Digital Doors was created as a place for me to blog and share resources that I think would be helpful for teachers integrating technology in meaningful ways in their classroom. My goal would be to write a blog post a week, but with my busy schedule, that doesn't happen. I write when I can and rely on nifty tools to help me share what I am finding when I don't have time to write.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

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Digital Literacy News 2-11-11

Mount Vernon Digital Literacy News

February 11, 2011
Digital Literacy Workshop

Monday, February 14,
Search and Research Tools
Come learn about some different search tools and techniques with tools you already use.  Also find out about tools students can use to organize their research online.

Upcoming Digital Literacy Workshop:
Monday, February 21 ,
Collaboration Tools:  We will look at some ways students and teachers can collaborate locally and around the world.

See a schedule for the year.

Open Lab: 2:30 - 5:00

Resource Instruction: 3:15 - 4:00               
Monday Afternoons, District Office Tech Lab.

Clock  Hours are available.

Links to Explore

School Lunches from Around the World : See how American School lunches compare to lunches in other parts of the world.

Awesome Stories:  A collection of videos, primary sources and other media about different topics.

Draw Island : A tool for creating drawings and animated gifs online.

Bag the Web:  A curating tool for organizing information found online.

Google Body Browser : Explore the human body in a searchable and layered format.  Only works in updated browsers.

ArtProject by Google:  Explore pieces of art and visit art museums using Street View technology.  
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Egg Hunterphoto © 2006 Brian | more info (via: Wylio)

Greetings from Bremerton, Washington,  where myself and a great team of educators is working on range finding for Classroom Based Assessments in Technology.  This work is in its second year and I have learned so much through the process.  This team has worked to create classroom based assessments.  Most of the assessments created have been coupled with already existing CBAs in other subjects.  Our charge has been to create project based assessments based on our state tech standards to help measure proficiency in the technology standards.  

This week we are looking at work done by students field testing our assessments.  Our job has been to do range finding to see if we have a strong rubric and can find anchor papers to share with teachers and students as this rolls out.  

As I said, throughout this process, I have learned so much.  This week is no different.  Some thoughts have really crystallized this week about the place of standardised testing in the learning process.

As we have built these assessments, we have worked to make them a valuable instrument, worthy of student time and effort.  The assessments are standards based, and involve active project based learning to answer essential questions, synthesize information and create original products.  Measuring student growth and proficiency is an important part of the learning and teaching process and  I feel that these assessments have been created to make the learning and assessment as authentic as possible.  But even with these efforts, It is becoming very clear to me that with any standardised assessment, there are limitations.

In the process of creating these assessments, we have had to think carefully about what can and can not be measured objectively with this type of instrument.  For instance, collaboration is an important component in the tech standards, but it is difficult to measure individual students independently of each other on standards dealing with collaboration.  So, although we are expected to teach collaboration, we are not assessing for collaboration.  

This realization that standardised tests can not assess all of the standards, but only the standards  that can easily be measured using this type of tool, was really brought home to me.  

I’ve heard educators say that it is ok to teach to the test when the test is based on standards.  I have even used the model of backwards planning that starts with the standards based assessment and then lessons are planned in a way to make sure that students will be successful on that assessment.  (Teach to the test.)  I often hear teachers tell me that the reason that they don’t spend time teaching technology skills, art, or social studies etc.  is because those areas are not a part of the high stakes test. It is easy for us to see that we are leaving something out when we do not teach these subjects, but we feel that we must spend all of our time teaching what will be assessed on the high stakes test.  

What this process of creating assessments has taught me is that, even on the high stakes tests, only the standards and types of questions that fit the format and can be easily measured are tested. This leaves out important building block information that is in the standards and is intended to be taught even though it is not tested.

If we focus on just teaching what is tested, we are doing a great disservice to our students. We may know that our backward planning should start with the standards and not the assessment, but we need to not be led down the path of least resistance and just teach those items that will be measured on a standardised test.  

Although standardised test are one measure and can be a tool to improve learning and teaching.  They are only one piece of the puzzle and should not be considered the ultimate indicator of student achievement.  Teaching just what can be measured easily on a standardized test is detrimental to learning.  

Find out more about Washington State Educational Technology Classroom Based Asseessments.

Video of the Week

We’ve come a long way in the last 16 years.  

Tech Triumphs

I enjoyed visiting Lisa Condran’s high tech 3rd grade class this week. It was great to see how comfortable and competent her students were at logging on and finding appropriate sites to use in their learning.  It is obvious that Lisa put some time in earlier in the year to teach her students these skills and also organize information in a format that is easy for her students to access.  In Lisa’s class, technology is becoming ubiquitous. Technology is a tool for learning and not an add on.

Digital Citizenship

A Powerful Video about the dangers of texting while driving.

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