testing


One of the Twitterers that I follow shared a link to a TED talk that I found very interesting. In the TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson spoke about how public education is often educating the creativity out of our students and how that is impacting the adult population. It’s a great video if you have 20 minutes to view it (Sir Ken Robinson on TED). This short excerpt comes at around 4 minutes in where he gives two great examples for one of his points.

View sirkenrobinson

I’ve known for many years that children have a much greater resilience with getting the wrong answer than adults do. This is even more apparent in the technology world where the joke has always been, ‘Let the child program the time on the VCR’. Today, many adults say that they don’t know how to do something and don’t have the time to learn how. I know time is a big factor, but honestly, with 4 minutes and Google, you can pretty much learn almost anything. I think that more than time, many adults have lost the ability to just try, be wrong, and try again.

Our schools teach students that being correct on exams is the main idea in school. Students who play a Nintendo DS for hours, trying to figure out the right way to win the current level, have the ability to be wrong and eventually, creatively find the answer that works. Adults on the other hand, are faced with wrong answers as failure and failure is punishable. The theory is that as we become adults, being wrong is more deadly than a temporary detour before success.

Please enjoy the full video or at least the short excerpt linked to above. Think about how we can keep the creativity in our daily lives and the lives of our children. I suggest that blogging is a great outlet for personal creativity and it also allows for the shared experience of peers.

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We are looking at the iTouch as an educationally valid tool. Could the teacher check student blog posts while walking around the school? Short post today.

It’s such an awful connotation. “I’m going to stop teaching a curriculum that is student-centered around their interests as those interests encircle our curriculum goals. Instead, I’m going to spend a year drilling skills into their head without regard to promoting the ‘willingness to come to school’ idea.”

One school where I taught was very open to me choosing how the curriculum was delivered. I could teach bridge building and castle history as long as I covered my grade-level goals. Another school I was at was much more test-centered and we had little ‘extra’ time for the activities that made students want to come to school.  So, while there are advantages and disadvantages to both, today’s question is, “How can I squeeze a blog into my test-centered curriculum?”

If there is less time for centers rotations or lab time where students can all get hands-on time with the class blog, then use your blog as a one-to-many delivery system. It could be the problem of the day/week at the beginning of class. Show it to the class and after discussing the answer, one student could spend a short time writing the answer so it would be recorded.  Grant bonus points for students who use their independent or after school time to write a response about the day’s answer.

The blogging rationale would be that you would have a record over time of how student answers have changed or improved. In math, the teacher could lead a review over past strategies used to solve certain problems. Blogs are searchable and categorized, so quickly looking for ‘multiplication’ could bring up past classroom solutions that could be re-evaluated and improved upon.  Parents could view the blog so they could have a deeper understanding of what is being covered in class so they could better help Johnny at home.  Blogging using categories similar to tested state standards will help document the breadth of standards coverage in the classroom.  Pull up a particular standards category and view all the ways that it has been discussed through the year.

I’ve handed a set of computers to a teacher before and watch the classroom use them in creative ways to build products that showed understanding of tested material. Yet, the administrator came in and told the teacher to stop using the computers and get back to test practice.  The teacher was crushed.  I would hope that in our accountability-driven environment, even the one-to-many use of blogging would hold up as a tool that would help students communicate learning success and be seen as the valid classroom resource that it can be.