Professional Assessment & Evaluation
I would love to learn more about Maker Education, and I’ve been thinking of ways I can try to incorporate it in my own classroom. I still don’t feel like much of a maker, myself, though I can a appreciate than many people (and students!) are. I try do some project-based learning in my own classes. I teach English as a language so that students can communicate, and I think communication is a “doing” that has strong real-world implications. My challenge, though, is figuring out how my maker kit, the Makey Makey, can enhance students’ experience with communication. I was talking with a friend of mine who teaches physical education and works at camps and with small children, and she offered an insight into how I can start thinking of the Makey Makey in the ESL classroom. She suggested that I think about activities about which I already feel confident — activities that are routine and that I can do well. Then I can start thinking of how I can incorporate the Makey Makey with those activities, first, just to make the activity more experiential for the students. Previous, I’d been trying to avoid simply “remaking” activities that I can already do well with pencil and paper. That didn’t seem very creative or useful to me. I’m conscious that many people warn educators against using technology to repeat all of the same activities that were done before instead of using technology to transform and enhance their teaching. I think this could at least be a starting point until I become proficient enough to manipulate the Makey Makey in more innovative ways. Many creators begin with imitation.
I loved the argument Wiggins (2012) made for assessing creativity. Although I work at a school for the arts, I’ve always felt relieved that I don’t actually teach art, so I don’t need to worry about the messiness of evaluating creativity. I think Wiggins put me in my place. His anecdote about the oral presentations he observed really helped me think of education in a new way. The teacher he had observed graded oral presentations by only two criteria: “Was it factually accurate? Did it keep everyone fully engaged the entire time? There were only two grades: A and F!!” I found this concept really exciting. He’s right that a lot of the items that we typically identify on a rubric are only smaller parts of these two larger concepts of accuracy and engagement. I might argue that students can benefit from seeing a larger process broken down into more discrete steps.
Personal Assessment & Evaluation
This class was a big challenge for me. As I was working on using my Makey Makey, creating videos, and designing my classroom, I was struck by how few pre-existing skills I have in those areas. For most “new” activities I try as an adult, I am rarely a true beginner. I can recognize other tasks I’ve done before that are similar to the task at hand, and I can transfer and adapt many of the skills I already possess so that I can feel relatively successful early on in the process.
I say this because this term, I noticed my frustration at how much work I put in with such unimpressive results. There were several times when I felt very overwhelmed by our assignments and felt a little like this:
This is not to say that I don’t enjoy learning something new, but there were times when I read the assignment and thought, “Ok, I can figure out how to do that.” Then, only after I was knee-deep into the process, I looked around and realized the actual scope of everything I needed to learn in order to create a final product. Although I try not to compare myself to others, “norms-referencing” is one possible way of evaluation. When I looked at my classmates’ work, I was disappointed in my own. It was precisely at those moments that I thought of students of mine — specific students — who really seemed to struggle in my class. I thought of how I urge them not to compare themselves to others when they seem so preoccupied with doing so. I noticed that it’s hard not to when I felt little confidence in myself. I have had the privilege of pursuing and teaching a subject that I enjoy and from which I derive satisfaction. However, students are required to take my class, whether they want to or not. The subject may not be easy for them, and it may not be enjoyable. When I felt frustrated with my progress in CEP 811, I thought of specific students marveled at their ability to come to my class every day and still make an attempt to accomplish tasks which I might have thought were refreshingly challenging, but which they might have found to be frustrating and nearly impossible. I think experiences like this are invaluable to me as an educator. Having difficulty helps me cultivate compassion for my students, and it inspires me to think more creatively about how to reach those students of mine who are struggling.
Ultimately, I’m happy that I wrestled with tasks that were difficult to me. I like how upfront and realistic the MAET instructors are and the course syllabus is about how much time tasks will take, though I’m disappointed in my (in)ability to meet deadlines. Additionally, I wish I had been more of a “presence” in our class. In my conference proposal group I took an active role, but I don’t feel that I contributed much to the community of our class as a whole. Even though I looked at my classmates’ blogs, I didn’t leave comments or really initiate communication with them, so I feel I didn’t help foster the sense of community that can be so rewarding when people from different backgrounds come together to explore a common topic.
bcrosbie. (2009, Nov. 3). Arrested Development — Charlie Brown moments. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oabcM9SOF-E
Wiggins, G. (2012, Feb. 3). On assessing creativity: yes you can, and yes you should. Retrieved from http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/on-assessing-for-creativity-yes-you-can-and-yes-you-should/