Technology and the Global Curriculum

Even though this article was written years ago, I still got a lot out of the technology ideas and jargon. What I found really interesting was how the article touched on the idea that the development of the computer has been very rapid and complex. Many of the tools we use in the classroom were developed over many years. With computer technology, the technology was developed rather quickly and is also constantly changing. With this constant change, it becomes increasingly difficult for school districts and teachers to keep up. The newest technology and training can be very expensive. Teachers need and should be trained on the latest technology. This generation of students are really geared with technology know how, and most of the time, know more about technology than the teachers do. Even today, many of my students are very knowledgeable on the latest computer programs, phones, games, and internet resources. They are only in the 5th grade! I have students that recommend math websites to me and I feel that is so great! All teachers should really be prepared for this technology generation and understand that many students will learn better with a technology driven curriculum.
The article also mentioned that new technology shouldn’t be added to a curriculum until proper research has been done. Sometimes the addition of technology can actually decrease student learning. If the new technology isn’t engaging or appropriate for what the goals of the lesson are trying to accomplish, it shouldn’t be incorporated into the lesson. Teachers should really understand what they are trying to accomplish and then add the necessary technology to meet those goals and make the lesson more interesting. I use a lot of math websites each year. I really strive to find the sites that will engage the students and also help work on the goals of the curriculum at the same time.
I also want to add that I am somewhat concerned about students finding inappropriate internet content by mistake. Every time one of my students uses Google to find pictures for a project, I get a bad feeling of what may accidentally come up in the search. The article mentioned that “if governments and organizations cannot prevent unauthorized access to their computers, it is highly unlikely that local schools with be successful at preventing all student access to forbidden sites.” I know the CASD has some good site blockers in place but what about for sites like Google and yahoo?
Another question I have is about adding technology to the common core standards. Will the common core standards incorporate technology in any way?

Common Ground

This article really opened my eyes up to how important it is for the United States to go to common core standards. It is alarming at how many states have standards that aren’t clear or easy to follow. I always thought that Pennsylvania had strong standards. Looking at the examples from the article, it is clear to me that many of Pennsylvania’s standards are lacking the elements that make standards strong. Our current standards can be somewhat vague in what we want our students to learn. I was shocked that according to the article, Pennsylvania didn’t have any strong standards across all subjects and grade levels. That could mean that a lot of students aren’t being taught what they really need to know to be successful at the next level of education. In looking at the weak examples of standards, some of the examples do remind me of Pennsylvania’s standards. When the standards are very vague, it is really up to the teacher to make sure they are covering the material appropriately. I really like the idea of each standard being grade specific with actual examples of what needs to be accomplished.

I also found it very interesting on how they did a comparison of standards across grade levels and how many of the standards are the same from grade to grade. I feel that it is alright to repeat some standards across grade levels but not at the percentages that the article were giving, such as 24 percent of high school English standards repeat 50 percent of the same standards from grade to grade. I feel that it would be alright to repeat the same standards from year to year as long as some of the content within the standards is changing. It’s hard to believe that some states would consider it acceptable to have the same exact wording with some standards every year of high school. These standards should really build on what was taught in previous years and challenge students to take a step further in their understanding. It would be very nice for the standards to have examples of the content, and if the standards are going to be somewhat the same, for the examples to reflect the change in educational level. Are the new common core standards going to address this problem? Will the new common core standards give specific examples of what the standard is trying to accomplish?

My Vision
I believe that every student is capable of learning. I feel that when given the right circumstances, every student can learn something new every day. I also feel that every student can accomplish something great every day. I believe that students are naturally curious. I feel that given the right circumstances, students can be very eager to learn. I feel that students need to be challenged every day to reach their full potential.

My vision is that students will feel very comfortable and confident in my classroom. If my students are confident, they will be eager to tackle more difficult problems. If a student is not confident, I will build their confidence. I want my students to want to come to my class. I want them to have fun every day and learn something new every day. I want my students to be alright with making mistakes. I will push that mistakes are part of the learning process. My vision is that all of my students will be engaged from the minute they walk into the classroom to the minute they leave. I feel that every student needs to have an excellent role model. My vision is that I can be that excellent role model. I want to be consistent in my values and my expectations. My vision is that I will help every student grow throughout the year and help them to become good role models themselves.

Curriculum Design in a Global Society
For me personally, this article was somewhat hard to read and follow. The article reminded me of a PowerPoint presentation with only the talking points on the screen. I found it very hard to follow the point of view of the presenter and also felt like a lot of details were missing. Some of the quotations were very interesting, such as Dewey’s view on why we educate our children, but I felt like some of the quotes were just thrown in the presentation without a great deal of explanation.

One of my favorite views was taken from Burbules & Torres. Their view was that for education to be effective, both students and teachers need to be engaged in their work. I think this is especially true in education today. If we are going to expect our students to be engaged throughout the entire day, teachers must also be engaged the entire day. Students look to their teachers for guidance and inspiration and we must lead by example. Teachers must give every student the impression that they want to be in school.

