Assessment Tools for Learning

“When teachers do formative assessment effectively, students learn at roughly double the rate that they do without it.”

— Dylan Wiliam

ESL Library allows members to pick and choose materials (lessons, flashcards, resources, podcasts) to meet the needs and interests of their students. If you’re a member of ESL Library, you’ve probably noticed that we have started adding assessment tasks to many of our new and updated lessons. You’ll find examples of these additional tasks in the following sections:

Over the past year or so, we’ve been doing a lot of research into assessment by studying the CLB Guide, attending conferences and #LINCchats (on Twitter), and meeting with #PBLA leads and experts in Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. Here is one video that I discovered while taking the CLB Bootcamp course.

As Dylan Wiliam expresses in the video above, change is difficult for anyone when it involves interrupting a routine. He says that getting teachers to place a new emphasis on assessment for learning is like asking golfers to change their swing. At ESL Library, we are committed to helping teachers increase student achievement and are willing to make the necessary changes to our materials and services by changing our swing.

In addition to adding assessment tasks to many of our lessons, we’ve developed a variety of assessment tool templates and placed them in our Resources section. Teachers can pick and choose the ones they want to pair with our task-based lessons. They can personalize the tool for a specific task or use a ready-made tool (such as a role-play rubric).

Here are some of the requests we’ve received in response to our initiatives so far.

  • include learning objectives for learners (not just teachers)
  • offer more real-world task-based lessons, esp for newcomers
  • add additional assessment tasks following the skill-building tasks (based on CLB competencies)
  • offer sorting filters by theme or competency, not just level
  • provide CLB levels for real-world task based lessons (for Canadian teachers)
  • use the word “rating” instead of “level” in score-type fields on an assessment tool (to avoid confusion with CLB levels)
  • offer a variety of assessment tool templates for teachers to pick and choose from and personalize
  • make assessment tools editable (many have now been updated with editable fields)
  • use language that is more accessible to learners on ready-made rubrics
  • use pictures or emoticons on tools for low-level learners
  • place a ready-made assessment tool within a lesson for easy access (we’re considering this integration)
  • create additional dialogues for assessment tasks, rather than using one from a lesson

Note: We’ve taken action on some of these items already. Other suggestions will require more time and thought to implement.

Quick Links

Here are some quick links to some ESL Library templates and tools that might come in handy in your classrooms.

This Friday, we’ll be heading to a TESL mini-conference in Ottawa and meeting with specialists at the Canadian Centre for Language Benchmarks to do more research and share our progress. A special thank you to all of the leads, experts, administrators, and teachers who have encouraged and supported us in this initiative and offered tips and suggestions along the way.

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