Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Maintain your Balance

Imagine an elephant standing on top of a large rubber ball. Never mind, I will give you the image. What do you notice about how the elephant must distribute his body to successfully balance. Now think about the mismatch of opportunities there are for responsive and intentional instruction vs. the amount of time mandated for assessment? With our elephant, I like to think of formative assessment as the trunk, leading the way and definitely something that can be embedded and analyzed through authentic experiences, like journaling. The tail might be summative assessment, a very small piece of the important balancing act but flexible and it tapers off. The head, body and legs of the elephant make up the core. This is the instruction and bridge between formative and summative. This is where the heart of the relationship is centered. To achieve balance we must define the parts of the whole and ensure that the heart of teaching and learning remains the constant core. Call out for balance and have authentic conversations when asked to prioritize testing. How many minutes a week of assessment must be in place to ensure an appropriate response instructionally? Are there any assessments that give you redundant information or that are not useful the next day? While we should not go back to pure cardiac data, we do need time to build relationships, trust and to define a goodness of fit for each child. Balance is key.

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