From the category archives:

Teaching

Google +

Google plus is the new kid on the social media block and it’s growing explosively. However numbers of users only tells a small part of the story, as many of those users only joined up to check it out. Even the ones who like it are still fitting it into their routine and finding a place for it.

This is a good thing for teachers, because the exploration is throwing up all sorts of interesting ideas on ways to use it. And of course I’m going to add my suggestions to the clamour.

For me, Google + seems like a cross between Twitter and an old fashioned forum. Of course there is a bit of Facebook thrown in, but I’ve never used Facebook professionally. Overall I think it’s going to be great in the NT, because I think anything that makes it easier for teachers to connect and network with each other is a good thing.

Advantages

–  Like Twitter, you can follow anyone you want without being approved. The caveat is that they need to be on it, and I’ve been a bit shocked at the number of people who either don’t have Google accounts or aren’t searchable. Doesn’t everyone these days have YouTube or Blogger or iGoogle or Gmail or Google Docs or Google Reader or Picasa or something? We keep being told that half the world has jumped onto Google +, so where is everyone I know? Weird.

–  If someone is following you but you aren’t following them, there is an ‘Incoming’ stream you can check them out with. Watch for a while and decide if you want to follow them back.

–  You can group people into Circles, but the advantage is actually that you can easily decide which circles to share with for every update. It would be quite easy to isolate yourself if you did it all the time, but occasionally being able to direct something to only specific people might stop you from boring everyone with the irrelevant bits. Especially useful if you mix family and business.
The ability to use webcams for a video conference with 10 people. Outside of a professional setting, that’s amazing. It also lets you watch a YouTube video together, which opens up real possibilities.

–  It encourages long form comments – none of this rubbish hitting enter and your comment has posted!

–  It has its own personalised search engine attached. Naturally, this is Google.

Disadvantages

–  Supposedly real names only (although I do follow a couple of people using ‘nyms). While you do have control over who can see what in your profile, swapping between pseudonyms and names is making it difficult to match everyone up and leading to people having multiple online identities. Wouldn’t it be nice to just be one person? It’s a bit simplistic to say we should all just use our real names, there are good arguments for separating online and offline identities. At the same time there are good arguments against anonymity, so it would be really nice if we could all have one handle that follows us around but has some level of separation from the people we meet down at the shops and work with.

–  You can group people into Circles, but the disadvantage is that you can accidentally compartmentalise yourself very badly. I’ve picked up ideas from all over the place, I’d hate to miss out on something because someone put me in the ‘Mummy’ circle rather than ‘Science’ or ‘Education’ circles. And yes, you can put people in multiple circles. It’s more a mindset – be aware if you are starting to exclude people.

Personally

I’m excited about Google +, I think it’s going to really add something to professional connections online. I love Twitter, it lets me skim a huge amount of information and dip in and out. I am suspicious of Facebook – it’s advertiser friendly rather than user friendly and has so many changes and general weirdnesses. Google + has the ease of use of Twitter but more scope – hopefully you can check out this conversation on the subject.

It’s early, but I think I’m going to keep using Twitter for news, information and connection. My Facebook page will continue to be big for Science@home because my audience of parents tend to be on Facebook. But Google + will be my education professional connection, where I can discuss and get into things.

Suggestions

First and most obvious: Join up! I don’t know if it was because I had a Google account already or because the invitations thing has finished, but I didn’t need one. If you do, here you go. Then play around with it, find people, look what other people are doing with it. After that I have random ideas in no particular order:

  • Use Hangouts to set up a time and video conference with teachers in other schools.
  • Set up a Circle along the lines of “Remote Schools Chat” and organise when you are all available. Then use the exclusive posting function or the threaded replies to have a chat similar to Twitter chats but with much more detail and ability to expand.
  • Get your students on, there are both iPhone and Android apps, and have a student circle for communication and discussion.

