This course, CEP 813, has been incredibly instrumental in challenging my thinking on assessment and how to teach my class. I had always thought that I was assessing my students and looking over their work but I had never realized how many things I was missing that were not only affecting their learning, but also my teaching.
In module 1 I was introduced to the idea that there are three areas of assessment. Assessment for learning, assessment of learning and assessment as learning. These three things are what really opened me up to change my thinking from this class. It seems simple but these three things with the rest of the modules built on them have already gotten me looking to change my classroom and the way I teach (I am currently redesigning most of my class to fit these three assessment ideas). This was something I thought was important because it helps identify what type of assessment you plan on giving in certain situations. Module 2 helped me identify this even more. It helped me think about how each assessment is different and has a different purpose. Giving an assignment in class shouldn’t be done just because “I have to have an assignment today” it needs to be done with thought and purpose. By helping me think of the three types of assessments there are I can ask myself for all the assignments I give, what type of assessment is this? Why are the students doing it? What will this help me learn/understand about their learning? You can’t really see it in any of my work as evidence but the closest thing I have to show my purpose is my FAD 2.0 information. This was an assignment I have done in class for years but I have had mixed results. On this FAD 2.0 design (even though it was done incorrectly) I decided to make the assignments each have a purpose for what I was teaching. Module 4 also helped me greatly in this design. This new creation I have set forth a plan to where each assignment I gave and each part of the unit had a reason and a purpose to help me learn about what the students know and understand. This was a reference to the Universal Design for Learning, which helped me think about what I wanted to students to be able to accomplish by the end of the unit and then worked my way backwards trying to incorporate all the possibilities for learners to struggle. Then make sure that those students would have a chance to relearn the material without having to go backwards. You can also see this in my FAD 3.0 where I added a link to the Bill of Rights that has a text-to-speech function for when students may struggle at home in the reading of the slightly more complex text.
Module 3 and the feedback section was one section I think affected me more than the rest. Feedback was the one thing I think I was missing the most in my classroom and assessments. I talk to the students and I try to give them information but I never really gave thought to the idea of feedback from self, peers, or teacher with a chance to make changes or direction. This section really helped when I was making my Rubric 4.0 and my FAD 3.0. I wanted to make sure that I was able to give multiple looks into the assignment while the students were working on it. This would be there to help me better understand what they had actually learned from me without just giving them a summative grade. I have a lot of issues in the classroom with students either passing with almost full credit or receiving almost zero credit on their assignments. The readings and information in this section really made me think about how I was taking the data from their assessments and using it to inform instruction. In my Rubric 4.0 I tried to mention multiple criteria that helped me and the student keep track of what they needed to be doing and if they were reaching the concept of understanding on the topic. I have high hopes that this will help me bridge the gap I have been missing with some of the students.
Module 5 and the Content management systems was helpful but I will say that I am currently taking CEP 820 teaching students online. This module combined with CEP 820 helped put into perspective the amount of work that comes along with an online managed class. I was not aware of the amount of time and effort that has to be put in at the beginning of a class before things even start to make an online class function smoothly. Small things like, having a well designed syllabus and communication policy, really made me dive into what exactly I wanted an online classroom to be and do. My CMS 2.0 helps show that I have really tried to detail all the information necessary into the online forum to help students completely clear up and misconceptions about what they need to be doing.
Module 6 helped me think about how assessments can come in all possible formats. I feel though this was something that has been present throughout the entire MAET process. Since the very beginning of my master’s journey I have been encouraged to look at different ways to assess students and to bring the learning to life. Minecraft was definitely something fun and different to do but my biggest takeaway was thinking outside the normal worksheet at how we can assess students to help understand their learning. I feel my Minecraft 2.0 explanation does a good job showing how I can assess outside the box while still keeping the content at the forefront.
I was trying my best answer this exactly about what I learned and the evidence. I am aware that there are not any sources cited or one for each module but I think that the sources were not the material we were being taught. The sources were there to help me solidify my thinking by giving evidence to why I should look into this idea or concept that was being taught. So in the end I didn’t include any sources because those did not specifically teach me anything beyond helping guide my learning.
CMS screencast 2.0
When asked to use a Content Management System (CMS) to present an assessment I began to think about how I would like to assess the students. It needed to be connected with my Rubric 4.0 and work well within the CMS system. When I first put everything together I thought in a much broader sense. I basically discussed all the possible assessments I would have in my unit and not just one particular assessment. When I began to think about one assessment alone the Bill of Rights slideshow seemed to be the assessment I liked the most for this assignment. It helped me find out if the students have learned the material that was presented before this assignment and also gave me a chance to see what needed to be taught again for students to reach understanding. It nicely matched up with my rubric and gave me many opportunities to review the students work without having to be with the student since everything was being done on google classroom. My only issue I feel I am having at this point is a lot of the assessment is not fully run on the CMS. Much of it is done in the classroom. This is a concern because I was trying to use the CMS for assessment but in order to have the students get their work evaluated by their peers I wanted them to meet face to face. I could probably have put something in about an online evaluation but as of right now this is how I have it and I feel like I would have to put it into practice before I can determine if it needs to be changed or not.
