Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Assessment and Communication in the Digital Age

This summer I am again joining in the amazing community and discussion of #cyberPD hosted by Cathy Mere of Reflect and Refine, Michelle Nero of Literacy Learning Zone, and Laura Komos. This summer's book is Digital Reading: What's Essential in Grades 3-8Click here to read more about #cyberPD or click here to join the Google+ discussion group!

Digital Reading: Reflections on Ch. 6


These end of the book, Digital Reading: What's Essential in Grades 3-8, turns our attention back to assessment. Now that we have integrated digital skills and digital reading into our classrooms, how can we not also begin to think about digital assessment? This also gets to the heart of the second professional development book club I have been participating in this summer, studying the eBook Digital Student Portfolios. (Join that Google+ Community here).

 

I appreciate how Bill and Franki pay attention to multiple times and forms of assessment, from the questions we ask at the beginning of the year to our on-going formative assessment to more summative projects and student reflections. Franki also shares examples of her personal goals.

One of my personal goals for next year is to incorporate on-going digital student portfolios that collect real artifacts of a child's learning, process, and progress. Right now I am working on determining what types of ongoing assessments I want to incorporate (starting with the list on pg. 90 as well as assessments I have used in the past). Then I want to establish a schedule and process to ensure that these artifacts are collected regularly.

Student reflection seems like an easy piece to transfer into the digital sphere. In the past, I had students fill out a self-reflection worksheet when they finished a major project, and this type of directed-response seems quite easy to move into a Google Doc or Google Form (like the example on pg. 94). I also like the idea that kids could then access their previous projects and reflections to do more direct comparisons of their growth and progress. Matching kid-work to kid-reflections and making them easy to refer back to would be a great improvement over paper versions!

Digital Reading: Reflections on Ch. 7


    I also really appreciated this ending chapter on parents and home-school communication. My current classroom communication plan involves a print newsletter sent out every-other week in the students' homework folders, as well as a weekly summary of upcoming assignments that appears online on Thinkwave (the online gradebook program our whole school uses). Parents were also invited to comment on the kids' Kid Blog posts during the year.

    I have so far resisted the urge to make my classroom newsletter digital, because I really want parents and kids to get into a weekly habit of emptying and returning the homework folders. Without the lure of the newsletter possibly drawing parents' attention, I fear I would have even more third graders who simply pull everything out of their folders, stuff the papers into the bottom of their backpacks, and let them linger there for weeks until someone happens to notice!

    As our school transitions to a 1:1 school at the middle school grades, I think we will need to continue to expand our digital outreach to parents. I loved the metaphor of a "digital petting zoo" and having a BYOD (bring your own devices) night for parents to learn to harness the digital tools their children and teachers are using. Digital stewardship needs to start early and start often, and bringing in parents can only help those efforts.

    12 comments:

    1. I have been following the Digital Portfolio conversation too. Such an important read! Love the thinking in it and hope to do more with portfolios this year.

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      1. Thanks so much, Franki! It's been really interesting to see how much synergy there is between the portfolios book and yours. I am very excited to see how both can have a positive impact on my students and our learning together.

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    2. Portfolios have always been a great way to capture learning over time. I see the digital portfolio as a broader opportunity to collect evidence of learning. I plan to check out the digital portfolio conversation. Thanks.

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      1. You're welcome, Karen! I really think that the more kids learn to navigate in the digital world - and to use it for great purposes like reflection and genuine feedback - the bigger an impact there will be.

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    3. I loved the 'digital petting zoo' idea as well! What a fun way to engage parents and help them learn right along with us. I imagine the students could run the show and teach the parents, with the teach on hand to talk about what it means for instruction. A great collaboration!

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      1. Love the student-run idea, Stephanie!

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    4. I am also a part of the Digital Portfolios community, but did not purchase the book or participate in the reflections. However, I can see now how it would have been quite beneficial! What a great idea to think about the ongoing assessments you prefer and then also determining a time line for the school year because as the school year gets up and running, those new initiatives can sometimes be left behind. Smart thinking!

      Thanks for jumping into both communities and sharing your ideas! Always appreciated!

      Michelle

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      1. Thanks, Michelle! Absolutely I try to do as much as I can now in the planning stages so I remember to implement things once the year gets going!

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    5. Katie,
      These two books do work well side by side. This chapter on assessment really ties in nicely to Matt's thinking around digital portfolios.

      I have enjoyed reading the goals of participants as I move from blog to blog. Everyone is committing to their next steps. I know I need to be a bit more thoughtful about this and make a plan for action.

      Thank you so much for joining us again this year. I've enjoyed reading your posts and following your comments across the community. I look forward to continued conversation.

      Cathy

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      1. Thank you so much, Cathy! I learn so much from this community.

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    6. Thanks for bringing my attention to the Digital Portfolios book and discussion! I'm interested in diving in and learning more about Matt's ideas. It looks like it pairs really well with the Digital Reading book.

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      1. I know you will find a lot of useful ideas, Laura!

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