Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Assessment for Learning

When I signed up to do the class presentation on assessment for LIS 725, I was a bit disappointed. I absolutely wanted to work with Valerie and Sydney, but assessment? Ugh. I though I wouldn't have to do that anymore, now that I'm out of the classroom. Boy, was I wrong, but in a good way!
Reading the book Assessing Learning, written by lucky Hawaiian librarians Violet Harada and Joan Yoshina, has changed my stuck-in-the-mud ideas about assessment.
You see, I have been thinking of assessment as GRADING PAPERS and GIVING GRADES, and FILLING OUT REPORT CARDS. I was focused on summative assessment, or more accurately, evaluation. Assessment is so much more than a final score or grade on an assignment!
I don't want to give away the great information you'll get from our presentation coming up next Monday, but I certainly can share a few insights.
I think the first big concept change came when the authors of Assessing Learning talked about starting your lesson plan with the assessment. No, it's not about teaching to the test. Rather, one must think about what exactly it is that you want your students to be able to do, then work backwards to the activities that will lead to the learning. This is called "backward design" by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTigh in their 1998 book Understanding by Design.
I used to plan and teach this way; I even have Understanding by Design on my professional bookshelf! I'm afraid I became complacent in my planning and teaching and forgot all about objectives. I was more focused on covering the content and coming up with engaging activities.
I am so thankful that I decided to go back to school to get my masters degree. Taking this class on school curriculum, at this time (just before graduation! just before starting my first year in my library!) was exactly right. I'm going back to the basics, looking at standards, objectives, and assessment. I am going to be a better teacher by becoming a librarian.


  1. I'm looking forward to the assessment presentation. When I read the Harada & Yoshina book it was like a light bulb went off in my head. It made me look at and understand assessment in a new way and shift my practice. Seeing your energy and enthusiasm about entering the field and starting off as a school librarian is so exciting!

    What do you think of using that book as a text for LIS725 in the future?

  2. Pam, I love your shelfai!
    As for assessment I use a planning and self assessment form with every assignment I give. As an educator I feel it is important for students to plan prior to beginning thier project, and after they complete the project to self reflect on it as well. Also, I always give a rubric so my students know what I am grading them on!!!

  3. Dollfacedlibrarian, would you be willing to share an example of that with me? I'd love to see it!

  4. E. Wyatt,

    This is a powerful text. For individual planning, I think Assessing Learning would be a more useful book than Curriculum Connections. However, CC does give a much broader overview of the educational community. It would be great to have both, but that's more $ and a lot more reading. Perhaps some of the broader issues from CC could be covered using articles or websites.