In an increasingly technological world, the importance of designing curriculum with the component of technology included could not be more necessary or vital to the student-learning experience. In incorporating technology, it is important to first and foremost consult the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards for both the Student as well as the Educator. These sets of standards provide the educator with the proper framework for decisive and thoughtful implementation of technology into the curriculum.
Today’s post is on the role of Designer and how one can effectively adapt the lesson to fit the needs and learning styles of all students within the learning environment. This post will attempt to thoroughly examine this role and provide an exemplified program [Quizlet’s Diagram Creator] to show this role in effect. Below are the standards for the educator taking on the role of the designer:
What does it mean to create “authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability”? Allowing for the element of technology to not only enhance the learning material and better engage students, but to also provide a way for the accommodation of learner differences and needs is basically the gist of this role for the educator. The goal is to be able to provide students with a tool (or variety of tools) that can be used in a variety of ways so that they can best fit it to the way they work and learn best.
What follows then, are the standards to take into account for the student:
As is pointed out, students should have access to and should be shown a variety of tools to use as an aid in generating ideas, testing theories, creating artifacts, and solving problems. Allowing students multiple modes to attain or achieve the learning goal is what the teacher, as the effective designer, must provide. Without the element of technology, or even the element of choice or creation, the students will lose interest, fail to push their intellect, or refrain from engagement altogether. However, one must remember that with the implementation of technology in the curriculum/classroom comes a great responsibility: Authority and Supervision.
In an article on the Washington Post, Kentaro Toyama explains how,
“Children have a natural desire to learn and play and grow. But they also have a natural desire to distract themselves with Angry Birds. Digital technology amplifies both of these appetites. The balance between them differs from child to child, but on the whole, distraction seems to win out when there’s no adult guidance.” (Toyama)
Technology isn’t something you simply implement, let manifest, and the job will get done for you. No, the role of the teacher is not simply to teach, but to guide, influence and oversee. This does not mean that you should take the wheel entirely. Letting the students operate the vehicle while you are in the passenger seat (or as the so-called “backseat driver”) is more or less the point. Give students the charge, but make sure they don’t steer too far off course.
Allowing for the combination of learning, having fun and creating are what is needed when it comes to using technology as an aid in the classroom. Without the element of fun, students will lose interest in the task at hand, and distract themselves. Adding fun into the mix will keep them engaged, but not necessarily on task: “If you provide an all-purpose technology that can be used for learning and entertainment, children choose entertainment. Technology by itself doesn’t undo that inclination – it amplifies it” (Toyama). Therefore it is important to never lose sight of the role of guide in yourself. Allow for the element of fun, but creativity and creation must also be added-on and well-planned-out elements that we cannot do without.
In a study conducted by Andersen & Sorensen (2017) on using technology as an aid, not only for students with various learning styles, but also students diagnosed with ADHD, ADD or ASD, the element of creation (the role of designer) with the use of technology and within the classroom is explored in depth. The types of technologies examined in the study fall into these seven categories:
The findings of the study conclude that the technological tools examined provided learners with an increased feeling of flow and self-efficacy. In other words, the technologies implemented into the classroom allowed students to more easily participate, understand and contribute to the learning processes, and also allowed for them to work more independently and autonomously. The elements of creation and design were not discussed, however, the technologies were expressed as having allowed learners to effectively combat their specific challenges and cater toward their specific skills (Andersen & Sorensen, 171).
The italicized portion of the list above is the category where the tool that I examine falls. Individual or Shared Summary Tools “give learners a place for reflection, reification, and evaluation of what they have done and learned” (Andersen & Sorensen, 168). In other words, tools that fall into this category might be considered “Comprehension Tools”, meaning that they demonstrate learner understanding in a space that is either individual or shared.
The tool I have chosen to examine is a part of the popular Quizlet enterprise called Quizlet Diagram Maker, of which I found on the Professional Learning Network (PLN) called “Educational Technology & Mobile Learning”. This tool serves as the perfect space for providing learners with an individual or shared space for summarizing what is learned or how concepts and topics could be understood. Learners use this technology to create or design. Such examples of creation might include concept-mind-maps or visual and interactive study aids.
