Products can certainly engage reluctant learners or learners who are capable of that higher-level thinking so I agree with her eight points. However, it was really the paragraph that comes after that had me wanting to read more to learn her twist on authentic assessment and significant content. Too many times the product outshines the content being presented. As teachers we must hold our students accountable to the state/district required content otherwise even our GT kids will not pass state/local mandated test and we will be held accountable for their low scores! We can not be wowed by fancy products that lack content.Arlene Reynolds
I agreed with all the author’s comments on why products are important. My favorite reasons were that products have “real-world” connections and they foster pride in one’s work. Why would students take pride in something that only their teacher will see? Why would they care about completing an assignment that is just for a grade? Students take pride in their work when they know others will see it. If their work can be viewed by an audience online or by their peers, this just makes it more exciting for them and they are more likely to take the assignment seriously. Of course, they will learn more in this situation, as well.
Response to Betsy: I agree that authentic sharing does naturally raise the bar in learning and quality of work. Sometimes it is hard to create, but often simply sharing with another class or another student is helpful.
My opinion of the author's comments: when the author said well-developed products require high-level thinking, I thought of students who are not high-level thinkers. In order to help them complete a minimal product, they will need considerable assistance, but this can often come from a competent peer.
Agree with the author 100%! In working to consistently integrate tech and 21st century skills, products have proven to be the most effective way to marry content instruction and skills instruction in a way that engages and challenges students. Students may not appreciate the content as much as I do, but when they are able to learn the content and a new skill (tech, art, problem solving) simultaneously, in general, students have been more engaged/participatory/autonomous learners. Engagement increases even more when I can prove the skill is actually used in the work/career world.Related links & resources:Students, Ownership, & Creativity: 35 Resourceshttp://www.linkyy.com/19eAdvice to Teachers from High School Student Who Created an iPhone App on His Ownhttp://www.linkyy.com/19f
I think what the authors said in 8 reasons why products are important was extremely accurate as a means to motivate, engage and assess students. Too many times we put so much emphasis on multiple choice tests, when they are real-life. A travel agent creating a brochure is much more accurate than taking a pencil/paper test to show off their knowledge. I thought this was a great reminder...
In response to S. Acevedo: I completely agree that engagement increases when you can prove the skills are actually used in the work/career world. I am always trying to make connections between the real world and the content so my students can see how it is useful and that they will, in fact, need the skills in the future.
The eight reasons compel one to implementing product assignments. I think reason eight creation of life-long learners contains food for thought. I like the idea of students working on a concept, then developing connections and patterns of learning as a result. That sounds very motivating. And the learning is two-fold: the concept and the creation. This involves high-level thinking and problem-solving.
I agree with Betsy (September 26, 2010 12:56 PM) in that ownership of the idea and creation helps instill pride in a job well done, or, acknowledgment that a task was too challenging or would require more than was initially anticipated. By the way, I, Kandel's Fan, am Ivy Linsley, a second grade teacher who may see that this book is a challenge for adapting to second grade. I am wondering if I should turn in my book and work with previous experiences on using menus.
Melanie (September 26, 2010 5:03 PM) commented that many students are not high-level thinkers. I see this in my room with a few that really need motivating (I like to think that's all it is). I am hoping that choice will help with that.
I agree with Betsy (September 26, 2010 12:56 PM)I think that carrying the product from academic work to life is very motivating. The students, I think, take more pride and time in something they know they have seen their parents do for their jobs. They also share with others these connections that bring meaning into their products.
I really like the quote that is on: Products are motivating that states, 'Products provide the hook that brings children into active learning'. In fourth grade I think that this is a very valid statement. I often see many students rushing through simple independent practice pages with out fully applying themselves. However, with projects that interest them, the students spend double the amount of time focused and in some cases extending the assignment just to show other students their potential/hard work.
The eight reasons each held their own validity of course, and I could not agree more with what the author has presented as evidence of the validity of products. What especially resonated with me was that "they add relevance to learning experiences". When we can get students to see that education transcends school and applies to the real world we have succeeded in revealing to them the importance of education. As teachers, we communicate the importance, but students need to "discover" this on their own at times in order to truly understand this and validate their own learning. This then leads me to the other reason that resonated with me, that in the process of creating a product that is meaningful to a student they become proud of themselves and their work. I can remember countless conversations with fellow educators about the quality of the work lacking and questioning why students did not take more pride in what they do. After reading this, it became very clear that if I, the teacher, take more time in developing a range of products that appeal to the student I will then see the quality I have been seeking.
