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Classroom projects/ongoing assessments instead of Testing

 
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DBaccaro



Joined: 07 May 2012
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:04 pm    Post subject: Classroom projects/ongoing assessments instead of Testing Reply with quote

I feel that the regular testing method may be harmful to ESL students' education. Many students develop test anxiety and soley focus on doing well on tests rather that really learning, so this might be a problem. I think you might be better off doing informal assessments of the students and doing classroom projects where they focus more on learning than taking a test. I would like to use this method but I wonder if it is a bad idea because all of the student will have to take standardized tests. Maybe I will not be preparing them well enough for these standardized test that they have to take?
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AnnJ.Ring



Joined: 07 May 2012
Posts: 14
Location: NJ

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I feel the same way about giving formatted tests to ELL students and often wonder if they do more harm than good. Projects create a more relaxed environment where the students would be able to use their creativity and have freedom with the English language. The teacher could also control the projects to be individual assignments or group work depending on the students' needs and the teaching objectives. However, it's always the question of the students becoming bored with doing projects. Not to say they would want to take formatted tests, but there might be a need to balance the amount of projects with some quizzes to be sure the students are fully grasping the grammar and vocabulary end of things. Plus, it might be easier to assess learning of a unit or concept through a formatted test. For example, if you are teaching high school ELLs at a lower proficiency level, one thing they're going to need to be prepared for is reading in context and referring to the text for answers for standardized tests. There might be a project based on this, like a book report, but the actual test would not be a book report, it would be a multiple choice questionnaire where the students would have to refer back to a passage. I think once I finally get into a classroom, I could get a better understanding of how to assess ELLs properly without sacrificing essential test taking skills. I hope this helps you, too!
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DBaccaro



Joined: 07 May 2012
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you. That is very helpful to get another perspective. Now that I think about it, you are right, they probably would get bored just doing projects. I should incorporate maybe little quizzes along the way that gage their learning, but are not the center of their attention. They would help to prepare the children for the standardized tests. I also like your idea about the book report because that incorporates those reference skills that they really need. I think a lot of this will come more easy to us once we get into the classroom and are dealing with real students, not just the idea of students.
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ginawirth



Joined: 08 May 2012
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think you should sacrifice exposing your ELLs to the standardized format of testing. Without even some exposure to standardized testing formats the students could be left to fend for themselves when they are expected to perform on the tests. I know because I have experienced this myself. Younger students tend to develop a trust in their teachers. When a student looks at you, as their teacher, for help on a standardized test and you can give only limited or no help it is hard to watch the student while they try to struggle with new material. Projects and other forms of assessments have an important part of the whole assessment package, just not at the expense of at least some exposure to the standardized format. I think it is better if students are exposed to the standardized format along with the teacher's guidance. The exposure could help ease the students' stress rather than increase it.
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bozzy



Joined: 03 May 2012
Posts: 14
Location: NJ

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a future Biology teacher at the high school level, I am all for hands-on projects. With activities like these, I feel like the students get a better feel for real world experience and the teacher can assess their learning without putting pressure on a student that might already have tremendous pressure from their limited English proficiency.
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mlordon



Joined: 30 Oct 2011
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 10:14 pm    Post subject: Projects as Assessments - Pitfalls Reply with quote

While projects can be a wonderful way to assess learning in ELL's, there are pitfalls when they are not thought through. Additionally, modifications and changes may become necessary during the project as well.

During this past semester, several students in my grade 9-12 h.s. ESL class were assigned projects in lieu of a formal test or projects along with the rest of the class. In one history project, the students had to research a roaring twenties figure they were assigned by the teacher. One student with no computer at home (so all the research had to be done at school) was assigned Babe Ruth. The student could not access any site on Babe Ruth because the school's filter would not let anything with the word 'babe' be accessed.

These students had to prepare a 10 slide power point presentation and had a rubrics to follow. Doesn't sound too bad, right. Well, the rubrics is so confusing I had a hard time understanding it. Each slide needed a picture, an interesting, researched fact (no quotes) and parenthetical citations. Then each slide needed speaker notes with at least 50 words or more which the student would say during the presentation. For students with little English, a presentation like this is an excruciating experience. This 'project was worth two test grades and due on the last regular day of classes.

To me, this assignment was a brutal one for ESL students and at a time when they should have been preparing for final exams, they were working on a project which caused presentation anxiety and grade anxiety.
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Brie M.



Joined: 10 May 2012
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2012 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been teaching for ten years and I have been a classroom teacher with ELL students pushed-in and I have also been the pull-out ELL teacher. In my experience, I have found there needs to be a good balance with projects and other forms of assessments. A teacher needs to prepare the students for the state or district assessments they have to take. Something as simple as filling in a bubble on the test may need to be taught to the students before they take the true assessment. Plus a teacher should teach the students test-taking strategies. I feel these are important skills for all students to learn and it is not teaching to the test but teaching students how to take a test. This can help reduce anxiety when the students see the state or district assessment.
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