August 30, 2005

Blogs as Key Tools for Assessment

I listened to a nice podcast from Lauer, Wilson, Richardson and Burt. They did a similar style conversational podcast that we at the “posse” do. In fact, their conversation revolved around Web 2.0 which mirrors our last podcast.

Will Richardson made an excellent point about the role of blogs in assessment. He talked about his desire as a parent to be able to look at his daughter’s work and really get to know what she’s learning and be able to participate more fully in the process. We talk an awful lot as educators as partners with parents in their child’s education. Mostly this is talk as we really don’t provide them with the access they need to be involved. Blogs do provide a means to be transparent and a way for parents to look at their child’s work and be better able to see what they’ve learned and what they still need to learn. Will also mentions his disdain for grades, especially in early education. Blogs can provide a means for effective classroom assessment and bring the parents a better window into their child’s learning. Paraphrasing Will, he sees blogs doing three things in the area of assessment.

  1. Provide access to content
  2. Allow for interaction
  3. Understand what the grades mean

Even if at the very least, teachers begin to blog about their classroom as a means of communicating daily routines and assignments, it still brings the parents a better understanding of their child’s day. Combine that with student blogs that really explore their learning and you have the makings of a powerful partnership. The discussion at parent teacher conferences can now revolve around specifics about learning instead of a simple grade. Assessment for learning can happen. Will all parents buy in? No. Our job is to create the best possible opportunity for students to learn and parents to be a part of that. Blogs are today’s best tool for the job.

I talked to Kathy Cassidy, a first grade teacher who I helped get started blogging back in March. She said the parent response to their students writing was very positive and even included grandparents and other family members. Now you really have a team of people supporting a child’s learning.