Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Constructive Alignment

 Just ran into this in my current job  (I am Academic Advisor at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology right now - advising on tertiary qualification programme of study and handling approval and accrediatation requirements that go to NZQA documents).
Professional reading! Yah!  Now I can blog!!!

Full reading here
'Constructive alignment' has two aspects.

The 'constructive' aspect refers to the idea that students construct meaning through relevant learning activities. That is, meaning is not something imparted or transmitted from teacher to learner, but is something learners have to create for themselves. Teaching is simply a catalyst for learning:
'If students are to learn desired outcomes in a reasonably effective manner, then the teacher's fundamental task is to get students to engage in learning activities that are likely to result in their achieving those outcomes... It is helpful to remember that what the student does is actually more important in determining what is learned than what the teacher does.' (Shuell, 1986: 429)

The 'alignment' aspect refers to what the teacher does, which is to set up a learning environment that supports the learning activities appropriate to achieving the desired learning outcomes. The key is that the components in the teaching system, especially the teaching methods used and the assessment tasks, are aligned with the learning activities assumed in the intended outcomes. The learner is in a sense 'trapped', and finds it difficult to escape without learning what he or she is intended to learn.

In setting up an aligned system, we specify the desired outcomes of our teaching in terms not only of topic content, but in the level of understanding we want students to achieve. We then set up an environment that maximises the likelihood that students will engage in the activities designed to achieve the intended outcomes. Finally, we choose assessment tasks that will tell us how well individual students have attained these outcomes, in terms of graded levels of acceptability. These levels are the grades we award.

There are thus four major steps:  
    1. Defining the intended learning outcomes (ILOs);
    2. Choosing teaching/learning activities likely to lead to the ILOs;
    3. Assessing students' actual learning outcomes to see how well they match what was intended;
    4. Arriving at a final grade. 
Simple reading which clearly outlines the concept and aspects.
Pleased to see it fits in with my current recomendations on outcome based learning activties and LOs (learning outcomes) for a more student centred programme (rather than a teacher having an agenda of info they need to teach and designing a programme to meet that agenda - we want to move towards a programme design that matches the graduate outcomes and let's them 'hit the ground running' in their chosen work environment).

Also ties in with SOLO TAXONOMY and BLOOM's (which I don't entirely agree on it's current useage in NZ tertiary programme design... but that is a blog for another time :P )
Weird Conclusion though - I did not find it related much at all to the rest of the article, lol! (maybe I got distracted by then!)

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

A new resource that looks to have great potential! (have gathered and added a tutorial video link, a review and some google slide instructions).
I know.. I rock!

Instead of giving students YouTube links or telling them to search for a video on a particular subject, with EDpuzzle teachers can select videos, edit them down, assign them to students, and quiz them as they watch. 

EDpuzzle: Teacher Instructions - Google Slides

Getting Started with EDPuzzle - Smore

how to use edpuzzle - YouTube

Formative Assessment....

Summative - end of
Formative - through out the journey
I know which one I like better! Maybe I used my bias there to make my choice more appealing via the description.. :P

Found this article recently and have come back to it a few times so thought I would post about it. I like how it challenges your gut response to a lacklustre term!
I was just going to quote number 6 but  it's so good I had to quote it all!


