AFL Story Part II- The Story Continues

by profesoragaudi
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AFL Story Part II- The Story Continues

AFL Story Part II The Journey Continues

In the future I hope that teachers as a whole can feel more comfortable with this idea and not feel insecure that people are looking over their shoulders and saying that they are not exhibiting enough “AFLness” Teachers need time to digest, create, and implement ideas. I truly think that what AFL and all of its principles has done has reignited professional dialogue between teachers and students about the learning that is taking place and making this discourse an acceptable and routine practice. In addition I also believe that this exercise has encouraged teachers to reflect on why they do what they do and to refrain from being stagnant and in a rut. We all have the success and what is best for our students in mind. AFL is a philosophy and approach that helps both educators and learner on that journey.

Over the past three years teachers at Evan Hardy have been exploring Assessment for Learning (AFL). Through individual, small group, and large group discussions we reflected on our own practices, learned new ideas and attempted to apply these new techniques to our teaching, while knowing all along that our job is to educate students to be successful in meeting the objectives of our respective courses that we teach. Some teachers have found this task difficult because they have felt like they always have to show their “AFLness” in their lessons and this has caused them to question the value of their teaching at times. I maintain that as long as students are achieving success we should not think we are failures as teachers because our lesson was not AFL enough, but know that we always have the students’ learning in our best interest in the end. and that AFL and that we can approach this as a continual journey of professional development.

That being said, there is a lot of value in AFL practices being incorporated into teaching. Using information gleaned from students about their learning progress on a daily basis to propel the learning forward serves students’ needs. I think many teachers have always done this in the past, but AFL makes us cognizant of this practice on a more regular basis and perhaps gives a title to the practice we were already doing. I think this is particularly important for EAL students as they may not always be progressing at the same rate as their native English speaking peers and may need additional or alternative explanations to fully grasp a particular concept. It reminds us that while the curriculum guides us in our decision making when it comes to lesson planning and where we should traverse in the course of a semester, it should not force us to leave kids behind who might be struggling much like flying through a show jumping course on a horse that is stumbling over every obstacle and landing in the water hazards along the way. The student and the horse will both arrive at the end of the course, but both will be bruised from the experience. Allowing students the opportunity to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways provides a larger percentage of students the ability to experience success. In my Spanish classes this semester I have tried to provide opportunities for students to show what they have learned in a way that makes sense to them. As part of their first semester final exam students were asked to show the knowledge that they had learned throughout the semester in a format of their choosing. Because they were able to make decisions on their own of how they would approach and present the information, they felt more invested in their learning. Much talk has been made about zeros not being used as marks for assignments that are not completed because that type of mark does not truly indicate students’ knowledge of particular curricular objectives. Many stimulating dialogues have been had among teachers about this subject. A fine line must be made where we as teachers don’t encourage students to avoid work, but rather to understand the reasons why students are not able or willing to show what they have learned. I think this has led to increased negotiations with their teachers.

First Semester Spanish Final Exam

Assessment for Learning



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