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?
Both have their value. The annotated bibliography and the literature review, although they are very similar in many ways, are very separate in the general purpose they serve and the structure they follow. The annotated bibliography is just an organized listing of sources with brief overviews/summaries. This type of document is for readers who are looking for additional reading on a particular topic.
The literature review, on the other hand, is a document that explains and summarizes a particular topic while also compiling many sources/literatures to back up what is being discussed. Unlike the annotated bibliography, the literature review organizes everything into a cohesive whole in order to give the reader all they need to know on the topic at hand.
My own experience with the two is minimal, yet I have experimented with both throughout my time in school. In my undergrad, I was an English major, and the annotated bibliography was a popular assignment for a few classes I had taken. My experience with the literature review is less attempted and rehearsed. The literature review has only been come across in courses for my masters.
I understand the importance of both, but I prefer the literature review because of its interweaving of source material and author knowledge. The literature review, like the annotated bibliography, gives the reader a variety of sources that they may explore further if they choose to, but unlike the annotated bibliography, the literature review provides the reader with a much more streamlined and quick-to-understand summarization of what is known. In other words, the literature review is less work for the reader than the annotated bibliography is – this is only my opinion.
In terms of the writer and the process of writing, I still tend to favor the literature review. It calls for more work than the annotated bibliography, and it is simply more fun to write… less structured, methodical, and organized in a way. It is also more enjoyable to read. There is an introduction and conclusion to the piece that makes it more of a text and not a catalogue one must search through.
When It Comes to Technology…
When it comes to technology, I am not just a few steps behind… Rather a leap or two. I blame this setback on my upbringing. I grew up in middle-of-nowhere Blanco, New Mexico in a household that didn’t acquire internet until 2012. I was seventeen. I got my first cell phone the year before that for the reason that a new set of wheels was on the road – my wheels. As of late, my parents are discussing the transition from the landline to the cell phone – a profound advancement for both my sister and I to hear about… I wouldn’t say that my parents are anti-tech. To put it more accurately, they just feel that they do not need tech to improve their lives. It is as simple as that and this belief was transcribed unto me in my own slowly unweaving life-story.
Throughout my embarkment on the path of becoming an educator, I have noticed more and more the need for teachers who understand and have the ability to implement technology as tools in the classroom. This sort of scares me. In my mind, I am more of the traditional paper and pencil kind of teacher, but I have been trying to escape that mindset and to be open to new ideas. Perhaps these blogposts will aid me in that endeavor – after all, this is the first blog/website I have ever created. However, one aspect of technology that I have found a passion in is that of video editing. I have a YouTube and Vimeo (two of the three “social medias” I exist within) on which I post content slightly regularly. I don’t know what it is about editing videos, but I do it a lot – not just for myself, but for others as well.
So, for the rest of this blog post, I will be discussing video editing software; the applications and software that are available to students, teachers and schools; the advantages and disadvantages to these software/apps; and how this type of technology caters/contributes to the 21st century student as well as the ELA classroom.
Video Editing: An Evaluation
According to Molly B. Zielezinski (2016), in her article on ed-tech and underserved students, the use of “digital tools solely for drill-and-practice activities and remediation can and often does negatively affect student achievement, not to mention engagement, motivation, and self-esteem.” Over the course of the past 10-15 years, it would seem that the allocation of technological resources is no longer the problem it was, but instead it is how those resources are being used by educators and students. Using tech-tools as if they were workbooks from the 90’s as opposed to using them as if they were on the verge of phenomenal scientific discovery is the problem suggested by Zielezinski (2016). But how might we, as educators, make this shift for the sake of our students?
Well, “instead of using technology to drill kids on grade level standards, use it to help students engage in authentic tasks – those that are grounded in relevant ongoing work that has some purpose beyond the immediate completion of the activity” (Zielezinski, 2016). In other words, allow for students to be the creators of something unique and give them the opportunity to think critically about what it is they are creating: “Give students opportunities to be content creators rather than content consumers” (Zielezinski, 2016). Using video-editing software to create video projects does exactly that. It encourages students to represent their thinking in multiple forms with elements such as text, picture, video, audio, etc. During my student teaching, my cooperating teacher would have a portion of each unit dedicated to making some form of video/media project. These projects would range from book trailers, to acted-out alternate endings of stories, to parodical music videos on characters from Shakespeare. It was brilliant, and the response was overwhelmingly positive from students. They loved this aspect of creation that wasn’t writing research papers or arranging captions on a poster-board.
It was too cool how my cooperating teacher managed to implement these types of projects in the classroom. She would hand out a sort-of task description that would offer students a dozen suggestions on which editing software/programs they had freely available to them. I always wondered how she found all of these suggestions/online tools… Perhaps she is a follower to a Professional Learning Network or Community (PLNs or PLCs). According to Puckett (2014), in the article “Leadership in Educational Technology”, PLNs and PLCs are “connections [that] allow for professionals to stay knowledgeable of up-to-date information through various avenues, such as websites or social media” (Puckett, 2014). I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if she were a part of such communities… She could even be a part of dozens for all I know. She is an outstanding teacher with a work ethic that goes beyond any teacher I have ever met. She lives, breathes and eats school on the daily (weekends included).
After spending some time searching through PLNs on ed-tech myself, I came across this one: Educational Technology & Mobile Learning. It seems that this PLN is updated regularly – they have multiple new posts for each day this week! After exploring a little bit, I found some posts that recommend editing tools for students to use. The first is a little dated (from 2012), but offers ten different editing programs that are all free, but do require sign-ups, and they all still happen to exist… The second is better in that it is from 2015, and offers three of the best Chromebook tools for editing video. This is good because many schools seem to be making the transition to having 1-to-1 ratios (Chromebooks for every student). The third is perhaps the most interesting and is coming to us from January, 2018. This post recommends six applications that are available to students freely on their phones. As we all know, the boom of handheld technology has become quite the issue, but to allow for students to use them as a tool rather than a distraction is fantastic! I’m all in!
In all honesty, I think that the making of videos/media projects could be of use in all core-content areas: science, math, English, and history… But I think that using it in English Language Arts as a tool for self-expression, critical thought, and the analyzing of a text is the best use for a project like this. In terms of the 21st century learner, the making of videos for a class assignment can easily hit upon all of the four “C’s”: critical thinking, communicating, collaborating, and creating. As for the ISTE and TQS jazz, projects incorporating multi-modes of media and self-driven processes couldn’t better fit the agenda. Similarly, the TPACK and SAMR models call for understanding how to use tech as a tool to not only effectively teach, but also to transform and enhance the act of learning for our students. Thinking in depth about how I add the video-editing process and product into my curriculum is vital to making it meaningful and worthy of my students’ time.
I have plenty of experience on apps that cost a lot of money to use (Sony Vegas & Adobe After Effects). Perhaps it is time I explore some of the free ones at my disposal for the sake of my students… Zielezinski (2016) believes that we “need to engage with the digital tool – really get your hands dirty with the technology and use it the way students will.” In other words, gain experience using the technology you use in your classroom so that you can instruct and model properly. Not only that, but with experience and understanding also comes the teaching and mentoring of inexperienced staff. Either way, video editing is of an interest to me and I would consider myself a novice at most, but I also think that I would enjoy implementing it into my own classroom one day. As Puckett (2014) suggest, if the technology “is beneficial and meaningful to staff, they will be motivated and engaged” and the students will follow in their interest as well.