1. Formative assessment is a verb, not a noun. It’s an action performed throughout the learning experience, not some thing that students are given to complete at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of it. Peek over your students’ shoulders as they work, capture evidence of their progress toward the established learning target, and use what you learn to inform your feedback and what you teach next. This three step approach for over-the-shoulder feedback can help.
2. What matters is their assessment and your assessment, not the assessment. When teachers and students establish clear targets and outcomes, studying how they are achieved can happen in a variety of organic ways without disrupting the learning experience by stopping to test or quiz. What matters most with formative assessment is our assessment of growth and why it is or isn’t happening. Rather than “building” formative assessments, we would do well to pinpoint our targets, identify assessment moments that occur within the learning experience, and establish solid habits of documentation. Our savvy analysis of this evidence and timely response is what matters most, not the construction of disruptive tasks and tests.
3. The only summative assessment that benefits learners is one that also serves as a formative assessment. If we aren’t using summative assessment findings to inform instruction, then why do we give them at all? I understand that all good practice leads to the assessment of mastery, but shouldn’t that assessment of mastery inform continued learning and teaching moves? If it doesn’t, then I’m struggling to understand why we subject kids to summative assessments, other than to evaluate them and give them grades. Please, jump into the comments and push my thinking here, because I’m still rolling these questions around in my head, and I realize that what I’m suggesting may be disconcerting for some. 
4. Learners do not have to complete the same task at the same time in order for teachers to conduct a formative assessment. In fact, you can study learners practicing targeted skills and demonstrating knowledge of critical content in varied contexts. I find that collecting wide and varied evidence about how learners approach a target helps me better understand how and why they are successful (or not). When we assess all kids using the same tools at the same time, our perspective about the target, performance, and process is quite narrow. It’s hard to uncover powerful interventions this way.
5. The more certain you are of your expertise, the more likely bias will compromise your formative assessment practices. Historically, teachers have been expected to have answers and solutions. We’ve been pressured into playing experts, and we’ve struggled to admit what we do not know. Admitting this makes us vulnerable to a certain level of criticism from those who lack awareness of how complex and unpredictable learning can often be. Certainty and pride are the unfortunate byproducts of this phenomenon, and they close our minds and narrow our vision. It’s okay to own our expertise. It’s also important to put it aside long enough to consider ideas and approaches we may not have otherwise–especially those that fly in the face of our expertise.
6. Formative assessment will make your students your very best teachers. Over the last few years, I’ve learned how to presume competence and just let kids try the hard stuff. Instead of assuming an evaluative stance, I simply watch them and document what they teach me. I don’t expect mastery. I expect them to begin and to persevere and to make their learning visible along the way, so I can study it. These are my most profound learning experiences. If you try this, it will change the way you define teaching.
7. The best formative assessments focus our eyes on the learning moves that matter most. Rather than checking for correct answers, processes, and products, formative assessment inspires us to study how and why and when. The answers to these questions fuel our best interventions.
8. Formative assessment inspires us to redefine our narrow definitions of data. The data collected during formative assessment experiences are often qualitative. We document with purpose, using the tools that can best help us capture learning as students make it visible to us. We curate this data in varied spaces, using displays that differ from typical quantitative data displays.
9. Feedback is the byproduct of formative assessment done right, and grades are the byproduct of formative assessment gone horribly wrong. Grades do more harm than good in any context, but when we grade formative assessments, we penalize learners for failing to master content and skills that haven’t been taught or practiced. This is more than inappropriate. It’s unethical.
10. Physical education teachers, music teachers, coaches, and counselors were doing formative assessment before formative assessment was cool. Eager to understand how great teachers use formative assessment to help learners grow? Seek out the best physical education teachers, coaches, music teachers, and counselors you know. Ask them how they assess the learners they serve. Ask them how and when they intervene. Ask them how they got better at growing great learners. We have much to learn from them.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

What's Good for the Goose....

An interesting quick food for thought about practising what you preach...
  Teacher professional learning pedagogy needs to change too

This, after all, is what we are striving to get away from in our student's classrooms so should we see it when we go to our classrooms?

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Learning The Code

For a few terms now I have been taking two under 13 boys I mentor to a weekly coding class. It's part of a global network called Coderdojo.  Ours is based around Scratch which is a graphic based coding language aimed at younger learners. Coders move blocks of graphic code around like lego to create a variety of quite complex programmes.
We do this for a number of reasons - we love gaming, we like spending time together, I want them to experience learning outside the classroom, one of them thinks he wants to be a game developer, they think they are tech savvy but really aren't (spending all their time on tablets and The Playstation) and the list goes on.  What has ended up happening is I am seeing them learning new math skills, problem solving, perseverance and operating in the mid to high end of Blooms taxonomy. Coding is another language and I think it's important we all have an understanding of what goes on under the hood of our digital devices...

Below is an example of one of our Scratch Creations...

I have gathered a few coding readings and resources...

Paul Ford writes a story (more like a short novel...) about what code is from a coal face perspective...

