I have been fortunate to have been involved in developing, managing and improving the assessment system in my school. During that time, I have seen and still see some misconceptions about assessment in the PYP, especially in terms of what is formative assessment and how student portfolios can be used as a tool for formative assessment. Based on the IB PYP definition, formative assessment should be interwoven within the teaching learning process and aim to improve planning for the next stage of learning; however many teachers still misunderstand this purpose. Rather than use student portfolios as part of formative assessment or a documentation of the students’ learning process, many teachers still use portfolios as a showcase for best learning products rather than as a documentation of learning process.
At the moment, we are working towards improving our formative assessment practices and we have adopted a single online platform for use across the school to support our learning in the area of formative assessment. We are currently is using Seesaw as a platform for students’ learning journal or portfolio. Based on my experience, I would like to propose some reasons why Seesaw (or any other online portfolio platform) is a great way to document learning and help to improve our formative assessment practices:
When using seesaw, teachers and students will be encouraged to focus more on the process of learning. We can post students’ learning journey any time instead of only posting the final result of learning. Teachers do not need to wait until the end of the unit to upload the students final product which is usually a summative product. Whether it’s a evidence of best work or evidence toward achieving goals or even a product that was particularly challenging for a student, posting it will inform parents and students about students’ progress.
The documentation is done when learning is happening and when students are actually showing their understanding. Authentic assessment become easier because this online platform provides tools for capturing the learning process and current thinking as it is happening.
3. Instant feedback
Feedback is really important to support students’ learning. By using Seesaw, feedback can be given by peers, teachers and parents directly to the student at anytime, using the Seesaw app. Feedback is the soul of formative assessment and this benefits not only to students’ learning but also give valuable information to all parties involved in the learning process.
4. Multimedia and technology
It supports 21st century learning skills. Learning can be documented in various formats: photos, videos, drawings and voice notes. Using the app, teachers and parents are able to give feedback not only using text, but also voice notes.
5. Safe and reliable
Formative assessment and feedback should be private for each student. The learning journey documentation is also kept secure within the school community. It is also fast and reliable which makes formative assessment more effective and efficient.
This article is not an advertisement for a certain online portfolio provider (in this case: Seesaw), but it is a sharing of knowledge and insight that might be helpful to those who have not tried to step into the 21st century world of education. An online portfolio platform is just a tool that helps us to improve the assessment system, but whatever tool that we use, the most important thing is still our understanding of assessment itself. It is important for our PYP beliefs or philosophy of assessment to be reflected in our practice.
Using digital portfolios
The PYP teachers at Sekolah Ciputra have been using various versions of digital portfolios since 2009. Teachers have experimented with different platforms and various formats, trying to find the perfect one. However the old fashioned digital portfolio was considered less effective for the teachers, students and parents because the portfolio was actually not as interactive as we wanted it to be. Teachers and students had tons of photos and evidence to be scanned or uploaded but with no effective way of organizing and sharing them, there were possibilities of missing files and other complicated issues to deal with. After a while, the pre-elementary teachers decided to go with hard copies of portfolios which meant a lot of copying, printing and manual verifying of items.
Last year, as a learning community at Sekolah Ciputra we reflected on whether we could find a single tool that would allow all year levels from Playgroup to PYP 6 to upload samples of student work with descriptors and feedback to share with parents. What we wanted with an interactive tool that was user-friendly, one we could link to our focus on formative assessment and share with parents for information and for their input. The main function of the platform needed to be for the teachers and students to share documents related to all aspects of student learning and maintain the confidentiality of student work. After some trials and discussion, we finally decided to use Seesaw as the platform for our digital portfolios. Since it works very much like Instagram, it was felt that teachers, parents and students would find it easy to use.
Tools and features used
Seesaw can be used with computers, tablets, or smartphones but from our experience, tablets are most effective devices for using Seesaw. Seesaw has many simple features, likes Photo, Video, Drawing, and Notes to show students’ daily learning. Once we capture student work on the tablet, we can directly upload it to Seesaw. Using the camera and other cool features of Seesaw, student learning can be captured in real time with students explaining what they have learned. These are only some of the many handy features that Seesaw offers.
