Practices

This section lists abstracts of the collected assessment practices, describing the essence of what makes them unique. Download links will gradually be added as well that allow readers to deep-dive more into the subject and explore information about the school context, the teacher providing the example and the practice itself. This section is work in progress

By the end of the project, you will find a collection of 15-20 good practices documented in approx. 5 A4 pages each.

The Game of Ginter

Assessment of history by means of a game

The Game of Ginter is the name that pupils gave to the game of human history that Niko Ginter has created and practiced for 12 years at the Waldorf Klagenfurt school, Austria. The core idea of the game is to involve pupils in the development process of a society and in the ability to make decisions that influence future events. The game is collaborative and has no winner or loser but serves as an enjoyable and powerful learning process and as an assessment of history. Learning through play, sparking natural curiosity and giving space to experience mistakes are some of the methodologies behind this practice. Niko Ginter has practiced this game with over 16 classes and 300 pupils and is now writing a book about his experience as a Steiner Waldorf teacher that includes a chapter on the game. He hopes to spread his practice and to create versions of it that can be adapted for other learning contexts.

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Involving parents in assessment

The idea of collaborating with parents on assessment comes from recognising the fact that parents are the primary caretakers and co-educators of the child, and they can be the teacher’s most trustful allies and partners. By sharing their observations, experiences and feelings of the child they can offer meaningful insights for the teacher and together they can work effectively for the highest good of the child. This is what Krisztián Freigang has utilised in his assessment practice, the elements of which include a classroom observation by the parents and a parent-teacher conference.

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Five roles and a unique me

Evaluating open-end assignments based on how the pupils embody six key roles

Sam Versweyveld combined the best of two worlds by introducing a framework developed in the context of part time artistic education into the four senior years of the Steiner Waldorf secondary school de Zonnewijzer. This framework serves as a basis for the guidance, formative and summative assessment of open-ended personal assignments that students carry out throughout the year. Rather than giving a grade on the overall performance, supervisors evaluate how their pupils have embodied five roles that are key to the development of a project, as well as the 6th very important role that concerns the expression of their uniqueness within their work.

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E-portfolios in Primary Schools: Learning to Learn

E-portfolios to facilitate personalised and formative assessment in primary schools.

The e-portfolios developed by ‘Mevolution’ attempt to transform school education by taking it beyond its current limits of imparting a set curriculum over the period of a school year to a number of pupils of approximately the same age, and periodically testing pupils in a standardised format on their absorption of this curriculum.

Instead, these e-portfolios endeavour to capture the learning process across the school, responding to each pupil and each teacher while following carefully devised guidelines for learning. Children are encouraged to value learning as they experience it personally, with an e-portfolio for each child. Parallel to the feedback that children receive within their e-portfolios, each teacher maintains an e-portfolio within which experiences of effective teaching practices can be shared, to draw on each other’s insights. Parents also review and contribute to their child’s e-portfolio.

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Continuous Assessment that Underpins Learning

An Integrated Framework

Assessment is for learning and must therefore accompany learning closely and continuously – this is the essence of and the strong message from the practice of assessment that is described below. It is therefore not a practice as such but a framework of practices that endeavours to be seamlessly integrated in order to follow and support fully the collective journey of learning in a classroom and within this the personal learning path of every pupil. The context in which this is embedded is both the Steiner Waldorf principle that education should enable each pupil to become what they are, and the specific methodology of Waldorf schools that takes the form, for example, of lesson blocks.

The wider context is state regulation of schooling, in this case the German situation of requiring grades to be given to pupils in senior classes and working towards the Abitur or end of secondary school exams. Of interest here is the relationship that emerges implicitly below in not ‘teaching to the test’ or in this case not ‘teaching to the Abitur’ – and yet enabling pupils to go through the final state exams with the strength that can be drawn from a Waldorf school’s curriculum, which has helped build pupils’ abilities over years of assessment for learning rather than learning for assessment.

