Monday, February 22, 2016

EDTECH 542- Reflection on Assessments

This week I developed the assessment plan for my Overthrowing a government project.  I took a curricular approach in developing my assessments. I focused on the learning outcomes from the Alberta Curriculum I work with.  I would target an outcome (sometimes more than one) and would develop the assessment idea to ensure these outcomes were covered.  I would indicate these outcomes in the footer which is something I have been doing for a few years now as sort of a personal accountability measure for my assessment practices.  I can quickly see which outcomes I have dealt with and also which outcomes still need to be addressed.  This also helps assure my students that I am having them do activities they are truly supposed to be doing.

I have thought long and hard about allowing some student voice within the creation of the rubrics I have included.  Although I have created the rubric, I would say it is more of a starting point.  I would like to go over it with the class and have them change the rubric into student friendly language.  In my way of thinking, this would   help develop a deep understanding of what was expected of them and and therefore help students hit the targets I am hoping for.  Students may also be more engaged in the whole process if they feel some ownership on how they will be assessed.  I also assume I will have to give less specific feedback at the end of the assessment as the students will already have a good understanding on what the difference between one grade and the next.  It will be interesting to see how well this works out.

My assessment plan can be found here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

EDTECH 542 Week 5 Reflections

Our goal this week was to come up with the driving question for our project.  In other words, the question that will give the project it's direction and that will focus the energies of teacher and students alike.  Last week when I came up with the idea of my project, I actually named it after my driving question so this week I had to analyze the question I had made and verify that it follows the criteria of an effective driving question.

Driving questions are intended to be open-ended, answerable, challenging, of interest to students, and based on provincial or state standards.  The challenging nature of these questions often spawn more specific questions that need to be answered during the project. When these criteria are met, the result is often a more engaging experience for the students.

I do believe that my driving question, How do we overthrow a government and then maintain power"?" meets the aforementioned criteria and I am excited to see how this will work in practice as I am planning on using this with the classes I am teaching this semester.

We were also asked to create a visual project organizer.  Several online tools were suggested but I chose to try a service called Coggle to create a mind map version of the project.  Coggle was a great find.  It was easy to use and the product it created looks great.  I also plan on using this with students in the future.  An added bonus for sure.

Here is the link to my visual project organizer.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Researching PBL Projects- February 6, 2016

Over the past week I have been searching for ideas for my very first PBL project.  In the process, I have noticed a couple of things.  First, the amount of PBL ideas and the variety of these projects is overwhelming.   There really are no limits in what a classroom teacher can do with the methodology.  I also notice there are more projects geared toward STEM and the sciences than the humanities.  Perhaps this is just my own bias at play but regardless of which website I looked at, there always seemed a separate section for STEM projects.  This doesn’t bother me but as a Social Studies teacher, I noticed fewer potential ideas in my discipline than in others.  

Now that I am exploring these project ideas online, I truly get the sense that PBL will be a good match for my teaching style.  I really don’t like to stand and deliver for very long.  And I work very hard to keep my students engaged.  I try to switch things up activities often during an 80 minute class.  I focus a lot on relationship building so I know my students well and this allows me to have a positive and focused learning environment.  I think all these teaching traits of mine will lend themselves to finding success using PBL

I have been contemplating a few project ideas and have been asking for input from my colleagues.  Around coffee in the mornings, we have brainstormed project ideas on “how to have a revolution”, “how to be a dictator”, etc but none of these seemed to have the staying power needed for a strong driving question.  I am leaning toward a project that is geared towards the political realm of social studies though.  The driving question I am thinking of, will lend itself to sustained inquiry and will help my students understand many if not most of the learning outcomes of our political unit of study in Grade 12 social studies.  The question I am seriously considering is, “How do you overthrow a government  and then maintain power”.  The additional questions that this topic fuels would create engaging learning.  For example, why would we want to overthrow a government?  What overthrow really mean?  What methods are available to the people to rid themselves of a government?  What kind of government structure would you replace it with?  I still have many things to figure out but I really think I can make this idea work.