And such examples of creation that already exist:
Both teachers and students can join and create. As the teacher, one can design a variety of ways for students to study, test on, and turn in materials. As a student, one can design tools to study or show competency, and can even explore the tools that already exist. Whatever it is, it can probably be created in here. The platform is fairly simple and straightforward:
With a program like this, learners can return to it at any time for repetition and memory support. Quizlet Diagram Maker is free, however, there is an upgraded “Teacher Version” that looks quite fascinating and worthy of trying out – it allows you to create visual diagrams that your students can interact with, use as a study aid, test on, or even collaborate and work with one another. Either way, this tool allows for students to learn in multiple ways, whether that is visually, auditorily, or through repetition and interaction. Users have the option to access the tool from the web as well as on mobile. The tool accounts for fun, creativity and learning, making it perfect for the role of the Designer for students and teachers alike. Check it out!
In this lengthy, yet short, self-reflection, after some months-long engagement in the dreadful yet fascinating endeavor called graduate research, I discuss a few topics that need discussing. I reflect on my challenges, perspectives, frustrations, wonderings and understandings. Please enjoy the following chautauquas (inquiries).
The Essential Question and Other Questions
Where do I begin? There is a lot of humor in that question. It seems that I ask myself that question with everything I tend to take on. In this particular instance, the CAPSTONE project that we have been creating has a lot of those where do I begins… However, it all really starts with that essential question (a.k.a. the inquiry question or the research question); the question that sparks thought, forms more questions, and in turn, is answered. The essential question can only arise with the many focus questions that come before it and can only be answered with the many other questions that come after it.
My essential question as of now is, in my upcoming experience as a substitute teacher, how is the design and layout of classrooms in secondary schools affecting classroom management and student behavior? And with that, how might I one day use that information in designing my own classroom? Some of my focus questions for this essential question include: How does it affect behavior? How does it modify the brain? How does it influence the learning environment? How does it impact school/classroom culture? How does it change students’ perceptions of you (the teacher)? How does it affect curriculum? How does it manipulate student engagement? And there are many more questions to come before I feel confident in attempting to answer the overarching question. Who knows though… My big question still has room to change… and it probably will, but only slightly. However, the topic will stick. The research seems endless and it may throw me unwillingly in a quick and unexpected manner towards a reframing of my question. As for now though, my essential question is going to remain unchanged for the purposes of simply having one. Where do I begin in answering the essential question? Well, that would be through research and the construction of the literature review.
The Literature Review: A Short Criticism
Something so confusing for me, yet it is so simple; the literature review is an examination of the research already provided on the many elements of a topic. Thorough examination on my part must be made. In a way, the literature review sounds quite absurd. You are rewriting what others have said in your own words to prove that you know what you are talking about… I mean, it makes sense. We need to convince our audiences that we are credible and that we didn’t just come up with a bunch of baloney. We want the world to listen to us.
Another reason to write a literature review is to make sure that you are using the same vocabulary as others who have researched similar topics. You don’t want to be coining your own words. Again, we want the world to understand us. We don’t want to create a muddled, befuddled audience, but instead contribute to the educational field by being a productive and well-informed researcher.
I’m not sure why I have struggled with this literature review… Perhaps it is because I’m still unsure of my topic. Not the topic itself I guess, but more or less the purpose that exploring this topic serves; it is still a little unclear to me as to what I am researching. Or maybe it is the overwhelming amount of reading I have been doing and still need to do (read, reread, and re-reread) and the reiteration/reinterpretation that follows. Not only that, but half of the readings that you think you will use, tend to get thrown aside because of a change in mind. I understand the literature review… I think. I consider it highly valuable. Nevertheless, a review of literature is a bunch of writing that I will always think of as a pain.
I have been writing my literature review on three themes. The first will be on the definition of classroom design. This encompasses not only what classroom design is, but what aspects of classroom design have been found to be important. Following this, I will have a section/subtheme on classroom design and how it has been found to affect student engagement and behavior. Similarly, I plan to have the next subtheme examine how classroom design has been seen to affect teacher performance. These three themes are necessary in that they provide me with an understanding as to why certain ways of designing a classroom are more productive, beneficial, and fluid, as opposed to others. After this, I will point out how the research is limited in terms of substitute performance in relation to classroom design. Then my personal analysis will commence, where I will carefully reflect on the study I conduct.