Creating an online course is something I have been striving for over the last few years. I had an idea and a grasp on what I needed to do but the first few years I was more just using an online Content Management System to help me run my classroom. It was mostly used for turning in assignments and keeping track of student work. This class helped me realize that an online classroom is much more than what I was using it for. In order to create a good online class you need to make sure that everything that could potentially be asked or be talked about is put into your informational system. The amount of content needs to be very clear and detailed without being overwhelming. No student, no matter the level, wants to read pages and pages and pages of content when only a certain section is necessary. As well teachers need to make sure that they have a variety of information available for the students to fully succeed in the course. Lectures need to be clear and concise while also giving all the information necessary. It takes more time to find the right resources for an online class than for a regular class since discussion is not the same online as it is in the classroom. The class also has to make sure it gives the students an opportunity to discuss and share ideas online like they would in a classroom.
My online class itself was something that I wanted to put together for two different reasons. One is I’ve wanted to be able to have students work more on their own with my help as a guide than be telling the students what to do. The second was I have a new marking period class coming up this school year. I wanted to see if I could put these ideas into an online format to help me cover as much material as possible in a short amount of time. The classroom management system google classroom really helped me think about the class and what I would have to put into it in order to make it the best it can be. I had to do my best to make the class as authentic as possible while also providing students multiple opportunities to express their learning.
The biggest difficulty for an online class is the amount of work and effort you have to put in at the very beginning. I didn’t realize that an online class is not something you can update and move along while you’re doing it. This is difficult for me since most of the time I end up changing a lot of what I do based on the feedback I get from my students or the work I am getting. I know this can be done online as well but it is a much more difficult thing to be able to anticipate. Online classes are something that can be very beneficial if the time and effort is put in. Using the Understanding by Design practices you can really think about all the possible things that students may encounter and prepare yourself for that in your classroom. Now this is not going to guarantee you perfection in any assignment but it will help.
Formative assessment and feedback have been the two things I have been thinking about most for my classroom. I always try to look at each thing I learn in the MAET program and decide how I can use it in my own classroom or what I need to work on more to make the classroom better. I have been using formative assessment for a long time now but I have not been using it correctly because I haven’t included a feedback portion nor have I been using feedback to redesign the material that the students need to learn to help us achieve our standard. This link above is my formative assessment design version 3.0. I have taken an assessment I have used in class many times before but I have changed it and updated it to include multiple looks into the standard and goal for the student along with many examples of feedback being given to the students and to the teacher to allow for instruction to change.
MINECRAFT ASSESSMENT LINK
Gaming in the classroom has been something I really think is worthwhile. I don’t ever take on the task of adding a lot of the things that I would like to fully “gamify” my classroom but we do spend a lot of time turning assignments and review opportunities into games. I think there is a strong correlation with having fun and learning. For this post I put together an assessment I would like to use if I could use minecraft in my classroom. It was a review of colonization. Students mostly learn colonization in 5th grade. By the time they get into 8th grade they tend to forget a lot of the basics of colonization but have a grasp on them once they are brought back up. Minecraft would allow me to let the students be colonists and try to survive the new world. When I first started I think I was a little overzealous with my attempt to create and had a very large world set up. I started building and making an ocean, which took up almost 2 hours of my night at one point and all I did was put water in. I realized at that point that creating a minecraft project for students could become very difficult and tedious. It was similar to creating an online course. Everything is done up front and all the hard work is put together in the beginning and once it is up and running there is very little you can do but wait for someone to ask for help. My final creation had all three colonies set up to help the students remember the differences and what each group did. The students would get an opportunity to really work together and build a new life in a difficult world and be able to experience colonization. Go ahead and watch my video to get a glimpse of what I would like to do if I could.
I love Minecraft. It by far has been one of the most fun things I’ve gotten to play as a video game. I am normally a sports style game person but when my son asked me a few years ago to download minecraft for him I said sure. Now we are hooked. I love the ability to be able to build and just test your limits on what you’re able to do with this game. I haven’t explored too much in survival mode but it also intrigues me, I just have a hard time playing the game when I’m by myself. The MinecraftEDU version was similar but at the same time different. I really enjoyed the ability to learn on a new device and figure out what was going on and I saw so many possibilities for my classroom and teaching. My biggest problem is the idea that my classroom is already filled with chromebooks so I wouldn’t be able to get this for my students in reality.
