Another year has flown by and I have just submitted the grades for yet another group of awesome pre-service teachers here in Adelaide. EDUC9404 has wrapped up for 2019.
This will be a long post. I have a lot of notes that I’ve been keeping that now need to be collected and reflected upon.
This post, however, will focus mostly on the second ICT assignment and all of the workshops that happened in the lead up to it. Rather than give a blow by blow account I’m going to come at this a little differently.
As I was marking the students assignments I kept a record of all of the patterns and other things I observed about their knowledge (and their mis-conceptions). These notes have proven to be really valuable insights into my practice. They’ve spring boarded several ideas that I want to share here.
The Assessment Rubric
This portfolio is full of the final reflections and comments of students who have come before this cohort and the assessment rubrics have always been something that comes up every year. When I attended the Microsoft Event for MIEExperts in July, one of the teachers shared some of her thoughts around assessment rubrics. I really took that to heart. I thought her approach was clean and simple and would help focus things for my students. Shown in the images above, I was intrigued by Lynette’s advice on simplifying rubrics. I particularly liked the idea that the grades didn’t all need to be there. That students may feel restricted or overwhelmed by those labels. That this was about expectation and that there needs to be no limit to that. I took her advice to heart as I made my changes (1.2) (6.2)
In the past, feedback about the rubrics has pointed to the fact that it’s overcrowded and needs too much interpretation. Remember how I didn’t really know how much they didn’t know the focus areas before? Last year I kept the same format but changed the language. This year I did both. Thanks to fellow Microsoft Educator Expert, Lynette Barker, I changed my rubric just as she showed us.
As you can see from the images above my rubric, whilst still a formal summative assessment guide, is far less complex and includes check lists style lists that students can use to guide them as they work. (5.1)
It’s much bigger. It now scrolls over several pages but the extra white spaces makes it easier to follow. I continued to keep the focus from the focus areas but grouped and arranged things differently. There were still four rows (as before) but it was much less text heavy.
I used this approach for both of my assignments in this topic but, for evidencing purposes, I’d like to focus on this one.
I was still able to continue to link our learning (both skills and understanding) back to the focus area descriptors (Which i view as a curriculum guide for myself and my planning) but the focus was much more in their language. (2.2)
Interestingly, with the first assignment, it was obvious that a lot of them did not use the rubric as intended. They missed several, very simple, elements at times. That assignment, I honestly believe, would also have been impacted by a larger one that was being requested elsewhere in their course and seemed to be causing considerable stress. This assignment (the second and final one) has more “usual” conditions surrounding it and so I have chosen to use it as my example for the purposes of this reflection.
Hopefully, one of my current students will have a read of this. I’d love to know how they think they may have reacted if presented with last years version of the rubric. I’d love to know if they think the new one really is better. If you are… comment below!
As I was marking their assignments I did spot the following things that I would like to adapt and change:
As I was marking I realised that I had made assumptions (in my mind) that all of the language pertained to the use of ICT. For example, on the second page of the rubric:
The language here is very much focused on 1.5 and 2.1 and that meant that I could/had to award marks to students who were talking very much in Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) and NOT talking about tech. I don’t feel right about that. It gives too much license for them to avoid the tech part… and that’s what this topic is all about.
As a result, I want to change the language here to make it more obvious that the technology should also be involved here. Either that, or I could choose to make the sections of the rubric weighted and give this portion less weight. I think this might help those who lost focus on technology chose their words more carefully. I feel in doing so I would be responding to the needs of my learners for some more context around their thinking and writing (1.3)
This might involve using the terms “affordances” and “protean” when referring to the resources and tools in the third dot point. Both of these terms are heavily used in the TPACK framework to talk about how we can use the features (and our imagination) to use tools outside of their designed function. They are protean if they can be used in a myriad of ways and, therefore, have the ability to meet the needs of a range of learners.
ACTION: review the language and or weighting of this section for 2020
There were a lot more students venturing into the upper levels of the rubric this year than I’ve ever seen before. More of them were comfortable to talk about meeting the needs of a range of different learners. That was great to see. It did make me wonder why – because I’d love that to happen again next year and build on that. Perhaps it was because of the easier to manage layout and the fact that I lost the labels for C, D and HD? The lack of labels may have taken the pressure off. Perhaps it was because this assignment was the last one this year and so they were also very far into their differentiation topic.
When they worked with these “different needs” they also focused a lot of SEN. Although i would love to see them working with more academic differences rather than disabilities and neuro diversity, i accept that it’s probably easier to tackle something that’s well documented and researched in this area. Easier than that it is to conjure a fake class with fake needs pertaining to particular learning goals.
There was also a focus on RAFT activities and the need to meet students interests. This was definitely being influenced by the differentiation topic. Differentiating based on interest placed a lot of them in danger of hitting the “low hanging fruit of engagement” (to quote Bron Stuckey who joined us for a guest lecture). I need to make sure they know that to get the best out of the tech they need to be able to measure their impact and that the impact must be improved academic outcomes.
Interestingly, almost all of their fake classes had a gifted child in it. that’s testament to the fact that, at home, I have been busy advocating for gifted children. My son is gifted and attends a Dara School. I can see my bias for ensuring they are aware of what gifted actually means has influenced them a little more than perhaps it should? I am still trying to decide if that’s ok or not!
ACTION: Scaffold them more to work with academic difference or accept SEN as a reasonable approach