The Formidable IRB
The IRB is scary. I am truly afraid of it. The process seems lengthy and I have learned that I don’t deal with anxiety well. Even thinking about it makes me anxious. Hopefully I can carefully consider the parameters of my project so that I can refrain from doing the IRB (avoid it at all costs). But alas, this will probably not be the case.
The IRB (Institutional Review Board) is a group of people who deem whether or not you are allowed to do the study you have planned based on how well you meet the many requirements. These requirements seek to protect the participants of the study the researcher(s) is conducting. When planning one’s study, one needs to consider things concerning the rights of humans, their well-being, the fairness of the study, the dangers, etc. Really, it is just an entity within a college that exists with the sole purpose of protecting the college from the students who are conducting studies for research.
I only intend to be gathering data from surveys/questionnaires, self-writings/reflections, and possibly interviews with teachers or other substitutes through email. I also intend for the data to not allow for the identification of the human subjects that take part in my research/project/study. In other words, anonymity will be in full effect. The questions for my participants (most likely teachers or substitutes) will not have to do with anything sensitive or uncomfortable either. The only thing that really matters in terms of the IRB if the research uses persons under the age of 18 years. I have designed my study to not deal with students at all, but rather the spaces they occupy during the school day. In other words, I don’t believe I will be using any of them as subjects... So, the IRB might be still be required, but I am unsure… I will need clarification on this. It would seem to me that I can get away without having one if I refrain from using human subjects altogether. Either way, I will have to collect data for this project, and that data will have to be analyzed.
Quals and Quants: A Tentative Meditation
Speaking of analyzing data, there are two types of research approaches that data can be obtained: the quantitative and the qualitative. I imagine I will be experimenting with both approaches, – a hybrid of the two – but I am unsure still. The quantitative approach likes numbers, (quantity) and seeks to prove something (closed-ended questioning) using highly structured methods. I don’t know how I will be using this type of approach, but I imagine that will come later.
I do know that I will be using the latter called the qualitative approach. This approach is much more lenient in its questioning (open-ended) and it doesn’t seek to solve or confirm anything. It only looks to explore and give an understanding towards. This is why I like it. I only have a desire to better understand the world. I’ve never been too good at arguing a point or trying to solve an either-or question. My mind doesn’t work well between the black and white; it’s a multi-valued orienteer. This form of research, the qualitative, is also more flexible in its methodology. Because I plan to self-reflect on my time as a substitute, this approach to research will be more favorable for myself.
Research… Specifically, Action Research
Perhaps the most important thing I took from our summer class are the words from Kris Greer concerning what action research entails: “Nothing is a fact. You’re not proving something. You’re only trying to learn something and trying to change your thinking.” I won’t forget these words; not because I wrote them down in my notebook, but because it makes it much more comforting to know that I am only trying to learn something and not trying to show the educational sphere that I am a masterful researcher. I don’t plan on being that.
I do know that I will effectively create something of value. I remember that we discussed how we are to evaluate the rigor of our own research. We start with credibility. What this means is that we need to consider who our audience is. Who is reading and approving it? I have every bit of faith that the Ed Department at Fort Lewis College is credible in their assessing of graduate writing. They will definitely tell me whether my project is a complete disaster or not.
The next thing that we discussed was that of transferability. In other words, is the project transferable (useful) in other settings? Or is it only of use to myself. This will be something that I must think about. At times, I feel unsure as to whether or not my project will benefit the educational field (other educators). I hope it will. I think that I could definitely include a section in my project on advice or steps to effectively combat the varying design of classrooms for substitutes. That might be cool... Or at least something similar to that.
The last thing is dependability. Does it answer the essential question? Does the data and the analyzation of the data properly answer the posed question? Well, I hope it will. That is the goal of the research… is it not?
This post is a response towards the summative assessment and the processes influencing it. Although I may not be able to reflect on the process of developing and using summative assessments, or even the data acquired from such - because I am not yet a classroom teacher - I can reflect on my understanding of and thoughts about the use and creation of summative assessments.
Throughout my journey towards becoming an educator, I have come to understand the many forms of assessment and which are the most valuable to both the student and the teacher as well as the time-implications for both the students and teacher (aka Usability). It is important to keep both of these in mind – and not only that, but also to remember to ask yourself, as the teacher, if the assessment you are creating has validity and reliability. In other words, are the assessments able to appropriately measure student learning and are they accurately doing so?
