After almost 3 years of partnership, the consortium of the “ASSESS-Assessing EFL students” project is in the final stage of the work with the pilot phase underway and the realization of several Multiplier Events to disseminate the project and the outputs.
In Portugal, Agrupamento de Escolas de Penalva do Castelo held the Multiplier Event on June 2 at Espaço de Juventude do Fontelo, in Viseu, with the participation of several English teachers. The main output of this project was the creation of a platform to support English teachers in the assessment process. In addition to providing various materials and exams covering all communicative skills, the Online Exam Creator platform features an exam generator and other tools for creating fun activities.
During the month of may, the multiplier event of the ASSESS project for English teachers was held in Spain, at the University of Huelva and at the training and innovation centre of Inercia Digital. The results of the project have been presented and teachers have been invited to test the results. They are useful to assess English as Foreing Language in levels A1 and A2. The results of the project are:
1. Common curriculum 2. Database for Online Exam Creator 3. Rate Scales. Handbook for assessing speaking and writing 4. Online Exam Creator 5. Guidebook for Teachers
If you are an English teacher in Primary Education we invite you to test our platfrom “Online Exam Creator” where you have access to more than 200 exams, worksheets, flashcards, images and rubrics . Moreover, you can create your own exam from scratch.
https://assessproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/IMG_9780-scaled.jpg17072560Ana Forteshttps://assessproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Gray-Design-Studio-Logo-2-300x300.pngAna Fortes2022-06-01 14:20:502022-06-01 14:23:03Multiplier event in Spain
Exam season is right around the corner. Students of all educational levels will take exams. Exams, as formal evaluation means, are necessary to show one’s knowledge or ability in a particular subject or to obtain qualification and it is no secret that exams are very stressful.
In his article below, Mr. Stephen-John Taylor, Consultant at Cambridge English Language Assessment, tackles the notions of exam stress management-familiarity.
Exam Stress Management – Familiarity
Most students in Greece now take at least a B2 English language examination, with a great many also sitting other examinations at levels further down the CEFR framework. However, the age of the Greek cohort is relatively young and, for most, it is their first time in a formal examination situation: an unfamiliar environment, suspicious invigilators, a strict protocol of precise timing and regulations. The whole experience can be daunting, and there are those in the world of education who campaign vociferously against their students taking any examinations or tests whatsoever. “Why put a teenager through this torture?” they insist. “Why traumatize them at so early an age?”
Now, torture and trauma are strong words, much in the same boat as terror or agony. These well-meaning souls are, of course, missing the point entirely. Proper preparation for an exam is of enormous benefit, helping candidates do well in whatever other qualifications or accreditation they might need to work towards in the future, not to mention being better able to cope with the pressure and deadlines they will surely meet when they enter the workforce. What’s more, challenges such as these help teenagers to grow into better people, encouraging them to aim just that little bit higher than they otherwise would, to ‘enter the zone’ as Vygotsky might have said, preparing them to meet the greater challenges of adulthood.
Yet, despite these motivational and practical benefits, studies such as those by Humphrey (1998) and Witkin (1999) reveal that all of us do indeed experience significant amounts of stress in our early lives, the magnitude of which is, however, often underestimated by parents and teachers alike. Examination stress is clearly part of this and affects a considerable number of candidates, in particular playing a major role in underperformance. Also, of interest here is the finding that the stress we as teachers feel when preparing candidates for examinations filters down to our students, adding to their distress. Nevertheless, while in all honesty our students may never actually look forward to sitting an exam, there are many things within our power as teachers we can do to change their approach and so improve their performance, at the same time boosting our own self-esteem and confidence in our teaching skills and subsequently reducing the damaging consequences of our own insecurities.
Initially, efficient examination stress management falls into three main categories, the first of which is ACADEMIC in nature. This requires, among other things, an adequate period of pre-preparation, a disciplined but realistic study schedule, advanced knowledge of the examination requirements, i.e., what the examiner expects from the candidate, a varied diet of challenging tasks, and practice in answering similar questions/tasks to those that should appear on the day.
Examples of this could include alerting students to the use of paraphrasing in Reading Paper tasks, efficient punctuation in Writing, being on the lookout for specific word forms in Listening and practicing turn-taking strategies in Speaking.
The second category deals with the PHYSICAL aspects of dealing with stress: good nutrition and exercise, and an adequate amount of sleep and relaxation, all of which prepare our students’ bodies for the often exhausting examination process. Here, for instance, and naturally avoiding the word ‘stress’, we might highlight the highly beneficial effects of sipping water throughout the examination: the enhanced ability to remain focused, refreshed and alert, in general giving their brains a much-needed boost.
