My Tech. Plans as a Beginning Educator

My last post, Compiling Tech Resources, highlights that the world of technology is vast. There are more options than we can begin to count; my post just scratches the surface. This is the most overwhelming part of technology for me: the overflow of information/choices. Keeping this struggle in mind and also the “less is more” ideology, I wanted to come up with a “baby-steps” or “starting small” technology plan for my first few years of teaching.

What technology will I use for professional development (beyond professional journals/articles/books)?

What technology will I use to plan the Sask. Curriculum outcomes and indicators for my class?

What will I use in high school ELA? Elementary ELA?

What will I use for assessment for and as?

What programs am I considering but not 100% sure of yet?

(I want to use one of the above 4 and will make the decision based on learners/resources/class/subject).

If anyone has a case for or against any of the above, I would welcome it in the comments. I would also welcome more information about any of the above tools. Do you use them in the classroom? What are the positive and negatives of the specific tool?

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Teaching Environment

This Monday I had the privilege of watching David Suzuki and friends share their insights about the environment and about our right to have environmental security and stability in our Canadian Constitution. As Dr. David Suzuki noted, “what’s more important than the right to breathe fresh air, drink clean water and eat healthy food?” What amazed me most about the Blue Dot Tour is how everything is interconnected. David Suzuki’s overview did not just include environmental history – Medicare by Tommy Douglas, heterosexism/racism/sexism, voting rights, equality for all, democracy, sustainable economics, social action, taking care of the weakest, planning for the future, First Nations rights, etc. were all discussed. All the things I am really passionate about are interconnected and this was a liberating realization. (Now if I could only get my hands on that speech)!

David Suzuki’s point that resonated most with me was that there is no environment. “WHAAAAT?” I thought, “that doesn’t make sense coming from an environmentalist?” But it is true! There is no separate entity that is environment and a separate entity that is humanity We are the air. We are the water. There is one blue dot and everything in it is connected. What we put into the world, we put into ourselves. What we do to those less fortunate or animals or Mother Nature, we do to ourselves (in the long run, at the very least).

I left feeling inspired, yet so small. It is a daunting task to change the worldview of many and to put eco back into economics. How do we change our habits? How do we reverse the damage we have caused? I know I cannot begin to solve all of these issues but I can contribute to the solution by TELLING politicians what I want and what they can do for me instead of letting them pull the strings. I can recycle. I can walk. I can take the bus. I can research and try to only purchase organic foods and fair trade products (to the best of my ability). I can avoid using chemicals. I can sign petitions to save the bees. I can encourage my municipality to embrace eco-friendly choices. I am NOT POWERLESS. I will be a positive drop of water in the bucket… and maybe I am just one drop, but if everyone is a positive drop in the bucket Dr. Suzuki reminded us that “we can fill any bucket.” So far over 55,000 Canadians have signed the petition to have environmental rights be recognized in our Constitution and I have faith that there will be many more “drops” to come. POSITIVE CHANGE IS WANTED. POSITIVE CHANGE IS NEEDED. AND POSITIVE CHANGE WILL HAPPEN!

For more information visit:

Blue Dot

‘Shoulders’ by Shane Koyczan and The Short Story Long

Today is the day we Decide

Internship Rating – October

At the midway point of internship (where has all the time gone!?) this is my current rating:

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I have moved up in regards to Professional Competence and Development (2.67 to 3), Interactions with Learners (2.55 to 2.82), and Instructional Competence (1.43 to 2.4). I have maintained my ratings in Planning, Organization, Assessment, and Evaluation (2.6), Teaching Strategies, Skills, and Methods (2.25), and Professional Qualities (3.56). My goal is to increase Interactions with Learners, Instructional Competence, Planning, and Teaching Strategies to 3 (or more).

My goals are to work on classroom management (extreme behaviors), providing students with more choice, differentiating assignments (tiered lessons), and using more technology.

Chapter 5 and 6 Responses

Davies “Making Classroom Assessment Work”

Chapter 5: Evidence of Learning

  • Sources: observations, products/creations, conversations/conferencing.
  • Triangulation: evidence collected from three different sources over time, trends and patterns become apparent.
  • Need all three types to have reliable/valid evaluation.
  • Observations need to be focused/specific (just like goals).
  • Consider how you will record observations and relate the observation to the purpose of the learning activity.
  • Products/student creations should allow for choice.
  • Conversations/conferencing allows students to self-assess and take ownership of their learning.
  • I think that conversations allow teachers to learn not only about what their students have learned, but also about who their students are as people/learners.
  • Evidence should be ongoing.
  • “Consider assessing more and evaluating less” (Davies, 2011, p. 52).
  • All assessment should relate to curriculum outcomes/indicators/learning purpose.