It is also very important to think about how you are creating your assessments – are they subjective or objective? Objective assessments contain questions with either a right or wrong answer whereas subjective assessments contain questions that are often open ended and require an argument or opinion from the answerer. Personally, I like the idea of the subjective more so than that of the objective. I feel that the objective doesn’t require as much critical thinking in its completion.
Subjective assessments might include essays, large projects, problem-solving questions, and performance-based tasks/tests. These would all require that of a rubric so that the teacher does not grade solely on opinion and so that the students have an idea as to what the teacher is looking for. Objective assessments include the much-easier-to-grade yet longer-to-create types: Multiple Choice, True/False, Matching, and Completion. I like some of these more so than others. Multiple choice and True/false, in my opinion, should only be used in pre-assessments (or diagnostic assessments) for the reason that these can be easily guessed on and do not demonstrate student learning as well as other forms of assessment do.
As a future teacher, I will definitely be mindful of how I am measuring what my students are learning and as of right now, I personally prefer the more subjective forms of assessment that require rubrics. I like rubrics…
Below are a few fun comics strips I found when I searched on google the combination of "summative assessment" and "comics"... Enjoy!
What does it mean to be a collaborator? According to Google, a collaborator is “a person who works jointly on an activity or project” – strictly speaking, a person who works with one or more people (a collaborative enterprise) to achieve completion of a pursuit or particular aim.
For teachers and students alike, the definition stays unaltered. Teachers and students are engaged in constant collaboration throughout the school year as well as students among students and teachers among teachers. However, with the increasing development of technological influence in the 21st century, it is important to understand how technology can serve as a tool to aid in collaboration, especially for those who take part in the educational sphere.
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) considers the role of collaborator to be a prime contributor in helping students become empowered learners in an increasingly diverse and complex world. Below is the ISTE’s collaborator standards for educators. Peruse these briefly to have a better grasp on what the rest of this blog post will be discussing.
Collaboration, as one of the 21st Century Learners Skills, is becoming increasingly more important every day. According to Sarah Jackson in an article on Student Collaboration, “today’s employers say the capacity to collaborate to solve problems is going to be even more important for tomorrow’s workers than content knowledge.” In other words, the job market of today cares more about one’s ability to work in a team than one’s overall knowledge of a given area.
So perhaps educators should be focusing more on student-to-student collaboration (as well as student-to-community and student-to-teacher) than the regular curriculum. Alan November, in his article “Inviting Global Perspectives into the Classroom” also advocates for collaboration as he explains how it is perhaps this day and age’s most valuable skill. November puts it in plain words: “As we accelerate the speed of moving data and communications around the world, one strategic skill emerges that we traditionally have not taught: global empathy.” Well what is global empathy?
In short, global empathy is collaboration. According to November, “‘Global empathy… is the ability to understand and respect different points of view’” – to respectively and thoughtfully engage with others by listening, understanding their point of view, asking questions, and reflecting on and giving out critical yet considerate feedback. But, as Alan November points out, “the boundaries of relationships prescribed by our traditional classrooms typically limit students to conversations with peers sitting next to them.” So how then can we allow for students to interact with individuals outside of the classroom – allowing them to engage in global collaboration and empathy?
With the internet of course!
In a professional learning network (PLN) I have been using for the past few weeks, a post titled “5 Great Web Tools to Enhance Collaboration in Class” came in handy --- recommending a set of very useful sources to expand students’ collaborative reach outside the classroom. Similarly, in the article by Carpenter, Trust, and Krutka (2016), the PLN is discussed in depth, and from a survey, “educators listed 54 unique websites, online communities, and social media platforms, the popular being Twitter, Edmodo, blogs, Google Plus, Facebook, and the Discovery Educator Network” (Emphasis Added, p.25). Both the PLN and the article recommended Edmodo, an entirely free learning management tool that can perform a variety of functions and meet a variety of tasks. I decided to take a look and see what it is all about.
