Monday, November 18, 2013

SAMR & Assessment

Guest Blogger, Kayla Brown (Assistant Principal, Coppell High School) writes: 
Think back to a time in your life when you were a kid in school. Now think about an assessment you took when you were in school or the instruction you received to make that “A” on the exam.

Do you ever wonder whose knowledge was actually tested?! Have you ever wondered what the history textbooks would say if they were written from a different perspective or if a different leader in a major war was quoted in place of the one recorded?! Are we assessing on the standards alone?? Are our learners truly future-ready and who is determining that standard?

Have you ever wondered why the gap is so large between state standardized assessments and our national ACT/SAT assessments?! If you can peel away surface thinking, you can conclude that knowing the state standards alone are not enough to be future-ready in a global society. So, if that is the case, what are we really doing for our future leaders?!

I think back to when I taught Kindergarten Math. I always wondered why kids in China had higher Math scores than US kids when using the same national exam (abcnews video-"China beats US in Reading, Math and Science"). I knew there had to be more to this than me taking the Math textbook, a worksheet made by the textbook company, and my knowledge of the content to prepare my Kindergarten learners to be future-ready in a global society.

I did some research and was fascinated by all the incredible ways to learn Math. Have you ever researched how kids in China learn how to count? For some reason, at 32 years old, I understand something as simple as counting better now than how I was taught many years ago. I wonder how many foundational concepts are lost because we haven’t allowed learners to explore and make meaning of the endless amounts of wisdom and knowledge from the world?!

As an instructional leader, I hear educators express their passion to produce, if you will, future-ready learners that can compete with anyone in any country. We all have the desire and the passion, but the logistics seem to be so overwhelming that we shut down because it is 1. Change and 2. Something that we haven’t had as much training to realize that we “don’t know that we don’t know.”

This is where SAMR comes to the scene. I do not want SAMR to be viewed as “just another thing to do” or “I have no idea what this is, so I am not going to do it.” SAMR, once you truly understand what it looks like in action, will revolutionize your learning environment and will give your learners the opportunity to be future-ready.

SAMR is the tool/rubric for educators to guide instruction and assessment. Instruction and assessment should be aligned. Have you asked yourself, “Is my instruction aligned to my assessments, which are aligned to future-readiness standards?” In other words, are you instructing according to the Learning Framework where your class environment is conducive to risk-taking, your learners are connecting to the world to deepen and enrich their understanding of the learning outcome and by exposing learners to the world, is learning going beyond the standards and the classroom walls? If your instruction is aligned to the Learning Framework, then what does assessment in your learning environment look like?

In, “Assessment and Instruction: Two Sides of the Same Coin,” the author states:

“One of the most powerful features of well designed technology-enhanced learning environments is that they enable us to embed ongoing formative assessment and feedback into the instructional activities themselves. In this way, the student not only gets the chance to practice what they are learning but also receives performance feedback that they can immediately use to tune their learning.”

Because instruction and assessment must be aligned I linked an example of what SAMR looks like in action. SAMR is a guide to identify where a particular assessment/lesson falls on the spectrum of technology integration.
Think of assessment strategies you have or are planning on using this year.
Where is that on the SAMR model? What change(s) can you make to that assessment to move it up the SAMR ladder?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Assessing: OF & FOR Learning

“When the cook tastes the soup, that’s formative assessment; when the customer tastes the soup, that’s summative assessment.” - Paul Black

How often are your learners playing the role of the chef and how often are they playing the role of the patron?

The CISD Learning Framework (Ch. 5, Sect. 1) describes formative assessment as assessment for learning. "Assessments used for formative purposes must entail sufficient breadth, depth and cognitive rigor to promote a deeper level of understanding...for the improvement of learning.” The Learning Framework explains that assessments being used for summative purposes provide a “...means for the measurement of learning, effectiveness of instruction and the alignment of the curriculum.”

Learning Progressions
Real world
Learning Goals and Criteria for Success
Descriptive Feedback
Tied to TEKS or objectives
Self- and Peer-Assessment
Include learning outcomes and soft skills
Collaboration - Educators are Learners and Learners are Educators
Evidence of the learner’s Higher Order Thinking Skills


Please reflect on the following questions:

How are these attributes evidenced in your formative assessments? In your summative assessments? Which attribute needs the most growth and attention in your own experiences and how do you plan to support this growth?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Assessment Beliefs

Black & Wiliam (1999) express their belief that improving learning through assessment depends on five, deceptively simple, key factors
  • the provision of effective feedback to pupils;
  • the active involvement of pupils in their own learning;
  • adjusting teaching to take account of the results of assessment;
  • a recognition of the profound influence assessment has on the motivation and self-esteem of pupils, both of which are crucial influences on learning;
  • the need for pupils to be able to assess themselves and understand how to improve.
Black, P. & Wiliam, D. 1999. Assessment for Learning: Beyond the Black Box, Assessment Reform Group, University of Cambridge, School of Education

What are YOUR beliefs concerning assessment? What challenges are you currently experiencing when implementing your beliefs?

Comment below or tweet your response with the #cisdassessment hashtag.