Thirdly, we have the PSYCHOLOGICAL category: this is where the teacher necessarily becomes the student’s comforter, putting the whole experience into perspective, helping the student – parents, too – evaluate the relative importance of the undertaking, the significance of passing and failing, and so on. Research into this aspect is now focusing on our perception of stress in certain situations – in our case, examinations – and ways in which we can change this perception so that they are not viewed as daunting but challenging. This protects our students from the destructive, negative effects of stress, such as ‘freezing’ or ‘going blank’, even fainting (as a Speaking Examiner, I have unhappily witnessed all three), while also enabling its positive effects – better attention focus and faster, more efficient information processing – and thereby enhancing performance in all four parts of the contemporary language examination. Here, too, come into play techniques such as visualization and the power of positive thinking.
Ultimately, however, throughout all three of these categories, there is a pervading condition which is often underappreciated or even ignored: FAMILIARITY. For instance, being familiar with the rules and tasks required falls under the heading of Academic, being fully aware of the corporeal demands to which the candidate will be subjected during the process is grouped under the Physical, while familiarity with the consequences of failure – and success! – is clearly in the realm of the Psychological.
But familiarity extends to cover much, much more. It deals effectively with insecurity and the fear of the unknown. It also allows us to jump unexpected hurdles and provide for contingency. Let’s consider, for example, the exam day itself. Is the candidate familiar with the route to the venue? How much time will the candidate need to get to the venue? What means of transport will they use? How will they wake up in time? Who will wake them up? What do they need to take with them? What should they not take with them? Is somebody going to accompany them? What will the weather be like? Is any industrial action planned for that day? What do you, the teacher, need to arrange so that your students will be able to perform to the best of their ability? Frankly, you need a checklist.
Becoming familiar with all aspects of the examination experience is an essential part of the duties of any educator working in ELT and demonstrates our commitment to the profession. Familiarizing our students in turn is not only our responsibility but arguably their prerogative.
The Project Assess is now in the final stages, and the web platform (The Online Exam Creator), developed to be an innovative platform hosting a range of learning tools for young EFL learners. The project brings a new approach to assessment. Material such as flashcards with images and text, illustrated worksheets, exams, rubrics etc are available on the web portal, in the six partner languages, plus English and the Online Exam creator not only allows teachers have access to the material created by the partners, but they will be able to produce their own exams and downloadable content specific to their needs, and to better provide students their knowledge on the best way they can!
However, with this project we also intend to show that beyond a new era in teaching English language, there’s the need for both students and teachers to create links that allow a better and more productive system of teaching and learning. For this we know that the teacher’s well-being is crucial, so we decided to leave here on this Blog and at this stage of our project, also an extra motivation to help for the difficult times that teaching has always gone through and is still going through. For that, we leave here some tips that will surely help in the confidence needed to provide our students the best language educators ever.
Here are a few simple strategies for you to build your confidence as an educator.
Try your best every week to be prepared for your team meetings, faculty meetings, professional development, and most importantly your classroom. This will require some planning and prep work beforehand. Once you get into a grove you will start to notice a boost in your confidence. In those meetings, you will start contributing more and more which will lead to more opportunities.
Develop a growth mindset. Having a growth mindset of how you can grow as an educator is a must. This will encourage you to look at your areas of strength and pinpoint those areas of growth in your classroom.
Create a positive space. This will require you to be intentional about who you surround yourself with at work. It will also require you to be mindful of your own words and actions.
Surround yourself with positive people who have a similar mindset as you.
Say Affirmations. This is one of our favorites and it is so simple. Every day before you get out the car, bus, or train say you are a confident educator.
Your next steps are simple…
Start right now practicing these strategies. We promise that you will start to see results. If you start to get down or frustrated, that is okay. We are all human and that is natural. Just remember your why. From our side, we will provide you with the best tools and materials to help you! Follow our Project FB page and our website for more updatings and The Online Exam Creator can be viewed here.
The project is financed by Erasmus+ KA2: 2019-1-PT01-KA201-061275
Learning, Teaching and Training Activities for teachers: an asset for educational system
The arrival of information and communication technologies to the educational field, accelerated by the pandemic, has led to the need of development of digital competences of teachers, which is one of the educational challenges teacher training has to face now. One of the main aims of the Learning, Teaching and Training Activities that ran from 14th to 16th December in Athens, was sharing good practices and strategies among participants using digital tools. A range of teaching and learning activities and methodologies was suggested in order to provide engaging learning environments: creation and use of flashcards in the classroom, workshops about online tools and resources for EFL teachers, creative teaching and learning strategies using props and through theatre, etc.
