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Knowledge Build Summary

Cody Mills

University of Alberta

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Summary of Reading

The article “Seven Practices for Effective Learning” by Jay McTighe and Ken O'Connor provides

a detailed and well supported list of practices and habits that further student learning. Each of the seven

practices begins by providing a typical scenario

that would be found in an effective classroom. It then

goes on to break down how the scenario is effective for student learning and assessment. The seven

practices outlined are: Use summative assessments to frame meaningful performance goals, Show criteria

and models in advance, Assess before teaching, Offer appropriate choices, Provide feedback early and

often, Encourage self-assessment and goal setting, Allow new evidence of achievement to replace old

evidence.

Practice 1: Use summative assessments to frame meaningful performance goals

Mctighe and O’Connor state that an effective teacher should use the summative assessment tasks

to provide meaningful and real world application of what they will learn in the units. The example

provided is for nutrition class. For the two assessment tools chosen, one is a multiple choice test, while

the performance task if for the student to design and plan a healthy meal plan for a two day trip. The

multiple choice test assess the student grasp of nutrition basics and labels. The performance task is a

much more authentic application of the learning. There is no one right answer for the problem. The article

says that presenting the assessments very early provides a learning goal for the students.

Practice 2: Show criteria and models in advance

The second practice details how teachers should show range of exemplars to show the students

the finished product of assessment projects. There should be examples of weak as well as very strong

work for demonstration. With the range of exemplars to show students the rubrics descriptors of quality

will make that much more sense for students.

Practice 3: Assess before teaching

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Diagnostic or pre-assessment before learning will provide the teacher with evidence on how

students grasp the previous or required knowledge for what the future content will be. The pre-assessment

will also provide insight for teachers on how to present content, as well as students strengths and

weaknesses.

Practice 4: Offer appropriate choices

Students have multiple intelligences and as such there should an appropriate choice of options for

students to pick from when completing an assessment task. Students learn differently and as such should

also be allowed to show their learning in the way that best suits them.

Practice 5: Provide feedback early and often

For feedback to be effective it needs to be descriptive and fast. Good feedback is more than just a

letter grade or percentage on an assignment. Good feedback covers both strengths and weakness for

growth. It needs to be specific. It also needs to be in a timely manner, feedback that comes weeks later is

too late for anything to be meaningful for th the student to improve. With feedback the rubric will become

much clearer for students to understand. Students should also be given a chance to “refine, revise,

practice, and retry” (McTighe, O’Conner).

Practice 6: Encourage self-assessment and goal setting

The article says that self assessment rubrics are a good component of a students self set learning

goals. Self assessment must be modeled by the teacher. The teacher can do this through guiding questions,

and collaborative rubric marking guides. The teacher will gradually release responsibility of self

assessment to the students.

Practice 7: Allow new evidence of achievement to replace old evidence.

The final practice the article talks about is allowing new evidence of learning through assessment

replace

old

assessment

grades.

Some

students

will

grasp

the

content

easier

and

sooner

than

others.Averaging old marks with new marks does not accurately reflect student learning.

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Connections to the Reading

“When we call for authentic application, we do not mean recall of basic facts or mechanical

plug-ins of a memorized formula. Rather, we want students to transfer knowledge—to use what they

know in a new situation. Teachers should set up realistic, authentic contexts for assessment that enable

students to apply their learning thoughtfully and flexibly, thereby demonstrating their understanding of

the content standards” (Tighe & O’Connor). This quote from the article speaks to me about the quality of

assessment and how we are moving away in the education world from rote memorization to a

performance based and authentic assessment style. During practicum the class I was placed in was

working on a project based learning project. They had to use the knowledge from our daily mini lessons

on math concepts to determine how to spend lottery winnings to help a charity. We provided them a

scenario where they could make change in the world, but had design a way to do it, while figuring out the

cost of how they would contribute to the charity. It could not just be a monetary donation, they had to

build care packages for the situation while keeping within a budget. When the students were applying the

math skills to a concept they already knew, money and items, they rarely ever ran into problems.

“Consider a sports analogy. Coaches routinely conduct practice drills that both

develop basic skills and purposefully point toward performance in the game. Too often,

classroom instruction and assessment overemphasize decontextualized drills and provide

too few opportunities for students to actually “play the game.” How many soccer players

would practice corner kicks or run exhausting wind sprints if they weren't preparing for

the upcoming game? How many competitive swimmers would log endless laps if there

were no future swim meets? Authentic performance tasks provide a worthy goal and help

learners see a reason for their learning” (Tighe & O’Connor).

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The sports analogy makes the concept of providing an authentic learning experience more real and

understanding for me. There needs to be an end goal for students to strive for with all their practice. It

also bring to mind that everything we do as teachers should be relevant to what their end goals or

summative assessments are going to be. In sports you don’t practice irrelevant skills for when it’s game

time, you focus on the core fundamentals of what will make the person the most successful at their given

sport.

