Another year of the Mighty Smackdown has begun. My third, and fifth for the Smack down itself. This is a professional development opportunity for teachers to read and familiarize themselves with some Young Adult literature that is available. New books are selected each year, many are award winners. Teachers are divided into teams. Each team reads two novels and advances one. Sometimes it is a hard choice, either because you like them both or because you don’t. Other times the choice is so clear and obvious. We keep reading, voting and then blogging about our choices. As books are eliminated, the groups get bigger. Until there are only two books left and the whole group votes on which book can be the one and only victor…or until the facilitators have to break the tie, like last year. I have been fortunate enough to like the winner in both of my previous years which is NOT the case for all my colleagues. The first bracket is done, and the victors have been announced. Excited about bracket number 2. Check it out at the link below.
A colleague has eloquently written on this topic.
Some really great insights and summary of the issue.
Let’s begin the new year with a nuts and bolts educational issue. (My New Year’s Resolution is to say less about hot-button political issues and make fewer needless enemies…). In this post I consider the place of final exams. In the next post I consider the place of lectures in teaching.
Exams vs. projects? UbD is agnostic about many educational practices, be they final exams or projects. Yet, we often get queries such as these two recent ones: what’s the official UbD position, if any, on final exams? Should we be doing more hands-on projects if we’re doing UbD? The glib answer: no technique is inherently sacred or profane; what matters is how exams and projects are shaped, timed, and assessed – mindful of course goals. As you’ll see below, I think we tend to fixate on the format instead of worrying about the key question: regardless of format…
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Prevailing public opinion would suggest they should. The government is spending a lot of its media “face time” suggesting that would be the case. But does the fact that Education Minister Jeff Johnson has convinced the public make it so?
A recent op-ed article in the Los Angeles Times would suggest otherwise. The solution to teacher apathy can be found a little closer to home. You see if you want teachers to be engaged, improving and developing across the span of their career, it turns out you have to provide them with better quality LEADERSHIP. Perhaps we should look at firing for incompetence, but as is often the case, that incompetence isn’t on the front line. It is a little closer to home for the Minister and other top line education ‘leaders.’
One of the hardest things to convince people, especially ‘old school’ educators and some ‘old school’ parents is the important role of formative assessments. Understanding Formative assessment means knowing both what it is, and why it is important.
A better understanding of assessment…
I just finished reading a post from my good friend and co-author of The Relevant Educator, Steve Anderson. His recent post, “Why Formative Assessments Matter” got me thinking about assessments in general and how often they are misunderstood and often abused by well-meaning educators.
We have all been taught that there are two categories of assessment, Formative and Summative. Formative assessment is done during a particular lesson to gauge student learning and understanding as the lesson progresses. This often takes the form of quizzes, but there are less formal forms that are as effective. The summative assessment is usually, but not always an exam of some type. It is to determine how much the student learned and understood from the overall experience. This could be a unit exam with various types of questions, or possibly some type of report done by the student.
With my education students I would…
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