Friday, October 25, 2013

How to get into an Assessment State of Mind

This week I seemed to have found myself in various professional settings discussing assessments.  The usual suspects of 21st century jargon were tossed around the room during faculty meetings, professional developments, common planning times, workshops, and courses.  You know the ones, high stakes, state mandated, performance based, standardized, formative and summative, standards based, and more.   As I reflected on what I learned and what I was reminded of, I realized that for all the talk we do about them, the nature of the actual assessment and resulting data matter very little unless it is coupled with a specific mindset that allows for both teacher and learner to do something useful with it.  What do consumers of assessment data need to keep in mind?

  • Loosen the definition of “assessment”, valuable information can be found in almost anything students do.
  • Ask yourself what the purpose of a particular assessment is before you assign it.
  • Recognize that self reflection can be a valuable piece of the assessment puzzle.
  • Immediate and constructive feedback is always important.
  • If there is a way to assess it an authentically, do it!
  • Be prepared and have a system in place to capture evidence of understanding for whenever students demonstrate it.
  • When assessing student work, right and wrong alone is not enough.  The process must leave room for “why” it’s right or wrong.
  • Be transparent.  Students need a clear understanding of what is being assessed and what the criteria is.
  • Create a culture in which assessments don’t have a negative connotation but rather are viewed as roadmaps to improving achievement.
  • Recognize that the same tenets we hold true for assessing our students should be adhered to when we are being assessed.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Was that my cell phone? 10 Uh-oh Moments

It is often said that to err is human, and teachers certainly are that.  In the fast paced world of schools, it’s inevitable that mistakes will happen.  Sadly, it didn't take me long to compile this list because it was born out of twenty years of personal experience.  I do however take pride in the fact that I learned valuable lessons each time. How many of these sound familiar to you?

  • Forgetting a password
  • Following a Monday schedule after a three day weekend
  • Not previewing a chapter before reading it aloud
  • Over/under planning for a lesson
  • Forgetting to mute cell phone
  • Misplacing a stack of important papers
  • Hitting reply all
  • Double booking a parent conference
  • Sending a reminder note home after the event has already taken place
  • Walking in late to a faculty meeting

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

10 Ways Twitter has Made Me a Better Educator

Last summer I sat with a colleague outside a coffee shop and she introduced me to Twitter. Here was my previous knowledge of Twitter; zero, nothing, nada. I had heard the word Twitter and was under the impression that it was simply a way for people under 20 years old to broadcast every inane thought that popped into their heads.  I had so many questions but was afraid to ask.  Instead I scoffed at the idea of using Twitter professionally.  As my friend talked I became very anxious.  I was nervous.  I was scared.  Were people going to take me seriously if I tweeted anything?  Who should I follow?  Who in their right mind would ever follow me?  I thought that # was called pound, what is this “hashtag” she keeps talking about?  Then it occurred to me, I was turning into that person I often grumble about, you know, the one who is afraid of change.  I am proud to say that I gave Twitter a shot, and with support from experienced “tweeps”, it has truly changed my professional life.  By the way, you should follow me on Twitter @ginosangiuliano, I promise not to post too many inane thoughts.

  • Having one of my tweets “retweeted’ or “favorited’ gives me confidence
  • I am a big fan of education which means I actually enjoy reading about it
  • It has been the pot at the end of the rainbow filled with resources
  • I have developed friendships with people I’ve met on Twitter
  • I have learned an incredible amount about neighboring schools and districts
  • Twitter has provided me with a national perspective on education I was previously missing
  • Twitter has connected me with people who offer insight into content and grades I do not currently teach
  • My professional learning network has exploded, and as a result I have been given new and exciting opportunities I never imagined
  • As we think about global education, Twitter is an authentic way to have meaningful and professional dialogue with teachers around the world.  I also think that it’s kind of fun
  • Interacting with like-minded professionals is extremely rewarding and inspiring