I was also very surprised in the amount of issues that actually go into making a curriculum and who affects the outcome of what the curriculum will look like. There are many forces that impact the curriculum that aren’t usually thought of, such as textbook companies, state interventions, economic conditions, accountability of teachers, and high-stakes testing. I would also like to know more about who actually controls and decides the curriculum.

I also found it very interesting that the presenter touched on the fears that drive the fight for control of the curriculum. There are quite a lot of fears that drive curriculum change and this is a big reason why the curriculum will always constantly change. Some of the fears that I found the most interesting were an unstable economy, rising illiteracy rates, fear of violence, and disappearance of family values. There were a lot of negative reasons why curriculums change. It would be nice to have a slide on some positive reasons why curriculums change as well.

Future of education

I chose to read District Administration for comparing the future of education to what is in an education magazine. This magazine caught my curiosity right away because the cover states that there will be an article on political party education reforms. Since the election is only days away, I also wanted to familiarize myself with the educational goals of the Democratic and Republication Parties. I feel that this article can really help us get an idea of where education may be headed in the future.

To start, the Democratic Party calls for a strong public education that has a base of publically funded programs. The Republican Party wants a national education that gives the people more choice on where their children are educated and what type of education that will be. One of the big goals of the Democratic Party is to have the highest proportion of college graduates compared to the rest of the world by the year 2020. This party also believes that getting a great education is the surest way to reach the middle class. The democrats seem to be really pushing for a national curriculum that will challenge and encourage students to meet their full potential. This is where the common core standards will come into place. The Republican Party has a goal of making every level of the education system more accountable. I feel that they make an excellent point in that it seems like the federal government has been putting more and more money into education, and schools and overall education are not improving. They feel that money is not the answer but making everyone more accountable is. The Republication party is also pushing for Americans to have a bigger choice in education. They want everyone to have the option of different learning environments, such as cyber schooling, home schooling, full-day school hours, single sex classes, and year-round schools. It seems to me that they want the students to be able to attend the school that will help them have the best chance for success. Also, both parties’ seem to want to protect and honor good teachers. Both parties seem interested in finding ways to make teachers more accountable and also ways to reward the great teachers.

In this magazine, there was also a report done to examine if schools should consider expanding student learning time by extending the school year. They make a very good point in discussing the problems with summer learning loss. I personally feel that students do seem to forget a great deal of knowledge over the summer and teachers have to spend more time than they like reviewing material from the previous year. I also feel that the summer months can be a way for students to regenerate their brains for the upcoming school year. There has to be a happy medium! At this point, the article states that there isn’t enough evidence to support whether increasing the school day will improve student performance.

Understanding Curriculum Curricular Approaches
This article touched on a wide range of topics that help shape what curriculums look like. In reading this article, I found many traces of the humanistic approach in my math curriculum. This approach focuses on problem solving, active student participation, socialization, and cooperative learning. Investigations and power teaching tie in many aspects of this approach. In math, a team atmosphere is really pushed. Students work together to investigate different math concepts. I would definitely agree that this would be considered cooperative learning. With power teaching, students are constantly engaged in the lesson with active participation. I can also see the academic approach instilled in the way the actual curriculum is set up using standards.

This article also touched on the idea of a backward designed classroom, which was developed by Understanding by Design. This type of classroom stresses the importance of the teacher as the center of student learning. The main goal of this type of curriculum is to develop a way to have the students get a deeper understanding of the content. Students reveal their understanding of material when they are presented with challenging and thought provoking situations. I have been reading a lot about classrooms who are using a type of backward design instruction. Students learn the material at home first, whether it’s from a book or a video, and then the teacher focuses the instruction time on providing the class with situations that will make their understanding deeper. This could be in the form of more practice problems or a class discussion that leads to a higher order thinking. I do wonder how many school districts are using this approach today. Also, is it possible to do this in an elementary setting? I think it would be quite challenging to do at an elementary level without serious parental involvement.

