Thursday, March 30, 2017

How do we know? - IMMOOC Week 5

How might we measure the impact of innovative practices in education?  How do you know you are headed in the right direction?  

Image result for checklistI struggle with this question  all the time.  As the Instructional Technology Specialist I work with teachers to use technology in innovative ways.  I have to address the question of  "Why should I give up the "tried and true" lessons and try something new and different?" Fortunately I work with quite a few teachers that see that their students need to be engaged in a different way and are willing to try new ideas, but the curriculum has to always be the focus.    

Here are some things I look for in each lesson to measure the impact of the innovation:

Student Engagement as seen in:
  • Student conversation:   I listen to what students are talking about during the lesson.  Many times the conversation will tell you whether the lesson is having a positive impact on comprehension or not.   I love hearing students discuss math as they are trying to race through a minecraft world that has math problems as obstacles.  The students will talk out the problem and find solutions.   They are motivated to keep trying to get the right answer and not just an answer to move on.  If the conversations stray to other topics, I know the students are not engaged and therefore are not learning.
  • Student Feedback:   I make sure to tell the students goodbye at the end of the class and I listen to what they are saying to each other as they leave.  Often  I have students tell me how much they enjoyed the lesson and how it tied into a passion they have at home. I also hear students continue to talk about the lesson and content as they leave the room. Too many complaints or grumbles means it did not hit the mark with the students and needs to be rethought.   
  • Discipline:  I often hear from teachers that certain classes are difficult and to be ready.  If the lesson can engage that group, then I know we are hitting the content in a way that they don't normally get.  It captures their attention and discipline issues go down.   If I am having continuing problems with student behavior, I know that the lesson is not working.  

Evidence of the 4C's:  Are students thinking critically?  Are they communicating?  Are they collaborating?  Are they being creative?   If I see these happening I know that we are on the right track for students overall.

Test Scores:  I hate to put this in here, but it is a reality.  I do ask teachers to let me know how the students do on the topic we are learning once the test rolls around.    I have been told that students have scored higher than the students who did not take part in the innovative lesson.   

Recently I watched Todd Rose's TedTalk, The Myth of Average, he talks about designing for the edges - designing for all students no matter their level.   I have been keeping this in mind as I design learning experiences for students. 


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