Chapter 6: Involving Students in Classroom Assessment

  • students to set and use criteria: this gives them control of their learning and a better understanding. Example: classroom rules
  • self-assessment: provides time to learn and process, give feedback to themselves and transition from one activity/class to next; this promotes independence and self-monitoring. Tip: include clear criteria, samples and models.
  • descriptive feedback sources: “The more specific, descriptive feedback students receive while they are learning, the more learning is possible” (Davies, 2011, p. 58).
  • goal setting: increases motivation and sets a learning purpose/focus.
  • students to collect evidence of learning: to increase accountability and ownership. Example: portfolio.
  • students to present evidence of learning: to get students to see themselves as learners and take more accountability of their work. Tip: present to many different audiences.

Reflection

Davies points out that “the ideas themselves are simple, but the implementing of them in today’s busy classrooms will take some time” (2011, p. 61). This statement speaks to me.

Before reading this text and attending this class (ECS 410) I never considered letting students be part of the criteria-building process. I am still curious as to how this would work. Also, I wonder what self-assessment would look like. Other than the odd self-assessment assignment, I have never seen this in action. Davies suggests getting students to assess each other. I have had other professors tell me not to do this because sometimes students give each other wrong advice. How do you teach kids to self-assess appropriately? How much time would this entire process take? Is it more or less work for the teacher? I know that conferencing would take a lot of time so how do you fit that in as a classroom teacher? Do you request students to come outside of classroom time?

Triangulation was also a new topic for me. I think one way I can make sure I am using all sources to evaluate is by simply rotating them. I could have a chart with each source and make a tally every time it is used, in hopes for a balance.

I thoroughly believe in student choice. One quote that my mother, who is also an educator, passed on to me is: “Many teachers teach every child the same material in the same way, and measure each child’s performance by the same standards… Thus, teachers embrace the value of treating each child as a unique individual while instructing children as if they were virtually identical” (Mehlinger, 1995). I think this chapter gives many suggestions to avoid assessing students the same way. Choice is only fair and using triangulation broadens the choices and fairness even more! I also like the idea of creating a portfolio of work and getting students to present this work so that they are accountable.

Three common trends in the text are student-lead learning, more time and more feedback. These are all things I am starting to understand and think I can do!

Chapter 3 and 4 Responses

Beginning with the End in Mind

I like the quote that says “students can reach any target that they know about and that holds still for them.” Too often, the teacher only knows the outcome and this leaves the students unaware of what they are specifically learning or why they are completing a task. To connect this to my ELNG instruction, we are learning that if we are looking at a text with a deconstruction or a gendered lens, we need to explicitly tell kids this and explain why so that they can internalize these strategies. Involving students in all stages of the learning problem should reduce questions like, “when will I ever use this?” I love the idea of putting outcomes and indicators in student/teacher/parent friendly terms. Not only will students get more control of their learning, parents will have an easier time getting involved. Also, I think this would help teachers understand what they really want from students. This seems like a lot of work but Davies suggests using this simplified sheet in parent-teacher interviews, report cards and when making criteria with students, therefore one task can have many uses.

Describing Success

In order to describe success, educators need to know what success looks like. As a pre-service teacher, I have yet to figure this out.

The chapter also outlines that all students learn in different ways and should have many options to express their learning. Students need to be shown samples and models. They should also be part of the criteria making process so that they can give themselves descriptive feedback. When creating criteria with students, Davies suggests “1. Making a brainstormed list; 2. Sort and categorize list; 3. Make and post a T-chart; 4. Use and revisit and revise.” Samples help students but they also help teachers. Packages can be made that show different representations of learning, gaps in student ability and inform professional judgment and they can be collected between colleagues, schools and divisions.

Reflection

Davies suggests creating our own assessment plan. I think I would really like to take the ELA curriculum and summarize the outcomes and indicators. I think this would be great to do with a in-service teacher. That way, I would have a document that is more understandable and accurate to best support my students. I think this would be a worthwhile practice to do with my co-operating teacher this semester.