The Design of Learning Environments and High Stakes Testing
I found both of these articles interesting and I was able to learn and appreciate some new information! The first article touched on the different types of learning environments and what all can make an impact on a students learning. I found it very interesting that the state of our education today was put into perspective. They did a short comparison on what education was like in the eighteen and early nineteen hundreds. They made this comparison to really make the point that our education isn’t getting worse but that we need to find new ways to adapt to the current times. It was strange to see education compared to mass production in factories, where the students were the raw materials, the teacher was the workers, and the administration was the managers. Today students are so much more than a finished product. Students today are constantly changing because expectations are constantly increasing.
What I really liked the most about the first article was the discussion on how important feedback is for students. Feedback must be provided on a constant and continually basis. Feedback should not be provided only after tests, when students are getting ready to move on to the next subject matter. Feedback should be given when the students are currently working on the subject at hand and can make changes to the way they think and have time to build on their knowledge. I think this is a big reason why I like the Investigations program so much. This problem gives teachers the time and resources to constantly monitor students’ progress with various forms of feedback. The article mentioned that appropriate feedback should give teachers a chance to think about their own teaching and if it was effective or not.
I also found it very interesting how the article touched on how specific norms can have a huge influence on how students interact in school. For instance, many students believe that they should never get caught making a mistake or getting the answer wrong. They feel that they have done something horribly wrong if they do so. I feel that this type of norm can really hinder a student’s ability to be creative and attempt new things. In my math class, I emphasis that we learn best by understanding why we made the mistake and learning how to improve! I encourage students to share mistakes they have made and we actually have class discussions on what we could have done differently. I actually award students for having the courage to discuss their mistakes and take ownership of becoming better learners. At first students seem very wary of sharing their mistakes, but when the norm is changed, students start to feel more comfortable with making mistakes and taking more chances.
The second article touched on the differences between high stakes and low stakes testing. I never really understood the specific differences until now! It really all comes down to accountability. If students and teachers are going to have consequences because of a specific test, it would be considered high stakes. If there isn’t anything attached to the outcome of a test, it would be considered low stakes. The article gave excellent examples on what can happen with both high stakes and low stakes testing. What I found the most interesting was that low stakes testing environments actually had very similar circumstances to high stakes testing environments. High stakes testing schools did a lot more of teaching to the test, low stakes testing schools did a lot more of teaching to the textbook. The conclusion to the article was that both testing situations are quite similar.

What international schools are doing to mediate the curriculum

This essay discussed what international schools are doing to incorporate local customs and American education. I took this essay as being informative and didn’t feel like the author had a particular opinion about whether or not the schools were doing a good job with multicultural integration. First off, I really didn’t realize how many international schools there were or how much of an influence the United States had with the curriculum. I was somewhat surprised to read that most international schools have an American curriculum and don’t really teach the customs of the country they are in. A lot of these schools also focus on teaching English rather than the foreign language of the country the school resides in. I also found it very interesting that some countries limit the number of citizens that can attend these international schools. I would have liked to learn more about the reasoning behind this move and who does have the right to attend these international schools.
Throughout the essay, many teachers give examples why the school uses an American curriculum. The reasons vary from the students respond well to it to they are preparing the students to attend American Universities for college. I do wonder why countries have chosen to use the American education system as a model when our scores on standardized tests don’t currently compare well in international rankings. One of the reasons for this might be that most of the teachers at these international schools are American, at least in most of the examples that I saw in the essay. One of my good friends teaches internationally. He taught in Aruba for three years and now currently teaches in Tanzania. We have talked many times about the curriculum of his school and it does seem to be very American.
Not all schools strictly teach an American curriculum. Some schools do try to teach more of an international curriculum. I do think this makes more sense for the schools to do when the makeup of the student body is so dynamic. Many of these schools have a makeup where the dominant culture is only 30% of the student population. It seems only right to me that the schools shouldn’t focus on only American customs but use some kind of a multicultural approach. Based on the article, it does appear that a lot of schools do also make curricular connections to different cultures, especially with the country the school resides in.
This world is becoming more and more global every day. Students really need to be aware of other cultures and be able to be adaptable. I think these international schools discussed in this article are preparing their students for a global workforce. I would like to see more American schools prepare their students for this global future. With today’s curriculum restraints, it makes it very difficult to really dive deep into other countries customs. With that being said, many schools are finding creative ways to introduce and learn about other countries customs. At Scotland elementary, we had a multicultural day last year where every classroom was responsible for learning about a different country. We were to display what we learned on the outside of our door and also dress a scarecrow up to reflect the countries customs and history. These decorations were left up for a few weeks and many students did learn a great deal about other countries. I feel that if schools aren’t finding some way to incorporate other cultures, they are doing their students a great injustice for their educational well being.

Curriculum Project

For this project, I chose to do a mini lesson on the order of operations and volume of shapes comprised of rectangular prisms. Both of these concepts are not currently in the Pennsylvania State Standards for 5th grade math but will be in the common core standards. Also, for the last two years I have taught these two higher order thinking lessons during the week of parent teacher conferences. During that week, math lessons are cut short to accommodate the two hour early dismissals. The total of these lessons are about four hours of instructional time. I feel that these two concepts are really fun to teach and also challenge students to learn something new. Students also seem to have fun with these two concepts and ask for additional problems after the lessons are finished. The lessons below comprise of what I have done in the past and also what I would like to do in the future.

Order of Operations

UEQ: How do math operations affect the outcome of math problems?

I would like my students to understand which operations they should do first, second, and last when given specific math problems. For example, 2 + 3 x 6. Students need to realize that they should solve the multiplication part first (3 x 6).

LEQ: How do you solve problems using the order of operations?
How can we write and interpret expressions involving grouping symbols?

New Vocabulary: grouping symbols

Purpose of Lesson:
  1. To instruct a lesson on the order of operations.

Student Objectives:
  1. The students will recognize the order they need to solve math problems with different operations.
  2. The students will investigate the outcome of different math problems when grouping symbols are added or taken away.
  3. Students will participate in order of operations dance / song.
  4. Students will practice solving order of operations problems.

Common Core Standards:
  1. Operations and Algebraic Thinking 5.0A
Use parentheses, brackets, or braces in numerical expressions, and evaluate expressions with these symbols.

