written by Amy Courtney and Sarah Zbornik
With the new National Core Arts Standards and its emphasis on creating, performing, responding, and connecting, there has been much discussion to how we will now assess our students. In the arts, we say that creativity is the most important aspect, but in the past it we have rarely assessed it, primarily because of the difficulty in doing so. Thus, questions emerge. How does one assess creativity? Can a letter grade be attached to it? Is this type of assessment possible with standards-based grading? For Amy Courtney, addressing these issues, and at the same time allowing for improvement and student reflection, is now essential to her pedagogy.
Amy’s greatest challenge is changing perceptions and perspectives, especially with parents and teachers whose art experience is focused around technical skills. She focuses her attention on showing a student that he/she can be successful in the art room even when a student doesn’t have the highest level of technical skills. For her, art isn’t about being able to draw perfect still life photo; art is about changing the world around you.
Throughout her career, Amy has sought to educate students, families, community members, and fellow educators of the positive impact that artistic development can have. She hopes for people to understand that artistry is a learned skill that anyone can enjoy rather than something that is simply innate. Ultimately, she strives to make her classroom a safe and supportive space where artists of any skill level can learn and grow.
This shift in focus also impacts the way Amy assesses students. Previously, her priority has been on craft, technique, and the end product. But, if creativity is the most important element, how can this be reflected in assessment?
As Amy reflects, she realizes the process is important, if not more so than the end product. Now, she focuses her attention on “What do I want the kids to understand?” instead of “What do I want the final product to look like?” To get to this point, she built the assessments from the ground up. To assist in the process, she utilized the book Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe. For each grade, she broke down the four separate standards: Creating, Presenting, Responding, and Connecting. Then, she determined the most important strands for each area.
From here she developed the questions and built rubrics. Here is one section of her rubric for her unit on Power and Privilege:
To view the complete rubric , please see Grade 7 Rubric - Power & Privilege.
Even though she still struggles with putting a grade on the process, this rubric helps the students see that work is always in progress. Students can see that creativity is a learned skill and can be improved upon. In an area where innate talent is often assumed to be critical, everybody can now show growth.
Written by Heath Kelley, DMS 5th grade teacher
Kahoot has become a popular online tool for reviewing content with a large group. The group progresses through the game-based assessment together. Kahoot functions well for the purpose of working with the entire class. The teacher can pause within the game to clarify answers to questions and reteach.
Recently, a new game-based assessment option called quizizz has become popular. Although similar to Kahoot in the sense that students answer multiple choice questions and have a leaderboard, Quizizz has many different features. Probably the feature that is most distinct is that students work at their own pace to answer questions.
During a recent social studies unit, I used quizizz to review vocabulary. Below, is a slideshow of quizizz in action. I placed captions over the pictures to describe the different features.
Quizizz is a nice option if you do not want students rushed to answer. The teacher can decide whether or not to allow extra points for quicker responses. I found that it gave me quick feedback that was easy to understand and use. I knew right away what I needed to re-teach to students.
How about you? Are there feedback systems that you have had success with? How might you see quizizz being used in your classroom?
Written by Heath Kelley with support from Jesse Halweg and Denise Lee
Recently, Jesse Halweg has been using an app called Plickers to collect real-time student formative assessment data. Plickers is easy to use and requires only the teacher computer and an iPad/Android device. First, each student is given a card. The card can be turned by the student to indicate four different answers (A, B, C, or D). After the teacher projects a multiple choice question, the students hold up their cards indicating their answers.
Next, the teacher holds up their iPad or mobile device (Android or IOS) and scans the room. The app collects information from each card in what is essentially a qr code from each student. The data is collected and organized to indicate how students responded, while remaining anonymous (unless the teacher decides to reveal). The results show the teacher overall trends in order to make more informed instructional decisions.
Below is a video taken by Denise Lee of Jesse Halweg in action with 6th grade students:
Plickers is a great student response option if a classroom does not have student devices available or if the teacher does not want students wasting time logging into their devices. Everything (app, cards, etc.) is free. The cards can be laminated or printed on cardstock for students to reuse. Another added benefit, is the fact that the answers remain anonymous to peers due to the uniqueness of each code.
If you are interested in learning more about how to use Plickers in the classroom, here is a link to a few videos Denise Lee has collected that may get you started. You may also want to simply go to plickers.com and begin exploring.
How about you? Have you had an experience with Plickers or other student response systems?
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