Education Links Bookmarked (weekly)

  • tags: creativity teaching learning blog

    • it becomes tempting to resort to drill-and-kill teaching methods that cover information in a generic, surface-level way
    • fostering curiosity
    • teenagers are interested in almost anything taught well and with passion
    • I’m continually amazed how teaching an applicable skill piques students’ curiosity and prompts them to do more research. Last year, my students wondered about the claims that wealthy Americans pay more taxes than the rest of us. So they graphed the tax tables, fit functions to them, and reverse-engineered the equations the IRS uses to figure taxable income and tax rates.
    • They not only have a deeper understanding of math, they can also explain how taxation affects populations and their political choices.
    • test-driven push to quickly cover the state-mandated curriculum is growing. As a result, in too many classrooms students feign interest and are afraid to make mistakes
  • tags: research assessment grading grades blog learning

    • You can tell a lot about a teacher’s values and  personality just by asking how he or she feels about giving grades.  Some  defend the practice, claiming that grades are necessary to “motivate”  students.
    • the most impressive teachers are those who  despise the whole process of giving grades.  Their aversion, as it turns out,  is supported by solid evidence that raises questions about the very idea of  traditional grading.
    • 1.  Grades tend to reduce students’ interest in the  learning itself
    • they  are likely to come to view that task (or book or idea) as a chore. 
    • these two ways of thinking generally pull in  opposite directions
    • 2.  Grades tend to reduce students’ preference for  challenging tasks
    • Students of all ages who have been led to concentrate on  getting a good grade are likely to pick the easiest possible assignment if  given a choice
    • The more pressure to get an A, the less inclination to truly  challenge oneself.
    • 3.  Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’  thinking.
    • students who tended to think about current  events in terms of what they’d need to know for a grade were less  knowledgeable than their peers
    • 4. Grades aren’t valid, reliable, or objective. 
    • what grades offer is spurious precision – a subjective rating  masquerading as an objective evaluation
      • This has always been the case.
    • 5. Grades distort the curriculum.
    • 6. Grades waste a lot of time that could be spent on  learning
    • 7. Grades encourage cheating
    • 9.  Grades spoil students’ relationships with each  other.
    • “It is not a symbol of rigor to have grades  fall into a ‘normal’ distribution; rather, it is a symbol of failure –  failure to teach well, failure to test well, and failure to have any  influence at all on the intellectual lives of students” (Milton et al., 1986,  p. 225).
      • but people looooove winners and losers.
    • The competition that turns schooling into a quest for  triumph and ruptures relationships among students doesn’t just happen within  classrooms, of course. 
    • I’ve taught  high school students who reacted to the absence of grades with what I can  only describe as existential vertigo.
    • high schools point the finger at colleges
    • It’s more an indictment of what has happened to them in the  past than an argument to keep doing it in the future
    • Many teachers are loath to give up what is essentially an  instrument of control.  But even to the extent this instrument works (which  is not always), we are obliged to reflect on whether mindless compliance is  really our goal.
    • bribes (A’s) and threats (F’s)
    • “If I can’t give a child a better reason for studying  than a grade on a report card, I ought to lock my desk and go home and stay  there.”  So wrote Dorothy De Zouche, a Missouri teacher, in an article  published in February . . . of 1945. 
    • traditional grades are not mandatory for admission to  colleges and universities.
    • people don’t resist  change – they resist being changed.
    • The first  step for an administrator, therefore, is to open up a conversation – to spend  perhaps a full year just encouraging people to think and talk about the  effects of (and alternatives to) traditional grades.
    • Anyone who has heard the term “authentic assessment”  knows that abolishing grades doesn’t mean eliminating the process of  gathering information about student performance – and communicating that  information to students and parents
    • narratives
    • portfolios
    • projects
    • conferences
    • exhibitions
    • it’s harder for a teacher to do these kinds  of assessments if he or she has 150 or more students and sees each of them  for 45-55 minutes a day.  But that’s not an argument for continuing to use  traditional grades; it’s an argument for challenging these archaic remnants  of a factory-oriented approach to instruction,
    • It’s an argument for looking into block scheduling, team  teaching, interdisciplinary courses
    • whether schools exist  for the purpose of competitive credentialing or for the purpose of helping  everyone to learn
    • traditional grading undermines excellence
    • they should do everything within their power to make grades as invisible  as possible for as long as possible.
    • Helping students forget about grades is  the single best piece of advice for creating a learning-oriented classroom.
      • Yes!! This is what I’ve been doing!
    • as the days went by, fewer and fewer students felt the need to ask  me about grades
    • get students  involved in devising the criteria for excellence (what makes a math solution  elegant, an experiment well-designed, an essay persuasive, a story  compelling) as well as deciding how well their projects met those criteria.
    • give up control
    • helping students participate in assessment and turn that  into part of the learning
    • powerful alternatives to letter grades
    • plenty of admissions officers enjoy the  convenience of class ranking, apparently because they have confused being  better than one’s peers with being good at something; they’re looking for  winners rather than learners.
  • tags: grades assessment schools blog