Useful Links

Lots of people are thinking about how to use Google +:

{ 1 comment }

Part three of my list on why Territory (and other) teachers need to use Social Media. Seeing part of my aim is to get more Territory teachers using social media I’m going to keep talking about communities, because that’s where a lot of kids in the Territory live. And when you are isolated in a two teacher school, it often feels like you’re too small to matter and there’s nothing out there just for you. You always have to adapt the ideas you find to make them work in your circumstances, nothing is ever straight out of the book. All of these ideas will work anywhere, but just for once isolated teachers can feel special and remembered.

Twitter

140 characters is all you have to do to be able to Tweet. The essence of Twitter is short, sharp chunks that show kids you don’t need enormous slabs of text to learn. Reading and writing are manageable and engaging because they get an instant result, not one after several sessions of planning, drafting and finally a good copy.

Twitter is about spreading information and ideas. Most Twitter users have hundreds or even thousands of followers, and if you use hashtags it is even broader. So you can use Twitter for connecting you to a very wide audience without extra work.

Planning

Most Territory kids have low literacy levels, which makes pictures a great stimulus to start a lesson. In fact they’re great for all sorts of kids, because it’s something new they have to think about and analyse. Different people see different things in pictures depending on their backgrounds and experiences, which leads to a rich class discussion. But it can be difficult if the reactions you get are completely unexpected. So put it out there and ask.

?

"I want to use this as a stimulus image for Year 7 science, what do you think when you see it?"

Twitter shares images through services like TwitPic, yfrog, imgur and Instagram, as well as videos, links and of course text. It makes it very easy to broadcast your idea and ask opinions.

Experts

Twitter gives you unprecedented access to professionals and therefore experts. Want to contact a published children’s author? A poet? A science journalist? A historian/geographer/economist/lawyer/chef/photographer/you name it? Chances are there is one on Twitter. Living in a remote community drastically restricts the range of people you have direct access to, but Twitter opens it up again.

You can use it as a simple tool to find people then email them,

“Please RT! Looking for an Australian biogeography expert for school questions.”

Twitter users tend to be helpful little souls, especially when asked politely and for a good cause such as school. The RT stands for ‘re-tweet’ and it’s when someone repeats your tweet to their own followers. With a few re-tweets a message may get in front of many thousands of people, and thousands of heads are way better than one.

Or you could get really daring and set up a Twitter chat with your experts. Imagine if you found half a dozen sportspeople who were willing to be available on Twitter during your class time? Tweets are only 140 characters, so you can do a prepatory lesson of writing questions as tweets. Then during your scheduled time your students tweet their questions to your experts and get the answers. How much collaboration, how much literacy, how much analysis afterwards would you get out of that?

The world is a big place

And a community is tiny. An ongoing problem in communities is helping kids to realise just how big the world is and how different other countries are. So back to those helpful Tweeps who get a kick out of helping little kids:

“Please answer and RT for our class – What’s your weather like today?”

“What time is it where you are?”

“Where are you – town, state, country?”

“What do you do after school?”

“How much does a loaf of bread cost you?”

What more would you like to know? Putting out a single tweet then collecting all the answers could be the basis for several lessons worth of research into different cultures, climates and countries.

Current Events

How sad is this – I get all my news from Twitter. Revolutions, political commentary, the US debt shenanigans, riots, earthquakes and celebrity deaths all make their way to Twitter faster and with more angles, commentary and opinions than traditional news outlets. By keeping an eye on Twitter you can learn about world news even from the middle of nowhere, and the richness lets you do all sorts of things with it:

  • Compare two different news sources to see if they present the story differently.
  • Track a breaking story, such as an earthquake, over time and see how it changes.
  • Investigate the difference between factual writing and opinion.
  • Compare different opinions and see how people support their argument.

Quotes

Quotes are a powerful way to sample and illustrate opinion and connect with people. If they know they are being quoted, most people try to say something significant and 140 characters makes you choose with care. This can lead to powerful and thoughtful language. You can ask people at large for their thoughts and feelings, but don’t forget you can also target specific people.

