I think p. 25 on "Reflection" was very significant. Reflection is a very important part of a student's process when completing a product. I especially appreciated the following point: "Engaging students in regular self-assessment with standards held constant so they can watch themselves grow over time and thus learn to become in charge of their own success." I always try to include reflection as part of my students' process, but I could always use improvement in this area and will continue to try to work on that this year.
Response to Betsy, 9/26 at 1:11 pm: I agree that I can always improve on the Reflection in my class, but also see the value of reflection over time. When conferences come, I always pull out science and writing portfolios as the best indication of progress.
My ah-ha moments, in response to Question #3: I am thinking about the kinesthetic products. I have several students who respond to whole body learning...however, they sometimes are off in their own world, not really focusing on our lesson. I am challenged to think of ways to hold them accountable, while still giving the opportunity to create products in their comfort zone of learning.
My aha moments include:pg. 7: "taking instruction intent, physical parameters and assessment into consideration, you are ready to create the product list"-this was more of a duh to me. It just involves the bulk of teacher's work to be in the planning phase.pg. 10 product list was helpfulpg. 19 "too often educators focus on the product itself instead of the significant content the product is presenting." Reminder not get lost in the wow factor of the final presentation, but to make sure the content is actually there.
In response to Betsy and Melanie: I think reflection is a great way to measure a student's progress, as well as perusing journals to see skills learned. It is interesting to me to see a student's progression from the beginning of the year to the end via their journals...sometimes it is hard to notice changes in day to day, but looking back you can see significant growth.
I cannot say that the PRIMARYsecondary approach (p. 11) was an Ahh- Ha moment, but it brought clarity to what student opportunities might be. I was thinking of using a modification of items with icons for second graders. I think they would value from the guidance on how to actually create a product (p. 12). One Ahhh-ha moment I did have was on page 24, “Without creativity there is no innovation. Educators must build both critical and creative thinking skills into the curriculum.” Previous paragraphs on that page telling of how the competition for creativity has the United States waning from leadership is worrisome.
My moment/part was on page 17 at the bottom of the page: "teachers use the classroom assessment process and the continuous flow of information about student achievement that it provides in order to advance, not merely check on, student learning." I like this quote a lot because, I know in SBISD we have data conferences and meetings continuously however are we able to advance their learning from a DRA or benchmark? I feel that even in the district in order to truly justify advancement of a student, we need more 'products' that are following the DAP tool assessments not just a one test snap shot.
I agree with Melanie on September 26, 2010 5:15 PM 'I have several students who respond to whole body learning...however, they sometimes are off in their own world, not really focusing on our lesson’. This also occurs in my classroom. I feel that implementing the DAP tool components can bring more interest into the assignments and more focus since they will have to take the information learned and put it into a product which in itself is a higher level thinking skill.
One of my "ah moments" had to do with the four assessment questions (p.18). The second question for assessing products is "What did he learn about himself as a learner by the end of the unit?" Further down the page, the author states "reflection involves the important process of a student analyzing his own learning. Last year I finished my Masters in Administration and Leadership. Throughout my program, our professors had us create reflections for each activity we completed. This, they said, would help in our continual growth. If a person is a life long learner, he must reflect on himself to see what changes and improvements can be made. This only makes sense that students need to do the same thing in order to grow.
One of my ah ha moments included Chapter three's discussion of the reflection piece. In the rush to wrap things up and move on, this many time gets lost and it is such a valuable piece of the learning process. When the author said "the habit of self assessment empowers the learner to take responsibility for their own learning" I immediately thought of goal setting. I have tried with little success to help students establish goals, but failed to discuss and model the metacognitive process before-hand. With this in mind, I will discuss and model what thinking about our own thinking looks like so that students can reflect on their learning and set goals to improve in the future.
& Melanie: Your comment about having students create products within their "comfort zones of learning" made me think. I teach Academic Government and AP Government. Because AP Government is a college level course, most of my students want all lecture/notes for their lessons. Many of my students are out of the comfort zone when I have them do hands on projects. The reverse situation is true for my academic students. I am then thinking about my GT students who get bored with the lecture/note taking and want the project. That would be in their zone of comfort to help prevent boredom.