Materials Needed:
Order of Operations poster
Computer with internet access
Projector screen
Song lyrics
Order of operations practice problems
Pencils
Math notebook

Procedures:
  1. Introduce the topic and essential questions.
  2. Put 4 + 3 x 6 on the chalk board and give students one minute to solve the problem individually.
  3. Take answers and discuss how students arrived at the answers.
  4. Draw students attention to a poster I created on the order of operations. I will introduce why we need an order for operations as well as describe each step in detail. Also, this will be the time that I introduce grouping symbols to the class and discuss the different kind of grouping symbols. I will discuss why the answer to the previous question is 22.
  5. I will draw grouping symbols around the 4 + 3 and ask the students to solve the problem again. Once again, we will discuss why the problem turns out the way it does.
  6. With partners students will solve order of operations problems with increasing difficulty. Students will be given approximately twenty minutes to solve as many as they can and I will walk around and facilitate group discussion. At the end of twenty minutes, I will go over problems that caused students the most confusion and also address common mistakes.
  7. At this time, I will show the following video to the class: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWvV43GBbOE
This is an example of a class that did a dance video on the order of operations. The lyrics were written by Ron Clark. I will hand out the lyrics and model for the class the lyrics and dance moves. Students will watch the video one time and then are expected to participate on the second viewing.
  1. After the video, students will continue practicing order of operations problems on worksheets I have provided. This time, I will have students work individually so I can give one on one attention as need.
  2. Students that get done early will be asked to create their own order of operations problems and make sure the answer will be whole numbers. Students will turn in their problems and we will use these problems throughout the year during the brain teaser portion of Power teaching.
  3. I will give all of the answers to the problems and also go over problems that were causing the most difficulty.

Closure:
Students will complete a ticket out the door on an order of operations problem. This ticket will be discussed first thing the next math class.

Reinforcement Activity:
Students will have practice with order of operations problems throughout the remainder of the year with ticket out the doors or brain teaser activities.

Student Evaluation:
I will evaluate the students during discussion.

Lesson Evaluation:
I will evaluate the level of enthusiasm during the lesson.

Order of Operations lyrics (sing to the music of “umbrella” by Rihanna):

When we begin,
We begin together
(Parentheses) first now
Please be clever
Exponents come right next in line
Then Multiply and Divide
Now Subtraction
And Addition
Walk it out
With Computation
It’s the order of operations
It’s the order of operations.
Ations, ations ations, eh, eh
Eh, eh Operations

Finding the volume of solids

UEQ: How can geometric figures be describes, classified, and transformed?

LEQ: How can we use formulas to find the volume of rectangular prisms?
How can we find the volume of a solid comprised of two rectangular prisms?

New Vocabulary: cubic feet, cubic inches

Purpose of Lesson:
  1. To instruct a lesson on how to use what students know about rectangular prisms to find the volume of solids.

Student Objectives:
  1. The students will investigate the volume of shapes comprised of more than one rectangular prism
  2. The students will recognize how to use length, width, and height to find the volume of rectangular prisms within a solid.
  3. The students will calculate the volume of solids.

Common Core Standards:
  1. Measurement and Data 5.MD
Recognizing volume as being additive. Find volumes of solid figures comprised of two non-overlapping right rectangular prisms by adding the volumes of the parts and applying this technique to real world problems.

Materials Needed:
Overhead project
Rectangular prism solids transparencies
Math worksheets
Pencils
Cubes

Procedures:
  1. Introduce the topic and essential questions.
  2. Review the two strategies for finding the volume of rectangular prisms.
  3. Discuss how the volume of rectangular prisms is measured in real-life situations. This is where I will introduce the new vocabulary words and give examples around the classroom of how I can use cubic inches and cubic feet the volume.
  4. On the overhead transparency, I will draw a closet and show the dimensions of the closet in feet. I will have each group figure out the volume of the closet and then have a discussion on how many cubic feet will be able to fit inside that close.
  5. Show the class examples of what a cubic inch and cubic foot look like.
  6. Show the students a solid comprised of cubic units. This solid is made up of two rectangular prisms. Each group will build this solid and then figure out the volume of it. Students will be asked to come up with a strategy for finding the volume of this solid without counting each individual cube.
  7. We will have a class discussion on the different ways to find the volume. If students don’t bring up the idea of layers and dividing the solid up into two rectangular prisms, I will help facilitate them toward those ideas.
  8. I will show a picture of a solid on the overhead projector. Students will work as a team to figure out the volume of that rectangular prism by dividing the solid into two different rectangular prisms.
  9. I will discuss the answer with the class.
  10. Students will work with a partner to answer questions on finding the volume of solids. These questions will have an increasing difficulty level.
  11. I will review with the class the problems that are causing the most difficulty at the end of class
  12. I will really emphasize the importance of dividing the solid up into two different rectangular prisms and then adding their respective volumes together to get the total volume of the solid.

Closure:
As a close, I will show pictures of buildings in real life that we could find the volume of by using this strategy.