For your entire working memory, some Internet thing has come along every two years and suddenly hundreds of thousands of dollars (inevitably millions) must be poured into amorphous projects with variable deadlines.
A computer is a clock with benefits. They all work the same, doing second-grade math, one step at a time: Tick, take a number and put it in box one. Tick, take another number, put it in box two. Tick, operate (an operation might be addition or subtraction) on those two numbers and put the resulting number in box one. Tick, check if the result is zero, and if it is, go to some other box and follow a new set of instructions.  
You, using a pen and paper, can do anything a computer can; you just can’t do those things billions of times per second. 
Most programmers aren’t working on building a widely recognized application like Microsoft Word. Software is everywhere. It’s gone from a craft of fragile, built-from-scratch custom projects to an industry of standardized parts, where coders absorb and improve upon the labors of their forebears (even if those forebears are one cubicle over). Software is there when you switch channels and your cable box shows you what else is on. You get money from an ATM—software. An elevator takes you up five stories—the same. Facebook releases software every day to something like a billion people, and that software runs inside Web browsers and mobile applications. Facebook looks like it’s just pictures of your mom’s crocuses or your son’s school play—but no, it’s software.
It's a long read but will take you further into the code world that is for sure! (and you get a certificate at the end ... which is good coz you'll feel like you deserve one!)

Report: 6 of 10 Millennials Have 'Low' Technology Skills

"Digital natives aren't as tech-savvy as they think they are — at least, not according to their bosses.Opportunities to learn problem solving with technology must become the rule rather than the exception," the report's authors stated. "Now is the time for business to join forces with government, educators and other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) advocates to ensure that all young people...have the opportunity to become tech savvy."

In a world where kids are born with smartphones in their hands and iPads in their cribs, computer programming is becoming the new literacy. And though the number of coding jobs in America is set to grow 30% by 2020 (twice the rate of general job growth), understanding programming concepts—or even knowing a bit of code—will be important to almost any job of the future.
One Month Rails, created by an overachieving startup kid in New York named Mattan Griffel. Griffel experienced all the abovementioned frustrations when he taught himself to code, and because he comes from outside of the programming industry (and has a natural gift for teaching) he was able to distill all those frustrations and create a better mousetrap for teaching all of us wannabes to get up and coding in dramatically shorter time.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

More on Minecraft...

Some Struggles Teachers Face Using Games in the Classroom

“I think [games are] best when paired with reflective conversation,” Robertson said. “It’s developing the awareness of what you’re doing. The only way to really develop metacognition is to have a conversation with someone who can ask Socratic questions.”

I've said this more than a few times...  having a piano in your room doesn't make you a better music teacher and a computer in your room won't make you a better teacher.
Actually - being "on" the computer doesn't make you a better learner or improve the quality of your learning either - and neither will playing Minecraft, necessarily - high quality learning opportunities are limited with anything without a particularly inquisitive mind, a purpose or some kind of guidance/facilitation.

A computer is just like a pencil - it is a tool for learning; a method of expression, communication - not the be all end all in itself. It's about the reflection and deeper thinking that goes into it.
Thought also needs to go into the sharing aspect too ---- if you use a computer in solitude, deep in the forest and come up with the answers to life the universe and everything... does it make a sound? Ok, I totally messed with metaphors then but I hope you get the (messy) point I was trying to make...

Teaching in the Age of Minecraft

Like many 11-year-olds in Texas, Ethan had to build a model of the Alamo as a school project. Often, students make their dioramas out of paper mache or popsicle sticks, but Ethan’s teacher gave him permission to build his project in Minecraft, the popular sandbox software game in which players build structures out of blocks. With his dad’s help, Ethan recorded a video tour of his scale model of the fort, complete with explanatory signs, and posted it on YouTube. A few minutes into the tour, it started raining unexpectedly over Ethan’s diorama, but Ethan noted, "This is exactly what happened during the battle of the Alamo—it rained." To his dad—and, presumably, his teacher—this comment revealed Ethan’s familiarity and knowledge with the subject matter that he might not have had otherwise shown.
This probably needs more thought - as, likely totally off topic, I am lamenting the purposefulness of a blog that hardly anyone will ever read!