Student Portfolios: Let’s assess them creatively!
Three months into a new academic session, with everything digital, let us assess our readiness to harness students’ creativity and voice through portfolios!
With States contemplating the future and logistics of pen-and-paper assessments, our students can’t wait for learning to happen. And our educators can’t not assess their teaching and what their learners know! So, let’s find creative ways to measure & track student progress, and make their portfolios skill-ready for the future…
We explored managing student progress through portfolios as an assessment tool.
Because it checks all your boxes to become an ace and inclusive educator!
Portfolios are a purposeful collection of student work that showcase student effort, voice, progress, achievements, and their learner profile journeys. It is the first concrete step for a learner on the path of self-reflection and assessment. Precisely why our learners take ownership and engage in making them; it’s their documented personality!
For educators, it serves as evidence of learning over a period of time, say a quarterly reflection, or a mastery of their students’ knowledge, skills and mindsets. While portfolios only earned credits as an end-of-year project earlier, it is now recommended by the National Curriculum and a part of internal assessment till Grade 10.
Remember: Portfolios are about the process of learning, not just the end product!
This is where our (gender fluid) Bob the builder educators must do some serious backward planning!
Link-Inquire-Reflect-Assess! First, we link the curriculum objectives and learning outcomes to what our students will learn in the classroom. Challenge yourself to integrate it across subjects as well or use an effective software compatible with your curriculum, for e.g Toddle, an ib pyp and ib myp platform! Second, we curate rubrics, checklists, projects that help us inquire about student learning. Give your learners work worthy of a portfolio!
Remember: The first two steps of Link and Inquire should be planned with your students. Nudge them to write their own learning goals, do a quick classroom sharing, connect to curriculum and outcomes, and begin your journey together!
Third step, let your students wear their reflection hats and assess themselves on their work. Let them choose what deserves a space in their portfolio! Let them ask: Why did I choose this piece? What am I most proud of? What does this show about my learning? What do I want to do next?
And, here’s our last step! Assess them on their assessment. Look at different assessment criteria like checklist, success response, rating scale, rubrics based on your subjects. There is definitely a pressing worry about the quality of such criteria being at par with pen-and-paper assessments. However, let’s think about the learning objectives and check if those have been fulfilled.
For instance, I can curate a rubric for any concept with generic metrics like clarity, practice, real-life connection, etc. This rubric can have ‘I believe, do, see….’ statements, so that students can self-assess. For secondary classrooms, educators can also check out these elaborate reflection questions. Educators can adapt such rubrics to their own subjects and test, test, test!
We can also conduct peer assessments. Assess them on their thinking and growth. Support learners in converting their work into digital compositions. We can use ClassDojo, Flipgrid, SeeSaw, Toddle or any other visually appealing collaborative tool to showcase the student portfolios.
Then, provide them feedback and recognise opportunities for improvement with them.
I still recall how my girls and I sat together to design academic and skill goals at the beginning of the year, and revisited them to decide future course of action after half-yearly exam results. However, the most beautiful part of our portfolio habit was how each individual’s unique elements started reflecting in their subject work.
Handle Difficult Questions From Students Smartly
Students are always bubbling with questions! In fact, it’s important to promote the habit of asking questions and doubts in the class. This not only helps students in their learning process but also fosters a good student-teacher relationship. But what can a teacher do when students ask tough questions that may require some research on the teacher’s part? Even worse, how can teachers respond to personal questions that could get embarrassing? Sometimes, teachers simply don’t have the time to accommodate questions. In such cases, here are 3 smart ways to handle difficult questions from students:
Encourage Students to Investigate on Their Own
Some subject-related questions could be tough, even for teachers. They may need time to research the question or refer to a resource. In such a case, teachers can simply direct the student to investigate the answer on his/her own. Fix a time later in the day or at a later date to discuss the question after the student has done his research.
This has two benefits – it gives you time to analyse the question yourself, and it also promotes self-learning and research capabilities in students. It’s a good idea to suggest the right learning material or reference book that the student can use while finding the answer to the question.
Direct the Question to Other Students
If a student asks a question that you know the answer to, but need time to come up with a structured answer, there’s an easy way to buy time. You can ask the same question to the remaining students in class. Give them time to come up with their answers and help the discussion flow towards the right answer. Towards the end, you can either discuss the correct answer yourself or make the student summarise what the others discussed in class.
By doing so, you encourage healthy peer-peer discussion, which is an efficient learning technique. You also help student stress reduce and make them understand that most questions can be answered by discussing them with each other. This encourages knowledge sharing and helps students bond better with each other and with the teacher. In addition, it also helps build analytical skills and critical thinking skills among students.
Answer Vaguely – For Personal Questions
Sometimes students wish to get friendly with their teachers. However, being young, they do not really know their boundaries and may end up asking upsetting or embarrassing questions. When in such a situation, you can give a vague answer that does not really answer the question. You can immediately move on to another topic, or start discussing the student’s performance or grades.