“Learners are more likely to understand feedback and evaluations when teachers show several

examples that display both excellent and weak work. These models help translate the rubric's abstract

language into more specific, concrete, and understandable terms” (Tighe & O’Connor). I was always

under the impression that when a teachers shows off exemplars that they only showed the best of what

they were looking for. With showing off both the strong and the weak it helps break down the language of

the whole rubric and the teachers standards to create a better understanding for students. This was a

mistake that I made during practicum. Our big project was to build or draw a model of the animal and

plant cells, for my demonstration I only had examples of strong work to show off, and no rubric. Which,

now that I think about it, did reflect in the students work. There were lost of questions from the students

of what we were looking for in terms of quality, details, and creativity. Many questions of how they could

tackle the project on whether we prefered poster or model was another concern of the students. For the

work that students did do, there were many missing components: lack of coloring in areas, mislabeled or

no labels, missing content. Not having a rubric and guide is a mistake that I won’t soon make again.

“Here's a simple, straightforward test for a feedback system: Can learners tell specifically from

the given feedback what they have done well and what they could do next time to improve? If not, then

the feedback is not specific or understandable enough for the learner” (Tighe & O’Connor). When I got

feedback as student, I did read it but for the most part it was either just a compliment that they could tell I

enjoyed writing it or what I was missing, but there was no information on how to improve my work for

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next time. This quote stands out to me as it tells me that just a rubric is not simply enough of a form of

feedback. There needs to be a breakdown of the language and expectations in a language that the student

can understand. If you don’t understand how to improve, how can you improve?

“Teachers help cultivate such habits of mind by modeling self-assessment and goal setting and by

expecting students to apply these habits” (McTighe & O’Connor). Self assessing one’s own work or

growth is a learned skill, and the best way for students to learn is by teachers modeling the skill whenever

possible. As the year goes on, more ownership of the students learning goals is passed on to the student,

until eventually they can recognize in their own work where growth in needed, and can make the

necessary goals on their own. During practicum I had to do a weekly self assessment on how my lessons

were going, and set mini goals for myself for the following weeks. The students did not see me doing my

self assessment, but they did see the outcomes of my mini goal setting after looking back on my lessons

taught and looking for where I could improve.

“Classroom assessments and grading should focus on how well—not on when—the student

mastered the designated knowledge and skill” (McTighe & O’Connor). There was always such an

emphasis on learning a skill immediately in school, and if you didn’t master it in the time that they were

teaching it, then you had to play catch up in the next section while trying to learn the next bit of content. I

am glad there is a shift happening in the teaching community to make sure that past mistakes don’t haunt

students later in the course, and they are being graded on the fact that they were eventually able to prove

mastery over the content. Practicum is where I did a bit of this practice in math. If students were

struggling to complete an assignment I would offer feedback in the form of questions to guide them

towards finding the answer. If the student turned in their work and they had shown significant struggles I

would meet with them either that day or very next day to explain where they could improve and give them

another chance to improve. Unfortunately it was up to my mentor teacher whether or not the task was a

formative assessment or summative assessment, I would not know if the grade would be used for their

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reporting period. So after the second chance to redo or finish their assignment the grade would be

recorded. None of our assessments would have a penalty attached to them if they were handed in late or

had to be redone or finished, just as long as they got it done.

Two Focusing Questions

1. Some teachers will allow a student to replace an old mark on content they struggled with, with the

mark of a newer assessment task where they demonstrated mastery of the content. How can this

practice benefit students? Why can it be a more accurate representation of their learning?

2. Is it realistic to offer student the chance to rewrite and and revise every assignment until they

have 100%? Should there be a certain amount of attempts or an absolute deadline in place? What

other steps or requirements can be in place to curb abuse of the system?

Rationale for Focusing Questions

The first question was the question that I developed for the actual presentation for the class to

discuss about. I came up with the concept for the question and it did go through many revisions and some

group consultation before I was satisfied with the final product. The reason the I came up with the

question was because of a practice that some former teachers of mine from high school had. Their policy

was that if we had a higher mark on a final exam they would replace one of our lowest marks with the

final exam mark. As a kid in highschool, I thought this was awesome, and didn’t really understand why

they did this, but as a preservice teacher it now makes more sense for me. As for posing it to the class for

discussion, I want to know if other preservice teachers would also agree with me, or would disagree with

the practice. I quite like this idea of not having a mark from a student who was struggling with content

early on have a mark that was not really reflective of his learning or real mastery of the content.

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The second question was devised to critically analyze the realistic possibility to allow students

every opportunity to show their absolute best work and mastery of the content they are being assessed on.

In the perfect world there would be an infinite amount of time for teachers to provide feedback to each

student on every formative and summative assessment while giving the time and attempts to reach

absolute mastery, however it is not a perfect world. Teachers are under a time crunch to cover all the

essential learning outcomes, while making sure all their students have their own level of mastery that they

can achieve with the limited time. The last part of the question deals with curbing the few times that some

students will abuse the system if left unchecked. There is no one answer fits all solution, but there ways

that can make sure students have responsibility for their learning.

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Sources

McTighe, J., & O'Connor, K. (2005). Seven Practices for Effective Learning. Educational

Leadership,63(3), 10-17. Retrieved March 14, 2018, from

https://deltalearns.ca/leadingforlearning/files/2014/05/7PracticesforEffectiveLearning.pdf.