Lesson 6: Formative & Summative Assessment

In this final lesson, we learned about the importance of applying formative and summative assessment with the use of ePortfolios. We discussed that these assessments need to provide specific and quality feedback for students to follow.  It is also important for this feedback to be given in a timely manner so that students are able to make necessary alterations. In the resource, “Principles of Learning – Frequent Feedback”, the author states, “Because the brain wants to deal with the most pressing matters, it is necessary to practice those things that we wish to retain and to receive feedback that includes ‘explicit cues about how to do better’” (Seely, Brown, & Duguid, as cited in Ewell, 1997, p. 9). These “explicit cues” allow students to see areas of growth that they might not have seen themselves.

The questions asked in this lesson made me examine how I am assessing student learning with ePortoflios, which then made me contemplate the target of using ePortfolios and what I should expect from the students. The target of the implementation of ePortfolios in my video production classes is that students will have a place to showcase their work as well as a platform for reflection. The consistent reflections will serve as formative assessment and the video projects will be used for summative assessment. Both of these assignments will be posted on the students’ ePortfolios and allow a space for me to provide feedback.

The resources and rubrics from this lesson were very helpful as I considered the best approach to give formative and summative feedback and assessment. My expectations are that students will post videos and reflections on time and meet the criteria of each assignment. The students’ reflections will be graded on the timeliness of each post, follow up postings, content contribution, and clarity and mechanics. The implementation of ePortfolios in my video production classes will not only provide a platform to showcase their work, but also a space to reflect on their growth.

Strategy 2: Identifying Similarities and Differences

Identifying Similarities and Differences is a teaching strategy that uses the concepts of comparing and contrasting knowledge so that students can better understand the subject matter. The specific strategies inside this category are comparing, classifying, creating metaphors and creating analogies (Dean et al, 2012). Comparing is when students differentiate subjects based on their similarities and differences. Classifying is when students divide the subject matter into categories based on their similarities. Creating metaphors is when students can find patterns among the subject matter and relate them to similar patterns that they are aware of. Creating analogies is when students pair together concepts to better understand the components of the knowledge (Dean et al, 2012).  The main recommendations for implementing the strategy of Indentifying Similarities and Differences is to first show students how to correctly use this approach, then allow time for them to practice while also guiding them through the process with cues and questions (Dean et al, 2012).

Key Research Findings:

  • With curriculum that is constantly changing and growing, this is a flexible approach that allows students to make connections with what they are learning in the classroom to the world around them (Dean et al, 2012).
  • This approach can be useful in teaching students with learning disabilities because it helps them categorize the world around them (Tarver, 1986).
  • Teachers can utilize technological resources that allow students to visually identify similarities and differences through computer software programs (Pitler et al, 2007).


  1. Guide students through this approach by first modeling what you would like students to do. Do this with different examples until students feel confident to utilize the strategy themselves.
  2. Provide students with visual organizers such as Venn diagrams or charts so that they can see the relationships that the information creates.
  3. Allow students to identify similarities and differences in collaborative small groups while giving them corrective feedback.
  4. When possible, ask students to summarize information so that they can draw conclusions from this strategy’s outcomes.
  5. Use student directed tasks and teacher directed tasks so that students can practice both elements of this approach.
  6. Use this strategy when introducing concepts that may be foreign to students and allow them to apply a creative process to it. An example from Video Production classes that I have taught is applying this strategy when teaching students the difference between good and bad cinematography.

Additional Resources:

  • For descriptions of teacher directed and student directed tasks, go to http://www.pavilioncsd.org/webpages/mnoble/research-based.cfm?subpage=1250793
  • The process of Identifying Similarities and Differences can be a visual process where students divide their thoughts through the medium of a chart or diagram. To download blank templates that can be utilized in classrooms, go to http://edweb.tusd.k12.az.us/Templates/similarities_differences.htm
  • This strategy gives room for students to contemplate key knowledge while also applying their unique views and creativity. An example of this can be seen in my graphic design students’ work where they were asked to pick an everyday word or phrase, which contains different components and then making a visual representation of it (see examples below).

House Fly:

House Fly

Horse Fly:

Horse Fly

Couch Potato:

Couch Potato



Identifying and Instructing Visual Arts Academic Language

                 In the article, “Cognitive Content Engagement In Content-Based Language Teaching”, Kong and Hoare (2011) compare classrooms in China that incorporated academic language successfully and unsuccessfully. The studies showed students were able to process information on a deeper level when academic language was applied. However, this outcome was incumbent upon the teaching of academic language. When students engaged in academic discussions, teachers saw that there was greater cognitive understanding that made, “…learning truly meaningful to them” (Kong & Hoare, 2011, p. 311). This shows that teachers must focus on teaching academic language as well as the inherent knowledge of communication. Kong and Hoare (2011) write, “They then need to develop content objectives that entail the understanding of concepts and relationships between concepts, and related language objectives, to support students’ language development” (p. 323).

