Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Carrying Out the GAME Plan

  • Goal: Increase student innovation by providing choices in formative assessment situations.
  • Action: Develop 3 rubrics for assessment of student mastery, to foster creative solutions while maintaining the integrity of department-wide assessments.
  • Monitoring: Success will be marked by an increase in non-traditional student work on assessments. Such work may be different in format from the traditional paper tests that students may see in high school math, but the students will still demonstrate mastery of the same State of Michigan mathematics standards.
  • Evaluation: Quantitative data can be collected from State MME/ACT scores from successive years to determine if State standards trend upwards, downwards, or remain unchanged.

Resources Needed: Time! In order to develop effective rubrics, it is necessary to have the time to thoughtfully craft rubrics that are flexible enough to allow for student choice, but also specific enough to accurately describe what high quality products look like. Possible other resources include investigations into the multimedia resources available to students during school hours, and availability of computer labs and other creative spaces after school.

Information Needed: What are the constraints on our departmental "common assessments?" What measures of mastery are sufficient to satisfy State of Michigan standards?

Steps so Far: My previous work in teaching Digital Video Projects has provided a solid foundation for developing rubrics that allow for student creativity within the confines of particular requirements. My recent efforts have revamped existing rubrics to mathematical situations, and have provided measures of "mastered", "developing", and "emergent" proficiency in various skill areas.

  • Goal: Increase students’ ability to drive their own learning experience through the use of technology.
  • Action: Modify existing classroom methods for student self-reflection so as to include technological enhancements. Some modifications may simply be to go “paperless” with some forms. However, new activities such as developing a video log of learning, maintaining a wiki site for shared classroom knowledge, or other student-created options are more likely.
  • Monitoring: Successful implementation will include an increase in the number of student-generated personal reflections on their learning.
  • Evaluation: Much of the long-term impact of such reflection will not be fully realized until much later. In all likelihood, the true effects will not be seen except for those few anecdotes from students as they make their way in the world. Our global market has caused a great demand for students to be able to self-monitor, self-assess, and create new pathways based on their analysis.

Resources Needed: In order to fully allow for students to apply technological solutions to problems, I need ready access to computer resources. I currently have two computers available for student use in my classroom, and hope to add four more computers. This will allow for more simultaneous use by individuals or groups.

Information Needed: How can student use of personal electronics for academic purposes be made compatible with currently restrictive school policies? What changes could be considered to policies to allow for appropriate use of personal technology?

Steps so Far: Initial efforts to increase the amount of personal reflection have been low-tech or no-tech in nature. Students are writing in personal logs about their successes and failures after each quiz. Over the course of a chapter, each student generates a quiz log that describes the specifics of the skills they have mastered, the places they made mistakes, and the steps needed to fix those errors.


  1. Andrew,

    Your idea of creating rubrics that assess student mastery is a great way to help promote creativity in your classroom. I can attest to needing more time to do so. There are many different technology based ideas that would be great to implement into my science classroom, but it is very difficult to find the necessary time to do what I want. Anytime I think I have found a minute or two to work on something, something else comes up.

    Your goal of acquiring more computers for your classroom is one that I share. Currently there is one computer is my room, which is the one I utilize. There are no student computers, even though I can think of numerous projects and technology based activities my science classes could complete if I had the necessary tools. I have been lobbying for some computers, even two or three, but have not been able to acquire any quite yet. I would love to see my students increase their ability to learn on their own through technology; it is just a matter of having the tools to do so.


  2. Andrew,

    I am particularly intrigued by your comments regarding the information needed for your second goal. So much of what we need to do to incorporate technology in our classrooms is to get the schools/districts to buy in. Between funding the actually hard and software and allowing students and teachers to use the full potential of the technology, teacher are often hard pressed to bring in new technology. Your apparent appreciation for the academic potentials of personal technology in the classroom is similar to mine. My students have more advanced technology than our school can offer and their technological abilities/skills/interests far outweigh what I could come up with on my own. I believe that our students should be afforded a bit more freedom and trusted to make responsible decisions with technology. Obviously, they need some guidance, but they miss out on too much if too many restrictions are in place. Open forums leave opportunities for students to learn more than I could teach them about content and practical experiences in which they must become responsible consumers of information.

    I admire your plan to learn what the barriers are and your drive to see how you can change them.


  3. Nancy & Jonas-

    Thanks for the input!

    It seems so odd to me that we work so hard to get our students to be modern learners yet we restrict their access to their own support structures. At first, our school was banning all personal electronic devices. Then, the tragic events of Columbine High School changed the way parents viewed cell phones, and our school board determined that students should be allowed to retain possession through the school day.

    However, modern cell phones are used for far more than calling during emergencies. They are used for sending texts, taking pictures, playing music, and accessing the internet. Our current school policies do not allow students to make use of those features during class. An iPod Touch has a full-featured scientific calculator as part of its features, but due to its headphone jack, it becomes a classroom nuisance. It is unfortunate, but many students who "cannot afford a calculator" for math are the same ones with entertainment devices like the iPod touch. I have temporarily solved this issue by allowing students to make use of the calculator functions as long as they do not have their headphones plugged in. Another danger here is that the iPhone and iPod touch look very much alike, and the iPhone allows for text and internet capabilities. This means I have to watch closely during tests for possible misuses while skirting school policy.

    I do not anticipate being able to change our policies quickly, but with a convincing case for appropriate use of technology, I hope to slowly change the administration's views on personal electronics.


  4. Andrew,

    You bring up many valid points. My district's policy is to not allow any type of personal electronic devices into the clasroom. Students are allowed to bring cell phones and iPods to school, but must leave all such items in their locker until the end of the day. If they are found to have any electronic device in their possession, it is to be confiscated and turned into the office.

    Like you stated, as teachers and educators, we are trying to make our students modern learners. However, we are not allowing them to use modern technology to help with the process. How can we expect to properly prepare our students for their future workplace if they are not using the tools and programs that are readily available? Students today are digital natives who use technology all times of the day, except for the hours they are in school. It seems pointless and wrong to withhold valuable teaching tools from our students.