My ahh-ha moments were many! Often times I found myself thinking something and jotting in the margins only to later find my thinking verified or spoken to later in the reading. Although I don’t 100% agree with everything mentioned, it is nice to read a book and feel like I am on the right “wavelength” with the general idea(s). I fully agree with the author’s statement on page 6 reading, “professionals are not only experts in their content, but they are also experts in the way the content is presented.” I think this world would be a better place if this was always true, but it especially resonated with me in the field of teaching. We must know our content and craft, but ALSO be able to convey it to others successfully!On pages 8 and 9 the DAP tools are categorized into five main areas: kinesthetic, oral, technological, visual, and written. I was just thinking holistically that if educators offer products in these areas for assessment purposes, it seems that it could be rather time consuming if students were to opt for many of these types of products such as if kiddos want to perform a skit, song, demonstration, dance, speech, etc… If we allow them to create these amazing products, we must be ready to gift them the time to present their amazing products… Does time allow in reality??
My first ahh-ha moment was the fact that the first three chapters related to project based learning. I have been doing this in my class for the last ten years and am glad that educational specialists recognize the importance of this type of learning in the classroom. I like on page 6 where it says “when we provide choice in those authentic assessment, we better meet our students’ needs, and we also may pique their interest”. Everyone likes to feel like they have choices. Our school district has us going through the love and logic that makes students feel like they have choices. When you give options to students, they are able to use their strengths to come up with products that exceed our expectations. I feel we have all had students that were given a project assignment who went above and beyond our expectations. I teach economics and was tickled to find a student made “extra credit” rap on youtube that was about supply and demand. I used it as my hook for the unit and was able get students excided about a topic that might otherwise be dry.
I liked the section about reflection that started on page 25. I agree with the authors that this piece is often overlooked in many classrooms. Some teachers feel that students are not developed enough to think about their thinking, but I think with explicit training, students can be taught this skill. Student rubrics can be powerful tools. I also thought that the idea (page 26) of 'promoting the decision to be creative' was an interesting way to look at things. The author talked about explicitly teaching students about creativity, but I looked at it from the point of giving students permission to be creative, which is not always an option in some classrooms.
I guess the big “Ahh-Ha” moment was the section on page 24 and 25 where it talked about the lack of a national vision and a lack of reflection in the classroom. It seems like education is just going through the motions and there is not great end product we are aiming at. We don’t take time as teachers to reflect on what we are teaching because we are so pressed to “get everything done” on time so we can give the next test. Students don’t get time to think either, maybe they would learn more at this point that anywhere else if we gave them some time. The national vision is going to date some of us. When we were in school it was the great race to the moon. Every student knew about space, the moon, rockets and astronauts. There was a focus on science as having a real goal. Our students don’t seem to have a goal like that in mind.
I like KatieK's comment about being able to measure progress over time instead of day to day. Some students adapt and change academically at different rates and perform differently depending on the subject matter. A poor start may simply be a lack of interest in an area, not a lack of ability. Over time this behavior should change as the material changes and the level of interest changes.
The PRIMARYsecondary approach to creating a product list struck me as an ideal method for accommodating various learning styles. The authors state on page 11, "...if your goal is differentiation through learning preferences, you must analyze each nuance of each product before offering it as a choice to your students." Currently, my 4th graders are creating PowerPoint presentations to demonstrate mastery of Social Studies content. At first, I thought I was limiting their product choices by requiring each group to produce a PowerPoint (Technology). After analyzing the requirements for the finished product, I determined that more than one learning style was being addressed (written, visual, oral presentation, technology etc.). The level of enthusiasm and motivation to succeed is high, as my student tackle these various challenges.
I agree with Sanchezh (9/27/10) that goal setting and reflection can be difficult routines to establish, especially with elementary age children. I, too, have often overlooked this crucial stage of the learning process. But, if we are to truly build cognitive development, the process of learning is as important as the content of learning. With time, patience, and practice, even young children can accurately analyze and critique their own learning processes.
OliverI in the immediately preceding post comments on another entry that addressing student change over time. This IS valuable, and as is stated further above, reflection entries can with help that. It can be the "so what?" part of learning process.
I love the statement (p. 6) quoted by Wilcox (September 27, 2010 7:12 PM), in sum meeting student needs and interests. We are in our positions as teachers to serve students in the learning process. What better illustration of our society is there in the rubber-meets-the-road of public education than to provide choices where talents can be acted upon in creative, yet educational, ways?
