End of unit review – What do you think?

I am working on an end of unit review that I want to use with all of the teachers in my faculty. The purpose of the review is multiple:

  • I would like the students to give us feedback on the unit of learning they have just undertaken
  • Assessment and learning objectives should be clear and transparent, again I would like feedback on this
  • Teaching and learning should be purposeful and deliberate
  • The students workload and the level of challenge in their learning needs to be appriopriate
  • learning should be engaging, motivating and have logical structure and flow.

I would appreciate feedback on this review tool (download the PDF file here End of Unit Review Questions)

Starter Sheet – Corocdoc – formative assessment

This starter sheets is looking at the online service Crocodoc which allows the users to upload, share and annotate document. The documents can then be downloaded in the mark-up format or in the original format.

This service supports PDF and Microsoft office files. This is a useful way of collating student work sharing  exemplars and adding comments and drawing with out modifying the original document.

starter sheet – crocodoc formative assessment

Other Starter sheets are available at http://edorigami.wikispaces.com

Educational origami wiki

Starter Sheet – the reflective cycle using a blogs

This is the next in the assessment series – this use a blog as the medium for a student applying the reflective cycle to reflect on an event.

The reflective cycle has 5 stages –

  1. Select an event
  2. describe the event – what, where, when and who
  3. Analyse the event – break it down into the component elements and as the How and why questions
  4. Evaluate the event – make a judgement having considered the impact, importance, effectiveness and relationships
  5. Transform – make a change based on the process

This can be used in a wide range of situations whether it is a student reflecting on their learning and contribution, a students posting a comment on a peers blog and using the cycle to offer critique and comment or a student reflecting on the events of the day.

Starter sheet reflection cycle in a blog post

As always comments are appreciated

For the complete set of starter sheets visit the education origami wiki – http://edorigami.wikispaces.com


educational origami wiki

Starter Sheet – Diagnostic assessment using a Moodle Quiz

This is the next starter sheet in the assessment series. This is slightly more specialized in terms of the software being used, but the principles being applied are the same no matter what the testing tool is.

Diagnostic testing is looking backwards to plan forwards. It can also include a snapshot of the understanding of the new unit of learning, in other words what to the students actually know about this topic, unit or concept.

The process of developing a diagnostic test will include:

  • Identifying the assumed knowledge that is critical to the students learning.
  • Identifying a range of aspects of the new unit that could be examined. Ideally these should be the basic elements.
  • Decide on a suitable assessment method – Multiple choice questions are good for lower order thinking i.e. remember and understanding

Ask yourself the questions –

  1. What does this question or task show?
  2. Does this identify prior learning, or existing knowledge?
  3. How will it help me to adapt and change my program of learning?

Starter Sheet – Diagnostic assess in moodle

Click here for the other starter sheets in the series. http://edorigami.wikispaces.com

As always feedback is appreciated.

Educational Origami

Starter Sheet – Formative Assessment using Voicethread

This is the next starter sheet in the assessment series. This starter sheet looks at using the versitile and adaptable workhorse Voicethread http://voicethread.com to provide rich formative feedback to the students in text, audio or audio-visual mediums. Students are able to develop and upload presentations and then narrate these leaving voice comments as narration on each slide in their presentation. This narration plays as the slide is opened. The presentation can be automated to work through all of the slides.

For the teacher, leaving a comment on students work is as simple as playing the slides and clicking on the text, voice or web camera comment button at the bottom of the page. From their the speak a comment or type a statement or both.

As always, I would appreciate feedback on the starter sheets.

startersheet – formative assess with voicethread

For more starter sheets click here – http://edorigami.wikispaces.com

Thinking about assessment Part 2

Thinking about assessment – Diagnostic & formative

We use Diagnostic Assessment to identify existing knowledge and establish a base to develop from. Diagnostic assessment guides our planning by identifying strengths and weaknesses. What do we need to teach explicitly to achieve the end goals and outcomes and what can we briefly reinforce or accept as their knowledge base. Effective use of diagnostic assessment makes the learning we provide to the students focused and efficient.

Diagnostic assessment is completed prior to teaching and learning

Formative assessment provides on going feedback to the students for their development. Formative assessment require the students and teacher to work together, there has to be a partnership for learning trust and understanding. Formative assessment must be:

  • Timely – The end of the task is too late, we must provide feedback often and in detail during process.
  • Appropriate and reflective – The feedback must reflect the students ability, maturity and age. It must be understandable
  • Honest & Supportive – Feedback can be devastating, our role as teachers is to nurture and shape. We must provide feedback that is honest and supportive in a manner and mode that does not ostracise the recipient, but gives encouragement to go on.
  • Focused on learning and linked to the purpose of the task
  • Enabling – receiving feedback without the opportunity to act upon it is frustrating, limiting and counterproductive. Students must be able to learn from and apply this feedback


In Formative assessment we are asking and answering three core/key questions:

  1. 1.    What can I do?
  2. 2.    What can’t I do?

