Learning targets are typically written as “I can” statements. Because our level of understanding is so much different than our students’, it is far too easy to write a target that you think is easily interpretable, while at the same time, remains unclear to your students. This article provides some information that will help teachers write meaningful learning targets.
Erica Jacobsen shares highlights from the June 2018 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education.
Part of placing value on the process of learning means giving students multiple opportunities to demonstrate understanding. Reassessments are an inevitable part of the process. For many teachers, this presents a logistical problem. To help streamline the entire process, I would like to share a simple strategy that anyone can replicate in a short amount of time.
Recently, my district made a commitment to helping its teachers reflect and rethink their grading and assessment practices. One of the phrases I kept hearing throughout our staff professional development sessions was authentic assessment. I understood (and agreed with) the basic premise—create more opportunities for students to perform tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills. Doing so involves going beyond, or even potentially replacing, traditional summative assessments at the end of each unit.
I took a tip from the elementary school teachers and created literacy stations to help increase the amount of reading and writing in my classroom. Literacy centers support students by arming them with the tools to utilize when examining text documents, charts, graphs, pictures etc. to take the content and make it comprehensible. Here I will provide examples of literacy centers I utilize in my classroom.
Say the words standardized test to most educators and you will likely notice a minor gag reflex. While I completely sympathize with this reaction given the frequently labeled testing culture that’s been far too often forced upon us within the past 15 years, I think it is appropriate to take a step back and recognize the meaningful role a standardized test can have on our curriculum and instruction. After a recent experience using an exam from the ACS Division of Chemical Education Examinations Institute1, I was able to recognize that meaningful role. So, the purpose of this article is to provide useful information for anyone interested in the exam implementation process.
The answer may be in the anecdotal evidence. The conversations between students were mini debates. “Are you sure this is correct?” “How do you know?” “What about this other data?” “Should we label that number?” “What about the energy of the particles during a phase change?” And on, and on, and on….They were having discussions between themselves that I would not have been able to elicit as a teacher.
My students are bright and motivated. Most work hard and prepare for class and tests. They perform extremely well on district-wide tests and my own classroom tests. However, I see real weaknesses on cumulative assessments requiring high levels of application. My students simply do not retain the content knowledge. I want to restructure my course to exclude "unit tests" and include only cumulative assessments. I'll share my early ideas here, and I would love to hear your experiences.
What do you do when you don’t have any local or affordable opportunities for professional development?
An educational reform that has been gaining a large amount of popularity in the last decade is standards-based grading (SBG). The heart of the SBG movement is truly rooted in one very important question, “what do you want your grades mean?” In a traditional points-based system, a student’s grade typically reflects performance on tests and quizzes, ability to turn in homework, participation, and maybe some extra points for bringing in tissues. This system leaves little room for reflection, remediation and growth. It also puts an undue weight on behavior as opposed to learning. In an SBG system, a student’s grade reflects how well he/she has mastered a set of learning targets. This system gives students timely feedback and opportunities to remediate and reassess their knowledge and skills. Behavior is modified outside of the gradebook so grades simply reflect learning.