Revisiting Assessment Online: Our Evolving Approaches

Last week, I saw a survey in Jennifer Jongsma‘s Instagram story about assessment online. As I mentioned in my blog post yesterday, my workflow and documentation of learning has had to change online due to an inability to record and take photographs as we can at school. My teaching partner, Paula, and I reflected on this very topic last year, as we continued to wonder what we could do to respect privacy considerations while also noting the tremendous learning potential in revisiting documentation with kids and extending learning from there. The video of our conversation from the Spring is below, but you can also read the full blog post here.

Being online again, Paula and I are back at re-thinking assessment. This time around, we’re trying a few different approaches. We really believe in the key considerations in Growing Success – The Kindergarten Addendum, so if at all possible, we’re trying to link our approach with the underlying pedagogy in this document. Here’s what we’re doing.

Taking photographs and videos of our play, and creating mini-learning stories to share the evolution of the process. While we can’t record what kids are doing, our choices align with the ones that they’re choosing. As I said in my blog post yesterday, we invite kids into our play. We can then use their initials to indicate their contributions to the story of this play. We can also indicate next steps that align with where we will go next as well as where we hope kids will go next.

Revisiting these mini-learning stories with kids. Looking back at some of the photographs and talking about what we did in previous days often gets our children to reflect on similar choices that they made. Maybe they will hold up their work, discuss their future plans, or initiate the discussion about what other possibilities there might be. This often becomes a bridge between assessment for and assessment as learning.

Encouraging families to use their child’s Private Channel to share learning from home. Our parents have been great at uploading photographs, videos, and written documentation to Private Channels. Many of them were using this option before we went online, which helped with the switch to remote learning. Now not only can we see what students are doing at home and provide some extension possibilities, but we can also revisit this learning during our meeting times. We often share the screen and look at a few of the photographs uploaded. Our kids love to talk about their work, which sometimes even inspires others to chime in with what they did. We’re starting to see that more of this learning from home is trickling over into the learning online and vice versa. While we might not be able to capture this learning live, working closely with families has allowed for this capturing to happen in other ways. A special “thank you” to all of our parents for this!

Figuring out a way to just record myself and my interactions with kids … without recording them. I can thank Paula for this, as I didn’t think that this recording would be an option. She helped me realize that with my headphones on, the only person that anyone would hear is me. If I set up my iPad behind my computer screen — or off to the side where you cannot see the screen — then I would also be the only person that anyone would see. Yesterday, I shared my videos from Friday, as well as some of my reflections. The interesting thing about this recording option is that while I might only be able to hear myself, this includes hearing my side of conversations with students. This triggers for me more of the details around our discussions and helps when Paula and I revisit learning and plan for future learning. It’s like assessment for learning in action, and once again, I have Paula to thank for this!

Conversing with children during the online meeting times and setting some extension possibilities together. Many of our kids love to share what they’re doing online. As I noted in yesterday’s blog post, we are starting to move from providing next steps to getting students to talk about what they’re doing and where they might go next. Their voice is a bigger part of the story, and they’re taking more ownership over extending their learning. We love how this merges assessment for and assessment as learning, and helps with the continuation of play beyond the synchronous times.

Sharing video recordings in Private Channels after children attend the playdates and the Snack and Share times. This video recording idea came out of a conversation that Paula and I had after some of our playdates. We once again returned to the fact that we can’t capture the learning that’s happening online. Could we reflect on it though? Instead of writing a comment to children about what we observed and heard plus a wonder (or question) about where to go next, we decided to record a short video message to share with them. These videos are easy to upload on Teams, and then kids hear us talking right to them. This might inspire some children to upload photographs and videos of what they did, but it also gives more child-centred feedback for asynchronous learning at home or the continuation of learning the next day online. Here’s an example of one of these video recordings. This one is not to a real student, but instead, a make believe one that I did with “Paula” for the child’s name.

Assessment might not look the same online as it does in-person, but Paula and I continue to explore ways to provide timely feedback to students while also recalling and reflecting on the learning that’s happening remotely. This is often through a combination of …

  • anecdotal notes connected with photographs and/or videos of our own work,
  • video reflections,
  • parental sharing of learning at home,
  • and conversations in small and large groups.

We’d love to figure out a way to visually capture the process of learning more, to aid in revisiting and sparking new learning online. Have you figured out a way to do this? What does assessment look like in your remote classroom? Online learning might not be perfect — or not perfect for everyone — but it is our reality until at least February 10th. Assessment is going to be a big part of this reality. If we share what we’ve tried, what works, and what doesn’t, I wonder if all of us — educators, parents, and students — might benefit in the coming weeks. What do you think? Thanks Jennifer for starting a great conversation. I hope this is one that continues.


2 thoughts on “Revisiting Assessment Online: Our Evolving Approaches

  1. Have you tried breakout rooms in Teams and then recording the breakout rooms? This would give you a small group who could work together on something and it would record their process.

    • Thanks for your comment, Diana! We have used breakout rooms before, and actually do largely small group meetings. The hard part is that the privacy considerations restrict a lot of recording of what happens online (since students are in their homes). I don’t think that we’d be able to record the breakout rooms. We might be able to do so just for our use, but we also want children to be able to revisit their play from the day before. We’re trying to figure out a way to do this while still capturing some of the process of this play. Not sure if there’s a perfect answer — and we might need to revisit what could be done while still respecting privacy — but we continue to be curious about what others have tried. Thanks for sharing this idea!


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