@KRuddMP @JuliaGillard What is your opinion on Sorry Day?

What other ideas do you have to use Twitter for your classes?

{ 0 comments }

Chaos

I taught a chaotic class this morning. There were teenagers everywhere, laptops, chemicals, singing, maths game websites, shouting at each other, quite a bit of swearing. I’m fairly certain there was no actual hitting, and though the walking may have been fast I don’t think it could really be classified as running. If only because there was too much stuff all over the place and no room to run. And I was out of the room several times so it could have happened then.

Like many science teachers, I am a control freak at heart. They may be diluted but they are still acids and corrosives and fire for goodness sake. Nothing would make me happier than to force them all to prove that they are serious and careful and safety conscious and will never, ever be distracted before letting them loose. Except it would either mean we never do practicals, which would make me very unhappy, or it could mean there was very little fun happening, which would make me unhappier still.

So in spite of the fact that this morning’s class had me figuratively curled up in a corner gibbering, I’m also extremely proud that I can corral my inner control freak enough to do it.

Good chaos and bad chaos

There is most definitely good chaos and bad chaos, and being able to pick the good chaos and ride it is essential in teaching. Because if you want independent thought and experimentation and engagement, good chaos is where it happens.

Having one group up the back showing neutralisation, another at the side making bath bombs, one at the front catching hydrogen in a balloon and another comparing red cabbage indicator to universal indicator would be difficult enough. Add in the fact that they have designed the experiments themselves and there’s another layer, with forgotten items, elaborations and bits that didn’t work out the way they expected. Then add in video cameras and suddenly they don’t need to just do the experiment, they need to make sure it’s in the light and held up against a white background and they are standing out of the way.

Chaos.

And unfortunately there was also some of the other kind. There were technical problems with transferring the videos onto the laptops. The editor couldn’t deal with the file type from the camera and there was no converter. Videos are big files and take a long time to copy, save and manipulate which means hanging around waiting.

Reflections

I made some mistakes here. I checked that we had the editing software but it didn’t occur to me that we would need or not have a converter and I should have checked. I think it was a reasonable assumption that the school video cameras would be useable with the editing program, but assumptions are never good and can always trip you up, as this one did. Always check.

I should have had a backup ready. Do I think it would have been useful? In this case not really. Given that there were so many things happening I can’t really see those particular students quietly sitting down with another activity, but I didn’t even have the option of trying. And you never know, one or two of them might have. Bottom line, it’s always a good idea to have something you can whip out if things go pear-shaped, especially something like a relevant puzzle or cross-word so they don’t feel they’re being punished with more work.

Were they so bad?

One of the reasons I’m reflecting on this here is the perception of other adults in the room that the class should have been kept in. Of course I was reflecting anyway, but that really made me question the lesson.

I still think the correct answer was no.

Leaving aside the whole issue of appropriate consequences for student behaviour, I want to go a step back and ask what was appropriate behaviour in this context? Because I think part of the problem that makes planned chaotic classes even harder comes from judging them against an ideal, rather than reality.

classroom

The ideal but non-existent classroom.

In the ideal view of classes, all students are engaged and on-task. I’ll even bet that for the majority, if they were asked to envision a classroom with everyone learning, the image would include students sitting at desks and studiously engaged in reading or writing, or possibly bent over a computer. If you stop and think about it you know that this is an ideal image. Someone in that class is thinking about the weekend rather than the lesson. Someone is listening to a friend or an iPod. Someone is creating art rather than writing. We know that, and we accept it. So long as the majority are on task the majority of the time, we know that reality is everyone gets off-track occasionally.

Now translate that into a lesson that you know is going to be chaotic anyway, with people walking around, asking questions, needing help and needing a lot of space. Everything is noisier and more active. And that includes the people who are off task. When everyone else is being loud and walking around they aren’t going to surreptitiously whisper to the person next to them, they’re going to head over and see what the other groups are doing or call across the classroom.

