There is an English proverb, “necessity is the mother of invention,” that fits in education today as teachers are forced to become digitally innovative in the face of immediate, and possibly an extended, period of need during the COVID-19 lockdown. These are indeed challenging times.
But what if it’s an opportunity too? If I could wave my magic wand and offer a little peace of mind to teachers today, I’d offer this support: Read more
The vital position education holds in the future of a society is rarely debated. However, the nature of this position is a constant source of discourse.
Why is education important? How does it support the values and beliefs of a community? What goals guide it? Who decides these goals and what purpose do they hold for the learners and the communities in which they find themselves? Read more
I was recently working with a team to develop common formative assessments, and they were having some difficulty generating appropriate questions and tasks for the standards being addressed in this particular unit of study.
We talked through the standards, as well as the learning targets, and brainstormed assessments methods to match the various elements of learning required for students to master the concept. Still, we were in a pause.
So, I decided to change course.
Instead of further belaboring the learning targets and what student proficiency would need to look like, I engaged the team to consider what was preventing student learning in the first place. Read more
The caricature of the tough grader is familiar to most; the teacher who only doles out As or top marks to the truly elite performances. They often begin grading a stack of papers with the idea of holding back the As early on, in case someone deeper in the stack produced a truly exceptional paper.
Often, this caricature has a sense of pride about the competitive nature of grades, whether that competitive culture was inadvertently or intentionally created. Read more
Okay, I will admit it…the title of this blog post is a little misleading.
Assessment is something that deserves thoughtful and extended consideration. “Quick” has the potential to move teachers and students from valid and reliable assessment to assessment that is surface-level.
However, I also know that when educators decide to shift assessment paradigms and adjust daily practices, looking at the whole assessment topic can seem daunting, and knowing where to start can feel out of our reach. Read more
I think I always knew how important it is to connect the dots as we work to implement new ideas and provide professional development, but recently I was reminded of the crucial nature of making connections to make learning meaningful. Read more
I plan to explore self-assessment with my blogs this year. One of my favorite things about writing for this blog is that it causes me to reflect and formalize my own thinking about assessment topics. Maybe it is all of the talk about resolutions, or the fact that my own resolutions have not quite taken hold (Sorry elliptical machine! I promise to visit you soon!), or this looming birthday of mine, but the pulls of both reflection and action are pretty strong right now. Read more
It’s widely supported that using common formative assessments is one of the best ways to systematically improve student learning (DuFour et al. (2016); Reeves, 2004; Ainsworth, 2007). The impact of these assessments is best realized when teams collaboratively unwrap the essential standards into smaller learning targets, use formative measures to monitor student learning of those targets, and use the results to engage students with meaningful feedback and support to propel learning forward (Bailey and Jakicic, 2019). Read more
We, more often than not, define the term “standard” as “something someone needs to know or be able to do.” We use this definition to develop curriculum, create assessments, plan instruction, and provide feedback to students and parents. No one can be sure when we started subscribing to this definition; however, we do know it is in direct opposition to the dictionary’s definition. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a standard as ”something set up as a rule for the measure of quality.” So, which is it?
In this brief article, I argue that the dictionary has it right. Further, I assert that it is our responsibility as educators to align our pedagogical practices to the dictionary meaning to ensure that our standards are, in fact, standards. Read more
The title of this post is intentionally provocative, and since you’re reading it, there might be some ideas rattling around in your head that might be aligned with that provocation. Let me be clear from the outset, however, that I am not on a rant to eliminate high-quality, effective evidence gathering.
I do struggle, though, with the pursuit of numbers simply for the purpose of rank and sort, or mathematical computation as per a formula or computer program. Educators are familiar with the work of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and the four questions originally defined by the DuFours and Eaker. I want to zero in on questions 3 and 4: Read more