Sunday, 15 January 2012

The journey is important

The students are assessed on learning about learning. Ongoing assessment allows the teacher to guide the student in their area of need.

They clearly identify 'Five kinds of learning in the Inquiry Process'.

In many cases the end result is what is assessed. As a teacher I have had many discussions with parents around report time. The discussion was usually about the grade given. They did not fully understand that I was also assessing the process by which the information was retrieved.

When I first started teaching students were given 'projects' to take home. Then they had to present the project to the class. Usually there was a question/topic and then sub-topics. The students were given approximately 2 weeks to complete the 'project.

Marks were allocated for the final presentation as well as the reporting back to the class. There were some interesting results.

It was obvious that in some cases it was the 'parent's
homework that was on display. In some cases the work was obviously created mainly by the parent, but the parent had worked alongside their child. When it came time for the oral presentation the child knew the topic well and was able to answer questions related to the topic.

There were other cases where the work was also of a high standard but the child relied heavily on reading the material and experienced great difficulty doing this, especially if there were technical terms involved. Also, the child had difficulty answering questions.

About 10 years, or so, ago, the process somewhat changed. Activities were completed at school. Students could still bring information from home. Students worked individually, in pairs or small groups. The groups also varied- same, ability, mixed ability, friendship groups, interest groups (students interested in one aspect of the topic).

The task was pasted in the in the students homework book as well as their research book so that parents knew what was being assessed.

Many parents still are concerned about curriculum content. As long as the end result is great the rest is not really important. This has been an on-going issue.

There have been students who only relied on the computer for gaining information. Student who have brought outdated sources from home. There were students who did little research during their group time. Then they would arrive on the day of the presentation with their own work and insisted on presenting their work separately. The other group members were stumped. They were not prepared to share this with their group during the weeks of research. As this was a group activity I had to write in the half-yearly report that the student needs to be an active group participant (or something to that effect).

The other aspect of this is that many schools try to inform parents of changes in education. There have been information sessions on 21st Century learning: Guided Inquiry, Cyberspace Bulling and many more. Information is printed in bulletins, newsletters and information sheets are sent home. There have been day and night opportunities for parents to become involved.

Unfortunately, it is the same small parents who come all the time. (In one case 3 parents RSVP to an event.) Yet, it is the parents who do not read information or attend meetings that complain the most. Many still think back to when they were being taught.

Even though I have been in the education system for quite a while I still made/make time to attend sessions at my children's schools. It is good to hear something from a different perspective or to have ideas reinforced.

It is the also the journey not just the final destination that is important. (Paraphrased from a talk by Bishop David Walker to the youth that were going to WYD 2011, Madrid)

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