Reinforcement Activity:
Students will be given similar volume puzzles when they are finished with their math workshop activities throughout the remainder of this volume unit.

Student Evaluation:
I will evaluate the students during discussion.

Lesson Evaluation:
I will evaluate the level of enthusiasm during the lesson.

Final Submission

I wonder what classrooms and schools will look like ten years from now. Will we see attendance in schools decrease and more students doing cyber schooling? I wonder what kind of impact technology will have with education in the future. Will we no longer see textbooks? Will students so a lot of their learning on computers outside of the classroom? Will more schools adopt a backwards approach to teaching? I wonder what the impact of common core standards will be over the next ten years. Will we see our national scores increase? I wonder what my classroom will look like twenty years from now and if I will be teaching with the same strategies that I use today.

I believe that American education is headed in the right direction. In fact, I think schools are doing a great job today. I believe that teachers have a responsibility to prepare students for a future that will be more global and more technological advanced. I believe that teachers should strive to be positive role models in their students lives. I believe that teachers have the duty to boost their students self esteems

I wish that every student had access to high class technology at school and at home. I wish that all parents would take a great interest in how their children do at school and other activities. I wish every student had the opportunity for a great education. I wish that I can be a positive influence on every one of my students.

Philosophy of Assessment


I strongly feel that my students will perform best when they are highly motivated. I believe that my students will strive to achieve math goals and stay focused throughout class if they believe they are improving and see actual results. My main basis for assessment is to keep my students motivated and wanting to improve every day.

On a daily basis, I would like to see my students answering the lesson questions accurately. Since the new math series deals with a lot of group work, I can usually walk around the classroom and ask the students questions to test their comprehension. Also, I assess the level of participation from every student. If a student isn’t participating, they may be confused or uninterested. I also assess each student’s ability to work together on group assignments every day. I look to see that each student is doing their specific math jobs every day and that they are participating in proper math discussion. If students aren’t participating in math class consistently, I will address that issue with them privately and also let their parents know on progress reports.

As for quizzes and tests, I always allow my students to correct any mistakes they make. After I give out the tests, they have two days to make any corrections before I go over the test. If they can fix their mistakes accurately and prove that they understand the material, they can get back half the points they missed. On the tests, I don’t put grades or percents. I have my students figure out their own grades and percents based on the fraction of points they missed out of the total. I honestly would prefer not to give a D or F to any student all year. These grades can really bring down their math self-esteem. I want to motivate the student to achieve before they are getting those low test scores. I prefer to use positive reinforcement to motivate my students and keep their math self esteem high. I want them to feel like they are good at math and that they can be successful in future years to come.

Learning to Love Assessment


I thought this was a very interesting article. Carol Ann Tomlinson made a lot of terrific points. Being a relatively new teacher myself, I can really connect to how she was feeling during her first year of teaching. Just like her, I really struggled to find my way in how to properly assess my students understanding. Also, I find myself constantly changing the way I feel assessments should be done. I also really liked how she mentioned that her philosophy of assessment is still changing, even with thirty plus years of teaching experience.

I was very interested in her ten new understandings about assessment over the years. In understanding one, she mentioned that she saw more student engagement when she gave students more than one way of being assessed. Not every student is a great test taker. Students should be assessed in more than one way for each concept they are expected to master. I also really liked that she mentioned the idea of constant feedback. I really feel that I have come a long way in this regard. The Investigation series we use in elementary math really gives teachers the opportunity to walk around the classroom and constantly assess how students are doing. One idea that I think I need to include in my assessment bag of tricks is a clipboard. Carol mentioned that she walks around the classroom with a clipboard and constantly jots down little notes about each students weaknesses and proficiencies. This is something I could see myself doing a lot more.

The last part of wisdom that I really liked was the idea of creating assessments first. Most teachers discuss the material and then give a test on what they taught about. This test is usually the same test they give every year. Carol feels that she should make a new assessment on what she wants the students to really know and then teach the students from a backwards standpoint. Also, the idea of a unit test at the very end can lead to a lot of problems as well. If you only assess a student at the very end of the unit and find out they don’t get the concept, it is a little too late to address the issue appropriately. Students should be continuously assessed so the teachers can see what the students need to work on throughout the unit.

I wonder if my ideas of assessment will change as much as Carol’s did over my entire teaching career. I’m also very curious and interested to see how many changes I make to my assessment philosophy by taking this course.

Assessing What Matters


This article really made me think about how important it is to find other ways to test a students understanding besides standardized tests. The author, Robert J. Sternberg, is a very accomplished psychologist. He begins this article by letting us know that he got a C on his first introduction to psychology course. He mentions that his professor told him that he wouldn’t amount to anything in the psychology field. Robert also tells us that most of the assessment in the course was based on recall and basic understanding of the facts taught in the class lecture style. I feel that this is an excellent example of how we may unknowingly be holding back students with great potential in a certain field of study because they aren’t good at taking standardized tests.

