Taking it further – Assessment for learning

Assessment for learning was the buzz word early in my teaching career.

Assessment Reform Group (UK 2002):

Assessment for Learning is the process of seeking and interpreting evidence for use by learners and their teachers to decide where the learners are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there.

Our planning documents included our learning objectives and our success criteria. We would share our objectives and ‘construct’ the said success criteria with them. Differentiated copies would be stuck into books and referred to during lessons. We would give feedback during the lesson and students would peer and self assess their learning. At the end of lesson we used 2 stars and a wish to give more feedback, and the next day students would respond. Students also had targets and were expected to be able to share them and how to get there.

Upon reflection, I would redefine my early practice as ‘assessment for teaching,’ because I was doing the heavy lifting. The learning was still being directed by me. So how has my teaching and learning changed?

Well, to start with, my teaching partner Zoe Roles (also on Twitter @RolesZoe) and our collaborative team, have been on a journey to ‘let go’ of what does not work for our learners and focus on building a learning community.

At the beginning of the academic year we focused on building our community and ensuring our Kindergarten learners knew what a growth mindset is and why they needed to have one. We began to ask ‘What do you want to learn? What are your goals? What is the first step you will take? What do you need from us?’

We modeled giving feedback and then asked our learners ‘What did you do well? What do you need to work on?’ We listened and we learned together.

The changes we have made have been to shift the focus from teachers to learners. The result has been that our learners are motivated and constructing meaning for themselves.

For example, when our learners were ready, they constructed their own writing success criteria based on all the discussions we have had about their writing in the past. I supported them with the organization, and the knowledge cane from them. During a recent writing on demand writing assessment, they reminded me to have the checklist available. Some chose to use it, and others did not. They also began to help each other peer review their writing, without direction from me. Why? because they owned it!

This week, inspired by Zoe, I shared data with the students about their knowledge of phonics and sight words. They loved seeing how much progress they have made this year and set themselves targets.

Then, they shared these targets with their families via Seesaw. One learner said:

“Mummy, come home early, I want to learn these sight words.”

Returning back to to the earlier definition of assessment for learning, I am reminded that learners were put first. Let them take the lead in their learning.


Assessment Reform Group 2002, Assessment for Learning: 10 principles research-based principles to guide classroom practice, Assessment Reform Group, London, United Kingdom. Retrieved from: https://www.aaia.org.uk/content/uploads/2010/06/Assessment-for-Learning-10-principles.pdf

Jean Piaget. (n.d.). AZQuotes.com. Retrieved May 16, 2018, from AZQuotes.com Web site: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/526183