Why Technology Assessments Suck

I’m getting frustrated. As Canadians, we aren’t tied to NCLB or other testing requirements that restrict and enrage my southern counterparts. It’s not that we don’t believe in assessment, it’s just that we don’t think these measurements and demands help kids.

I’ve been asked to try and develop and build something that could measure student achievement in technology. Here’s my issue: First this idea of separating technology from everything is not ideal. We know technology isn’t “integrated” it’s just used. We know the real skills aren’t “the student can save a document” just as we don’t measure, “the student will keep their pencils in a pencil case”. We want to measure learning in deeper ways and to break it down to this, misses the boat.
I’ve developed what I think are the important skills, learning in our school division. It doesn’t break it down into grade levels but why should it? I’ve seen too many teachers who think showing someone how to use a word processor or spreadsheet accomplishes the goal of using technology.

If you look at places like ISTE, they are beginning to get it right. I have no idea our Americans are using this because it … Read the rest

Practicing what I Preach

I’ve had a great experience teaching undergrads at the University of Regina.¬† It’s been a great way to try out some ideas and try and build on George Siemens’ idea of connectivism as well as everything else I’ve learned from my network.

I’ve spent a great deal of time over the past number of years studying and leading changes in assessment in our school division. So after leading workshops and discussion with teachers, it was an opportunity to practice the beliefs and strategies I held firmly.

We have set these seven principles to guide assessment practices in our division:

1. Students are the key assessment users.

2. A balance of assessment for and of learning should be used.

3. Assessment should be constructive; it should focus on achievement and progress.

4. Assessment and instruction are interdependent.

5. Good quality assessments must be followed by effective  communication.

6. Assessment expectations and curricular outcomes should be communicated clearly to students from the beginning.

7. Meaningful and appropriate assessments should include evidence about student achievement in the areas of content, process and product.

So how did I do? Well I hoped that my students felt they were part of the assessment. … Read the rest

That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout

Today I had my informal evaluation with my superintendent. She was more than gracious in her appreciation of not only the work I do within our division but truly gets the importance of my connectivity and what this means for teaching and learning. We talked about the growth of many of our classrooms in terms of their move to a more relevant learning experience and more self-directed learning.

I cited one example that to me exemplifies the work and change that I’ve had a hand in.

Sophie has always been a teacher who put the needs of her students up front. This year we met several times to look at the idea of Web 2.0 and what that means for the classroom. She began with a blog. A few months ago we had Darren talk to a group of teachers via Skype to share his work. Sophie made the leap from a classroom blog where she was posting assignments to getting students to not only blog but post their daily labs and learning via video. This semester, they’ve uploaded 38 videos of their work. She’s not the one posting or uploading, it’s the kids. I’ve talked to her about … Read the rest

Opening up my world

It’s interesting how you pull certain ideas, phrases from content that aren’t perhaps the main idea. I guess that’s part of constructivstism and connectivism (still haven’t totally got those concepts firm in my mind).

Will’s recent reflection on Social Computing and subsequent comments, challenged his thinking. While the gist of his latest discussion focuses on considering “big picture” thinking, the phrase

“pushed me to think”

caught my attention.

I spend a great deal of energy and time pushing others to think and considering new ideas and ways to make learning more relevant and authentic. Often I think I’m like most with strong beliefs in that I’m less likely to consider alternative thinking. I do appreciate people who open up my world and thinking and these folks are found online and off. Three big areas in which I’m being challenged are:

  1. Social Networking for kids
  2. CyberBulling
  3. Assessment Practices

1. Social Networking…My basic belief regarding social networking and its implication for students and teachers is that everything has potential. Recent discussions about Twitter and Ning elevate the discussion to question their value.

2. CyberBulling…I still waffle on this one. My post summarizes my view but I still struggle with the amount … Read the rest

Podcast 26 Frustrations with Assessment

Haven’t done a podcast with just me yakkin’ for a while. Tried using GCast on Steve D.‘s recommendation. Not sure it’s for me as it wants to build a player for me rather than just give me an mp3 file I can embed with my own built in player. So thumbs down to GCast, unless their helpdesk lets me know how to link directly to the mp3.

Update1: They did email me back but apparently I needed to complete another step using Garageband.com
Update2: Did that, but they link has a weird identifier that won’t work in PodPress
Update3: Final email states the identifier is needed so I can’t use GCast as I had hoped….Steve, you’ll have to do a bit more selling for me to buy in.
Update4:After 6 days, I uploaded it to good old internetarchive and stick with what works.

This is a brief podcast on some of my recent frustrations on ideas of assessment and accountability.
Size:6.4 MB… Read the rest