Throughout these three-day training, teachers also had the opportunity to reflect together on the assessment process of different language skills (common problems and challenges) and received training on assessment strategies. The emphasis was led in particular on assessing writing and speaking skills with the guidance of easy-to-use rubrics helping out young learners do great at communicative skills, giving them really efficient specific feedback.
The consortium partners also took the opportunity to introduce the main output of the project: the Online Exam Creator, a digital platform that aims to support EFL teachers in their professional practice. After the presentation of the OEC, a workshop was conducted and participants could interact with the platform creating customized exams with the Exam Creator and creating teaching packs based on the material provided in the resource bank.
To conclude, the Learning, Teaching and Training Activities that took place in Greece, in the scope of ASSESS project, opened new paths of inspiration and fostered good practices among participants. Professional development and lifelong learning of teachers will always be an asset for the success and quality of learning.
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Assessment is an integral part of instruction, as it allows to determine whether or not the educational goals or standards are being met and it provides data for instructional planning and decision making.
There are two main types of assessment, each occurring at different points in the teaching and learning process: assessment of learning and assessment for learning. The current trend in education is the presence of both assessment systems in order to provide valid and reliable information about pupils’ achievement.
Assessment of learning involves looking at assessment information at the end of key segments in a teaching and learning cycle or at the end of the teaching and learning process to rank students’ achievement levels against a standard. It is summative and it involves standardized tests.
Assessment for learning embeds assessment processes throughout the teaching and learning process in order to readjust strategies and methodologies to enhance and guide learning. It is formative and it can include test data as well as other quantitative and even qualitative or descriptive data. Basically, in the assessment for learning, the test data is just one data element among others and the assessment process is constant rather than a single point in time.
To support teachers in the evaluation process, the six partners of Project ASSESS continue to work on the Online Exam Creator Platform in order to improve its potential and make it a valuable resource for EFL teachers. Exams covering the different linguistic skills, audio files, rubrics, worksheets, images, flashcards will be soon available to be used as formative or summative assessment and our Online Exam Creator will allow to create exams easily and quickly according to the learners’ level.
As part of the project activities, our partner from Greece, with experience in the training in the field of language education, is organizing a five-day training course whose main aim is to present the platform to EFL teachers from the partner countries but also, addressing the common problems and challenges in the assessment in EFL, in particular as regards speaking and writing assessment. The training will take place in Athens in the beginning of September.
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Online education has been an issue since the internet started to become a crucial part of our lives. However, the outbreak of the virus forced this concept in our lives as an obligatory situation.
All the nations throughout the world have been talking about it, yet no country was prepared for it thoroughly. The citizens of the world have learnt the “how to” part on the way. We managed to do it somehow, but what about the efficiency and the effect of online education and assessment?
As an instructor at a state university in Turkey, my experience has been quite positive in many ways which can be listed as below;
*Flexibility and Self-Paced Learning
The difference among students in terms of learning pace has been vanished as all our lessons had been recorded and uploaded to the system beforehand. So, each student can go online and find the related video on the system and revise afterwards or prepare before the class hour at any time s/he is available.
*Better Time Management
As an instructor, I could easily complain that most of the time, the class hour was interrupted by natural conversations; however, in online lessons 40 minutes were mostly used very effectively and all the talking was to the point. In time both teachers and students have learnt to use all the benefits of online meetings like break-out rooms, white board, multi-user screen sharing, annotation, etc. which enabled both parties to make use of the allocated time better.
*Varied Means of Learning
In our online education experience, we experienced many different means which are called “web tools” used for educational purposes. We applied online quizzes for fun, software versions of the books and online workbooks that can be used like popular applications (in vocabulary and grammar especially), competitions and games that can facilitate learning in grammar and so on.
*Keeping up with the Developing Technology
All the improvements in technology like applications, tutorials on Youtube, audiobooks, interactive games have made education seem like behind the zeitgeist. With an obligatory push, education especially in eastern countries had to keep up with developing technology which created a more appealing interface for education. We are free from getting old and rusty.
At the end of the semester, according to a survey held in Uludağ University (Bursa, Turkey), almost 80 percent of both teachers and students favour and stick up for online education for the above mentioned reasons. And with the data collected from that research, the School of Foreign Languages plans to carry out the education both face-to-face and online in the 2021-2022 academic year.
