What strategy can you use that will double your student learning gains? The answer, according to 250 studies is formative assessment. Unlike summative assessment which typically takes place at the end of a section and evaluates learning according to a benchmark, formative assessment is intended to check understanding during learning.
One of the layers of the @citvated classroom model is Correction. It is this layer that not only encourages the use of tools that enable students to learn through mistakes, but it is also the layer that encourages the use of formative assessment tools.
The exciting thing is that there are a wide range of amazing tools that can be used not only for formative assessment, but for fun formative assessment.
Tools like Socrative and Kahoot provide ideal places to quickly setup assessments and get students enthusiastically engaged in the learning process.
Kahoot makes use of a gamification element where the students compete against each other in a race to top the leaderboard. In addition to being easy to use Kahoot allows teachers to both prepare questions before a lesson or to have pop-quizzes where questions are created on the fly.
The Most Dangerous Writing App
Or how about something totally different, something that combines creation, correction and conversation all into one. One of the most powerful ways of doing formative assessment is to get students to summarize what they have learned during the lesson. They could quite simply turn to their neighbour and chat about this - but then in all likelihood they will talk about sport or fashion, and not the lesson.
Well, here's a unique way to use technology to get them to think quickly about what they've just learned...because if they don't think quickly, there's a price to pay!
Get them to all visit "The Most Dangerous Writing App" website. It's free - uncluttered, and simply asks one question. "Session length?"
The students can be given anything from 5 mins to 60 mins to write down what they have learned. However there is a catch...if they stop writing for just 5 seconds, they lose everything and have to start again. In the words of the site:
"Because 'tis better to have written and lost, than never to have written at all."
This is a great way to force students to write, and think while they write. No time for looking at their friend or daydreaming about what they've missed on Snapchat, or when the lesson will end. It's write or start again.
Yet another exciting and active way to get students to share their thinking and for teachers to use formative assessment as a tool to improve learning, because after all, @activists do!
“If you've never failed you've never tried,” proclaims the adage. So...
It's right to be wrong
being wrong is right
it's right to be right
This conundrum leaves me not only nonplussed but...
in the uncomfortable place
What has all this right and wrong got to do with anything?
It's about a world fixated with certainty but striving for change.
It's about a world espousing tolerance but celebrating conviction.
It's about a world selling final solutions but providing beta tools.
It's about a world encouraging trying but only celebrating winners.
It's a world of poles.
Left - Right.
East - West.
It's a world of labels.
Labels are great.
They allow us to make sense of things.
Modernist - Post Modernist
Positivist - Interpretivist
Conservative - Liberal...Aah, what weighty labels this pair is, whether used in politics, religion, education, anywhere.
Labels are great.
Once you attach them to a person you no longer need to think.
He's a Vegan.
She's a Goth.
He's a Muslim.
She's a Greeny.
Labels come with [predefined packages].
How they dress.
How they think.
How they speak.
How they act.
Run preinstalled thinking routine.
Labels are great.
Once we attach them to ourselves we no longer need to think.
Run preinstalled thinking routine.
“The dominant Western worldview is not based on seeing synergies and connections but on making distinctions and seeing differences. This is why we pin butterflies in separate boxes from beetles - and teach separate subjects in schools.” (Ken Robinson)
Yet what makes us think our world fits so neatly into our predefined labels? Each of these labels unpacks into a myriad of other issues.
Each of these labels has stolid supporters who genuinely espouse the views. Not just crazy radicals, although they may exist, but reasonable people just like me...just like you.
Each of these labels has stolid adversaries who genuinely reject the views. Not just crazy radicals, although they may exist, but reasonable people just like me...just like you.
Where does this leave us if we toss out labels, if we toss out our neat categories?
It leaves us in the uncomfortable place (between).
A place where every person we meet, must be engaged and assessed.
A place where every issue raised, must be reasoned and examined.
A place where every idea proposed, must be explored and imagined.
Now that's truly an uncomfortable place to be.
A place where we can't blithely tar and feather people, issues, and ideas, with the broad stroke of a label.
- A place where we treat people as individuals,
- issues as opportunities,
- and ideas as possibilities )
Labels are wrong.
But if it's right to be wrong then labels are right, because they're wrong...which once more leaves me in that uncomfortable place
where if labels are wrong,
then paradoxically I should be labeled as
which would be a comfortable place to be.
I could reject all labels as trivializing and shallow.
I could RAGE against those who mindlessly categorize.
I could disparage those who shallowly reduce complexity to simplicity.
What makes us think our world does not fit beautifully into amazing patterns given life by labels?
What makes us think that our world of complexities cannot be reduced to the beauty of a number, of a pattern, of a label?
Rather let's be in the uncomfortable place - between - labels - and no labels.
