Learn to Change recently published “Cards for Democracy”. The set consists of 72 colourful cards meant for teachers to reflect on, examine and improve their attitudes, skills and knowledge to better support democratic processes in classrooms and school communities.
The full description and the first card-based activity we proposed can be found here.
In this post, we share with you another activity based on “Cards for Democracy”.
To help teachers develop their competence for democratic practices at the classroom level – in this variation of the activity we will focus on assessment and evaluation practices.
Participants will become aware of the contradictions in and drawbacks of some traditional assessment and evaluation practices.
Participants will acquire knowledge about democratic practices and develop teaching skills for applying new assessment and evaluation tools and methods.
Select the 8 to 10 cards that relate to the main focus of the session (in the present variation of the activity the focus is on assessment and evaluation).
Print out as many sets of the 8 to 10 cards that you have selected as there will be groups of 3 or 4 participants. You might want to laminate the cards so they can be reused many times.
Approximately 45 to 60 minutes with a group of about 20 teachers.
1. Ask participants to think back on their primary and secondary school years. Tell them that you will give them approximately 10 assessment related words and expressions, one at a time. For each term, they have to jot down a few key words that reflect their first associations and memories with the term. Give the participants expressions like oral tests, supportive feedback, bad grade in the subject due to inappropriate conduct, teacher appraisal, fairness, humiliation in front of peers, final achievement tests, opportunity to correct bad grades, repeating a year, clear expectations and criteria, washback effect, self-assessment, etc.
2. Tell participants to pair up with someone they do not know very well.
3. Pairs will be telling each other and elaborating on some of their associations and memories for 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Invite pairs to come back to plenary and elicit some of the conclusions participants can draw about assessment and evaluation practices in their past on the basis of their associations, memories and discussions.
5. Then each pair should join another pair of participants to form groups of four to play with the cards during the next steps.
6. Every group of 4 gets a deck of cards turned face down. The rules of the card game are as follows:
The shortest group member will flip over the first card.
All group members will have a minute to think of an example of how their assessment and evaluation practices are in line with the statement on the card.
When the minute is up, they will take turns sharing with the others what they usually do in their classroom, for example, to develop the students’ individual accountability.
Participants take turns to share their good practices, and the player who flipped over the card has the privilege to ask a question from the speaker.
Once every group member has contributed and listened to the others, the next player flips over the next card, and again, they will all think individually for a minute about the statement on this second card, for example, about how they encourage their learners to evaluate their lessons.
With every card drawn, there should be some individual reflection time before group members share their good practices and answer the question put forward by the person who flipped the card.
7. When all cards have been played and discussed, allow 5 minutes of unstructured discussion for the groups.
8. Debrief the activity with the whole group in plenary based on some of the questions below:
What purposes do traditional assessment methods serve?
What purposes should assessment serve in a democratic classroom?
Who can assess who in the democratic classroom?
What were some of the best practices you discussed while playing with the cards?
Unless the following ideas can be elicited from participants, you might want to introduce or steer the discussion to the advantages of and methods for regular self-assessment, peer-assessment, supportive and detailed feedback by the teacher, continuous assessment, teacher appraisal, programme or course evaluation, and game elements in assessment.
The present activity can introduce and raise awareness of the need to revisit and question old practices and reconsider how assessment and evaluation practices can best support the learning process of all players involved in a democratic school. However, the topic itself is important and substantial enough to fill a whole teacher education course.