Here is a screencast of me trying MinecraftEDU for the first time (after some exploration) MINECRAFTEDU EXPLORATION
Previously I had chosen a CMS to work with to help my students in a hybrid type class. Here I give you a short screencast discussing an assessment I put together for the students to help them learn and understand the Bill of Rights. I would embed the video into the blog post but WordPress would like me to pay money in order to have that luxury. So instead you can follow the link above or click on the screencast link below
The assessment was not very easy to wrap up in 2 minuets, which caused me to re-record the video several times. The version you see here is a quick and easy explanation of the online portion of the assessment. You can go to this link here to review the log post that discussed the full assessment. I do try to mention the CMS at the end and why I liked this one for my assessment. Basically my favorite part of using Google Classroom is for each assignment I create I can check to see how students are doing while they are working on it in an easy and concise way. Google Classroom puts all the students assignments on one page for me so I can look at what they are doing before they turn it in. It helps give me multiple opportunities for feedback and discussion with the students. It also helps the students share and collaborate easily since sharing the document or assignment is as easy as clicking a button.
For this post I want to share with you a new draft of a formative assessment I have been working on. This is an opportunity for me to revamp my teaching on the Bill of Rights. Many students tend to struggle with the Bill of Rights and their fundamental purposes. This assessment surprised me because while putting it together I noticed how many opportunities I had to assess the students and give them feedback. What also shocked me a little is how much of this I already do. Unfortunately one of the things I was missing compared to my old lessons was the feedback portion. I did not give the students enough feedback or enough time to make revisions. I feel that this version of the assessment gives the students many opportunities to rethink what they are trying to understand.
Chart reviewing three CMS
I have been using Content Management Systems (CMS) for a few years now in class. We have been able to access Google Classroom and Canvas. I have tried these two for my classroom and I have been pretty happy with Google Classroom. I know that there are a ton of options that are available that I can use, so I was very happy to be able to review new CMS options. I reviewed three different CMS programs to see what I liked and didn’t like. I decided to make sure I reviewed Google Classroom since that is the CMS I am currently using and want to try and continue to use (since it is district provided and supported). I wanted to make sure if fit into the criteria for review compared to the others CMS I reviewed (Edmodo and Blackboard).
During the review I noticed that Edmodo and Google Classroom were very similar. They had a different look and a few different ways of getting things on the CMS but overall they both pretty much did the same thing. A lot of the criteria these two CMS met but they were not directly put onto the program, it was more something that you could do if you were creative with google docs. I did seem to like the set up of Edmodo a little more but I think that maybe it is because it was something different I was seeing than what I was used to. Between these two I think I would stick with google classroom for the main reason of familiarity and the lesson planning I already have created with it. I know that I can always update and change these lessons but since I didn’t feel that Edmodo had a lot more to offer it would be silly of me to change just for the sake of changing.
Reviewing Blackboard was a whole different experience. Blackboard seemed like a program that had everything figured out and under control. From what I know it’s been around longer. I chose the trial version instead of starting from scratch like the other two. It still seemed like it had so much more to offer. I really enjoyed how it had everything connected and right where it needed to be with easy teacher access. My only problem or issue with Blackboard is I felt it may be too advanced for my middle school students. They are very smart and very on the ball students but I felt that blackboard would be somewhat overwhelming for many of them. This is something that could be fixed but I fear that if I switched to this I would lose a lot of students. They would look at it and think, “this is too much”, and just shut down and not try anymore. Now again, this is something I don’t know until I try it. I think it is something I am going to look at over the summer.
For right now I think I would like to stick with Google Classroom for three reasons.
- Part of the schools program
- I want to learn to get better at using Google Classroom. By using it as my research for this class I feel that it may help me learn to use it better and with more accuracy than if I tried to switch to something new.
For this next session of our rubric creation we were asked to look at digital tools and technology. When I was first reading the material that we had presented to us I thought that I wouldn’t have any new criteria to attach to my rubric. I originally thought that I would not want an assessment to have to have any form of digital tools or technology. I mainly thought this because there is always a chance that you won’t have technology to use in the classroom, if I make my assessment rubric require technology there may be some teachers or teaching times that I would not be able to use digital tools or technology. The more I read though the more it made sense that it has to be incorporated since it is so important to be digitally literate in today’s world. I ended up deleting a criteria on a suggestion from the last rubric and found a great opportunity to add a new criteria. Overall I mostly just tried to make edits and a few small additions to this version of the rubric.