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Posts tagged ‘assessment’

Another day of teaching. “Another day wasted.”

Several years ago, I posted a quick story about Charles Francis Adams. With many of you trying to keep your heads above water, finishing state assessments, planning end of the year activities, perhaps now is a good time for a gentle reminder of sorts.

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It’s a story many of you already know. I was reminded of the story while browsing through an old teaching strategy article from the Organization of American Historians.

Charles Francis Adams, grandson of John Adams and son of John Quincy Adams, served as a Massachusetts state senator, a US Congressman and ambassador to Great Britain under Abraham Lincoln. He was also very conscientious about keeping a daily journal and encouraged his own children to do the same.

Henry Brooks, fourth of seven Adams children, followed his advice and began journaling at a young age. A particular entry written when Brooks was eight has continued to catch our attention. Following a day spent with his father, he wrote

Went fishing with my father today, the most glorious day of my life.

The day was so glorious, in fact, that Brooks continued to talk and write about that particular day for the next thirty years. It was then that Brooks thought to compare journal entries with his father.

For that day’s entry, Charles had written: Read more

Tip of the Week: Video games equal effective formative assessment

Last month at the AESA conference, Curtis Chandler and I had the opportunity to do a presentation on gamification in education. I always have fun working with Curtis and when we get the chance to talk about games, even better.

One of the things we talked about was how game design and instructional design are very similar. How game developers use brain research to create engaging, profitable games. And how we as educators should be using similar research to plan lesson and unit design but often don’t.

As early educational game researcher James Paul Gee says

Better theories of learning are embedded in the video games many children play than in the schools they attend.

One of the conversations that we especially enjoyed was asking teachers to describe what an effective learning environment looks like. The list ended up looking like this:

  • students make choices
  • students become experts
  • solving problems is required
  • immediate feedback is key
  • there’s always an answer
  • working with others – in and out of the classroom – is allowed
  • failure can be a good thing

We then asked teachers to think about characteristics of engaging games. It ended up looking like this: Read more

Sample state assessment, historical thinking assessment tools, and useful primary sources

Update

Okay. I’m an idiot. Several (many) of you have noticed that I said that I attached Don’s presentation. But I never did. Now I have. It’s linked below and here. Kansas teachers? You need to download this to see what the state assessment beta version looks like. (Be sure to scroll down for the rest of the goodies.) The rest of you? Scroll down for the rest of the goodies. You’ll find them handy too.

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For the last few years, you’ve read about the process we’ve been working through as Kansas rewrites its social studies standards and state level assessment.

I’m convinced that the writing committee made up of teachers and state department staff developed a pretty awesome standards document. If you’ve been already for the the conversation, you already know that the focus has always been on finding ways to encourage process and historical thinking rather than simple memorization.

The real question, from the very beginning, has always been trying to figure out what the assessment will look like. How can you measure – at a state level with thousands of kids at different grades in a standardized way – historical thinking? How do you score it? What does the rubric look like? How can you train teachers to use the rubric consistently? Even at a classroom level, teachers are still working to figure this out. At the state level? Add the recent mandate that the elementary and middle school version of the test must now also act as the state writing assessment and it becomes a bit of a nightmare.

Thankfully Don Gifford and his crack staff of . . . well, just himself is on the case. Yesterday Don shared the latest vision of what the state level document looks like. And I can already hearing those of from places not Kansas clicking the Next button to head somewhere else.

But you need to hang around because Don and others have created and shared a series of resources that I think are useful for all social studies teachers. Read more

4 resources to help you assess historical thinking

The current buzz in the state of Kansas is the upcoming state level social studies assessment. It’s scheduled for full release during the 2015-2016 school year with a pilot release next spring.

It’ll be interesting.

Because we’re trying to do something that we haven’t done before. Measure historical thinking skills, not the ability to memorize foundational knowledge. We can’t just use simple multiple choice.

Obviously, part of the process is to encourage the teaching of these sorts of skills at the classroom level and to develop different types of assessment strategies that teachers can use.

Today?

Four online tools that you can use to measure the historical thinking skills of your kids: Read more

Everyslide = SlideShare+Socrative

Disclaimer right from the get go. I haven’t played with EverySlide a lot. So  . . . head over, try it yourself, and let me know what you think. But based on the amount of time that I’ve had to mess with it, EverySlide seems like a handy tool to have hanging off your tool belt.

At its most basic level, EverySlide is a web-based tool that lets you share your presentation slides with whomever you want. So it’s a lot like SlideShare or Issuu. Upload your slides, share a link, people can view the slides anywhere/anytime.

But there is a difference.

EverySlide also has a little bit of Socrative or Kahoot embedded in it. It’s designed to be a live presentation tool so that whenever you’re talking, your participants follow along on their own devices. You can still project your slides but the idea is that you control the flow of the preso from your device. Kids do have the option to go back and review slides you’ve already covered but they can’t go forward.

And here’s the kicker.

Read more

History Nerd Fest 2013 – 21st century Social Studies assessment

With an awesome name like Bruce VanSledright, you know the guy just has to have his arms wrapped around what quality assessment looks like. I have seen some of his earlier stuff but haven’t heard his thoughts on assessment.

So we’ll see. I have faith.

The idea is that we can use the NCSS College, Career, and Civic Life standards to help use figure out good assessment stuff. Bruce starts out by highlights problems with past and current bubble, MC type tests that focus on foundational knowledge.

These “traditional” kinds of tests are great at measuring the capacity of students to memorize details, to recall isolated knowledge bits, assessments are often designed to actually measure the reliability of the tests themselves, and – just a little tongue in cheek – to measure our ability to teach to the test.

Bruce says that much of what we can do with the actual data from these sorts of tests is pretty limited. They provide no timely formative information. And rarely is the data actually tied to individual students any way.

So how can the NCSS standards help us re-think assessment? Read more

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