Formative, summative, diagnostic, benchmark… just a few of the assessment types that educators utilize on an ongoing basis. Beyond that, there are the dreaded ‘standardized tests‘ which cause many to cringe.
The articles this week do a good job distinguishing the different purposes of each.
That being said, the video that we were asked to watch, was questioning the role of assessments (as well as the content) that we are teaching students of today.
That’s where the material this week took me (truth be told – it was the past few weeks of this class that have me considering the following)…
How are we preparing the students of today (my own children included) for their futures? What specific things am I doing to move students forward with purpose? How can we be sure that the skills we are working on with students are valuable to them as problem solvers and innovators? How can we give students the skills they require for jobs that don’t currently exist?
In the library, I have a unique perspective to consider these questions with. I get to spend large portions of my time looking for engaging resources (books) that my students will love, fostering reading skills, as well as modelling a love of reading (at least this is what I hope I am doing in the time I spend in this space). I still see that as necessary learning though, we need reading whether for purpose or pleasure to function and be successful in life.
Beyond that though, where does my role place me – and how do my lessons and assessments allow students to grow as problem solvers and innovators? Do I balance necessary skill sets with the freedom to consider ‘real life problems’?
A couple of years ago, I started learning/talking to teacher’s about Genius hour. The concept evolved from Google’s “20% Time” . I’ve had many classes attempt this process once or twice, but to my knowledge, none have committed to it going forward.
After experimenting with Genius hour (without any real traction), I am going to continue to promote the concept with any classrooms who are willing to work on it, but it’s become a space that I don’t feel effective in, because I don’t have control over a classroom full time.
For the last year or so, I have heard more and more about Maker Spaces. Initially, this concept really frightened me (it seemed super tech-y, and way out of my comfort zone). When I thought of maker-spaces, I thought of coding and robots, and well, things that I have almost zero experience with. Additionally, I was told it is expensive, so I started to back away from the concept. Eventually (mainly through my PLN and Alec’s classes) I started hearing more about the maker movement, and the multitude of mediums it can include.
I think this is where education should be going (if it’s not really heading there already). Technology is dictating that our future is uncertain: it is not static and always changing. It is because of this that we need to demand that our students are innovators and problem solvers – we need to expect this of them. We make up part of the global economy now, and if we would like to compete on that large scale, standardized tests are not going to get us there!
This year, I have decided that I am going to hold a ‘maker day’. This will be a day in which all students in my school have the chance to come to the library and ‘tinker’ and make things – both with technology (coding), and creating with their hands. A minimal budget will be established for this first year, and it will be built on yearly as the interest develops. With any luck, teachers will be asking when they can sign up for this and how they can implement it within their classrooms.
I’ll keep you ‘posted’ on the progress!