The quote mentioned by Mrs. Hardie...also stood out to me "products provide the hook that bring children into active learning". Children want to learn, we just have to find the avenue by which they will take the first steps towards that learning. I know I spend time before teaching my lessons thinking about how to engage the students, what would peak their interest - and what a revelation to now think about how to enable the student to take responsibility for their own learning. I cannot help but think that this sounds a lot like working smarter, not harder.
Of the eight reasons why products are important, the two that jumped out at me were the ones that said that products develop higher level thinking and develop lifelong learners. I used to believe that project based learning was too time consuming. Teaching social studies, it was easier to just give the information to my students. However, I finally am realizing that not all students learn this way. This year I took the knowledge we learned in our lat book study and began to incorporate the menu idea into my class. I still give tests, but for some units I have the different choices. I allowed one of my students to creat a flow or rap for extra credit. It was about the Constiution and Federalism. The students loved it and the student who flowed understood the material. As I was reading, the part where it mentions that some products could be vocal reminded me of this.
@ Kandel: I agree with you. By us creating life long learners at a younger age, our students will be better prepared for their futures. If we force them to use higher order thinking, they will learn problem solving skills as opposed to just giving up when they cannot figure something out. I think that the self reflection component is key to this too. As a government teacher, it is more important for me to teach the set up of our government than individual "facts."
I believe that all eight reasons the author mentions are valid when it pertains to classroom products and assessment of those products. I especially agree that products need to be authentic in overall nature, and what is assessed must be aligned with what was taught. Although difficult I feel to grade creativity at times, I do understand the author’s stance that this leads to being reflective about one’s self progress, etc.Incorporating all of these facets into one product and correlated assessment of product seems daunting for all areas of the curriculum at all times, but I look forward to learning more about this throughout the reading.
After reviewing all eight reasons why products are important, I agree with each and every one. I feel that in this age of technology, teachers must try even harder to keep students attention and make all lessons meaningful. I feel the products have to be well planned so that they have real-world connections and also require higher level thinking and problem solving. I teach senior economics and feel that teachers have to be careful not to assign projects just to assign projects. The creative “coloring” doesn’t need to require the majority of the time. I don’t think we should have students make a magazine cover just to make a magazine cover. This is especially true for GT and college bound students. The project needs to be an age appropriate endeavor that provides a way for students to express their comprehension and at the same time create a teaching tool for others.
Sanchezh, I agree with everything you said. Students who are able to realize the value of learning in elementary, middle, and high school have such an advantage compared to most students in school. I appreciate that you said students need to discover the importance on their own in order to make it relevant and relatable. This provides the stake they need to make the content meaningful. I really appreciate the fact that you recognize that if you take the time to develop quality projects that have meaning to the students, they will rise above the challenge and go the extra distance. We all know teaching is one of the hardest jobs on the planet, but I can admit that the lessons that I properly prepare for and spend time planning are the ones where students learn the most.
What struck me as I read these eight reasons was the underlying sense of autonomy that the products give learners. I guess it really goes with the idea of motivation, which was cited, but if a student can pick a product to show his or her learning, how powerful that is! To give students a sense of choice in communicating their learning gives them power in ways they might not have had before. (Of course, for students to have well-thought out product choices, the teacher has to do a lot of purposeful planning!) Giving students a sense of choice is always beneficial in my opinion.
As defined by the author, "Products are vehicles for communicating infomation and/or demonstrationg skills for specific purposes to authentic audiences" (pg. 2). Products should have relevant, real-world connections that extend beyond academics. In my opinion, this is the foremost reason why well-developed products are crucial to critical thinking. Students who create for an intended audience are better-focused and motivated, and are more accountable for their own learning. These experiences require the use of higher-order thinking skills which are necessary for future professional endeavors.
I think that the most important of the eight ideas are: “Well-developed products require high-level thinking and problem-solving skills”, “Products are engaging” and “Products are motivating.” In an ideal classroom setting the product based assessment touted by the authors sounds great. Any method employed in the classroom that requires students to think and solve problems is more beneficial than a standard set curriculum that places limits on how far the students can go in their learning. Self motivation would solve most classroom problems and place the teacher in a facilitator’s position guiding the students. Products would appear to provide tremendous opportunities for the students but would require great flexibility and a broad knowledge base for the teacher. It would also require that the teacher give up a lot of control in the classroom as the students become more self directing in their activities.
I agree with Betsy when she talks about taking pride in their work and why should they do the work for only the grade. Grades shouldn't be that big of a deal; what they learn and what they can apply their learning to is more important.
I acknowledge what Christa Wilson mention about some of the thinking , my own included, is that these types of products can be very time consuming. I agree with her decision to incorporate different types of assessing knowledge - it does need to be a balance between straight-forward testing and also products. We do gain valuable information from both types, and I believe that learners also flourish with a large variety of opportunities.
