Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More assessment

Great timing of Helen's post; I too have been connecting with the learning we did at the BRSU in-service this year on assessment and Disrupting Class. How can we become more like Toyota and less like Detroit when it comes to testing our students?

On page 111, the authors state that, by disruptively deploying computers, "assessment and individualized assistance can be interactively and interdependently woven into the content-delivery stage, rather than tacked on as a test at the end of the process. And the software makers can also use the feedback loop to learn how to improve their product for different kinds of learners."

I think about students whose NECAP scores don't always reflect their abilities; about hidden talents that go untapped in traditional schooling settings; about the challenge of differentiated instruction, and believe that technology really needs to be utilized now to attack the problem of assessment and individualized instruction.

I also think about a quote I heard recently at a conference about why kids (this speaker was referring in particular to many boys) love video games. Besides the obvious excitement of the action, graphics, and tasks of the games, the kids this speaker talked to loved that they could lose or "die" in a video game, then start right over and try again without any real penalty, just the chance again to gain a level. And usually this "failure" takes place alone or with a friend or two who may have had the same losing experience, can relate, and can offer advice about how to get past the obstacle next time. What would school look like if the obstacles and failures kids experienced were seen in that way?

How can we use our existing technology right now to help us disrupt assessment and individualized learning right now? Exciting questions on a rainy morning...


  1. Good point. We need to provide a supportive environment for students to take intellectual risks - the system puts too much emphasis on failure as a terminal state as opposed to the begining of new inquiry and continued growth.

  2. As I read the book and thought about the posts here, there were 3 things that emerged for me and Kelly has proposed two of the points I have regarding using what we have right now for individualized learning and how to disrupt assessment. In our math flex program at CMS, I already see the benefits of using the "just right site" that emphasizes/teaches/allows for practice of needed skills and concepts for BOTH struggling learners and those ready for stretching.....There is so much out there already. I do struggle myself with how to take what kids are doing online that I know is helping them learn and then figure out how to consider it "evidence" when it comes time to review data with my colleagues whose students spend 2 hours a week with me working in this differentiated way. It would be great to have a better idea of how or maybe what is out there that has built in assessment components that could serve as the data we look for, but I get concerned that to produce the data, students will end up doing something that looks and feels like it might as well be a task on paper but it just happens to be presented electronically. This is an area I'd like to learn more about.
    Also, we talk a lot about helping struggling learners through various means,both mentioned in and out of the book, but I have grown increasingly more sensitive to the students at the elementary level that have mastered this or that, and who are demonstrating understanding and competency beyond grade level. I am really interested in how we can make use of technology in a fitting and exciting way to help stem the boredom these students experience as they wait through lessons of things they know well already.

    “Disruptive technologies must be applied in applications where the alternative is nothing” (p. 74) Well. who could argue with that? I contend though that disruptive technologies ought to be applied even where we think that we have set up alternatives. Looking at how we define "alternative" would be an interesting exercise for my colleagues I think.