                 Galguera (2011) argues that academia needs to stop categorizing English Language Learners (ELL’s) into one homogenous group. Instead, teachers should consider how best to teach academic language to promote learning. He suggests that “Participant Structures” allow teachers to empathize with their students. Galguera (2011) writes, “I propose that we concentrate our efforts in preparing teachers to consider the functions language plays in an academic setting” (p.86). By employing students’ personal vernacular and social communication, teachers form a bridge toward teaching academic language. Galgera (2011) writes that the goal of academic language is to “…describe complexity, higher-order thinking, abstractions, as well as using figurative expressions…” (p. 90). Here, we find a complex definition of academic language as a deeper level of cognition.

                 In the article, “Transmediation in the Language Arts Classroom”, McCormick (2011) discusses how “transmediation” can help students engage in analytical understanding, creating pathways to academic language. McCormick (2011) writes, “Through questions and direct comments, teachers encourage abstract association and logical reasoning” (p. 580). By involving students in transmediation activities, teachers present the opportunity to produce new meaning in a student’s vocabulary. The article placed emphasis on art education expanding student cognition through transmediation. McCormick (2011) argues that the arts can be used as a powerful tool to understand academic language.

                 Similarly, Mary Ann Saurino’s (2004) article, “We could do that! Improving Literacy Skills Through Arts-Based Interdisciplinary Teaching”, discusses the impact that art education has on the literacy of ELL’s. This idea was put into action by developing lessons organized around the question, “What is art?” (Saurino, 2004, p. 35). Through these hands-on classroom activities, she found that students developed a deeper understanding of language by expressing it through art. Saurino (2004) writes, “The students wrote and re-wrote descriptions of their antics, using both English and their native languages to negotiate, clarify, and extend their work as both artists and writers” (p. 36). This example of art being used to develop language literacy shows that interactive art activities can be used to bridge the gap between students and their understanding of academic language.

                 In my visual arts classes, I will use art as a communicative connection to academic language as well as ensuring student comprehension. I agree with the McCormick (2011) and Saurino (2004) approaches of using art as a means of making connections to understand academic language introduced in the classroom. For example, in my media classes I will teach students perspective by allowing them to see how different camera angles changes their point of view. For students to further understand the elements of “perspective” I can ask them to look at a painting right side up and then upside down while answering the question, “How does this change your interpretation of the painting?” Through this exercise, students will be able to develop an understanding of the different contexts of “perspective” and be able to practice having their own perspective.

                 In addition, I will use specific strategies involving visual arts language. In “Teach Like A Champion”, Doug Lemov (2010) explains a strategy I will employ: the technique of  “compare, combine, and contrast” (p. 274). This will allow students to see the difference and similarities between words to understand the vocabulary itself. I plan on teaching students how to ask rigorous questions, utilizing “text-to text, text-to-world and text-to-self” (Lemov, 2010, p. 296). Through these activities, students will be able to compare visual arts language with their current vocabulary. To create a deeper understanding of the visual arts language, I will “make connections” with student’s worldviews and personal lives (Lemov, 2010, p 303).  In conclusion, the resources reviewed have given me a clearer perspective on the importance and methodology of effectively teaching the appropriate academic language in my Visual Arts classroom.


Galguera, T. (2011). Participant structures as professional learning tasks and the                  development of pedagogical language knowledge among preservice                         teachers. Teacher Education Quarterly. 85-106.

Kong, S. & Hoare, P. (2011). Cognitive content engagement in content-based                       language teaching. Language Teaching Research. 15(3), 307-324.

Lemov, D. (2010). Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that put students on the               path to college. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

McCormick, J. (2011). Transmediation in the language arts classroom: creating                     contexts for analysis and ambiguity. Journal of Adolescent and Adult                         Literacy. 54(8), 579-587.

Saurino, M. (2004). We could do that! Improving literacy skills through arts-based                 interdisciplinary teaching. Voices From the Middle. 11(4), 33-36.

My Insight on the EALRs/GLEs

It was an interesting experience to review the EALRs for the Visual Arts Endorsement. I like how the components had so many different action words that were all very specific. I think that if a Visual Arts teacher made their lesson with these goals in mind, it would dramatically affect their teaching. I found it interesting that one of the major EALRs and components was that students learn how to communicate through art. I haven’t always viewed my lessons in art as lessons in communication, but I easily see how they go hand in hand. After reading through the EALRs and GLEs for reading, writing and communication, I was reminded of the high expectations that I need to hold myself to. Even though I am a Visual Arts endorsement, I am still held accountable for reading, writing and communication. As a teacher, I am expected to continue learning and teach with these expectations always in mind.