My Ahh-Ha moment was the section in Chapter 3 page 25 about reflection. “…the learner thinking about her own learning.” One of the things that I struggle with is tying everything together for the student. It frustrates me when each unit is disconnected and classroom activities happen in vacuums. It seems that when this is the case the students get into a “going through motions” mode rather than “I am learning this content and creating this product using the skill that I learned last week, month, semester”. I noticed this happening a lot more when implementing menus and I think what was missing was the reflection piece. In general, my students were like little factory workers producing, receiving a grade, and starting again on the next unit. Even if they were using newly learned skills and/content, I don’t know that they were aware of it and, well, they should be consciously aware of their learning, thinking habits, and progress. Just tried this this week and it is very revealing. It is literally win-win. Students learn about themselves, and teacher gets feedback that will help in making future instructional decisions.
It starts on page 18, and then is continued on 25, reflection. How often do we give a project or even a writing assignment, the kids work on it, they get their grade and that's it. I feel that this is the missing piece of the puzzle, allowing kids to think about what they have done. As they write on page 25, the end of the second paragraph," Engaging students in critiquing their own work serves both cognitive and motivational purposes. Ultimately the habit of self assessment leads to the self-monitoring of performance." Isn't this our ultimate goal for education our kids?
My a-ha began on page 1, when the author began speaking about different products all sharing the qualities of being able to prove student learning, and continued on as the idea of offering students choices began to cement in my brain. As I wrote in question one, I offer students the chance to do a "project" but it is one project with one strictly defined rubric. The idea of allowing students to choose from a list of products is very exciting for me. I feel that it will actually give students the opportunity to be creative and to become engaged in their learning.
@sanchezh Thank you for reminding me about the reflection piece of the product puzzle. I don't like being asked the question--how do you think that went? I know that I was not asked that question as a student, and so I don't really have a strong ability to reflect on my own actions/learning. I think that teaching students today that they need to be reflective so they can learn from mistakes and do better next time will help them as they move into the professional world.
I agree with oliverl and guillorys that time is definitely a factor in all this. How do we make time for students to present their products to their peers? How do we make time for reflection for both teacher and student? I think oliverl is right about the national vision. There isn't anything tying us together and moving us forward. Attention spans are so short nowadays that even if we did have a national goal, it would be forgotten after its 'fifteen minutes of fame.'
WonderWeiss wrote about her A ha moment, I was the same way. One project fits all. I teach Social Studies along with Language Arts to the same group of kids; so for our unit on North America I decided to do something different. I created a "Menu" of projects. The kids had a choice of one appitizer, one main dish, and one dessert. When they received their menus and read the choices, they were really excited. It was the first time I had real enthusiasm about something I had presented to them. Their excitement was conatgious, I won't go back to the one size fits all appoach ANYMORE.
I had several a-ha's. One is on page 7 which provides questions geared to helping you create the list of product choices. I think sometimes there are great project ideas, but given certain parameters a teacher realizes that it isn't going to work in a specific situation. We need to be realistic about things like the physical parameters and time. I also enjoyed reading about the DOK levels on pages 20 and 21, because, not surprisingly, this reminds me of a lot of our DDI conversations regarding Bloom's, which made it a nice connection. And, as many others have stated here, I also agree that often we as educators perhaps do not do well enough on the reflection piece with our students, despite how important it is.
@Christa Wilson: Love that you are in tune with each of your classes/students' needs and preferences (wants). Been thinking lately about the fact that our profession is the only (I think) in which losing a client does not affect our bottom line…it affects theirs. That being said, I have 2 thoughts:1. Kudos to you and to all teachers who work as hard as Ari Gold (sans his pay) to give their clients what they need in a manner that they prefer (want); 2. How can we make it common place for ALL educators to not only be in tune with their students’ wants/needs, but to also implement practices that aim to meet student needs within each student’s “comfort zone of learning” while keeping them appropriately challenged? Hmmmmm……
In response to oliverl: I like what you said about a national vision. If we can't control our nation's vision, maybe we can at least work toward more of a school vision as far as products go?
@WonderWeiss regarding her menu type of teaching was so successful with her 4th graders that I adapted that type of idea with my own 4th graders, giving them choices from a menu I'd constructed to cover the content being taught. They loved it and were engaged learners. My a-ha was the importance of reflection for our learners and how it needs to be included. So many times this was the one thing I would cut out due to time constraints-something I will change in future projects.
The biggest aha moment for me is the affirmation that I truly believe in the reflection piece of teaching and assesment for the students but it is easier for a Kindergarten teacher to do that and have the physical component of the teaching.