And where was I while all this was going on?

I was in and out a few times, getting things that people hadn’t realised they would need. But the larger part of the time, I was helping students. Part of the deal when you plan a chaotic lesson is that you will run the whole time, because active thinking and exploration is hard and students need lots of support to confirm and push their daring. And the art of teaching is in the choice – is this disruptive enough that I stop what I’m doing here to go deal with that over there? Making those calls is why we get paid.

Of course I was keeping a lid on it – as I stated at the beginning I don’t think they went over the line, while the swearing was louder than normal I don’t think it was worse than normal. Everyone completed their videos and got them uploaded, which was the aim of the class. Do I wish it had been smoother? Of course. But I can’t blame them for technical problems and me not having a backup.

In the end

Chaotic classes are hard. I know teachers who can do them effortlessly and thrive on them, but that’s not me. I generally have a ball while they’re happening but it’s hard on the nerves. Because they really do put it up there in great big flashing neon lights – you are not in control.

You know what? You are not in control in the quiet classroom either.

In fact you’re almost never in control, and if that’s your aim then you’re in the wrong profession.

The thinking, the learning, the exploration that happens in a chaotic class are what it’s all about. And it’s more important to be riding that whirlwind than making myself feel comfortable by pretending I’m in control.

{ 0 comments }

Twitter Links

This is the second of my expansions on the theme of why teachers need to be on Social Media.

In the first post I talked about creating a professional learning network (PLN), your own personal staffroom table to chat around. One of the ways you can use your PLN is to find good resources. The Internet has millions of pages, today’s problem has changed from finding information to evaluating it.

In the past, for something to make it into a book required several layers of editing and review. That winnowed out a lot of the information or products that didn’t have something substantial behind them. The Internet has opened publishing and marketing to anyone. This is good when useful tools that wouldn’t have been commercially viable in the past now have a platform, but the sheer amount of choice can make it hard to decide.

This is where your PLN and social media network come in. Teachers are collaborative little souls, when we find something that works we like to share it. We love comparing – solids, liquids and gases? I like to teach it this way, how about you? Digital cameras? I got the kids to do that.

The good tools, that teachers have used and modified and found more uses for than the inventors contemplated, are being passed around using blogs and twitter. Blogs, because everyone loves a good list. It’s easy to write, easy to read, and an irresistible title to draw the audience in. Who isn’t going to open 100 Uses for Digital Cameras?

And Twitter because it is the perfect medium for spreading links around. Because it is short people are skimming it, and with your own followers and re-tweets (list posts are especially well re-tweeted) your link can quickly get in front of thousands of people. So as an interested reader, following on Twitter means you get to see what other teachers are writing, and what they think is good enough to pass on to their own followers.

That equals a brilliant peer review system that finds, tests and collates all sorts of useful teaching tools. And here are just a few examples:

And that’s just a selection of the links that have come through my Twitter stream lately. It’s also where I found most of the links to the right ->, which are the blogs I think are worth reading.  And I’m adding to the conversation, whenever I publish something here it goes to my Twitter, including my (many!) suggestions and reviews.

Are there some tools in there you could use? Shouldn’t you be on Twitter?

{ 0 comments }

Reading

It may sound like a drastic question but we are, or should be, in the middle of an education revolution. As we are changing from a world based on industry to one based on information, our entire educational system should be questioned and examined, not continued out of habit.

We had our collaborative planning time this morning, we are looking at next term. We have the outcomes from the National Curriculum and we have one practical and one other assessment per term. Then we started looking at our literacy focus for next term.

I’m a huge believer that every class teaches literacy. It just doesn’t make any sense (to me, obviously it does to a lot of other people) to partition off part of the timetable and label it ‘LITERACY.’ Because literacy is just a tool, and each learning area uses that tool in its own slightly unique way. So the type of LITERACY that is being taught in an English class won’t necessarily be what is needed in a science class, therefore in science we need to teach science literacy.