Robert makes an excellent argument about what skills people really need to be successful in the workplace. One of those skills definitely isn’t the ability to take standardized tests well. We place so much emphasize on whether a student passes a standardized test that we may be stunting their educational potential! Robert feels that students should be assessed on their ability to become ‘active and engaged citizens of the world’. Robert and his team have come up with a new model called WICS, which attempts to find better ways to assess the kinds of skills that really matter. I really liked some of the examples Robert uses as to what kinds of questions we should be asking our students. These questions should assess a student’s analytical and creative ability, as well as their wisdom. I feel that these kinds of question directly correspond to the kinds of questions we should be asking in class today. In CASD, we call them higher order thinking questions. They also remind me of unit and lesson essential questions. I particularly liked some of the writing prompt examples he uses to help assess a student’s creative ability. I will use some of these prompts in my writing class!

I also found it very interesting that WACS assessment criteria actually predicted whether a college freshman would be more successful during his or her first year of college compared to how standardized testing predicts them to do. Robert feels very strongly about the need for teachers to assess a student’s ability to reason and to find ways to enhance their wisdom.

This article really inspired me to look at my students in a different light. They really are the future. I need to make sure that I do my best to help them all reach their full potential and not hinder it by putting too much emphasize on how they do on my multiple choice quizzes and our state standardized tests.

The Best Value in Formative Assessment

I think this article did a great job in clarifying summative and formative assessment. For me personally, I’ve always had a difficult time remembering the difference between the two. It seems like this is a common occurrence among teachers and it’s very easy to mistake the two. One might have the intent of doing a summative assessment but it turns out to be a formative assessment by the way the teacher uses the data and vice versa. One of the main reasons it’s so difficult to understand formative assessment is because there are so many different definitions. In reality, the biggest way to tell the difference is in how the test results are used.
A summative assessment will most likely be an ends to a means. Teachers should use this type of assessment to give a final grade or measure a curriculums effectiveness. Also, state testing would be considered a summative assessment. A formative assessment should be given during the instruction period. Educators should use the information from a formative assessment to drive what’s next in instruction. I feel the article mentions a terrific point. A lot of teachers aren’t using formative assessments correctly because they feel they are expected to cover a large amount of content in a given amount of time.
I think I got the most out of the articles last three questions: Where am I going, Where am I now, and How can I close the gap? I felt very reassured to see that I am doing all of the points under the ‘Where am I going” category. I did find two ideas under the ‘Where am I now’ category that I would like to incorporate in my class. I really like the idea of having my students identify their own strengths and areas of improvement. Also, having the students keep a list of learning goals and then have them cross off the goals they master is an excellent idea! Based on this article, I really feel that formative is a much more effective way to assess students. If used properly, formative assessment can really help students reach their full potential if teachers are willing to adjust instruction quickly.



Fair Isn’t Always Equal
This PowerPoint presentation had a lot of information on assessment! I was surprised about how much the presentation got me thinking about proper assessment and also questioned me on what I am currently doing in my classroom. I feel there were a number of slides that had a big impact on me.

Conclusions from Same DNA Essay Grading
This slide discussed how many teachers teach the same subject and content but arrive at different grades for their students. Grades can be relative and not accurate indicators of mastery of the content. Assessment should only be done against commonly accepted and clearly understood criteria. These points really give a few good reasons why a standards based report card is so much better than simply giving an a, b, c, d, or f. Standards based report cards will give students and parents a better understanding of what is being assessed and also what the expectations are.

I also really loved the quote, “The score a student receives on a test is more dependent on who scores the test and how they score it than it is on what the student knows and understands.” I think this quote is a great introduction to the article and really touches on how assessment can be so speculative if not done properly.

Working Definition of Mastery
This slide discussed how students can only master content when they can demonstrate concrete understanding by doing something with the content. I really feel that CASD is heading in the right directions with making sure their students master content. Teachers are asking higher order thinking questions and students are not getting away with simply memorizing and repeating the required information. The Investigations math curriculum does a fantastic job with requiring students to explain their thinking and investigate why certain math ideas really work!

Lower the Number of Standards
It was so interesting to see that students would have to go to grade 22 to accommodate all of the standards and benchmarks students are required to know. Also, when comparing U.S. math books to other countries, there are 175+% more topics in our books than other countries textbooks. It really does feel like we are sometimes expected to teach too many concepts. Why do we need to cram so much into a year? Making sure students master the really important information is so much more critical!

Teacher Action / Result on Student Achievement
When teachers ask their students to continue responding to an assessment until they correctly answer the items the students have an increase in achievement of 20 percent! This statement really made me happy. I have been doing this for the last three years and I wasn’t sure I should be. I always expect my students to correct their mistakes on quizzes and tests. I would rather they learn from what they did wrong then give them a poor grade.

Imagine the Reverse / Consider the Correlation
Both of these slides make excellent points on why the 100 point scale is inaccurate and outdated. The reverse really puts into perspective what the 100 point scale can really hurt a student’s overall grade and cause them to lose some motivation. If you look at the inverse of 0-60 is an F, it would be 100-40 is an A! Students should not be getting 0’s if they don’t turn assignments or projects in.

