Adventures in Education!
Last week, we were very successful in getting set up on all sorts of educational technology! In my CHC2P class, we set up our Twitter accounts. Already, we have taken pictures of in class work and shared it via Twitter. Next week, once we begin WWI, we will be tweeting responses to discussion questions, links to cool and informative videos and websites that we find online!
In ENG1D, we set up our school emails (Gmails) and our blogs and have already worked our way through 2 blog posts related to the short stories we were reading! After creating a first blog on their own, we co-constructed criteria about what makes a "good blog" in class and how we can comment effectively on blog posts! https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BUTmzZbIMAA4GwA.jpg How did we do?!
I'll link to different blogs from time to time but here's Clare's blog to start... I think she's done a great job so far: http://clareeng1d.blogspot.ca/ With a few blogs complete, we are going to start sharing insight and feedback with each other in the next few days. To facilitate blogging, I have reserved the school set of iPads once per week so that we can maintain our blogs and share comments. At other times, students are welcome to BYOD (bring their own device) to class as well!
In CHC2DA (my ESL history class), we used QR codes in the classroom to help us learn new terms for our study notes. We also add to our "word wall" each day with new vocabulary that we are unfamiliar with! We also use Edmodo!
We're off to a great start and having lots of fun so far!
Gathering evidence of learning VS gathering "marks": Why I spend way more time on formative assessment than summatives.
I have spent the last 4 years really delving deep into the power of assessment. Often, when people think about assessment, the usual suspects come to mind - tests, exams, quizzes, maybe a project or two.
I have spent countless hours reading and researching about assessment. All assessment. Assessment for, as and of learning. They all have their place and importance! But after all this time, here's my secret.... assessment OF learning is the one I do the least. To some, this might sound wrong... horrible! Is she not doing her job? Where are all the 'marks'? The marks that I have, while they may be fewer in number, are more powerful in their representation of student learning. Here's why...
I spent much more time and energy on assessment as and for learning because these are assessments that affect true change!! Assessment FOR learning (diagnostic and formative assessment) allows me to gauge student understanding before a "mark" is assigned. What good is it to me or my students if I discover on the final test, with a class average of 55%, that they didn't understand half of the content? How am I supposed to go back and pinpoint where we missed the boat at that stage in the game?
So, instead, I spent each and every day formatively assessing my students. Sometimes through observation (questions/responses in class, discussion, individual contributions to group work) and sometimes in more concrete ways like exit cards, formative quizzes, KWLs, puzzle games, or journals). But it doesn't stop there. As part of the professional learning cycle (plan, act, observe, reflect), I then reflect on the results of my observations or results and figure out how to adapt MY teaching in order to reach all learners. Sometimes, most of the class doesn't understand a concept and so I re-teach it, finding a better or more clear way to explain it. Sometimes, a few students haven't grasped the idea and I find a way to work with them to move them past this hurdle and on ward. All of this is happening before a single mark that "counts" is recorded.
During this phase, I also use another one of my most favourite tools: feedback. As part of assessment AS learning, I have students self assess and peer assess products which will become summatives. This year, as part of my Grade 10 History final task for the World War II unit, the students had their project "chunked" into 5 phases. At each of the first 4 phases, students were given assessment - first, self reflection/checklist; next - peer assessment/feedback; thirdly - teacher checklist and conference and finally, phase 4, teacher written, descriptive feedback. Feedback is so important to improve student learning. What good is it once the task is already completed and done?
"Feedback needs to come while the students still think of the learning goal as a learning goal – that is, something they are still striving for, not something they already did. Brookhart (2008)"
Only after these four phases was the final product submitted for evaluation... a "mark". We spent 3-4 weeks on this project, much of it during class time and I ended up with four "marks" - one for each category (Knowledge, Thinking, Communication, Application). Again, to some, this is shocking or terrible. Only 4 marks in 4 weeks?!