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Dialogue reports

A dialogue between parents, pupils, teachers and educators to enliven the learning process

This assessment practice is based on the art of conversation and of cultivating interpersonal relationships. Rather than relying solely on the teacher’s judgement, all parties that play a role in the pupil’s development take part in an open dialogue covering different aspects of the pupil’s life. This dialogue enables to establish a common language between teacher, educator, parents and pupil and to collaborate better on a shared educational responsibility. Qualitative observations and exchange of different perspectives are followed by agreements to enliven the learning process and support the pupil in his/her development.

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The art of writing good reports

A story about what you did and who you are as an alternative to a set of grades

The art of writing good reports is part of the assessment DNA of the Steiner Waldorf school in Odense. Continuous formative assignment and dialogue leading to a better understanding of who the students are, how they learn, interact with different subjects and people give teachers the information they need to write extensive individualised written reports. The one at the end of class 12 is remarkable as it aims to give a clear, honest and positive picture of who the students are to higher education admission officers or employers. What is more, this alternative way of finishing school is recognised by Danish law.

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Holistic diagnostic assessment

Preparing a smooth transition from kindergarten to school

The holistic diagnostic assessment carried out at the Osnovna waldorfska škola Rijeka is an example of how to transform the evaluation of a child’s progress at one point in time into an opportunity to understand how the child learns and how best to support him/her in the crucial first years of school. The way the exercises presented and carried out make it a positive character building exercise for the child and the knowledge that comes out of it is helpful for both teachers and parents. The greatest value of this method is the combination of the assessment itself with a thorough conversation with the parents and a personalised follow-up to increase the quality of understanding among carers and teachers for the child’s developmental and learning needs.

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A Portfolio of Personalised Assignments

An assessment method based on a dialogic classroom experience  leaving space for pupils to manage their assignments and show the best of their capabilities

The essence of this practice is to enable pupils to become an active part of the teaching and assessment process. For thirteen years, Eeva taught Finnish language and literature to class 9, 10, 11 and 12 pupils, without textbooks and tests. Her lesson structure is based on a Socratic dialogic teaching method, and space for personalised feedback and individual work in every class. Pupils are given the opportunity to engage with all subjects, through the dialogue and then through an assignment that she provides personalised comments on to support each pupil in their individual evolution. With the help of a course guide the pupil can plan their journey and select the assignments they would like to include and how they can best show their capabilities in line with the instructions. At the end of the journey pupils bring all of their work together in a portfolio, make the necessary adjustments, and hand it in to receive a summative evaluation.

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The Qualification That Acknowledges Creative Thinking Skills

Implementing a progressive and recognised qualification at secondary school level

The Crossfields Institute Level 2 Integrated Education Diploma is more than a qualification, it is a philosophy of integrated education that can serve as a base to structure a school-wide assessment policy that acknowledges creative thinking skills and the importance of supporting pupils to connect to their unique potential and capacity to learn independently. The Raheen Waldorf school is a small secondary school in Ireland, and implementing this progressive and recognised qualification is supporting the pupils’, the teachers’ and the school’s development all at once.

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Dialogic Learning and Opening Mathematics

Enlivening the way that knowledge comes into being and integrating formative assessment as an essential component of the process.

Dialogic learning is a teaching and formative assessment method that enlivens the way that knowledge comes into being. Pupils engage deeply and methodically with the subject and are given space to write about their thoughts and feelings about what they are learning. It works in a cycle of three including an open task, individual and collective feedback on what the pupils produced and then planification of the next step in the programme based on what the class needs to make progress. Applied to mathematics, it approaches concepts by the language of the understanding before the language of the understood, enabling all pupils to enjoy the process and connect it with their daily lives, formal concepts becoming self-evident as a result. 

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Weaving Standardized Tests Sensitively into Formative and Personalized Assessment

An innovative school addresses national standardised testing as an unavoidable challenge.

An innovative school in the Netherlands tries creatively to combine continuous and sensitive assessment — that guides the learning path of each pupil — with the periodic standardised testing required by the national Inspectorate of Education, and the school has achieved significant success in this.

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