However, first I think I would need grade-appropriate samples. I can read and understand the outcomes and indicators but it is hard to know what that means for each grade level. Also, since I have never taught fulltime I do not have a sample base to pull from. This is an area where I will need to collaborate with a co-worker or two. As my career expands, it will be important to save student work so I get better support my learners.

Assessment Step 1: Know the Terms!

Assessment – gathering information on student learning. Assessment informs our teaching and helps students learn. Assessment should match your goals, objectives and criteria.

Evaluation – reviews the evidence and determines whether the students have or haven’t learned the information. Furthermore, evaluation includes placing a value on the work and deciding how well the students learned the information?

Assessment forinvolves checking to see what has been learned and what should come next; students help create and use the criteria; descriptive feedback based on specific criteria; student involvement; students self-assess; students set goals; students collect evidence of learning that relate to standards; students then present this information. Assessment for allows teachers to determine the next learning step.

Feedback – information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc., used as a basis for improvement.

Descriptive feedback – during the learning and comes in many sources. The learner gets information about what they are learning and is able to plan their next step. The more the better, as this feedback increases student learning! Descriptive feedback comes during and after and should be specific. It can be thought of as an ongoing conversation about learning.

Evaluative feedback – reported using grades, numbers, checks, etc. to show the learner how well he or she has performed in comparison to others or a standard. If used too often, student learning can decrease because it shows them that they may need to improve but not how to do so.

Summative evaluation – the teacher sums up the learning

Self-assessment/monitoring – students asses their own work, allowing mistakes to be areas of growth. Through this method, students can more effectively determine what to do to improve. This increases independent, self-directed, lifelong learning.

Criteria – should be specific and constructed with the students through a conversation of their learning.

Goals – should be set with students and it is important to only focus on one or two. When we slow down students have more time to successfully complete the learning cycle!

Goal Setting Conference – a way to get teachers, parents and students to asses their goals, strengths, weaknesses and interests at the start of the year.

Metacognition – awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes.

Scaffolding – support given during the learning process which is tailored to the needs of the student with the intention of helping the student achieve his/her learning goals.

Reliability – the degree to which an assessment tool produces stable  and consistent results. Students produce the same kind of results at different times. Examples: test-retest, parallel forms, inter-rater reliability, internal consistency, etc.

Validity – how well a test measures what it is purported to measure. Evidence from multiple sources matches the quality levels expected by the standards/outcomes. Examples: face, construct, criterion-related, formative, sampling, etc.

Triangulation – evidence collected from three different sources (products, observations, conversations) over time, trends and patterns become apparent

Learning loop – we learn, we assess, and we learn more in a continuous cycle.

Norm-referenced assessment –  an estimate of the position of the tested individual in a predefined population, with respect to the trait being measured.

Criterion-referenced assessment – designed to measure student performance against a fixed set of predetermined criteria or learning standards—i.e., concise, written descriptions of what students are expected to know and be able to do at a specific stage of their education. This relates to the curriculum.

Check-ins – checking with students to see where they are on the learning cycle. Assignments can and should be broken down into steps so that teachers can make sure students are on track. This is also less overwhelming. Furthermore, check-ins can assess how students are feeling and address any areas of concern.

Community of learners – a safe learning environment where mistakes can happen and different learning styles are valued. Every student has a voice. Every student deserves to be included! Every student deserves to feel safe!

Professional Learning Communities – group of people learning together. The group requires respect, specific meeting times, support, a safe environment, attainable goals, organization, shared responsibility, etc. (just like our classrooms and students). Learning communities can often be within subject areas, divisions, etc. but they can also include people of all expertise and interests, from all over the world (thanks to technology).

Co-teaching – two teachers (or other professionals) share instructional responsibility and accountability for a single group of students whom they both have ownership. They share resources and co-teaching is voluntary. Both professionals are equal. This allows differentiated instruction to occur easier, two teaching styles to be present, and reduces the student to teacher ratio. There are many types of co-teaching: one teach, one observe; one teach, one assist; parallel teaching; team teaching; station teaching; alternative teaching.

Large-scale Assessment – needs only to collect a small amount of information from a large number of students to determine what students know, can do, etc.

Classroom Assessment – involves a large amount of evidence over time from multiple sources