Spelling Bees – my experience of assessment

Spelling Bees – my experience of assessment

As an activity for EPSE 310: Assessment, I’ve been asked to write about my own experience with an assessment I remember from school, and how it impacted me.

In grade six we did a weekly spelling bee. These¬†were low-pressure because we marked them ourselves and the teacher didn’t count them for marks. If I was competing, it was only against myself.

Type of assessment

The spelling bees were assessment as learning. Because my teacher did not keep track of our marks in this activity, it was not summative assessment of learning, and because the results did not guide my teacher’s future lessons, it was also not assessment for learning.

How this impacted me

I remember the pleasure I felt in building this skill of spelling, and how masterful I felt when I could spell things correctly.

As I write this, I wonder if perhaps the reason the spelling bees were enjoyable for me is the fact that they were assessment as learning rather than an assessment of learning. Overall, the spelling bees helped me gain an appreciation for spelling, and I learned a LOT about how words are formed and patterns found in words.

In terms of the class, I feel the spelling bees had a positive effect. We passed our sheets to our neighbour to be marked, which built trust and community.

While I believe some students experienced anxiety about these spelling bees, the fact that they were so regular was calming and by the end of the year, even the most ardent naysayers were, if not excited then at least at peace with the ritual.

Quality issues

Since the spelling bees were not for marks, I don’t believe there were any quality issues in terms of reliability, validity or fairness. Perhaps the fact that the spelling bees did not influence my teacher’s curriculum might be considered a weak point, although I’d argue that it probably wasn’t.