I started by creating a profile, connecting it with a school district, and performing three or four more simple clicks… Voila! A profile was created almost instantly:
After a short amount of time of exploration, I found the platform to be quite useful – except for the ads… They are annoying. The whole interface slightly reminds me of Facebook, but in a sort-of classroom form. Teachers can create a variety of content – quizzes, polls, surveys, assignments, reminders, notes, folders full of printable assignments, and much more – and can invite whole classes of students, parents, and even other teachers. There also seems to be a way to share documents or files between platforms like Google, Dropbox, and Microsoft Office (I can see the icons in the corner but didn’t test them out). The thing that gets me the most though, is that the students have the ability to ask a question at any time whether it be directed at the teacher or the class as a whole, anyone who is a part of the group can answer. It’s kind of like a forum.
Speaking of forums, within Edmodo, the PLN feature is pretty unreal. There is a group tab where you can either join or invite people to collaborate on the practice of teaching. You can even join the district you teach in, see who else is using the program, and interact with them. As far as collaboration goes, and the free-ness of the program, Edmodo seems like something that I might try to use in the classroom one day.
"People within such spaces often work toward continuous improvement, contributing their unique talents and skills, and taking collective responsibility for success. By overcoming typical geographic constraints, many teachers explored diverse perspectives, found new partners for collaboration, and received candid feedback via professional learning networks."
Although I haven’t seen anything on allowing students to communicate with other classrooms/students around the globe, I imagine that if it were set up properly by the educators, it would be entirely possible. I mean, it looks as if the group feature on the website can allow for anything of the sort.
In this post, I will be reflecting on the following four ideals as proposed by Teach for America in Chapter Five of the text, Classroom Management & Culture (2011):
How are these ideals a part of my life already? Where do I consider myself to need improvement, and where do I feel comfortable? How might they look in my own classroom? What steps might I need to go through to develop these ideals?
Students cannot read your mind, even if it feels as if they can. No, but they can read your body language, recognize your facial expressions, and most definitely hear your tone of voice; all of these components play on the perceptions students create of how you, the teacher, think about them as students. Keeping in mind that you are always trying to model the behavior you want to see can be extremely difficult. In other words, maintaining a professional and respectful disposition at all times in the classroom will reflect back unto your students. In terms of tone, I feel that the only thing I have on lock is raising my voice. I never do this: I would consider myself almost always cool, calm, and collected.
However, there are many other aspects of tone to consider, such as sarcasm or speaking condescendingly. For tendencies such as these, I have much practice and careful observation ahead. Code-switching between the adults I see outside of school and the adolescents I work with inside of school is something I need to rehearse. As the article points out, “sarcasm may [easily] hurt students’ feelings, damage self-esteem, or humiliate students in front of others” (60). As it is for many people, sarcasm is a part of my daily discourse with peers that are either my age or older, but for younger individuals it may confuse them where they may mistake your meaning with another. Remaining cognizant of how you are speaking to your students is vital in establishing that communal classroom culture.
Next up is the teacher-student relationship: being able to build strong bonds between your students and yourself – as well as the students with one another. According to the article, “some students… [consider] a teacher's care and concern… [to be] the number one factor that influences their learning” (61). This is not foreign to me. Throughout my own education, teachers’ perceptions of me have been of great interest and concern to the point of extreme worry and anxiety. So, making it clear as day to students that you appreciate all of them – even if they are troublesome or make your life more difficult than it needs to be – and that you want them to succeed is overwhelmingly important to myself.
I do plan to be a part of my students’ lives in the most positive and professional ways possible. I want to support them in their academics and achievements. Whether that is eating lunch with them or attending a variety of student activities such as award ceremonies, plays, concerts, sporting events, and others. All of these are of great interest to me. I would even like to have a role in some things like this – becoming a club sponsor or swim coach or something that fits with my interests.
The last two ideals presented in the chapter, Creating A Community That Values All Student and Helping Students Resolve Conflicts are the two that I think will be the most difficult for myself. I mean, I don’t think I will struggle with them in terms of my own personal biases, engaging with and involving all students, teaching tolerance and respect, and effectively responding to insensitivity; but more or less the issue for me will be catering to, working with, and counseling the emotional side of young human beings. I have never been to good at this sort of thing. Deescalating situations, calming people down, talking about problems in people’s lives, etc… These sort of things are the ones I struggle with, not just with adolescents, but with all people. With years of practice I am sure it will come to be a well-developed trait. Only time will tell. Working together with my students to achieve this sense of equal value and respect will be the journey to look forward to.