Rather let's be in the uncomfortable place - between - certainty of what's right - and confusion about what's wrong.
A place not of solid ground...
“The world is not made of stable, rock-solid forms, but only of front lines in a battle or love story between actants.” (Harman)
Like Dadaism...an anti-art.
Art that was not art.
A non-movement that protested against society through non-art, only to become...
A movement that became representative of society's protest through art.
No sooner had Dadaism eschewed labels and classification, than it became a label, and a classification.
Between is not a place of rest,
it is not a place of stasis.
It is a place of imbalance,
a place of movement.
In this movement,
in this imbalance,
there is learning,
there is growth.
Let's celebrate vulnerability because it's the heart of learning.
Let's embrace corecting because it's more valuable than correct.
Let's treasure uncertaint... because it's the genesis of innovation.
Whether you're theorizing in academia, debating in society, arguing in religion, discussing in politics, or teaching in schools, let's question our quixotic certainties and step into the uncomfortable space called “between” - because therein lies our greatest opportunities to learn, to grow, to become.
Now I know I am right.
Now I know I am wrong.
Now I know I...
BE (In The Uncomfortable Place) TWEEN
“Also: please note that we NEVER link to Wikipedia,” reads the email about an article for The Conversation Africa. I’m not surprised. The same sentiment is expressed in many course documents at universities and schools.
Wikipedia, the pariah of content resources, is frequently considered an unacceptable and unreliable source of information. It’s critiqued as being “a mish-mash of truth, half truth, and some falsehoods".
But, in 2005, the journal Nature conducted a study comparing the accuracy of Wikipedia to Encyclopedia Britannica. The results showed that the average Wikipedia article had four errors while the average Britannica article had three. A more recent study found that:
What’s important about these studies is not Wikipedia’s accuracy rate. Rather, the research reminds us that all content contains errors.
Technology has changed the way we document, share and access knowledge. First came the shift from oral learning and communication to text. This meant that knowledge could be thought about carefully before it was recorded and transmitted. Once recorded it could be assessed and discussed even though the originator was not present. This increased the necessity for content to be correct before it was recorded.
Then the printing press was developed. Now written content could be replicated and shared almost without limit. Mistakes would be seen by even wider audiences, so once again correctness became crucial. The job of proofreader was even developed to guard against mistakes.
The next big advancement was the development of the computer. Now content that was recorded could be changed after the fact – a crucial change from paper-based content. Word processors, made popular by office suites like Microsoft Office, became common tools. Text could be cut and pasted, words inserted, deleted or changed, or additional content added. Proofreading was still necessary, but no longer as important. After all, content could be changed at any point in the process.
What word processors were to writing, the Internet became to printing. Now for the first time not only could content be digitally recorded, it could be shared almost without cost or limit. The explosion of content across billions of websites bears testimony to this.
We’ve always been correcting
As the research comparing Wikipedia to the Encyclopedia Britannica shows, even printed content has errors. But before digital media, we deemed content to be correct simply because the feedback loop was much slower and not as obvious. The errors in those encyclopedias were corrected in subsequent editions – and, invariably, new ones would be introduced and have to be corrected in another edition down the line.
In academia, published research would eventually be read and critiqued. This would spark new research that improved on what was previously deemed as correct.
All of our scientific development and writing, at a meta level, has essentially been a huge wiki experience. Content evolves and improves as people read and add to it. So our disdain for wiki-type, correcting spaces is essentially a rejection of the process we’ve been undertaking for centuries. The main differences now are that the correcting cycle is far quicker and many more people have input.
From content to conversation
I’ve written this article as a process born of my modern technologies. I wrote a draft without being concerned about grammar or exact phrasing, because I knew I’d return to it later. Most important was the capturing of ideas and arguments. Even these were only partially formed and after each reading some were added while others were discarded.
The process of correcting continued until the piece was complete. Complete, but not correct – because this is itself just another voice in the conversation that is correcting as we continue. This is just a wiki of voices filled with content that is surely incorrect but right in our desire to keep improving.
We need to shift our conceptions of content. We need to shift our ideas of “correct”. We need to embrace an era where everything is in beta. Everything is correcting. Everything is in conversation. Wikipedia is the ultimate exemplar of such a space. Already, teachers are showing how effective it can be as a tool for learning once we change our perspective. It shatters the illusion of perfection and encourages creativity and critical thinking.
Our attempts to ban students (and writers) from using these modern digital spaces will inevitably fail. And, in the meantime, it will rob us of the opportunity to engage in conversation, rather than blind content consumption. Let the conversation continue.
Dr. Craig Blewett is the author and founder of the Activated Classroom Teaching (ACT) approach. He helps schools and universities around the world towards the effective use of educational technology.
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