Thoughts

Hands On Stuff

HandsOnStuff0At the end of last school year I asked my students for some feedback. One of the things that came through loudly was a desire for more hands on time. This was most acute in Year 8, where I had simply tried to sneak …

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Why Traditional Assessment Sucks

ExamI spend a lot of time thinking about assessment, not just because I hate marking (which I really do), but because it determines so much of what I do as a teacher. As a less experienced educator I actually dropped content that students loved from …

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Assess This Teacher

Gress LessonYesterday I put together an end-of-year survey for my students. Instead of focusing on lots of questions on different aspects of my teaching, I simply asked students to grade me in the same way I grade them: a comment, an attainment score and an …

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Visual Assessment Guide

What started last year as a Self Assessment Guide, has been reworked into a more general tool for assessment. This new guide is suitable for teacher, peer or self assessment and also offers a visual map of what we want students to learn (with highlighting of which concepts are most important). Although still ICT specific, this guide could be adapted to any subject by changing the attributes and keywords. Visual Assessment Guide - ICT & Media_web

Printable Version (PDF)

So, what's changed? Well, after a year of experience with student self assessment using the original guide, I have come to the following conclusions.
  1. Self assessment is great, and students really learn a lot by revisiting concepts learned, and writing about them. However, students get bored of self assessment, so using it more than 3 times a year with one group is not so great. The assessment tool should thus by more general, useful for teachers and peers to use.
  2. The old guide was based around "strands", which were essentially high level learning outcomes. The new guide focuses on "attributes", as I really want to be centered around the kind of students I want leaving my course after three years. The two schools I am involved in (ICHK Secondary and ICHK HLY) include formal ICT learning from Years 1 to 9, and we have tentatively decided to use these attributes across the entire age range. Hopefully this will lend consistency to what we are doing, allowing us to be more effective.
  3. In the original guide there was mapping from the ways of learning (a Bloomsian set from knowing through creating), allowing these to be turned into numeric scores. This was never ideal, as it is too reductionist and focuses attention on the grade, not what has been learned. The new version dispenses with the levels, and just focuses on the ways of learning. It has been tentatively agreed that next year I can experiment with reporting the top way of learning achieved in a particular piece of work. Hopefully this will help
  4. The old category of "becoming" connotes a moral element to what is being taught, and means assigning levels based on my own world view. Whilst I might find this appropriate, others may not. This point was raised by Toby Newton, and whilst I was initially hesitant, I can see the value of his point that we need students to be more critical of what we say, not just accepting and applying everything automatically.
I am really keen to get feedback on this style of assessment, and on the ICT content included and omitted from the guide. I don't doubt that collaboration will make this idea more useful and usable.

Carpet Picnic

CarpetTry as I might, there are some things I simply cannot teach without a fair amount of talking. I can throw in some visual stimuli, get the kids involved in discussion, add some inquiry and generally try and be student-centered…but there are just too many …

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It’s Complicated

10326436_303815836450062_376544952_ndanah boyd‘s It’s Complicated (full PDF) is a book which seeks to change the way we view teenagers and their use of digital technology. Viewed as a vulnerable demographic, teens, it is commonly believed, need our protection to thrive. At the same …

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Hard Lesson #7: Porn Is Not Sex

Zoo PornToday, after months of thinking, talking and planning, the door finally opened on Hard Lesson #7: Porn Is Not Sex. As any of my colleagues will tell you, I talk about pornography quite a bit at school, even going so far as presenting the issue …

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Heartbleed: What You Need To Do

Heartbleed LogoThis week, tech news websites have been raising the alarm about Heartbleed (a massive Internet security scare), and the mainstream media are slowly catching up. With this media exposure, a lot of non-technical people are uncertain of the risks, and consequently have a lot of …

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Hard Lesson #12: There is no “normal”

NormalAlthough last on the list of 12 Hard Lessons, the concept of “normal” is one of the most important ideas I want to get across to my students. I left school with a clear delusion that there was a type of person who was …

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Hard Lesson #6: Failure Is Great

The last known Tasmanian Tiger photographed in 1933. The species is now extinct.

This post is part of a series on hard lessons to teach in schools. When I broached the subject of failure with students I really expected them to be more negative, fearing that school had probably sold them on the line that failure is to …

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