Is this good enough?

Is this good enough? A sentence that many teachers have heard before. This question is a trained response and a direct result of measuring and evaluating.  Children are programmed to seek feedback we all are, unfortunately adding a grade or percentage changes a growth opportunity into a final summative evaluation. In fact as a teacher I have found that sticking to formative measures focusing on the assessment “for” and “as” learning is the most usefull and tends to refine skills.  The ancillary benefit of postponing summative measures is that students have multiple opportunities to learn and then when they are summatively evaluated they are confident that they can demonstrate the skills and knowledge being measured.

One criticism I have read and heard when I focus on pre-summative assessment is that we are not helping students and that this is not representative of the real world.  To that I simply respond ” Would you have passed your drivers test if every time you practiced it was measured and included in your final mark?” The answer is often “No, But”

One way to increase teacher effectiveness through the use of technology to get more of that oh so important formative assessment is to have students write on google documents, and have you and their peers help them edit and challenge their work.  Done correctly this can allow asynchronous teaming and even break through the classroom walls and engage a larger audience including parents and professionals in your community. Blogging and twitter can also be used to house and “advertise” work so that students can engage others in their work.  This focus on improvement rather than completion leads to deeper learning and mastery.

Imagine writing a story and having an actual author edit your story, or even a one on one skype meeting with them or simply a twitter conversation.  It doesn’t get much more rich than that.  Our schools, my school has the potential to use the current infrastructure to engage the resources of the whole world but rarely does. I believe that we need to give ourselves permission to try and make mistakes to dabble and grow in front of our students for these changes to happen.

Last week one of my teachers asked me to help her teach her class how to use Prezi, I gave a five minute demonstration and then within minutes the class was teaching me new things, students were engaged and learning.  None of the students asked if it was good enough and they were sharing and comparing each others work.  This is a simple example but one that bares reflection this small change from simply researching and reporting to allow students to take risks gave way to interesting and meaningful learning opportunities. Everyone was working together and learning together.  Imagine a world where this was the norm and students continued to work on skills until they mastered them and never asked “Is this good enough?”

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