We had just about decided that seeing reading is an input and writing is an output, we would concentrate on reading first, when the question was asked –

Do we need to teach reading?

In other words, will these kids need to read to learn science in the next few years? Or are we just stuck in a mindset that reading is the way to learn?

There are a few caveats, these are not your typical students I’m talking about. Something like 90% of our students speak English as a second language, their first language is non-literate, and for some of them 20% attendance would be generous. It’s a given that the majority of them are not reading at an expected highschool level. So when we talk about ‘teaching reading’ in the science class we’re talking about things like strategies to pick out key words, specific scientific language and understanding how a report is structured to find the information in it.

Or should we give up on reading altogether? There are more and more videos and interactives available on the internet, we have classes that are practical, it’s not as if they need to read the instructions on their homework (hah!). They can create presentations and demonstrate their understanding orally. It reminded me of the discussions in this comment thread on Salman Khan’s videos, where one of the questions was – is there a difference between assigning a video to watch or a text to read?

In the end, we decided that for the next few years at least reading would remain important in classes. If for no other reason than they’re going to have to do some in senior school, and in spite of the fact that subject literacies are all different they do all support each other. So teaching them how to read in science will hopefully help them in other areas even if they never do science again.

But it does make me wonder how long the answer will remain yes.

{ 2 comments }

Notes

One of the constant problems is to do worthwhile activities that will actually help kids remember and understand. I know that sounds vague, what I’m thinking about here is taking notes. It is, frankly, nonsensical.

The Problem

  • Kids need a copy of the information to (hopefully) refer back to.
  • Copying notes off the board or out of a book can go in through the eyes and out through the hands, without the brain involved.
  • What is the point of copying when they can’t actually read the information for understanding?
  • Copying can become a long, boring process drawn out forever by kids who for various reasons don’t want to get on to the next bit.

Solutions

There are several standard solutions to this problem.

  • Given modern technology (or even photocopiers) you can just give the students a copy of whatever it is. Almost completely useless, they don’t even have to look at it.
  • Slightly more effective is to write one or two sentences that are cloze activities and they need to fill in the blank. Not wonderful but quick, requires a bit of thinking/understanding and is usually in their reading range. Of course that assumes they do it themselves and don’t just leave it blank or wait for the answers.
  • Mind-maps. They are lovely for getting all the information including links and relationships in an intuitive format, but without all the reading and writing frills. Copying a mind-map has some of the same pitfalls as copying notes, although hopefully it is quicker, but to get students to create their own is a skill that takes a while to teach and practice.
  • Questions can be a good solution if you’ve been through it or they can read and interpret. It’s very similar to a cloze activity, just the structure is different. It does have the advantage of being open ended, if you have simple questions first and then more complicated ones you can make sure everyone gets the basics while others get extension. If you are going to give a text and questions, you either need to know that your kids can already read for information or construct your questions and text very carefully so it supports them to find the answers.

Jumbles

I’ve just done one with a year 9 group that was a bit different and fun (I thought). I like it because it gave the activity extra dimensions – there were physical actions and arranging the information, and there was some literacy because it required an understanding of how paragraphs work. It was quite simple to set up:

  1. I wrote a couple of paragraphs summarising what we had been doing, all double spaced but with normal punctuation (ie paragraph indents). I couldn’t resist making it a bit of a cloze activity as well and putting some equations in, because that’s what they were practicing.
  2. On the word processor I cut lines and pasted them up and down until it was thoroughly jumbled, then printed it out for students.
  3. Students have to cut out the lines then physically rearrange them into the correct order. To do this they can use clues like indents and full stops, but they also need to read the lines to make sure it makes sense both grammatically and scientifically. Voila – literacy and engagement with the text.
  4. Seeing I made it a cloze they need to fill in the blanks and complete the equations somewhere in these steps.
  5. When they are sure they have it in the right order, they can glue it into their books.

