Measuring an Activity Makes it Less Enjoyable

flickr photo by avrene shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

A new study shows us something that many in education have suspected for a while: when you measure it, it can take the fun out of it.  The Atlantic has a quick read on this new research.

“It’s not clear which parts of our measurement moment will prove faddish and which will stick. But in the meantime, new evidence suggests that when we do measure things, we might not enjoy them as much. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research seems to indicate that measuring an activity, whatever it is, decreases people’s motivation to keep up with it.

In other words, it proposes that the more you quantify something that’s rewarding for its own sake, the less likely you are to enjoy it—and the less likely you are, too, to do more of it. Across a series of experiments, Jordan Etkin, a marketing professor at Duke University, found that people’s intrinsic motivation to do something—whether it be coloring, reading, or walking—declined once it was measured.”

Read the entire piece here.



Great Site for Tech Resources

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 11.02.52 AM

If you haven’t been to Richard Byrne‘s site, Free Technology for Teachers, go check it out right away! He’s got a wide variety of tips, tricks, apps, ideas, etc. to support your use of technology.

He recently shared an updated version of his “11 Backchannel & Informal Assessment Tools Compared in One Chart” that’s worth a peek.  Check it out here.



Exit Tickets ~ Formative Assessments +++

5848722_2a3db667eb_z (1).jpg

flickr photo by alykat shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

One of my favorite classroom assessment and teacher feedback strategies is the exit slip or exit ticket.  This quick activity can be done in a couple of minutes and provides teachers with essential information about what students have learned, what they may misunderstand, and/or how they are feeling about a particular lesson.

The Teaching Channel has a great segment on exit tickets, including a couple of clips.

The Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching & Learning at Brown University has an excellent page on exit tickets, including examples.

Edutopia includes a post with ways to use exit tickets to plan for future lessons.

“An exit slip can also be be a great way to set up the next day’s learning. With that in mind, here’s a few uses to consider:

Discover Shared Interests

Before introducing a group project that includes student choice, students can respond to a strategic question via an exit slip, sharing their primary topics of interest and their reasons.

Activate Prior Knowledge

Instead of taking time during class to create a concept/topic map, you can provide students with the concept or topic word at the end of class, activating their prior knowledge, and have them write words and phrases related to it on their half sheet of paper. When they come into the classroom the next day, they will see all their ideas displayed around the main word or phrase. This brainstorm also serves as a diagnostic check for the teacher.”  Read the rest of the piece here.

Resources for Creating Performance Assessments

flickr photo by stefanweihs shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

There are a variety of resources available to assist educators in the creation of strong performance assessment tasks.  Some of the best ones come from Jay McTighe and the Understanding by Design (UbD) community.

  1. What is a performance task? 

In this first post, McTighe addresses basic questions about performance assessment tasks:

“A performance task is any learning activity or assessment that asks students to perform to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and proficiency. Performance tasks yield a tangible product and/or performance that serve as evidence of learning. Unlike a selected-response item (e.g., multiple-choice or matching) that asks students to select from given alternatives, a performance task presents a situation that calls for learners to apply their learning in context.

Performance tasks are routinely used in certain disciplines, such as visual and performing arts, physical education, and career-technology where performance is the natural focus of instruction. However, such tasks can (and should) be used in every subject area and at all grade levels.”  The post continues with characteristics and examples. Read it here.

2. Why should we use performance assessment tasks?

In this post, McTighe explains why performance assessment tasks are superior to traditional forms of assessment.

“Authentic tasks are needed to both develop and assess many of the most significant outcomes identified in the current sets of academic standards as well as trans-disciplinary 21st Century Skills; and 2) Research on effective learning from cognitive psychology and neuroscience underscores the importance of providing students with multiple opportunities to apply their learning to relevant, real-world situations. In this blog post, I will explore the first foundational idea.” Read the rest of the post here.

3. How can educators design performance assessment tasks?

In this post  McTighe outlines the steps educators can use to develop strong and well-aligned performance assessment tasks.

“Here is a quick check to see if a performance task is well aligned to targeted standard(s)/ outcome(s): Show your task to another teacher or a team and ask them to tell you which standards/outcomes are being addressed. If they can determine all of your targeted standards/outcomes, then the alignment is sound. If they can infer one, but not all, of your targeted standards/outcomes, then you will likely need to modify the task (or eliminate one or more of the outcomes since they are not being addressed.)

The task calls for understanding and transfer, not simply recall or a formulaic response.

Students show evidence of their understanding when they can effectively do two things:

  1. apply their learning to new or unfamiliar contexts; i.e., they can transfer their learning;
  2. explain their process as well as their answer(s).

Therefore, when designing a performance task, educators should make sure that it requires application, not simply information. The task must also call for learners to present the why not just the what; to explain a concept in their own words; use new examples to illustrate a theory; and/or defend their position against critique.”  

Read the entire post here.

For a basic big picture look at performance assessment tasks, ASCD has an overview that is worth a quick skim here.




Using Tech to Showcase Student Work

flickr photo by tobiastoft shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

InformEd recently ran a piece by Saga Briggs on 24 ways to showcase student work using technology.  It’s got some great ideas for why to use tech as well as different platforms and ways to use them.  Take a peek and you’ll discover at least one new, intriguing tech tool.

Read it here.

Checking for Understanding ~ Dozens of ideas and strategies

flickr photo by Thomas Hawk shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

What are the best ways to check for understanding? Below are two articles with strategies to keep your assessment checks fresh and engaging.

From informED:

“The ultimate goal of teaching is to do just that – teach, not stand up in the front of the room and talk. But sometimes it’s easier to talk than to teach, as we all know, especially when we need to cover a lot of material in a short amount of time. We hope students will understand, if not now then before test time, and we keep our fingers crossed that their results will indicate we’ve done our job.

The problem is, we rely on these tests to measure understanding, and then we move on. Few of us take the time to address weaknesses and misunderstandings after the tests have been graded, and by that time it’s too late for students to be interested. This means we need to rethink how we approach assessment during class.

The most effective way to test student understanding is to do it while the lesson’s still going on. Asking students to fill out a questionnaire and then correcting misunderstandings during the next class period won’t work because students have already moved on. You’ve got to take advantage of the moment. If you hope to spend the majority of your time getting through to students, and not just talking, then understanding must be measured and dealt with as soon as the first frown appears on a face.”  Read the entire piece here.

Over at Edutopia, Todd Finley has compiled a list of 53 ways to check for understanding. Check out the PDF here.

“What strategy can double student learning gains? According to 250 empirical studies, the answer is formative assessment, defined by Bill Younglove as “the frequent, interactive checking of student progress and understanding in order to identify learning needs and adjust teaching appropriately.”

Unlike summative assessment, which evaluates student learning according to a benchmark, formative assessment monitors student understanding so that kids are always aware of their academic strengths and learning gaps. Meanwhile, teachers can improve the effectiveness of their instruction, re-teaching if necessary. “When the cook tastes the soup,” writes Robert E. Stake, “that’s formative; when the guests taste the soup, that’s summative.” Formative assessment can be administered as an exam. But if the assessment is not a traditional quiz, it falls within the category of alternative assessment.”

Read the entire piece here.