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Alternative Assessments

 
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eslwendy



Joined: 26 Oct 2011
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:22 pm    Post subject: Alternative Assessments Reply with quote

Aside from the WIDA ACCESS test which is required to be given annually, I would like to get away from traditional tests in my ESL classroom. I feel my students face enough anxiety in their mainstream classrooms. I like to think of my classroom as a place that while growth is expected, can be a more relaxed atmosphere. In addition to conferencing with them on writing and my own personal observations of their progress, I would like to try some different types of assessments. I was wondering what type of results anyone has had with student portfolios and peer-assessing. I am interested in both, but especially in the case of peer-assessing, am curious how effective they are.
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halsto64



Joined: 06 May 2012
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am also interested in learning more about some of the alternative assessments. I am hesitant of the concept “peer-assessment” in an ELL classroom. If my ELL student is having difficulty with the language, how can one be expected to be a reliable peer assessor. Since they work and are supported by research to be effective, I am sure there are measures for making sure they are used effectively. (Which is why I want to learn more about it). The most common alternative assessment I utilize is a tracking of observations I keep. After taking this class I do want to change how I track my observations for ELL students. I'd like to have specific notation areas for speaking, writing, listening and reading. I'd also like to make sure I have some sort of general rubric I am using on a regular basis for each of the areas. I loved the rubricstar website! Student journals are also a great way to track progress and it is so easy for the student to see growth from the beginning of the year until the end! Let me know if you learn any helpful ideas for using peer-assessments.
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birdy



Joined: 04 May 2012
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Portfolios are a great way of assessment, because students can collect the work that shows their progress in the language they are learning. I did portfolio work with first graders before, because the school wanted every child to have a portfolio which shows their progress in language learning throughout their time in school. It was a bilingual school and in Europe portfolio is something popular since the European Union started. I thought it was a great motivation for them to take their work serious and to see how much they learned since they started the portfolio. It took a lot of time to introduce the portfolio work and for the students to select their work. At the end they were more thinking of the portfolio and some students suggested that a specific work they did in class should go into their portfolio. The portfolio had a self-assessment section, so the students can check their progress. I liked that it boosted their self-confidence, because they compared themselves to their own work and progress and not to the work of their peers. Try it!
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birdy



Joined: 04 May 2012
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I want to add, that portfolios also show students that language learning is a life-long process.
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longshikong



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I teach English to kids in private schools in China. For those of you in the public school ESL world, how do you assess oral ability? In classes of 20+ kids, isn't a blending of peer- and self-assessments along with teacher observations the best method to determine progress?

Regarding portfolios: in addition to assessment, are they also intended for presentation, and to whom? And do they contain exclusively written work or do they include audio samples / web addresses to recordings.
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smantrach



Joined: 03 May 2012
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:22 pm    Post subject: Alternative Assessments Reply with quote

The practical steps to test construction are every helpful. I never had to create a test before for my preschoolers as I usually asses my students informally after and during each lesson I teach them, or I use the assessment packets that are provided to us by the department. Using the objectives as a base to draw up test specification is a good suggestion to use when drafting a test for English Language Learners. When assessing my children formally, I am aware that some of my students need more time to answer my questions or that they need to be assessed in their mother tongue. By writing observations on my students’ work and by collecting work samples, I am able to assess the students learning. This also allows me make online portfolios with the students work.
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Bethany.Blaine



Joined: 26 Oct 2011
Posts: 24
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although I have yet to teach in an ESL setting, I have to say that I was surprised to learn how many different tests ESL students have to take. I agree with you, Wendy, that it would be nice to stray away from standardized tests because they do cause a lot of extra and unnecessary pressure. I myself, a born English speaker, struggle with standardized tests so I can't imagine the type of reactions ELLs have to these types of assessments. Peer-assessing sounds like a fun way to get students to enjoy test taking! There is also a lot of room for improvising. As I said, I have yet to teach, but the idea of a portfolio also sounds intriguing. How would you choose what students put into their portfolios?
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longshikong



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bethany.Blaine wrote:
Although I have yet to teach in an ESL setting, I have to say that I was surprised to learn how many different tests ESL students have to take. I agree with you, Wendy, that it would be nice to stray away from standardized tests because they do cause a lot of extra and unnecessary pressure. I myself, a born English speaker, struggle with standardized tests so I can't imagine the type of reactions ELLs have to these types of assessments. Peer-assessing sounds like a fun way to get students to enjoy test taking! There is also a lot of room for improvising. As I said, I have yet to teach, but the idea of a portfolio also sounds intriguing. How would you choose what students put into their portfolios?


I guess excessive ESL testing makes up for its lack in EFL. You should aim to reduce the chance of negative backwash in favor of positive backwash. Peer assessments risks students comparing each other rather than their current performance with previous attempts. What I like about the 7 Habits Schools 'data notebooks' is that students individually track progress toward achieving not just academic goals, but also personal goals they set for themselves. This reminds me of that current buzzword in education circles, I forget it at the moment.
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birdy



Joined: 04 May 2012
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In regards to the portfolio I would usually, depending on the age group, have students make a guided choice of which work they want to put in their portfolio. That can enhance students’ ability to choose and select their work based on their learning achievement. I also have students fill out "forms" with reflexion questions, e.g. why they choose that, what was special and what shows their learning process.
I always had binders, because they were a standardized tool in the school I taught. The portfolio was supposed to reflect all languages they know. It was limited to only showing who the students are and what they know in regards to writing. I think it is a great idea to have the portfolio online. That allows students to also record themselves. The students could use both active skills (speaking and writing) to present their language skills.
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