Sunday, February 12, 2012

Formative Assessment in ICT

Having recently embarked upon the use of rubrics in ICT, I have come to recognise the true power of formative assessment. Sharing rubrics with children whilst teaching them the skill subsets that will allow them to produce high quality pieces of work has shown that using assessment as learning not only has an immense impact on learning but can also save the teacher a lot of time planning for differentiation.

A rubric is a grid of statements of differing levels of competency. The teacher or in this case the children can match up their work with the statements and then take the overall picture to show what level they are working at.  Furthermore, children can see which statements they have rated themselves weak at and are then able to set them selves targets for their learning.

As I used the rubrics this week I started to hear the same target from many of my year 5 children. "I need to add more links to my website." This informed me of where I needed to take my teaching the following week.

To get to this stage I started by looking at the attainment levels for ICT. I looked a the differences between level 3, level 4 and level 5. What I immediately realised was that the statements didn't tackle the concepts I was dealing with in blogging, building websites and collaboration. What I did then was to deconstruct the attainment statements. Through this deconstruction I could see the fundamental differences between these three levels. Level 3 inherently deals with being able to complete or use ICT concepts as directed by the teacher. Level 4 is the standard level of proficiency for carrying out ICT work. Children can use search engines, complete excel formula, create graphs, write a sequence of instructions or use a MS office program without constant direction or guidance. Level 5 involved a greater sophistication and understanding of the same things. The student was able to use their skills and apply them to different situations. The work they produced showed an understanding of the audience and demonstrated the skills used to their maximum potential.

Having stripped these three levels of attainment down to their bare bones I was able to start to build rubrics for each of the new elements of ICT planning using my new insights into the attainment levels. My first attempts successfully split the attainment into aspects and then further into three standards of attainment - level 3, level 4 and level 5. I used these with my year six children for a while. At the same time I had been teaching the Year Five children from the opposite direction by slowly building up their skills. I came to a halt with these children and realised I needed to share attainment ideas with them. This time though I set it as a class task. I identified the different skills we had been working on for building their website: adding pictures, adding text, using columns, adding pages, adding a blog and the quality of the writing on the website. From these headings I asked the children to work in pairs and discuss with their partner what would be at the level, below the level and above the level for each of these aspects. The children folded a piece of paper three ways and produced columns of statements under the headings: working below the level expected, working at the level expected and working above the level expected. We collated the results as a class and I used these to create a child friendly version of the rubric I had started with.

I have used rubrics in the middle of topics and they helped the children to understand what was required. Further, I have used them at the end of the topic as a peer assessment tool. The children worked in groups or individually to make judgments about the other children's websites. After the children had done this and quite accurately assessed their peers websites they could also identify what they themselves needed to do next with their own website. Assessment AS learning!

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