These first two questions are feedback on what the student can or cannot do in regards to a stated goal. Its learner and learning focused, appropriate, honest and supportive. It needs to be timely to have any relevance. Feedback, no matter how detailed, delivered a month after the fact is hardly relevant.

  1. 3.    How can I do better?

This question is the enabling aspect what can I do to do better at this? What do I need to do to improve.

Some people will also add in

  1. 4.    How does my work compare with that of others?

This is a challenging question. Should I know where I am in the class? Will this help me? How will it make other feel? We know that a degree of competition is useful and important. I feel this is something that you do when you have a very good relationship with the class and is dependent on the maturity and age of the students.

[Effective feedback and e-assessment School Based Assessment and Reporting Unit Curriculum K-12 Directorate]

Dr Jodi Nyquist has a useable and suitable model for delivering feedback

Level of feedback Descriptor
WEAK Knowledge of results (KoR)
  KoR + Knowledge of Correct results (KCR)
  KCR + explanation (KCR + e)
  KCR + e and specific actions to reduce the gap
STRONG KCR + e and activity

Nyquist J.D Feedback in higher education 2003 from Haynes A and MCDowell L, 2008, Balancing dilemmas in assessment and learning in contemporary education, Routledge p 275

Essentially the model the Nyquist presents conforms with the What can I do? What can’t I do? And How can I do it better? The strongest form of feedback is knowledge of the correct results (and implicit in this is therefore knowledge of their own performance), and explanation of the difference between their results and the correct one and an activity that they do immediately to support the required changes.

Examinations, assessment and feedback

My students have just finished their preliminary school examinations before they do the major external final examinations. We have students do prelim exams for a number of reasons:

  • as summative assessment that tells the student where they are in their learning at one particular time.-Assessment that summarizes the development of the student at a particular time. What the student knows or doesn’t know
  • to prepare them for examinations and to develop appropriate examination technique
  • to provide formative feedback that identifies areas of strength and weakness in their understanding and application of the course of learning – Assessment that is interpreted and used to give directions or make decisions about next steps in learning process

For me the formative aspect of the examinations is the most important, it is assessment for learning. To make an examination useful we have to be able to give our students strong formative feedback. Hattie in his book Visible learning, identifies the importance and power of timely, effective, learning focus feedback.

So what is strong feedback? Dr Jodie Nyquist has a model that I really like for this and I have blogged it before

So the strongest and most effective formative feedback comes when the students have knowledge of their results, knowledge of the correct results, an explanation as to why the results are correct and an immediate activity to reinforce this.

A Recent publication from DET in Australia on feedback provides a nice framework that matches with Jodie Nyquist’s model.

Step 1INFORMATION about what happened or was done
Nyquist – Knowledge of results and Knowledge of correct results
Step 2An EVALUATION of how well or otherwise the action or task was performed
Nyquist – Explanation
Step 3GUIDANCE as to how the performance can be improved
Nyquist – Specific actions to reduce the gap and activity

Based on Modified and adapted from http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/digital_rev/assessment/prolearn/index.htm

The outcome of an assessment, be it an examination, test or assignment should be an improvement in learning. To maximise the learning opportunities we need to provide them, our learners, with feedback on what they did, an evaluation of the task and feed forward what they can do in the future.


Unit Planning, the 5C’s

As teachers we know that we need to have unit plans. This is a standard expectation of teachers, in many circumstances we are also expected to have lesson plans as well. We often hear adages as justification of the need for planners like

“Failure to plan is planning to fail”

“Proper planning prevents poor performance”

While these are very applicable and true, I think there are five underlying reasons for structured unit planning. These are the five C’s – Consistency, Continuity, Coverage, Considered & Creativity

  • Consistency – Consistency allows us to have consistent delivery of the curriculum between classes and across the course. We know that what is covered in one class is covered in the others, thus the preparations for assessment is fair and equitable. Consistency does not mean that each class is delivered in the same manner, rather that the core content is covered.
  • Continuity – Continuity is planning for the unthinkable. Should a member of staff be unable to teach, their is suitable structure in place to allow the replacement teacher to quickly and easily pick up the thread of teaching and learning and provide continuity of education to our students.
  • Coverage – Coverage is ensuring that all aspects of the syllabus or curriculum are addressed, that they are covered in sufficient depth and rigor to meet the requirements for assessment. It allows us to apply curriculum mapping to examine the syllabus as a whole and to make the links between the different disciplines, building the cross curricula links that are synergistic to learning. Cross curricula learning is the core element of Daggett’s application Model (see Activity mapping – http://edorigami.edublogs.org/2010/02/13/activity-mapping/)
  • Creativity – Unit planning allows you to look at the bigger picture. Once you have laid out the wealth of content, concepts, attitudes and processes you need to share with your students, you can start to consider the different approaches, methods and strategies you can use to engage and motivate the students. You can link the higher order thinking skills (See Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy – http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/Bloom%27s+Digital+Taxonomy), Sensory learning (See ICT & Learning styles – http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/ICT+and+LEARNING+STYLES) Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences ( See ICT & Multiple intelligences – http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/Gardners+Multiple+Intelligences+and+ICT) and consider how you can integrate traditional and digital approaches to teaching and learning – (See Traditional practice and Digital Approaches – http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/Traditional+and+Digital+Practice)
  • Considered – Structure and planning allows all of these and it faciltiates reflection. We can look back and consider what we did and how we can improve. It allows our teaching to be deliberate. This does not mean we can not seize the teachable moment, I would never ever want to see regimented teaching.