Formative Assessments: Measuring and Managing Student Learning

I feel like this PowerPoint presentation had some really great informational slides. I did find myself wondering what it would have been like to see this presentation live because I felt like I was missing some key details from certain slides. Also, many of the slides with data towards the end were hard to read. The research done for this presentation makes a strong case for why formative assessments are so important. The last few articles on formative assessment have made an impact on me and I have been trying to incorporate more of these assessments into my lessons on a weekly basis.

I really liked the quote from Rick Stiggins, “You can enhance or destroy student’s desire to succeed in school more quickly and permanently through your use of assessment than with any other tools you have at your disposal.” I strongly believe this is absolutely true. I find myself thinking about ways to keep my students that are scoring poorly on exams motivated. I can see the discouragement in their eyes when they get poor scores and I try to avoid it as much as possible. I feel that if students can keep working towards their understanding of material, even if they feel they are confused presently, they can keep improving as long as they are motivated to keep improving. At an elementary level, I think it is so important for teachers to instill a strong foundation of self achievement. We really don’t want students to be discouraged about education at such a young age.

Black & William mentioned that there are three ways to improve the way we do formative assessments. We need to improve our accuracy, provide descriptive feedback, and include students in the assessment. The point that stands out to me the most is the descriptive feedback. Students need to have feedback that they can understand and that is relatively fast. At an elementary level, students can get so much more out of an assessment if it is reviewed almost immediately. If I see that my students are struggling with a particular question on a test, I will make sure I go over that question at the end of class and not wait until the next day. I want the material to be fresh so they can get the most out of the conversation.

The slide titled Focus on Learning Instruction-Assessment Model did a great job of explaining how a unit should be covered. The process from pretest to post test made a lot of sense. I do not feel that I currently do this in my classroom. I really need to make sure that I give a pretest before each unit in math. This is so important for classroom seating setup as well as how much I need to review. A pretest seems like it can save the teacher a lot of time. There were also some great slides on common assessments. CASD seems to be going this route for the ELA curriculum. For math, we don’t have official common assessments but we do all use Investigations, which has quizzes and tests we are all suppose to use. I wonder if we will see official common assessments at an elementary level over the next few years for math.

Learning and Transfer

This article touched on the important concept of transferring student learning. This was a change of pace from the previous articles we have been reading. We have been learning a lot about the best practices of assessment, and although student transfer pertains to assessment, I would venture to say that student knowledge transfer should be the end goal of teachers. Students can memorize all of the information they need to pass a test, but will they recall that information weeks down the road? The goal of teachers should be to make a lasting impact on student learning. That will give their students the best chance to be successful in future years, and ultimately when they enter the work force.

This article gave some excellent examples on why student transfer is so important. Initial learning is essential for transfer. If students don’t learn the material correctly in the beginning, how will they be able to build on what they know efficiently and correctly? Also, transfer is best viewed as an active dynamic process. I took that as meaning the process of learning a concept never really ends. We can always build on what we know and increase our understanding. Another important note that I took from this article was that ‘transfer is affected by the degree to which people learn with understanding rather than merely memorizing sets of facts.’ Teachers should gauge their students understanding by prompting them with meaningful questions that can uncover their true understanding. Since I started teaching, I have been much better at finding out my student’s true level of understanding. What I mean by that is, I may be able to ask a math problem and a student will get it right. They may be able to get it right because they were able to follow my instruction at that moment and understand how I did that particular problem. However, that will not tell me the level of their true understanding. If a student can answer a similar question that has been manipulated in a particular way to show true understanding, I know that they really get the concept and are ready to move on.

This article also touched on two other important topics when it comes to student transfer. They are ‘time on task’ and student ‘motivation to learn.’ I find myself sometimes rushing through a lesson and covering as much as I can in my allotted time. This is simply not the correct way to conduct a class in the long term. I feel it is so important to give students the proper amount of time to absorb the material. I also feel students need time to develop the processes it takes to remember the material in the long run by making the proper connections to prior knowledge. I also find that motivation is probably the most important aspect of student transfer. If students aren’t motivated to pay attention, they aren’t going to be able to do a whole lot of transferring. Students need to be motivated to pay attention and learn. It really comes down to the teacher finding ways to keep the lesson engaging and interesting or the student having some internal reasons for staying motivated through a lesson that might not be that interesting. Teachers really need to understand how important it is to keep their students motivated and to find out what it takes to get them back if they lose their motivation. Every extra year that I teach, I feel that I have been getting better at gauging where my class is during a lesson.

Feedback That Fits

This was another great article on proper assessment and how to give students feedback they will be able to use. This article was a refreshing way to look at feedback. I feel that there are many aspects to giving feedback that many teachers don’t realize they are leaving out. I can look back at my first year of teaching and realize how many mistakes I made in the way I delivered my feedback and also how much improvement I have made.

My favorite quote from the article was actually right at the beginning. It was in regards to what a script for proper feedback would look like: “Here is how close you are to the knowledge or skills you are trying to develop, and here’s what you need to do next.” In my opinion, proper feedback should give students an idea of where they currently are at in their studies, and also the motivation to keep improving. Students need to know that they do understand parts of the material. They need to believe that they are getting better and that every lesson will help them get closer to the goal of being proficient in that subject matter.