Developing IT skills
Teachers also get the opportunity to improve their IT skills when using digital portfolio. We had Professional Development among the colleagues (based on the year level) to learn how to use digital portfolios. We explored the tools available in Seesaw and decided how to best use them with different year levels For those who wanted extra time to explore, they viewed various tutorials that are offered in Seesaw.
Teachers are using Seesaw for setting up students’ goals as a preparation for three-way conference with parents and students. Besides the benefits, there are some challenges that teachers may encounter in using Seesaw. Firstly, teachers need to learn new skills as they have to explore the features in Seesaw considering it’s our first time as a school using digital portfolios to set up students’ goals. Furthermore ,we also have to maintain consistency in uploading samples of students’ progress and their learning experiences in their digital portfolio. During the period of learning this can be very time consuming. Finally within Seesaw, there is a minimum length or duration of recorded video that can be uploaded which means extra time for editing and perfecting what we upload.\
All in all, despite the challenges, we believe it is a good idea for us to use a single tool across the school so we can be consistent and we can support each other. .
PYP B Team (Mirna, Eka, Denok, Santy, Vine, Didik, Lina and Hana)
Pre-Elementary, Sekolah Ciputra, Surabaya
Authentic assessment measures learning achievements that are worthwhile, significant, and meaningful. An authentic assessment requires students to be at the center of the learning and should allow students to select from a variety of tasks. The assessment should require students to apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired. Parents can use data from their child’s authentic assessments to understand how to best help their child. Understanding how their child learns best.
How can parents help with authentic assessments?
Assessment is an opportunity to help your child improve. Parents should discuss any concerns they may have with the teachers. This will assist both teachers and parents when deciding what could possibly be done next to support the student. To make sure that the learning continues at home and at school, these are Questions Your Child’s Teacher Would Love to Answer about Assessment:
- What are the most important and complex ideas my child needs to understand?
- What can I do to support the learning at home?
- What kinds of questions do you ask my children on a daily basis?
- What are the teaching strategies you will use throughout the unit?
By having a similar perspective of the assessment, parents and school can cooperate to identify what students know, understand, can do, and value at different stages in the teaching and learning process. It is also expected that the students can make meaning of each little thing they learn at school by themselves and relate it to their lives.
How do we assess what students know and what students want to learn?
At Cikal, pre-assessment plays an important role in a teacher’s ability to differentiate instruction. We set pre-assessments before we deliver the instruction in a curricular unit in order to gain an understanding of what our students know, understand, and are able to do. Without pre-assessment, we do not know the readiness of our students for new learning. For example in Year 3, we begin with unpacking the central idea or learning topic through discussion. Observations can be conducted by the teacher to identify which students have or have not achieved mastery of specific objectives.
Having a question-answer activity during a lesson, is also another useful strategy we use in class.
Teacher: How can you understand the author’s purpose if you only look at the book’s cover?
Click the video link :
Using this strategy in the classroom will provide an opportunity for each student in a group to record individual responses and ideas (prior knowledge) regarding an issue, topic or question. The strategy can also be used to brainstorm ideas or record researched information. It will help teachers to plan learning activities that address various levels of student readiness as well.
It’s important to use a variety of teaching and learning formative assessments, changing them frequently to stimulate both students and teachers. Assessment techniques are only as limited as the teacher’s imagination! -globaldigitalcitizen-
During our Economic unit, teachers asked students to express their understanding of the concept of economics. To assist with this process the teacher had set up the class as a market, where students became involved as customer / buyers. They were given a sum of money to be spent for their needs. Throughout this process, teachers could observe how students participated in the buying and selling process. This information was then utilized when teachers delivered future lessons.
This kind of activity helps teachers evaluate the learning process, adjust the plan for the next learning and create an effective summative for the students.
Click the video link :
In Year 3, summative assessments are generally creative, evaluative and reflective, rather than paper and pencil tests that only assess students’ knowledge. Teachers will give students the opportunity to improve themselves. For instance, in our Math Summative Assessment project where the central idea was ‘we use fractions to make our lives easier’, students were asked to make a pizza with toppings. This project was chosen as the project should be simple, useful and apply in our life. To begin the project, students collected a pizza box (any size) as the main material. Students were provided with a set of instructions, for example, they needed to divide the pizza into 8 equal parts, choose pizza toppings to represent particular fractions (at least 3 different fractions needed to be modeled ⅛, 2/8, 4/8), convert the fraction into 3 forms of equivalent fraction and order them from the least to greatest fraction. The students showed enthusiasm during this project, not just because they like pizza, but because they could understand why they were learning.