Digital citizenship & BYOD more than just surfing

Many schools are considering a BYOD program for a wide range of reasons. For schools this represents a huge shift from the various models they have employed before to see appropriate ICT’s in the hands of their students for learning. Whether the program has been a lab based approach, a laptop program or some blend of everything, BYOD brings its own challenges as well as advantages.

While there are the obvious issues of inappropriate use and the shift of control from the school to the student, there are more subtle issues that are as important.

School based networks often provide back up solutions for students who store materials on the network, this feature may or may not be available on a BYOD program. Even if it is available the onus of responsibility shifts to the student to action the back up, to keep safe their work. Students now also have to consider the underlying concepts of file management as well. (protect yourself)

In a similar vein, students need to protect themselves and their peers by taking responsibility for the antivirus protection required on their device, something that most school owned/leased programs take care of. (protect yourself and protect others)

The freedom of having your own device and control of it carries with it the responcibility of self management. It is unrealistic to expect that the students BYOD devices is only for use at school. BYOD is blurring the boundaries between the social device and the educational tool. It challenges students to be focused on learning and resistant to the distractions presented by the applications and connections that they have on their own device. Applications and connections that in the structured format of a school program are limited and restricted.

source; http://www.freefoto.com/images/04/20/04_20_50—Laptop-Computer_web.jpg

Within reason schools are able to control the connections which utilise their network, filter applications and sites. However the convergence between mobile technologies/cellular phones and devices like ipads/tablets etc means that students are able to connect independently of the school and thus can bypass the controls the school may put in place. Inappropriate must now cover more than just unacceptable images etc. (respect and protect yourself and others)

The students and their parents, who are paying the bill, have a vested interest in the care and maintenance of the device that extends beyond the standards expected of a school provide tool in many cases. They need support on how to care for their device, be that carrying it around, regular maintenance and care, repairs etc. This too is an aspect of digital citizenship where the student takes responsibility for their learning. (respect and protect yourself).

With students having a greater degree of control over the devices, and with it probably the ability to install software comes the issue of ethical and moral use of software. Because you can download and install software doesn’t mean you should. Because you can install a cracked version does not mean you should. In the school provided model it was possible to prevent this, but the BYOD model now requires this to be a conscious and considered decision, something that 14 year old students living in the now struggle with.

At the core of a BYOD program must be digital citizenship, and digital citizenship that encompasses all aspects of the use of technology within and beyond the school environment.





Failure. Too be avoided?

Failure is such an uncomfortable topic in education. We are very failure adverse and consequently risk adverse. It is often seen as unacceptable for students to fail and this avoidance of failure is not mirrored in the real world beyond the safe environments of the school.

I believe that we must use failure or getting stuff wrong as a tool for learning, that we must accept it as a part of the learning process, that we must use it to progress and develop. We should and must strive to succeed, but we need to allow opportunities for students to learn from their mistakes and in fact to provide opportunities for them to make mistakes.

Getting stuff wrong is a natural part of learning and growing. Getting stuff wrong is how we learn.

Consider the analogy of a person getting fitter and exercising. To develop more muscle tissue you must place that muscle under stress, this stress cause damage which is stimulate the grow and repair of the muscle. It is only by pushing limits that the muscle grows and develops. The same can be said for learning push the limits, apply stress to challenge and stimulate growth.

The trick is of course how much stress to apply. How hard to run, how big a weight to lift or how challenging a learning task.

Priest in his book on adventure theory describes  the relationship between risk and competence. The area of peak learning or peak adventure is that match between competence and risk. This is based on Vygotsky’s Zone of proximal development.

Peak adventure involves getting it wrong, it involves making mistakes and failing, but more than that it involves learning from our mistakes.

source: http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/graphics/zpd.GIF

In making mistakes and failing in an environment where you can develop and learning. Where the risks are managed so that catastrophe is avoided and learning occurs. This is part of the true art of teaching. taking our students from their current level of achievement or competence and pushing them into the zone of development. In outdoor education, this is a practice so natural and obvious as challenged based education is the norm.

Part of education is preparing our students for the world beyond the classroom. A world where they will fail, they will make mistakes and they need to have the skills to be able to recover and learn. They need to be resilient, adaptable and reflective. They need to see failing or getting it wrong as part of a process to mastery. They can not go out into the world unprepared and unable to cope with what life throws at them. When you talk to and listen to the top achievers, the high flyers, the world class athletes (both physical and mental athletes) they will all say the same. Life has its ups and downs and to succeed you work (battle) through these. You push beyond your limits out of what is comfortable and  why? Well this picture sums it up….