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Education Specialist

objectivity?

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Hauck, no test can provide accurate data as all tests are constructed through language and therefore impose a construct with advantages to those who speak the dialect of the test. One simple but vivid example derived from a recent standardized test, "Define a bungalow". " This may be a simple question for a suburbanite, but how many bungalows, called bungalows, have our urban students been exposed to? I agree that PBL's are far too subjective, but then again so are all tests and all grading systems, hmmm perhaps its time to reflect on the entire concept of one human being judging others.

Our school is putting

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Our school is putting together our school improvement goals and it looks like our vision will contain the 4 C's to some extent. I was searching for valid ways to assess these difficult "soft skills" and after reading your post, I was relieved to see I might have been overcomplicating things. I plan to share your blog post with our faculty as we discuss how to assess our students on these important skills. Thanks for a great post!

First Grade Teacher

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As a teacher of young students, I find it challenging to find meaningful assessments that truly reflect the students' learning and growth. Our district tests, especially this year, are incredibly difficult and frankly, not developmentally appropriate for my students. This blog has inspired me to take an active role in my students' assessment, and make my own using the 4 C's approach. I believe that this will make the assessment process much more enjoyable and meaningful for both my students and myself.

I enjoyed reading your blog

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I enjoyed reading your blog about the 4C's. I am always looking for ways to make the assessments more enjoyable and meaningful than using an end of the unit test. Keeping the 4C's in mind when creating an assessment gives you a starting point, and then following it through with the rubric ensures you have the 4C's covered.

It's always a good reminder to vary the assessments based on the content or subject matter, and to give students choices. It's always hard for me as a teacher to let go and allow them to choose because they might miss something important, but it's more beneficial for the students in the long run. They may get more out of the lesson and will definitly enjoy it more than a paper/pencil test.

Kindergarten Teacher from Otsego, Minnesota

I love your 4 C's! Even as I

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I love your 4 C's! Even as I teach younger students, I think this is important for me to remember to give them choices and give them the freedom to be involved in their own learning. I have a difficult time just focusing on writing since they are so young, but we still can learn together and teach one another.
I also like the questions you ask yourself while creating assessments. We definitely can't meet all of them at once, but as you said, you need something to focus your attention as the teacher to be sure you are meeting the requirements. It is always smarter of us to create those learning targets and then create the lesson and assessment of how we are going to get the kids to that point.

High School Math Teacher from Minneapolis, MN

Thanks for the rubrics!

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Thanks for the 4 C's when creating assessments. I've always felt like students should be able to work together and still be productive. It's hard as an educator to allow this at times because you want to get a good measure of an individual's mastery of the content. I really like your question regarding creative thinking, "Are the students doing more work than the teacher in seeking out information and problem solving?" I've heard this before and wondered how to get the students to work harder than the teacher. Incorporating critical thinking into an assessment and daily activities will go a long way in helping me achieve this. Thanks also for the rubrics. I like the idea of leaving a blank space for the students to comment on your assessments.

Education Specialist

Why assessment over authentic conversation?

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"The assessment should incorporate skills that students need for their future." Herein lies the biggest fault in any silver bullet approach to school, every child is different, therefore every child may need a varied apporach. If Johnny or Selena simply want to explore a fascination with local geology why does there need to be an assessment? At other times they may want to understand Algebra for purposes of an ACT test, in that case an assessment may be appropriate, the context and decision making done in a democratic manner (equal say for both teacher and student) might cause all of us to rethink any form of assessment. Each of the premises identified fails the true test of differentiation, each child may not need Algebra, English 4, etc. and if they do the real question is what does the student hope to gain from their time in your class? "The test must assess skills other than the mere content. " Not necessarily. "It must also test how eloquent the students communicate their content. " Not necessarily.

"To address these requirements, I ask myself the following guided questions:
1.Does the assessment involve project-based learning?
2.Does it allow for student choice of topics?
3.Is it inquiry based?
4.Does it ask that students use some level of internet literacy to find their answers?
5.Does it involve independent problem solving?
6.Does it incorporate the 4Cs?
7.Do the students need to communicate their knowledge via writing in some way?
8.Does the final draft or project require other modalities in its presentation? (visual, oral, data, etc...)"

In its stead I ask myself, how can I help facilitate this person's growth towards their goals, their future, not one I have carved out for them, replete with my values and judgments which may have no bearing on what they have in mind for themselves nor any bearing on their own cultural values.

Life Skills Support Teacher

I'll say it again, but PBL is

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I'll say it again, but PBL is simply an excuse for lazy teachers to assign work that's much much easier and less time consuming to grade. We all know that grading traditional test items consume more time, yet, if constructed properly, they provide the most accurate form of data gathering. Grading PBLs become far too subjective. How does a language arts teacher accurately grade a student's level of artistic ability on a PBL project? What training in art ed do they possess to make an accurate determination of quality? Their criteria could be quite biased and therefore, invalid. Having a rubric doesn't make the assessment foolproof, either.

All of us know that in group PBLs, one or two students do all the work and one or two usually slack off and don't pull their weight. Then the teacher has to referee the inevitable fingerpointing squabbles and waste time sorting through student testimony that can't be truly verified as either true or false.

I know of some teachers who turn their whole curriculum into a series of PBLs. Guess what, that doesn't prepare them for school in the future and certainly not school at the college level.
But what it does is provide that same teacher more time to indulge their true passions, which are maintaining their so-called "social footprint," reading their hundreds of emails and tweets, or texting their friends about some trivial matters.

Danielle, That is a great

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Danielle,

That is a great idea with the different markers. It really help the student see what they did well and also see what they can improve on. Thanks for sharing.

Great Article

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Heather thanks for the assessment information. Although I haven't experimented with several of the assessments mentioned, I believe it definitely allows the teacher to effectively assess the students and adjust lessons as needed. I also find several of the responses to be very informative. Thanks!

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