Grade 4 Teacher
Sekolah Cikal Cilandak
One of the assessment tools that teachers can use is an anecdotal record, which is a written note based on student observation.
An anecdotal record does not need to be written like a long narrative report, but it is recommended that it should be brief and contain significant details such as the first name of the child, date when the record was conducted, setting and event. In addition, an anecdotal record becomes more authentic if the teacher can capture the direct quotes stated by the child. The direct quotes need not be edited for the purpose of preserving the originality of the student’s utterance or work.
Making use of an anecdotal record helps teachers further understand their students and is one way of documenting their learning. It also helps teachers track student behavior changes that can be used for future observations, curriculum planning and student or parent conferences.
Furthermore, an anecdotal record provides evidence of a child’s development. Specifically, an anecdotal record is used to:
- better understand children’s learning over a period of time
- provide ongoing records about individual instructional needs
- capture significant student behavior that might otherwise be lost
- provide ongoing documentation of student learning that may be shared with parents and teachers
Teachers can maximize the use of an anecdotal record if they do the following:
- Plan ahead to collect information. Teachers are suggested to identify ways on how to collect information, including using sticky notes, journals and mobile phones. In taking notes or in recording, teachers can explore different strategies such as writing a word or phrase and making codes in capturing the child’s action, words, phrases and expressions.
- Choose the skills to observe during different activities. It is recommended to select certain skills or approaches to learning. Teachers can also focus on certain learner profile attributes and attitudes in doing the anecdotal record.
Schools can come up with an essential agreement on the use of anecdotal record. Using an anecdotal record is aligned with IB programme standards and practices on assessment.
When teachers make use of an anecdotal record and embrace the practice, it becomes a routine. Once it is a routine, it becomes easier for teachers to write anecdotal records, which are valuable tools for assessment and help enrich the teaching and learning process.
By: Zaida Puyo
Grade 2 Level Head
BINUS SCHOOL Simprug
Early years education works best when children have opportunities to explore their environment and experience learning in more meaningful and engaging ways. Children will develop better motoric, cognitive, social and emotional abilities based on their age development. In order to support children’s learning, teachers should be aware of their students’ needs and engage with the learning itself.
One essential framework that helps teachers to develop deeper understanding about their students’ learning needs is ‘Notice-Recognize-Respond’. It provides detailed information about students as individuals for teachers to plan, assess their students’ learning and develop further teaching-learning process.
How ‘Notice-Recognize-Respond’ Works in My Class?
I use a ‘Notice-Recognize-Respond’ framework to promote successful whole-child education and develop appropriate approaches to each student.
- Notice the interest of students.
- Observe the children during their play either in groups or a solitary play.
- Involve with them and discuss about the activities.
- Record the information through photos, interviews, and notes.
- Understand what they are trying to learn.
- Discuss the possible learning with them.
- Change the environment to deepen the students’ learning.
- Provide the continuation of students’ exploration.
I conduct ‘Notice-Recognize-Respond’ in my class as follows.
Trevor’s Learning Story:
Trevor explored his school playground and stopped in front of one plant. He was interested in a part of the plant. He observed there were some green, round shapes. He showed his finding to his teacher and asked what they were. His teacher asked him to guess what they were and he guessed those were fruits. His teacher didn’t tell Trevor what they were and suggested that he observe them for a few weeks. Trevor agreed to the idea. The next day, his teacher shared Trevor’s experience with the class and played a video about the parts of a plant. She provided a chart for Trevor so he could draw the changes as they happened to the mysterious green round shapes. He observed them the following day and drew what he saw on the chart. He tried to be consistent in observing the plant. A few weeks after, he saw that they had turned into small white things. He showed his teacher the change. His teacher asked him what they were and he answered they were tiny flowers. His teacher told him those green round shapes are called buds. Trevor told his teacher that it took some time for the buds to turn into flowers.