-to-face contact provides opportunities for teachers to ask questions to gauge students’ understanding, as well as giving them verbal feedback on their work.

Video conferencing is also being used by teachers to offer 1-1 support to students. For primary aged students, reading 1-1 with an adult is an important part of the process of learning to read and developing reading skills, as well as an important assessment tool for teachers. During this period of closure, many teachers have continued to support their students’ progress by offering group or 1-1 reading sessions online. These sessions, like in school, are an opportunity to assess students’ understanding of a text and develop a range of reading skills.

Many schools have also begun using platforms such as Google Classroom, which has allowed teachers to continue to assess their students’ progress. Students are able to submit their completed work, which teachers can evaluate and give written feedback on, alongside the verbal feedback they share in online class sessions.

The importance of assessment at Mount Kelly Hong Kong

How does this translate for parents?

Whilst schools are not expecting parents to become teachers during this period of school closure, they greatly appreciate their support for their child’s learning and progress at home. This can be in a variety of ways but supporting your child joining daily online check in and check out sessions with their teacher is one important way to do this.

Students’ self-assessment of their work is an important skill developed in school, particularly in writing activities. Parents can support their children by checking their work as they complete it, discussing their answers and helping them to review what they have written. Very often in the case of writing, teachers and students will create a list of things that will make their writing successful so encouraging your child to check their writing against this success criteria will support their progress.

It is also important to understand that mistakes are an important part of learning. Supporting your child in completing their home learning activities is valuable but allowing them to reach the answers for themselves is also important. Instead of giving your child the answers if they are stuck, ask questions to encourage them to think in a different way and guide them to the answer.

Reading regularly at home with your child, as well as discussion around a book, is a great way to develop your child’s understanding and forge a love of reading together.

We also recommend checking in regularly with your child’s teacher. The partnership between school and home is always key but even more so at this time. If you are in doubt about daily expectations, or want to understand more about your child’s progress whilst learning at home, ask your child’s teachers. They are always there to help.

Written by Rachel Evetts, Assessment Lead at Mount Kelly Hong Kong

Click here to learn more about Home Learning at Mount Kelly Hong Kong and to access to useful resources to help you with the education of your child, their wellbeing and also yours.


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