About Me

After 23 years as a high school social studies teacher, I have taken a leap into library media.
This blog chronicles my experiences making this transition and my learning in that process.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Shift the pedagogy and model assessments

It doesn’t matter how much tech you throw at teachers -- they will do what they have always done unless first, the school builds a vision that using the tech tools can support. And, if the vision can be achieved without the tools, then the tools won't be used. Nothing will change.

A well-defined, understood, and accepted vision will force a shift in pedagogy. All the tech tools and access in the world is irrelevant if nothing is changing in the educational process. There is nothing all that transformative about transitioning from print to digital textbooks if teaching and learning is still being driven by the text. When a veteran teacher laments, "my students just aren't learning like they used to" that teacher is speaking a profound truth. The truly progressive response to that truth is to learn to understand how students are learning now and teach the students who are in the room, so to speak. Adjust your teaching to match how students are learning. We must stop expecting digital age students to learn like their pre-digital predecessors. That is no more possible for them then it was for me to learn without television.

And it is unfair.

Students deserve to learn in the modes and through the experiences that reflect their world and what it will become. Their learning and assessment experiences must be authentic to the digital age. The products of their learning should be shared with a global audience - not just work they do for the teacher. They should be taught and expected to be empathetic communicators of what they know and what they want and need to know. When they communicate they need to know that the members of their audience have had very different life experiences and the effectiveness of their communication depends on the degree to which they appreciate those differences.

Teaching with tech is about innovating HOW we teach. Until we do that, all the BYOD and 1:1 initiatives we undertake will remain underwhelming.

Here are some assessments I have created that I think are authentic, involve critical thinking, and collaboration. They require tech tools and access to be created, but the tech is not the focus of the exercise, it supports the learning.


Science Assessment (Board or Card Game)

Demonstrate knowledge of the structure and function of a cell

The Process:

  1. Start with a game you know and like and unpack it
    • What is the objective of the game?
    • What strategy or skills are required?
    • What background knowledge or experience is necessary?
    • What materials are included? (Don’t forget about the directions!)
    • How many players can participate?
    • What obstacles do players encounter?
    • Do you play against the clock? Against other players? Something else?


  1. Consider your content
    1. How can a player show mastery?
    2. What are the parts of the whole?
    3. What obstacles can a player encounter?
    4. What symbols related to the content can the game include?

  1. Tech tools
    1. Brainstorm in Google docs
    2. Plan your board and/or cards in Google Slides or Draw
    3. Go for broke: make your playing pieces with the 3D printer


Literary Assessment (Travel Poster)
Show how setting can function as a character in literature

The Process:
  1. Start with a poster about a place you have been and unpack it
    1. What is the goal or overall message of the poster?
    2. What words are used to convey the message?
    3. How are images and color used to convey the message?
    4. What is enticing about visiting this place? How does the poster make that clear?
    5. Having been to this place, what would you add to or remove from this poster?

  1. Consider your content
    1. Where is the story set? (start big: country; then narrow it: city, town, street, building, room)
    2. What is the mood of the setting? How does being there make you feel?
    3. How do you get to this place? Is anyone allowed there?
    4. Consider your senses: what would you see, taste, touch, hear, smell in this place?

  1. Tech tools
    1. Brainstorm in Google docs
    2. Image search online or use phone to take pictures
    3. Use Google Slides or Draw, Canva, Adobe Spark or some art program to layout your poster

Math Assessment: (Memes)
Show the connection to a key math theorem, equation, or principle to a real-world situation

The Process:
  1. Start with a meme that you find interesting; be sure it has people or references that are familiar to you
    1. What is the goal or overall message of the meme? What essential truth does it illustrate
    2. What words are used to convey the message?
    3. How are images and color used to convey the message?
    4. If a person is depicted, what do you need to know about that person to understand the meme?
    5. How do the words and images work together to deepen the message?