To sum it all up, here is a nice quote from the text that emphasizes the importance of building community within the classroom:
“The result of all of this hard work is a classroom of students who – because their need to be a part of an inclusive, supportive environment is realized – will feel motivated to learn and work with you to reach ambitious academic goals” (60).
In my first year of college, I remember taking two very different classes with two very different professors on the topics of what will be talked about in this post. One class was titled ‘Media Literacy’ and the other was ‘Mass Communications’. The first class was a sort of media education in which we were taught how to process the overwhelming amount of content and text produced by the larger powers: television, music, magazines & newspapers, video games, social medias, etc. The aim of this class was to not only teach us critical thinking skills, – how to question, evaluate, and understand the texts of the surrounding popular culture – but to also aid us in developing a critical eye in which we are cognizant of how the media influences us and those around us… I remember this class kind of blowing my mind.
The latter class – ‘Mass Communications’ – was somewhat like the first but differed slightly. The title of the class refers to the way the masses communicate. Specifically, how we, as people, communicate with one another. This class was less focused on media literacy, but more so on digital literacy. The difference between the two, in my opinion, is that media literacy is one’s understanding encompassing all things created by the surrounding culture with an intended purpose to inform, persuade or entertain, while digital literacy is how individuals use media as a tool, what they create with it, and how they understand this process. Think “digital” as “digits” or the things you use to touch… also known as fingers. By thinking about it this way, you can remember that digital literacy is the understanding of how we are interacting and taking part within the media rather than simply consuming it.
After having been a part of both of these courses, I can’t help but reflect on how valuable I remember them being. I mean, it felt as if my eyes were opened to the vast landscape of the technological world; a world I thought I knew, but now know to be so false at times and to push along an agenda that we don’t always agree with or even see… I wish that I had been given these teachings at a younger age, especially since I was well-immersed in the media and digital landscapes long before these classes became available to me. Media literacy and digital literacy need to be a part of the conversation; not when kids reach college, but when they set foot into high school, and perhaps even younger than that!
The kids I see today seem to disregard what they say online, how they act, and what they take in… In other words, they pay little attention to how they network within the technological spheres, mostly because they are unaware that they are doing so. This is because the tools these kids have access to – through their phones for the most part – come easily accessible and cheap (if not free) to them. With this ease of access, they are able to create, share, and evaluate effortlessly; the rest of the world doing the same thing…
As John Spencer, an advocate for increasing digital and media literacy in schools, points out, “the best stuff doesn’t always rise to the top and, if we’re not careful, we mistake the speed of consumption for the depth of knowledge. This is why we need students to learn the art of curation” (Link to Blog). To paraphrase, Spencer is saying that because the only true regulators of online information is people, it is the people who must pick and choose what information is shared by throwing out the false and locating the true: digitally literate individuals are the judges needed.
But how do we achieve a population of the digitally literate? How do we teach students to be critical of information they come across? It would seem that the limited literature I have reviewed all says the same thing: teach to ask questions. Strictly speaking, teach students to become literate in comprehending and analyzing texts by speculating and critiquing. Renee Hobbs (2011) can clarify and expand on this: “the concept of literacy is… defined as the ability to share meaning through symbol systems to fully participate in society” and “the term ‘text’ is… understood as any form of expression or communication in fixed and tangible form that uses symbol systems, including language, still and moving images, graphic design, sound, music, and interactivity” (Hobbs, 14). Teach students to become literate of texts is basically what I am getting at here… What a perfect job for a future English teacher like myself, right? Anyways, below is what I came up with in terms of how to best address and analyze a text; but from the literature I have combed through, there seems to be a variety of similar procedures:
The three A’s in Analyzation:
These three components are what I find to be the most important when it comes to understanding the credibility, validity, and purpose of a text… Similarly, MediaSmarts (a website dedicated to digital and media literacy) explains “the key concepts for media literacy – that media is constructed; that audiences negotiate meaning; that media have commercial, social and political implications; and that each medium has a unique aesthetic form that affects how content is presented” (Link to Source). These key concepts could all be connected back to the three A’s previously mentioned.
In the future, I plan to teach the three A’s or some sort of well-fashioned procedure that is similar to it. Really, I just plan to teach my students how to question… question everything. Take nothing at face value, but flip it over, spin it around, throw it up and down… Who knows, maybe you’ll see something differently.