Another great idea from this article is the fact that even well-intentioned feedback can be very destructive if the students misunderstand the tone or language of the teacher. I feel that a teacher can have a huge influence on a students self confidence. Teachers should always strive to build their students up through their feedback. I do try to give my feedback in a tone that is positive but also on a level that the student can understand. If I give feedback that had a negative connotation, I can almost tell immediately. If that occurs, I try to help the student understand what I meant by the feedback and also find a way to leave the conversation in a way that the student wants to continue working.

One other point that a lot of the past articles have been making in regards to feedback is that it should be done while the student is still thinking about what they just did. I really do feel that I have made strides on this type of feedback since I started taking this course. When students are working on math problems, I make a big effort to address any issues I see right away. I also have been giving immediate feedback on tests. When students hand in a test, I try to do a quick 2-3 minute conference with each of my students to discuss any misconceptions they may have had and if I see any glaring problems on their test.


Chad,

Your reflections are right on track with your classroom. I enjoy how your understandings of the articles is easy to see in the posts. I do wonder what quetions you have about some of the articiles. Dont be afraid to challenge the ideas you are struggling with in the articles and reflect on the practical applicaiton. I really am impressed with your connections to CASD strategies and the readings. I guess you could say that you are transferring knowledge into action.

Looking forward to class Thursday to discuss the posts and items above.

Chris

Data Analysis




Philosophy of assessment #2
I feel that assessment should be done in a way that can measure a student’s true understanding of the material taught in class. I don’t just want to give my students a letter grade based on whether or not they made a certain required percentage. I try to put some thought and effort into how I grade my students. For instance, a student will be graded on more than just how they do on a math test. I will incorporate class participation, class projects, and also if they met certain state standards.

On tests, I want my students to understand that there is still learning after they are done with the test. If a student gets a question or questions wrong, I want them to be motivated to learn why they got those questions wrong. I want them to remember the material after we have moved on! On a quiz or test, I will always give students the option to fix any mistakes they made. If they can turn in a correct answer with appropriate work, they can get back half the points they missed or even more.

For class projects, I try to give my students ample time to complete the required tasks. Students have the option of doing projects during free time or also at home if they don’t get done during class time. If students do not complete the project entirely, I will not give them a zero but will give a score that corresponds to the amount of effort and work they did. Giving a zero will only dramatically lower their grade and I do not want my students to lose any motivation to be successful.

I also strongly encourage everyone to participate in class daily. I look for everyone to talk to teammates about important class concepts every day. I also expect every student to stay focused during discussion and to attempt to answer questions I pose during lecture. My goal is to make my students feel comfortable in class and willing to share their ideas even if they might be wrong. I do give my students participation grades. If a student is incredibly shy, I will make accommodations on the participation grade until they feel more comfortable talking in front of the class.

I also want to make sure my students are meeting state and common core standards. About three times a week, I will walk around the class and observe team discussion. I want to hear my students express their thoughts in a way that can verify their understanding. If I’m not convinced that a student has mastered a particular standard, I will ask them questions privately that can verify their understanding. If a student does not master a standard, I will provide extra support.

My main concern when it comes to assessment is student motivation. I want to assess my students in a way that will keep them motivated. I refuse to give my students a grade that will lower their self-esteem and make them not willing to keep increasing their knowledge. I feel that if students lose their motivation to be successful in school at a young age, it will be harder for them to get it back as they move on to their older years. If I feel that one of my students has lost their motivation to be successful, I will try everything I can do to help them get it back.

Classroom assessment policies
Quizzes / tests / other work
When students are given the results of their quizzes and tests, I give them two days to make corrections. If students fix their mistakes and their work shows an understanding of what they missed, I will give them back half the points they missed. After I review the quiz or test, students will no longer be able to make corrections for makeup points. Students will also have the opportunity to do this for class assignments and math projects.
Attendance
Students are not graded on their attendance. If a student misses a math class and they feel like they are behind, they are welcome to get additional practice during a recess or if they finish work early in math class. Students are expected to let me know if they would like additional help in advance. Also, I may ask a student to receive some extra help if I feel they are behind or if they missed more than two days of school in a row.
Participation
Every student is expected to participate in class every day. Students can participate by answering questions, discussing math problems in a group setting, or by being engaged during a math lesson. Students receive participation grades throughout the year based on completing class work and participating in class. I will talk with students that are not participating privately and try to figure out a game plan for increasing participation. If a student still refuses to participate, their parent will be notified with a phone call, as well as a note on the report card.
Homework
I give homework approximately three times a week. I usually review the previous night’s homework the next day. I do not grade homework. I do make the students accountable for paying attention during homework review by asking questions and making sure everyone has a copy of the homework to look at during review. I also make each student accountable for completing homework by awarding team bonus points if everyone on the team completes the homework. Students use bonus points for various prizes throughout the year.
Grade weight for each category
Tests 40%
Quizzes 20%
Assignments / projects 20%
Participation 20%