At first, this intimidated me. I always felt nervous at parent-teacher interviews when I only had a few "marks" to show parents. It's hard to explain, in a 10 minute time slot, to each parent that I don't have so few marks because I don't give work or because I don't mark things; there's a bigger reason behind it and I'm following the research on assessment and how it helps students. That it is less important for me to have 50 marks and more important to me to have 10 great, truly reflective ones. It's not that their achievement will be 'skewed' by so few marks; on the contrary, the fact that I don't count those first assessments is, in fact, much better for most students' "marks". It's still a bit intimidating to me because I know that this is not the way it was for many people in school.
The more I use formative assessment and feedback, the more my students understand it and its purpose. They see how it benefits them and can distinguish between a formative and summative task. By October, they would never ask me if an exit card or homework "counts" for marks.
This year, I plan to integrate more use of technology into my assessment and feedback; tools like Socrative, AudioBoo, Edmodo and Google Docs all provide excellent opportunity for assessment as learning - self, peer and teacher feedback, as well as assessment for learning, to check understanding of concepts.
You can find more of my compilations on Assessment on this website in my research/presentations section:
A fantastic resource is the Ontario website "Edugains" and their series on Assessment/Feedback:
"The most powerful single modification that enhances achievement is feedback."
On Tuesday, I participated in a virtual conference - a professional learning opportunity - called #Edmodocon. It was presented by the good people over at the #Edmodo app/website.
If you aren't familiar, Edmodo is a social learning platform for schools, often called the "Facebook" for schools because its format is similar. Edmodo has many advantages for many reasons. It's a great, safe place for teachers and students to connect; students can post questions, submit assignments, create projects, access notes, join discussion groups, and much more. Students need access codes to join a class so it's secure and safe. Check it out: www.edmodo.com
#Edmodocon provided educators with the chance to 'virtually' participate in a full day conference to learn more about the amazing ways to utilize Edmodo for classroom learning and success. More than 20,000 educators globally tuned in! There were several sessions throughout the day by presenters on a range of topics, including digital citizenship, project based learning, "flipping" the classroom, building leadership capacity and more!
Some of my take-aways from the sessions were:
1 - Using Edmodo for literature circles
2 - Ways to teach students how to be better digital citizens
3 - New apps (compatible with Edmodo) to try - ie: Explain Everything
4- Re-emphasis on what I already knew about how amazing project based learning is
5- Flipping the classroom
Patrick Fogarty's session: Access, Engagement, and Equality with Edmodo was one of my favourites. Loved his "30 second lesson" ideas, where students can create a video in "30 seconds" about a key concept. This is a great way to teach the skill of summarizing main ideas! You can build on this by having students string together a series of related '30 second lessons' too!
He also reminded us about the core philosophy of differentiated instruction - my biggest passion. He shared: "It's professional malpractice giving kids work they can't access in multiple ways". To meet the needs of all learners, we must give opportunities for choice!
Flipping the classroom/BYOD by Kate Baker and Liz Calderwood was another gem. The idea of classroom flipping is "a form of blended learning in which students watch lectures online and work on problem sets with other students in class. This approach allows teachers to spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing. This is also known as backwards classroom, reverse instruction, flipping the classroom and reverse teaching."
I am already a huge proponent of BYOD and am very intrigued by flipping the classroom. It's definitely something I'd like to try, even for just a few lessons, to see how it works. The advantages are so very clear - that more time spent actually working out problems in class with teacher support will benefit the students. My fear, of course, is that the 'homework' of watching the lesson won't be done and then the in-class time would be wasted. Does anyone have suggestions for me or guidance about this? Would love your feedback because I am really keen on trying this if I can wrap my head around how to make it work! The ladies in this session were engaging and passionate; it was a great watch!
One of the more powerful moments of the day was Sheryl Sandberg's virtual address as part of the Lean In organization. She reminds us that we are "teaching future leaders". Her talk was about gender stereotypes in leadership and what we can do to promote leadership among young girls and women. Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tk0Gq00LHMc
Thank you #Edmodo for a great conference! I already look forward to next year!
Who am I?
Hi! I'm Megan. 21st century learner and teacher. I am passionate about DI, assessment, student success and #edtech. My blog is where I share what is happening in my classes, my professional learning and sometimes things that are on the outer circle of education. Comments always welcome!