It solves the problem. It gets them the information, lets them physically manipulate it, forces them to engage on some level and encourages collaboration. Of course they can still copy from a friend, and given that it’s a more active class it’s easier for them to hide that they are mucking around. Hopefully it’s more engaging to make up for that.

{ 0 comments }

Post image for 13 Reasons Territory Teachers Need to Use Social Media

For Teachers:

  1. Twitter lets you form a professional learning network (PLN) by connecting with teachers all across the globe. With literally thousands to choose from, there are definitely some with the same interests or problems as you.
  2. You can not only find out about lots of tools but also have them reviewed by other teachers who are using them right now in the classroom. How about links on using Wordle for improving writing? 100 uses for digital cameras? iPads? All found through social media (specifically Twitter).
  3. Try out lessons” by presenting your focus material online and see what reactions you get and how well it would work. Then you can reflect on the feedback.
  4. Now that interactive whiteboards are becoming more common you can integrate links directly into your lessons with no searching or fumbling. If you ask your PLN there is sure to be someone who can give you a great resource to use, complete with a review and suggestions.
  5. The Territory (and many other places) are isolated. It’s one of the hardest things to deal with, both personally and professionally. Social media, including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, Flickr, Fora and Nings let you make connections and friends no matter where you are. I’ve lived and had small children in three Territory communities, but I have lots of close online friends. I’ve even met some of them 😉
  6. It may not be as quick, but even community kids are getting connected with social media. The days when none of them had a computer are gone – they have phones or games with internet connections. But they aren’t necessarily going to learn about the new world any better than being surrounded by books will magically teach them to read. To help them get the most out of it, teachers need to be there too.
  7. For Students

  8. It gives them a genuine audience for writing if other people are reading their blogs or tweets, even if it is mainly their class members (and you haven’t connected to another community) that’s still more people than they normally have reading their work.
  9. Online, either using Google Docs, blogs or YouTube is a great way to encourage collaboration. You can even collaborate with other communities by sharing work and commenting, and when kids are away the other collaborators can keep working.
  10. It’s more common to have mobile phones, playstations or cable television at home, so it’s more familiar and less threatening than large pieces of blank white paper. The small screens are much easier to fill and less intimidating.
  11. It gives a genuine reason for writing and reading if they are being shared, and there is a tangible product at the end that can be easily stored and shared without getting lost. Media like Twitter with a strict character limit means they don’t have to write or read a lot, and they can concentrate on understanding and expressing one idea.
  12. It makes it easy for kids to proof and edit their work,on a blog it is easy to read someone else’s work and comment on it to help them improve it.
  13. Social media lends itself to scaffolding longer writing because it can be done in small chunks then put together.
  14. Social media are perfect for using visual media like graphics, photos and videos. These are very helpful for students with low literacy skills to demonstrate their understanding of complex ideas.

Do you have any other ideas? I’m starting to expand on each of these points in a series of posts, I’ll add in the links as I go.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

View More Thursday Thirteen Participants

 

 

{ 2 comments }

Textbooks

Another scaffold today, this one a reading scaffold.

Each subject area has its own way of presenting information – reading a science textbook is completely different to reading a novel. Reading in different areas is something that needs to be taught in those areas, not yet another thing the poor English teacher should be picking up. A graphic summary is a great way of introducing a lot of information and showing kids how to pick out the important bits.

It’s very simple – rule columns down the page, given the text we were working from we had four columns for Headings, Sub-headings, Bold and Figures. Then you skim through the section and fill the columns in, but with only one word per line:

graphic summaryYou can see that by the time you finish the whole section you have a really clear summary of the key phrases and how they relate to each other.

