Documentation = Assessment

It’s that time of year again, time to look at our students, time to know what they know before we teach them what they need to know. Do we look at report cards? Check in with previous teachers? Check in with whomever we know to give us a leg up on these kids? Or do we just welcome them, build that rapport, that trust, those relationships that will help both of us along the way. We all have reasons we choose what we do to get to understand the students before us. How strongly we feel about assessments and what we do with that information influences us whether intentionally or unknowingly. As often happens my thinking about a topic is motivated by a blog, a Twitter chat or tweets from my Twitterverse. Before I continue I need to share I am not good at taking tests (no matter what, assessments always reminded me of tests) nor do I like giving tests. Are they necessary? Maybe, but for what purpose, what grade, what age and what subject? Accountability? Heavy duty questions that could be discussed where you teach? For now I think of  documentation as a way to look at learning which then becomes an authentic tool for assessment. I look at #lookingclosely and #ReggioPLC and read links to their interactions with students and documentation of their practices and wonder. Certainly in the early years before all the testing over takes the purpose of learning and school, we can find open ended forms of assessment that encourages students and makes room for them to explore, wonder, and experiment; with what is important to them without fear of mistakes that can appear as failure. Isn’t that what we’d want for all students. With more focus and interest in makerspaces, innovation and geniushour opportunities for students, assessing their learning has presented some challenges. Documentation can take many forms from observing, listening, jotting down students’comments about their thinking, photos and short video clips. Whether children are building with blocks, engaged in social interactions, reading, writing or working on math problems documenting their learning might lead to a better understanding of their accomplishments when the assessment requires a letter grade.


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