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Return to travels is coming! Face to face activities of our Erasmus+ projects are back. Today the partners of #ASSESS project have met to plan the course for English teachers that will happen next September.
https://assessproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/image-25.png6641152Ana Forteshttps://assessproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Gray-Design-Studio-Logo-2-300x300.pngAna Fortes2021-06-25 11:29:382021-06-25 11:29:38Our training activity for English teachers will happen this summer!
Online language testing offers teachers an efficient way to deliver tests to students. Online testing has a number of tools such as videos, PDFs, podcasts, and teachers can use all these tools as part of their lesson plans when it comes to testing. By extending the lesson plan beyond traditional testing methods, educational authorities are able to include online testing resources and as a result, teachers are able to become more efficient educators, too.
Accessibility of Time and Place
Another advantage of online language testing is that it allows students to do the tests from any location of their choice. It also allows schools to reach out to a more extensive network of students, instead of being restricted by geographical boundaries. Additionally, some types of online tests can be recorded, archived, and shared for future reference. This allows students to access the testing material at a time of their comfort. Thus, online learning offers students the accessibility of time and place in education.
Improved Student Participation
Since online tests can be taken from home or location of choice, there are fewer chances of students missing out on testing sessions.
Suits a Variety of Learning Styles
Every student has a different learning behaviour pattern and a different learning style. Some students are visual learners, while some students prefer to learn through audio. Similarly, some students thrive in the classroom testing while other students are solo learners who get distracted by large groups so for them online testing is a blessing. This is why the online testing system, with its range of options and resources, can be personalized in many ways. It is the best way to create a perfect testing and learning environment suited to the needs of each student.
What Are the Disadvantages of Online Testing?
Inability to Focus on Screens
For many students, one of the biggest challenges of online testing is the struggle with focusing on the screen for long periods of time. As in online learning, there is also a greater chance for students to be distracted by social media or other sites. Therefore, it is imperative for the teachers to keep their online testing engaging and interactive to help students stay focused on the test.
Another key challenge of online testing is internet connectivity. While internet availability has grown enormously grown over the past few years, in smaller cities and towns, a consistent connection with decent speed is a problem. Without a consistent internet connection for students or teachers, there can be a lack of continuity in testing a learner. This is detrimental to the education process.
Sense of Isolation
Without doubt students can learn a lot from being in the company of their peers. However, in online testing and in particular in language testing, there are minimal physical interactions between students and teachers. As a result, there is a sense of isolation for the students. In this situation, it is very important that the school allows for other forms of communication between the students, peers, and teachers. This may include online messages, emails and video conferencing that will allow for face-to-face interaction, thus reducing the sense of isolation.
Online testing requires teachers to have a basic understanding of using digital forms of learning. However, this is not the case always. Very often, teachers have a very basic understanding of technology. Sometimes, they don’t even have the necessary resources and tools to conducts online classes and design online tests. To combat this, it is important for schools to invest in training teachers with the latest technology updates so that they can facilitate teachers in online testing planning.
Manage Screen Time
Many parents are nowadays concerned about the health hazards of having their children spend so much time staring at a screen. Spending so may hours in front of a screen is one of the biggest concerns and disadvantages of online testing and online learning in general. Sometimes, students can also develop bad posture and other physical problems due to staying hunched in front of a screen.
https://assessproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Gray-Design-Studio-Logo-2-300x300.png00Ana Forteshttps://assessproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Gray-Design-Studio-Logo-2-300x300.pngAna Fortes2021-05-03 06:36:292021-05-03 06:36:30Advantages & Disadvantages of Online Testing
The beginning of 2021 has been a bit disconcerting, the continuous incidents happening all over the world as well as the coming of the third wave of COVID-19 is making our lives different and difficult. All these changes show us that the world must be prepared for a different future, and this starts with our education. Quality education is one of the global goals for sustainable development in Unite 2030, since it is the basis for the prosperity of everyone. The project ASSESS works for getting an innovation in the way of assessing students.
The Online Exam Creator, which is our main product, is being developed by Inercia Digital along with the collaboration of Learnmera Oy. While this product is being created, the rest of partners are working creating rubrics for the assessment of all the exams that will be available in the OEC for teachers. This tool will let teachers have the opportunity to have exams, worksheets, scales, images and games for using in their lessons.
The partners will also create a guide for teachers explaining how to use this tool, moreover, a number of 30 teachers will be trained to use this tool. If you are an English teacher from Spain, Finland, Portugal, Turkey, Greece or Germany we invite you to participate in this innovative project.
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The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.