Callahan et al. (1997) wrote in Teaching in the middle and secondary schools that teachers should include both formative and summative assessment in their lesson plan design. They describe formative assessment as a barometer for student learning and summative assessment for discovering which learning objectives have been achieved by students.
I read the above mentioned book as a part of my own teacher preparation from the late 90s. I put those forms of assessment to their own test during micro lessons with peers and advisers and even refined them when it came time to design my own lessons independently for student teaching. The objective for this blog post is to examine modern touches to assessment with digital tools like Kaizena.com.
Formative assessment in the world language classroom takes on several forms. Listening closely to 3-5 pairs during communicative activities and rephrasing answers gently in target language (Spanish, in my case) was more common in novice levels. In an intermediate setting (Spanish 4 or SPAN 1003 equivalent), formative assessment includes observing small groups discuss the setting of a short stories and connections between characters after the first night of assigned reading. I then marked on participation charts noted with a score of 0-3 based on what I heard. Summative assessment, on the other hand, was often times a chapter exam that always included the student-favorite listening sections delivered by native speakers. Novice language learners were sometimes checking off boxes of characteristics that were true for described people. Meanwhile, in intermediate classes students analyzed pros and cons for categories of cars. Here, both forms of assessment usually took on a form of paper — sometimes half pages and other times packets of pages.
Since Spring Semester 2016 began, my M.Ed. and Ph.D. students and I have engaged in an updated format of assessment in a newer online tool called Kaizena. Previously in my teacher preparation courses, students received comments and feedback via text resources in our learning management system (LMS), Moodle. Students usually turned in assignments as a .pdf or .docx format and I added feedback in the comments portion of the LMS. Students also engaged in peer editing via Google Drive / Docs where comments were made on the margins with highlighted text driven by praise & push feedback (borrowed from a teacher friend, Vicki Cary). And while these two digital formats have proven beneficial in practice, real opportunity exists for highly efficient feedback using Kaizena’s audio comment function.
For example, after I share how students register with their Google accounts in Kaizena (sorted by section) I now receive notifications when work has been turned in and when students have added to our private feedback conversation and/or class wall. Each assignment now becomes a part of an ongoing dialogue throughout the term or semester. Assignments uploaded as documents (.pdf, docx, etc.) help tighten up the conversation providing a clean look. Once uploaded, teachers highlight text or paragraphs and have options to
a) record audio feedback
b) add text comments
c) share lesson resources for common student pitfalls
d) assess specific skills focused on in class (e.g., citation)
The fruits from this online conversation tool come from the back-and-forth dialogue between teacher and student. The teacher easily adds a question or comment to the conversation during assessment and the student receives a notification. Now, before the grade is even posted, the introductory paragraph has been thoroughly explained and clarified by both parties.
This type of online feedback may serve as a part of first-draft conversation or to help improve a final draft moving forward to upcoming assignments. The Kaizena.com website is chock-full of resources, tutorials and is complemented well by YouTube tutorials done by grateful educators. Kaizena.com is a tool affords more opportunity for efficient student feedback and memorable commentary and is definitely worth exploring the site and iOS app.
Callahan, J.F., Clark, L.H., & Kellough, R.D. (1997). Teaching in the middle and secondary schools (6th ed.). Columbus, OH: Pearson Education.