In response to sanchezh posted September 27 @ 4:22 pmI believe you have stated it ever so clearly…regarding if the teacher takes more time in developing the range of product appeals to the student then the student is motivated to create a more in depth product with content…rather than “just get the job/assignment finished” to get a grade. In addition, I agree that the depth of the learning is from having “real world” connections and see that learning occurs in any place one opens themselves for learning rather than just at school or in a classroom.
These two pages back a punch and create a platform for educators to look at themselves and/or their habits within their educational training. When I first read the 8 reasons I stopped reading the book and began reflecting on my journey as an educator. Oh, the cute products I have seen throughout my years…not to mention the ones that were adult driven or perhaps even completed by a parent. How easy it was to discuss the wrappings of the product and yet miss the essence of the content. There were times it was easier for me to give a test rather than sit through presentations where the presenter (student) read everything straight from their “product” poster, etc…now that I think of it I have sat through presentations where adults read their PowerPoint to me during a training. I realized the value of authentic assessment some time ago…and now add the reasoning behind why products are important helps me to grow. The 8 reasons shared by the authors will stay with me… as a teacher/presenter. I “get it”; I work first and stay consistent with the components at hand.
Sorry I'm tardy with my response. I've been kind of playing with the whole idea of giving my students choice in the products. I think having read these eight points, it not only reinforced what I was thinking, but it also made me realize just how much time I need to spend thinking about the choices I give my students. I was especially drawn to point four, "Products require high-level thinking and problem solving skills". How often do we give our kids, what we feel are great projects, and in retrospect are really nothing but busy work.
I especially liked that "products allow for and encourage self-expression and creativity". I think that too often we think we are doing a great service by giving the students the chance to do a "project" but we aren't actually allowing them to be creative because we are telling them what product to create and how exactly to create it. Students need a chance to spread their wings, and looking at products in this light as helped me. Offering the students the opportunity to pick what type of product they would like to create is where the hook really lies.
@barbarac--I wish I could have just reposted what you said as my own. I do lots of "projects" and then wish that I had those 3-6 weeks of my class time back because once I begin grading them I realize that what I wanted to happen with the product and what was actually produced were separated by a huge gulf. I'm curious to see how the DAP tool will help me to solve this problem.
I agree with sanchezh that it is a revelation when students take responsibility for their own learning. I do think it's working smarter, not harder. It's taken 20 years for me to sort of figure out how to do that, and it's only just a little bit easier. The end result of engaged, autonomous learners is worth it, though!
I wholeheartedly agree with all 8 of the reasons, although for me some of the reasons weigh more heavily than others. I especially agree with the "real-world" connections and the fact that products are important beyond the school years. Just look at how many of the presentations we receive as educators are a "product" such as Powerpoint or flipchart that the presenter has created to deliver the message they want us to come away with. I also agree with the statement that as students ask questions regarding the content of their products, they are extending their own learning, and, thus, are becoming lifelong learners.
@loliver: Good point regarding “giving up control”. It seems that one of the biggest obstacles to teachers implementing practices that foster differentiation and flexible learning is giving up controlling content and/or the delivery of the content. It reminded me of a statement I read recently by blogger Aaron Eyler:"Even if the tests went away tomorrow, very little would change in a lot of classrooms around the country, and teaching kids how to think would still take a back seat to teaching kids what to think.”Speaking from personal experience this is not easy to do, but it can be done. I think, like the reflective voice of your comment, awareness that giving up control is a necessary component of the process (for the teacher). The really ironic thing about giving up controlling the delivery of the content and learning pace was that I gained more control. Still trying to make sense of how that happened….
In response to guillorys, I agree with you completely about the difficulty in grading creativity at times especially given the pretty specific parameters that we have as elementary teachers with respect to our grading expectations. The grading expectations do not really provide a way for us to incorporate differentiated products, nor does the new Skyward program really work with that either.
In response to S. Acevedo, I love the quote that you just posted. "If the tests went away tomorrow,..." I know many teachers that give weekly tests every Friday, and I have always wondered why. I don't see how you can have that much to test with only 4 days of instruction from test to test, and give up one day each week for testing. So, 20% of instruction is being used for testing. Hmmm. I prefer to give more authentic daily assignments on what we are currently working on and use tests more for units of study that encompass a few weeks at a time.
In response to oliverl: I totally agree with what you said: "Self motivation would solve most classroom problems and place the teacher in a facilitator’s position guiding the students." Last year I worked on decreasing my role as an instructor and increasing my role as a facilitator, and this year my goal is to continue with this.
I find that now that i give more control to my students they seem to be more in charge of their environment and they have become more intrinsiclly motivated to do more. I totally agree with the author because I now have less classroom problems and my students are more resposible for themselves and eachother.