    • nothing changed
      • What has changed now?
    • we all know the downsides of the narrow focus on reading and math scores in grades three through eight and once in high school.
    • It penalizes schools with an educational strategy that succeeds in the long term but doesn’t produce sky-high scores now.
    • it undervalues other important contributions that schools make, such as to students’ character development and social skills
    • Teaching is a very human act; evaluating good teaching takes human judgment—and the teacher’s role in the school’s life, and her students’ lives, goes beyond measurable academic gains.
    • actionable feedback
      • instead of just punishable data
    • nuances missed by the value-added data
    • It still assumes that we can take discrete bits of data and spit out a credible assessment of organizations as complex as schools
    • Fund managers don’t just look at the profit and loss statements for the companies in which they invest. They send analysts to go visit with the team, hear about their strategy, kick the tires, talk to insiders, find out what’s really going on. Their assessment starts with the numbers, but it doesn’t end there.
    • Such a system would remain imperfect. Human judgment would introduce subjectivity and error into the process.
  • tags: Rubrics assessment grades blog

    • I struggled for months trying to create ‘student-proof’ rubrics that would allow me to consistantly assess their learning.
    • making the choice for what something would be out of was a huge deal, as it very much affected the grade my students ended up with.
    • there is nothing in between barely passing 50% and 75%. That’s a large leap
    •  And if I give half marks on the 5 point scale, I might as well use the 10 point scale.
    •  And if you don’t like number or letter grades, there is no shortage of teachers who would rather use word descriptors
    • even when teachers move away from numbers or letters, the kids or parents may not.
    • Symantics become the largest problem with written judgements like these
    • Teachers could spend the rest of their careers attending professional development sessions where we discuss, argue, bicker and nit-pick over which reductionist scale is better. Some teachers may like numbers, some letters, while others prefer happy faces or words. There may be small, almost indistinguishable differences between these scales, but keep in mind they all have one common characteristic – they are all reductionist in nature. They all attempt to take something as messy and beautiful as learning and reduce it all to a single or double digit.
    • Paul Dressel
    • A mark or grade is an inadequate report of an inaccurate judgment by a biased and variable judge of the extent to which a student has attained an indefinite amount of material.
    • Grades and rubrics are a solution in search of a problem
  • tags: higher education blog social media

    • I wrote off Twitter as a poor man’s version of Facebook, one that winnowed away features like photographs and event invitations for the brevity of the pure status update. As far as I could tell, Twitter was a self-indulgent site on which people posted the minutia of their daily lives.
    • the role that Twitter can play in helping academics keep track of new developments in teaching and learning.
    • “I was under the misconception, like many, that Twitter was mostly people sharing what they had for breakfast.”
    • I realized that Twitter could be a medium for smart, engaging conversations, too.
    • It seemed like I was missing out on a vibrant conversation, and I wanted to join in
    • “It’s a bit like the chit-chat that occurs in the lobby at a good conference: You never know what interesting thing someone will share.”
    • If I want to know what my friends had for breakfast, I can always turn to Facebook; if I want to learn about the most current research findings in teaching and learning, I now turn to Twitter.
    • the “distraction potential of Twitter” can be managed
    • Just dipping into the ‘stream’ every now and then is still very useful
  • tags: khan blog

    • Sylvia Martinez, president of Generation YES, is our guest this week and she helps us answer an important question. Is Khan Academy a Monday solution?
  • tags: high school blog

    • Teachers must make somewhere around 5,000 decisions a day — so it’s no wonder I often cannot answer the question, “What’s for supper?” My feet hit the Mooresville (NC) High School parking lot at 6:45 a.m., and I feel like I’m nibbled by piranhas for the next ten hours:
    • Even with more than 25 years of experience, I am always learning. I delve into research about how students learn, read up on education practice and policy, and continue to change how I teach to better meet students’ needs.
  • tags: ideas learning blog

    • Annie Murphy Paul, the author of Origins, is at work on a book about the science of learning. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, Discover, and Health. Follow her on Twitter here, friend her on Facebook and read her blog.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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