Ten thousand hours, 100 swings a night. Meaningful practice is the bedrock of mastering skills. Having the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and skill acquisition is part of what makes school fun.
Below is the framework for a third or fourth grade unit of inquiry on exploration. Following this framework is a GRASPS-formatted summative assessment project.
Goal: Your goal is to communicate information about an explorer.
Role: You will first be a researcher. You will then be the presenter.
Audience: You will be presenting to your teachers and your classmates.
Situation: You will be the expert. Your audience will probably not know very much (or anything) about the subject of your Google Presentation. You will explain why you chose the person/topic you chose, their contributions to our understanding of their field, and the benefits others derived from their exploration.
Product/Performance and Purpose: You will create a Google Presentation incorporating relevant text, photographs, video clips and (optionally) music.
Standards & Criteria for Success: Your presentation should be about 10 slides and include the following:
- An explanation of why you chose your person/topic.
- Facts about what contributions your person made to his or her field.
- Facts about obstacles and challenges faced.
- An examination of how the exploration benefitted (or harmed) others.
- Logically sequenced slides.
- A simple bibliography documenting the sources for your information.
Assessment in Primary Years Program schools, where learning is acquired through interdisciplinary student-driven inquiry, can be confusing to parents. It’s up to teachers to explain the what, how and why of what we’re doing. The following PowerPoint presentation was created to that end.
Third grade students use Post-it notes to comment on classmates’ work. With thoughtful guidance from teachers, young learners can play a meaningful role in the reflective process that is at the core of assessment.
Many educational institutions get hung up what they teach and assess, or perhaps go no further than discussing how they teach and assess. The central and most important question though is, “Why do we assess?”
Missing from the education of my youth was the use of assessment as a means to synthesize new information. A biology teacher would give us 20 vocabulary items to memorize and correctly identify on a weekly test, but beyond that, we seldom if ever used those terms in any meaningful way. History and other social sciences, math, foreign languages and even literature were generally taught in a similar manner: knowledge was acquired through memorization, and proof that learning had occurred was measured with multiple choice, true/false, or short-answer tests.
Only those of us in athletics were lucky enough to be able to routinely engage in meaningful assessment. In sports, new skills were acquired, new understandings about those skills were explored, and in meets, matches and games we had the opportunity to “put those new understandings and skills to the test.” After the contest, as individuals, in collaborate peer groups, and with coaches we engaged in reflections about how we had performed. These sports-related assessments were the most fun part of school.
There is no reason academic assessments can’t be equally engaging.
Reactions to the word “assessment.” Click the photo to enlarge.
Mention the word “assessment” and most people have a reaction. As I was writing down my thoughts, I found them falling mainly into two categories: things I like regarding assessment, and items that call for awareness and a balanced approach.
Two additional thoughts seemed to merit caution. First, for everyone involved, assessment can at times cause stress. And second, since the best scientific research has invalidated the theory of “learning styles,” I believe it’s time that educators respect that science and drop this term from their vocabulary. We have learning preferences, and as reflective educators and learners we should be aware of that. As to the theory of learning styles, people interested in this topic may want to Google the search phrase learning styles theory debunked and read some of the numerous articles that come up.