Authentic Assessments to Support Teaching and Learning
We, as edtech leaders and classroom teachers, must explore pathways where assessments support teaching and learning in the 21st century. According to Matt Renwick, Author and Principal of Mineral Point Unified School District, WI, in a recent edWebinar, complex authentic student learning experiences require complex assignments that not only demonstrate content knowledge but should also gauge enthusiasm, communication skills and habits of mind. Authentic assessments are always about the connections we make with students, each other, and the broader community as indicated in a Gallup poll. Only 47% of secondary students surveyed reported being engaged, enthusiastic and committed to their learning. Students who were able to agree with the statements, “my school strongly is committed to building the strengths of each student,” and, “I have at least one teacher who makes me excited about the future,” were 30 times more likely to be engaged at school when compared with students who strongly disagreed with the same items.
Framework for Self-Directed Learning
The entire school community needs to partner with students to build a culture of student engagement that will result in students learning to their potential. Renwick recommends that teachers collaborate with their students to teach them how to learn and develop a love for learning. Teachers need to become students, and students need to become teachers so that students can create, design, and assess their personal learning experience. By providing students with access to authentic audiences such as their peers, they can demonstrate their knowledge of the curriculum and communicate the skills that they are acquiring while being evaluated by their teachers for impact and success.
But What About Technology?
Technology can be useful for learning when used as a communications tool for activities such as Skyping with a famous author. However, when it comes to authentic assessment in the digital age, technology can accelerate the self-directed learning partnerships when used as a context where learning is mediated and occurring. For example, students can use a blogging tool to post summer book reviews for students, and the librarian can mediate a conversation around their reading and writing. Some of the most effective ways to accelerate self-directed learning are when students learn beyond the walls of the classroom, advocate for their authentic learning assessment, and become entrepreneurs helping kids and their community. In Portland, Oregon, teens created a summer activities app that provided students and families with fun summer event opportunities. Another group of teens generated a teen suicide outreach app to make it easier to call for help in times of distress. Young students of Margaret Simon, a gifted and talented teacher in Louisiana, use a student blog where they post chronicles of their project and provide teacher-facilitated feedback and comments to each other. In these and many different scenarios, technology is used as both a tool and a context for engaging students, creating a network of resources and support, developing partnerships with teachers and personalize the learning so that assessments are authentic and measure the growth of the whole child.
This edWeb webinar was sponsored by FreshGrade.
This article was modified and published by EdScoop.
About the Presenter
Matt Renwick is a 19-year public educator who began as a 5th- and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District. Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets from @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD and Choice Literacy.
About the Host
Siobhan Nordstrom is the community manager for FreshGrade and is certified in Adult Continuing Education. Over the last three years, she has led dozens of professional development sessions all of which have impacted the way that educators communicate learning through eportfolios. Siobhan has extensive knowledge about the product and the various ways it is being used across the U.S. and Canada.
Join the Community
TechTools is a free professional learning community on edWeb.net where educators can discover new resources, free technology, and great ideas for integrating technology into the classroom to engage and inspire students.
Founded in 2011, FreshGrade was created by a dedicated team who saw a better way to show student achievement and progression. Today, FreshGrade is used in over 120 countries worldwide. The portfolio and assessment platform helps educators, parents, and students have deeper conversations about learning. Do it all with just one tool: capture evidence, give feedback, and track progression through standards and custom objectives. FreshGrade encourages students to own their learning while engaging parents at every turn. Start a deeper conversation about learning at www.freshgrade.com.
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