Sunday, February 28, 2010

Developing a Rubric - Phase 2

At his point of the pilot, our challenge is to create a rubric to measure the effect of literacy and technology on student learning.  Although this appears self evident to many of us - why else would the state invest all of this money? - it is much more of a challenge than it appears.  As a coach, I can walk into a classroom and identify the effectiveness of the literacy/technology combo - but - how do we identify separate elements and assume a correlation?

On February 23,  Tom Ward,  Sue Pratt, Mona Baker and I met to review our process so far.  We rethought our progress, so this week I have revisited resources, rethought connections, and reflected on assessment.  I feel like the little guy on the left:) - it seems like a perfect fit and then I find a bug!
Many educators are at the same juncture for a variety of reasons.
  1. Technology and the opportunities it provides us, has caused us to rethink and rewite our definition of literacy.  Ryan Bretag  , author of Metatonia, defines it this way:"Literacy is a group of evolving skills and skill sets as well as a form of knowledge needed for thoughtful, meaningful, and effective communication in socially relevant contexts."
 You can check out his blog, Metanoia under the list of blogs in the navigation bar on the right.    

2.  Ruth Reynard in her article, Technology's Impact on Learning Outcomes: Can It Be Measured?, wrote in 5/14/09,

"The main benefits of technology use are to support each individual student in his/her own learning process, provide direct access to all learning supports he/she might need (as well as creating his/her own when needed), and collaborating within various learning communities and project teams.

Additionally, misconceptions exist around the direct role of technology in the learning process, and, often, the technology is regarded as the teacher rather than a tool used by teachers and students to support the dynamic process of learning.

While content remains important, we know that it is always expanding, and, therefore, we must work with students to know how to think within certain disciplines rather than simply produce rote information. How do historians think? How do biologists think?

  • Focus on how rather than what. Teachers who encourage students to focus on “how” something works or happens are more likely to develop students who can think beyond what is currently happening to what might happen more efficiently and effectively.
  • Focus on why rather than when. Additionally, teachers who encourage students to ask “why” questions are more likely to develop thinking skills that help students to move beyond the understanding of simple tasks and the fulfillment/completion of simple tasks toward the more complex skills of problem solving.
  • Focus on future trends rather than current practices. The ultimate result of these kinds of

    approaches to learning is that we will see students who can move toward future trends and progressive organizations and methods, who can move toward change rather than stagnate within existing practices that may or may not meet the demands or the needs of clients and participants.
In order for us to be able to evaluate whether technology use improves student learning outcomes, my sense is that we as educators must redefine those outcomes and the methods with which they will be measured.  

Additionally, if teachers were better equipped to use technology, not only would students have a more consistent experience from class to class, but we could actually begin to see what effects the technology is having on student learning through more disciplines and over longer periods of time.

Certainly, if learning outcomes were to include more of the kinds of skills likely to be developed through technology use, we could move beyond the obvious and begin really to see how the actual learning is being changed, if at all." 

I agree with Reynard.   I believe effective teachers are teaching students how to think when they use technology by creating authentic tasks and opportunities to employ thinking strategies.  Not too surprisingly, the thinking strategies I have identified are "literacy" strategies that have now been labeled "thinking" strategies.  - And Yet - we do not measure them with our summative assessments.  Will this prove to be our "bug?" 
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