Saturday, June 25, 2016

Let Them Choose WITHOUT Losing Your Mind!

Recently for an online class, we were asked to examine where we fell on a matrix of tech integration. I always try to infuse technology with the curriculum as I know that it serves as a method of student engagement.  I also try to provide authentic learning experiences for my students, although I think we all know that is easier said than done.  Have I done it?  Yes, I truly think I have, but day in and day out making learning authentic is a difficult task for anyone.  However, by providing choice for our students, they are able to engage in a mode that interests them and in a way, that provides a more authentic learning experience for that student.

The basis of letting of them choose without losing your mind is that if we focus on the standard, we can provide unlimited opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery of a standard without stressing ourselves out with 17 rubrics and the fear that we don't really know what they are doing.  The first time I ever used this format was in a unit with The Pearl by Steinbeck.  I found it to be successful, and I felt myself sitting back and watching the students have authentic conversations about the topic.  There were even some moments, I have to admit, that they didn't need me at all.  I could have walked out of the room, and I don't think most of the students even would have realized it.  But, isn't that our end goal?

So here is how it works.  These are screenshots of my upcoming presentation.  If you are going to be at Clark County Connected, please join me!

Step 1: Identify the skills, not the product you want to assess.

Step 2: Create your options that will demonstrate those skills.  Someone once asked me, what if they come with a different idea?  Absolutely! I had students create Powtoons and so many other options for this project.  I just gave them the outline, again focusing on the skill.

My Options:
--Digital Playlists
--Edited Video
--Online Videogame

Step 3: Let them Go!

It works for some many subject areas and grade levels.  Here is a sample for 2nd grade types of sentences.

What I Learned?
When I let go, my kids learned so much more and their engagement was real and authentic.  I have students who plan on studying videogame design in college, so why not let them use that in some small way to show me they know the skills and standards of my classroom?

With technology, it is easy to assess the tech, but I think as teachers we need to remember that the tech is not really what we are assessing.  If your rubric starts to look more like a checklist for the technology application, I think we are missing the point of technology.  If our rubric takes complete control over something that frankly is not our standards anyway, then we are stifling their creativity to display their knowledge and it becomes another school assignment, not an experience.

We won't always be the experts.  I had no idea how to make an online videogame when I put it as an option, but the kids did.  They showed me; I could make a very basic one now, but I had to be okay that they knew more than me.  Surprisingly, the kids were too.

I don't have to be the one with all the knowledge; I just have to facilitate their learning and their growth.

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