This week we ran whole school moderation tasks for measurement. Moderation is a process where teachers compare judgements to either confirm or adjust them. The process involves close collaboration to establish a shared understanding of what different achievement grades (A -E) looks like and whether or not the student has demonstrated achievement at A, B, C, D,or E grade. The process is invaluable as it allows teachers to work towards making judgements that are consistent and comparable.
Here are our 5 Steps to Moderation Success!
In Kindergarten (WA) we ran a task focussing on length. Now before any whiff of an activity was mentioned or any suggestion of a search on Pinterest was made we consulted the appropriate Curriculum Documents and looked to the Australian National Curriculum, Kindergarten Curriculum & the On Entry Test Documents to identify what our children were expected to achieve at this age. I can’t stress the importance of doing this FIRST enough! Starting here will save you the frustrations & stresses of assessment tasks that end up proffering useless, inaccurate & unusable data because they did not test what you needed to test. And in turn a moderation task which is a failure!
Here are the LENGTH outcomes for Foundation Years:
Australian Curriculum: Measurement & Geometry – Using Units of Measurement-ACMMG006 – Use direct & indirect comparisons to decide which is longer, heavier or holds more & explain reasoning in everyday language
Kindergarten Curriculum– Use the appropriate language of measurement to describe, compare & order length, size, mass & height
We also looked at the On Entry Test and the results from the previous year. We found a task where the students are asked to find which object is the longest/shortest. They were presented with some objects to compare which included pop-sticks & curled up pieces of string… You guessed it the children said the pop-sticks were the longest WITHOUT even picking up the string.
This task highlighted the importance of creating a task where the students were given the opportunity to compare, order reason using everyday language.
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The next thing to consider is does the task actually test what you need to assess?
Sounds simple doesn’t it? But the reality is that the assessment tasks we use often over-test the same understanding and omit a whole range of measuring knowledge & skills.
Without ever realising it we inadvertently produce inaccurate results by using activities & questions that actually scaffold students through the measurement process.
Most activities I have seen will guide students to the correct answer without taking them through the sequence of measuring skills for themselves. For example how many tasks have you seen that ask students to… “Use pop sticks to find out how big your footprint is. How many UNIFIX Cubes long is your desk?”
These questions have their place but will not give you all the information you need to make an accurate assessment of student ability in measurement. They actually miss out a lot of the less obvious measurement skills and jump into asking our students to count how many units it takes to measure hands, feet & classroom objects using a measuring unit that we decide for them.
The focus of such tasks is on only 1 aspect of the measuring process; “Counting how many units.” This means that the results of your tests will prevent you from making accurate professional judgements about student achievement, which in turn affects the allocation of the appropriate A-E Grade.
The measuring process is more complicated and students need the activities that allow them to independently:
- Select the right measuring tool/object for the job
- Choose to measure using the SAME tool/object repeatedly – not 1 popstick, 3 matchsticks & a piece of string!
- No gaps, spaces, overlaps or fingers included in the measurement
- Count how many were needed
- Use the appropriate measurement language
Here’s a word of CAUTION!
So now you are armed & ready to create the best Moderation tasks EVER! But be CAREFUL! It is important to consult the Curriculum again at this point to check that what you are testing is your business! The changes in year level curriculum has caught many staff off guard. Things have really changed in regards to which year level teaches what, especially in Measurement! A really fantastic open-ended Area Task is useless if it isn’t on your curriculum or achievement standard!
Collaboration is central to a great moderation task. Without it the test is a waste of time!
Tests that are created solely by one person will not help achieve consistent judgements about student achievement. A Collaborative & Shared approach is the ONLY way to support consistency because it allows Learning Teams to:
- Develop shared or common interpretations of standards and expectations of what constitutes achievement from A-E
- Develop shared understandings of what students’ achievements look like
- Develop accuracy and reliability in making judgements
- Ensure judgements are equitable in terms of implications for student learning
- Strengthen the value of teachers’ judgements
- Develop well-targeted teaching programs
- Make judgements in relation to Achievement Standards
As a Team we looked at the Judging Standards Assessment Pointers to identify the difference between Grade A, B, C, D & E. Through professional dialogue we reached a shared understanding of each grade and built this into our task.
Open-Ended tasks are the best type of activity for moderation tasks because they:
- Engage all students in mathematics learning.
- Enable a wide range of student responses.
- Enable students to participate more actively and express their ideas more frequently
- Provide opportunity for teachers to probe and enhance students’ mathematical thinking.
To get ideas for the task we looked to Pinterest… You may have heard many a joke about people being trapped on Pinterest for days & that it should be classed as PD! Well it can be a valuable place, especially once you have identified what your outcomes are. It allows you access to an infinite amount of teacher ideas, no better place to source great activities. We put together a Pinterest Board & a plan using the ideas we found. There were just too many!
Our last Step is one we don’t really think about too often…Be aware of non-verbal Cues!
Theatrical facial expressions, moving around the classroom, carefully-planned eye contact, the ‘Stare’, long pauses and a whole range of other subtle non-verbal cues are part of an effective teachers’ tool kit. But when it comes to assessment they can be counterproductive and scaffold students in assessment tasks without us realising it. Create a script & stick to it, hold your posture & maintain the same eye contact. These small protocols prevent you from unwittingly scaffolding answers or giving prompts that would assist or hinder students from achieving their true potential in the activity.
Here’s a summary of our 5 Steps to Moderation Success to make your next Moderation Task EASY!