This is a good strategy to avert embarrassing questions without making the student uncomfortable. However, if the student persists in asking the question, remain calm, maintain eye contact, and then politely let the student know that such a question is inappropriate.
These are 3 smart ways in which you can handle tough questions from students. As a general rule of thumb, never discourage your students from asking questions. Always ensure that they know they can reach out to you at any point of time to clarify concepts and doubts. At the same time, it is important to teach students questioning etiquette. You can take out time to talk about the right questions to ask, the right way of asking questions, etc. with your class. If you teach using online classes apps, you can set aside a time where students can post all their questions, and you can answer them at your convenience. This helps avoid unnecessary or embarrassing questions while giving you time to frame your answers in the best possible manner.
How to Prepare Yourself for The IELTS Exam and Score 8+ Bands
IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is designed to help you work, study, or migrate to a country where English is the native language. For the uninitiated, the IELTS exam is available in two forms — IELTS academic and IELTS general training. The test covers four parts: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. However, the Speaking test (also taken through video calls) is held either on the same day of the examination or seven days before or after, depending on the local arrangements. But is preparing yourself for the IELTS exam and getting an 8+ band easy?
No, the preparation process can be a daunting task.
So, what could be the best way to prepare for the IELTS exam?
We have shared a list of critical parameters that one can focus on to crack the IELTS exam with an 8+ band score. Let’s dive into them …
- Understand the test format
Before you begin the preparation for your IELTS exam, it’s extremely crucial that you know what to expect out of the test format. To familiarize yourself with the sections by reviewing the content of the test, the questions, and task types for each section. The knowledge about the test pattern will surely help you to succeed in any examination, including IELTS.
- Get to know how the scores are calculated
The fastest and most effective approach to improve your IELTS score is knowing exactly what the examiners are looking for and providing it to them. Try to get a good score in all the sections, as its average will provide you with an overall band score. However, you can’t simply learn this tactic and get a high score; this approach should be combined with the improvement in English and test skills.
- Set realistic goals
The tip here focuses on the term ‘realistic’. There will be a big difference between the score you want and the score you are really going to achieve. To do so, enroll yourself in the best IELTS coaching institutes and begin your preparation journey. These institutes’ guidance will help you succeed and ensure that you get the best score. They provide up-to-date study material, practice mock tests, doubt sessions, online tests, and more.
- Improve vocabulary
Vocabulary is a huge component of the IELTS test. It covers 25% of the total marks in the Speaking and Writing section. Besides, it is also tested in the Reading and Listening section. So, it’s better if you implement a vocabulary improvement plan as soon as possible. Best IELTS coaching centers offer various plans to improve your vocabulary – so begin your search to find the best.
- Practice English regularly
When it comes to honing your English skills, there is no other substitute for practicing regularly. Consequently, you can practice English by reading novels, newspapers, watching series, having conversations, and more. Besides, you can also combine learning English with the most common IELTS topics, such as the environment, education, and technology. So, reading and listening among these common topics is a very powerful technique.
- Practice tests
While preparing for IELTS, there is one thought that every student comes across — which is the best IELTS coaching center near me? But why do they think this? The answer is simple – to understand what their current test score is and learn new methods to improve it. Also, be informed that there are various fake IELTS tests; therefore, enroll in an IELTS coaching institute and prepare using official test papers.
- Get your Speaking and Writing skills checked
It is very important for every student to get a qualified teacher that can access their speaking and writing skills. A qualified teacher will tell you the current level of knowledge along with the prominent weaknesses. This, in turn, will prevent wastage of time. This will help you focus on the things that you are not good at, improving leaps and bounds. So begin your journey of finding the best teacher today.
- Do not waste time on a question
If you cannot understand which answers are to be written for a particular question, do not waste much time in finding the answer. It’s better if you skip to the next question. However, you can come back at the end when extra time is given to review the answers. So in all the sections, manage your time well because if you get stuck in the beginning you will end up losing a lot of marks.
- Be grammatically accurate
You have to ensure not to make any major errors while writing the essay. The examiner will base your scores on whether the grammar is used appropriately in a sentence. To score an 8+ band in the IELTS exam, your grammar should be excellent, and the sentence formation must look unique and original.
- Speak with fluency
The Speaking test is conducted for less than 15 minutes and is split into three parts. During this test, the examiner will also pay attention to your pronunciation, lexical resource, and fluency.
However, in IELTS, practicing each test under exam conditions is essential for your preparation course. A candidate will get used to the pressure only by taking a test beforehand. To begin your practice and write down notes that will help you achieve the desired band score.
Other than these tricks, you can also develop reading skills, use assertive terms, create a study plan, maintain your calm, and more.