***Not really sure if what I wrote makes any sense… It’s a sort of hodgepodge that I should have spent more time on probably***
What purpose does formative assessment serve? Formative assessments are a teacher-tool that should not only serve the teacher in their endeavor to gather evidence of what students know, and in turn, modify their instruction and curriculum, but should also serve the students and their learning. Formative assessments that cater to both the needs of the teacher and the students are the types that we, as educators, should be using. Below, I have presented three examples of three such formative assessments that I did not know before the writing of this post. These three examples are all based off of literature recommendations that I found online. Each example contains instructions on how to do it, and accompanying that, the following questions will be addressed:
Ask students questions and have them respond on notebook paper/sticky notes/notecards anonymously. Students then hand their papers in. Teacher immediately redistributes the papers back to students randomly for the purpose of grading and assessing formatively. Students get practice grading others work, readdressing what the content being taught is, and all the while, should not know whose paper is whose. The teacher then takes an informal poll about how many questions students answered correctly, taking note of what changes need to be made (if any).
This type of formative assessment may come across as simple and a waste of time for students, but I think that if it is used in a way that isn’t just re-call, but more-so deep thinking or analyzation, then this type of assessment will serve both the teacher and the students in a positive manner. Another problem with this assessment might be surrounding the goal of anonymity and its failure to remain that way – however, I think that anytime an assignment asks for students to remain unknown is good, for it allows students to be honest and true to themselves and their learning.
This example would also offer the teacher a quality understanding of what the class as a whole is learning, but it does not do well at all in gathering data about the individual student. This is an important point to take note of. Whole class assessment is a good tool for the teacher, and I would use this example for exactly that. It is quick, easy, and could be done for a range of lessons, units, concepts, activities, etc.
"My Favorite NO"
Assign students a warm-up problem or two – questions surrounding whether or not students have grasped some aspect of content taught. Hand out two index cards to each student. The students will answer the problems/questions – one response must be a YES meaning that they are writing briefly about what they are sure they understand. The other response on the other notecard must be a NO meaning that they are writing about what they are unsure of, don’t understand, or still have questions about. Sort the index cards into yes/no piles. Choose your 5 favorite NO responses and analyze/address them as a class. Also, read some/all of the YES cards to see if the students are getting what you’re putting down.
I think this example sounds pretty fun for the teacher and students alike. How often are students asked to be brutally honest about what they are learning – not often. This formative assessment example could be anonymous if need be, which might add a little more fun. Anonymity may make students feel more safe in sharing their misunderstandings, confusions, concerns, or complete disregard for the content. Either way, the teacher will select their favorite (or at least the one’s they consider the most important) NO’s so that they can address them with the class.
One issue I see with this type of assessment is that students may not take it seriously enough. Some guidelines might need to be made known before the assessment takes place. But other than that, I don’t see any other issues… Perhaps you do? Let me know in the comments.
Another interesting thought I have is what if you organized the students into groups and they did this with one another – that way, the NO’s could be addressed by the students – meaning that there is accountability, self-learnings, and students teaching students at play. Whether it be in this fashion or another, I would use this assessment. I like the idea of students outright telling me if they don’t understand, but the reality is that they will not do that and that their confusions will not be addressed. With an assessment like this, at least we will be getting somewhere.
Metacognition as a type of formative assessment would allow for the students to process what they did in class, why it was important, and if there is anything that remains unknown. This is a sort of end-of-class/exit-ticket type of formative assessment in which students are to complete a short questionnaire similar to the one below:
The purpose of this is not only for the teacher to collect, provide feedback, and modify instruction if need be… But also a tool for students to be fully aware of what it is they are learning, how they are grasping it, and how it is applicable. Having a prepared document (half-sheet sized) is how I imagine this. A tangible exit-ticket that the students fill out.
Problems with this formative assessment might vary from classroom to classroom and teacher to teacher – and student to student. I think it really depends on who is doing it, how it is being done, and what it is being done on. A problem I can’t help but think about is students taking it seriously. Incentive might be necessary… I think that talking about metacognition and explaining the importance of this assessment to students beforehand is a good idea. This type if assessment I might use sparingly, meaning that it would only come about occasionally – for specific completions of tasks that I want students to reflect deeply on… I would probably have them write a whole lot for each question and make sure that it is a grade so that they give me some in-depth thought…
Perhaps you might have other thoughts/concerns?