After that you can do all sorts of things to play with the information. We turned it into a mindmap using the headings, subheadings and other words as the heirarchy of branches. As we do more on the topic we’ll keep filling in the same map and getting more detail and connections. Instant summary, without all the little joining words that take time to read but don’t really add anything to understanding.

{ 1 comment }

Cornflour goo

I love teaching science. I think it’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on, and I’m continually surprised that people will pay me to play with chemicals and balls and go outside to look at insects or make mud. Is this a dream job or what?

Except of course that’s not what it’s like in a lot of classes. I’m not sure why, I know a lot of it has to do with burnout and paperwork and disillusionment and struggling to get through way too much in not enough time. And the nagging feeling that if there aren’t pages of writing you aren’t doing it ‘properly.’ I mean if they put three pages of questions in the text book and your kids don’t answer all three pages, doesn’t that mean they are missing out? That some kids somewhere else who answered all the questions will have an advantage? Water drops

Reality check – there is no way my kids are going to be able to answer 3 pages of questions. English is their second language. Most of them don’t read and write English at the level in a textbook. That’s an easy call for me given the areas I work in, but what about your average suburban student? I think there’s too much in some textbooks for me to get through, I feel sorry for the students. And that’s the point about textbooks – they aren’t the course. They are a resource, and they try to pack in as much as they can to be useful in as many different situations as they can.

Syringe

Liquids change shape and aren't very compressible.

And to be blunt, they’re one of the least effective ways to learn. Think of any, any, activity you do in your adult life that you have learnt mainly by reading about it. I can’t think of a single one. Begin with reading? Possibly. Especially with the internet now available. But things you have to do, you do. You practice. You talk to other people. You ask questions. You watch experts. That is how we, as adults, learn. So why don’t we allow teenagers the space and opportunity to do the same? And of course that is what the majority of teachers do, but I know how easy it is to get caught up in

‘That’s too dangerous!’
‘Their behaviour just isn’t up to it’
‘It’s complicated.’
‘It’ll take too long.’

Or simply not being inventive when you put your programmes together.

Active learning is possible, if you make a commitment. If you can quiet the inner voices and stop worrying about getting through ‘enough.’ If you step back and keep it simple. Because seriously, are you going to say these kids haven’t learnt about liquids? Write an essay on them, no. Understand them, definitely.

Evaporating

The students designed their own evaporating setup.

{ 0 comments }

You know, those things we’re all working off even though parents and politicians are desperate for us to put a number or grade on their kids. Outcomes are enormous statements that cover an entire term, semester or even year of work in one precisely crafted package. Luckily various education bodies have spent a lot of time and effort breaking them down and have come up with ‘indicators’ or ‘elaborations’ that are much more doable in a lesson or few.  The outcome is compulsory, the indicators are suggestions.

The point here, is that when you do an individual assessment task using outcomes kids can’t get it a little bit right. It’s a yes/no – they can do it or they can’t. You can either name the common shapes or you can’t, you don’t get it a little bit if you know triangles but not squares.

And this is where the precise crafting comes in, because if you check the outcomes on either side, they will be related and build. That is, they’ll look something like this

  • O2 – can name some of the common shapes (triangle, square, rectangle, circle)
  • O3 – can name all of the common shapes (triangle, square, rectangle, circle)
  • O4 – can name all of the common shapes and some others (triangle, square, rectangle, circle, diamond, hexagon, octagon, pentagon, oval)

So even if you have been programming and teaching purely for O3, you don’t test it. You do an open-ended assessment task and assess O2, 3 and 4 at the same time, ticking one or more of them.

shapes

Join the name to the shape

Of course, if someone names the oval and pentagon only where do you put them 😉

At the end of the term/semester when you are giving students an overall assessment you can add up all your little assessment tasks. Mostly 2s and a few 3s? Emerging 3. Mostly 3, a 2 and a 4? Comprehensive 3. And so on.

That’s assessing with outcomes. The rest is all elaboration on that theme.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

{ 0 comments }