  1. Consider your content
    1. What is your equation? What is the essential truth it represents?

    1. ax+by+c=0
    2. A=½ BxH
  1. What place, object, or person can also represent or experience this truth?
  2. In what sticky situation will people find themselves if they don’t understand this principle?

  1. Tech tools
    1. Brainstorm in Google docs
    2. Image search online or use phone to take pictures
    3. Use Google Slides or Draw, Canva, Adobe Spark or some art program to layout your meme

World Language Assessment: (Superbowl Commercial)
Rebrand a country in which the target language is natively spoken to improve its global reputation

The Process:
  1. Start with a notable, memorable re-branding campaign (think Eminem and Detroit)
    1. Find the ad on YouTube
    2. Who is the audience?
    3. What behavior is the ad trying to prompt? (What do they want the viewer to do?)
    4. What attitude are they trying to change or create? (What do they want the viewer to believe?)
    5. What do they want the viewer to repeat to other people? (tag line)
    6. What is the overall message?
    7. What attitude is being changed or created? (What do they want the viewer to believe?)
    8. Who is the spokesperson? What impact does he have on the message? Does the ad work even if the viewer doesn't recognize the spokesperson? Explain.
    9. How does the soundtrack work? How does it work with the spokesperson?

  1. Consider your content
    1. What is current perception of the country you are studying? Why?
    2. What about your country do people with this perception not know?
    3. Who represents your country positively?
    4. What new message do you want to convey? Does it work in your target language and English?
    5. How will non-speakers understand the message? Can they repeat it?
    6. What new associations are you trying to build?
    7. How can the soundtrack work to enhance your message?
    8. Will you use humor? Horror? Tug heartstrings?  Hit with facts? What thoughts or emotion will each evoke from your audience?
    9. Will you use Metaphor? Symbols? To what end? What will they make your audience think or feel?

  1. Tech tools
    1. Brainstorm in Google docs
    2. Consult music websites and YouTube for audio files or use digital tools to create a soundtrack
    3. Moovly, PowToon, iMovie can all be used for video composition
    4. Students can use phones to record video and the green screen in the library


Health Assessment: (Song Parodies and Music Videos)
Explain the clues that someone is experiencing violence in a relationship and how to help

The Process:
  1. Start with a song that tells a story
    1. Find the lyrics to the song
    2. What is its structure? Does it have a chorus? A repeated refrain?
    3. What is the tone of the music? How does it enhance the story?

  1. Consider your content
    1. How can a story teach this lesson?
    2. What are the clues you need to highlight?
    3. Can you write a dialogue that will highlight these relationship issues?
    4. Is there a common refrain that suits this situation that work in your lyrics?
    5. Remember, you are only bound by the original melody
    6. Consider creating the music video that goes with your song parody

  1. Tech tools
    1. Brainstorm in Google docs
    2. Consult music websites for lyrics
    3. YouTube will have audio files for rehearsal and karaoke soundtracks
    4. Moovly, PowToon, iMovie can all be used for video composition
    5. Students can use phones to record video and the green screen in the library


Civics Assessment: (Movie Poster and Video Trailer)
Illustrate the process by which a bill became a law

The Process:
  1. Start with a poster about a movie you have seen and unpack it
    1. What is the goal or overall message of the poster?
    2. What words are used to convey the message?
    3. How are images and color used to convey the message?
    4. What is potentially exciting or informative about seeing this movie?
    5. Who had a hand in the creation of this movie? (producer, director, soundtrack, cast, etc.)

  1. Consider your content
    1. What are the steps in the process of a bill becoming a law?
    2. Who can claim to have had a hand in the creation of the law?
    3. What were the obstacles to this law’s passage? How can that drama be conveyed?
    4. What slogan can represent the saga of this bill becoming a law?
    5. What images can capture the impact or importance of this new law?
    6. As an extension activity, students could make the movie trailer about this bill.

  1. Tech tools
    1. Brainstorm in Google docs
    2. Image search online or use phone to take pictures
    3. Use Google Slides or Draw, Canva, Adobe Spark or some art program to layout your poster


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