“The preliminary PARCC results showed that in most grades, students who took PARCC math and English language arts tests on a computer were less likely to score in the “meeting expectations” range…(Link to source)”
As our students in Massachusetts settle in for their annual round of “high-stakes” testing, I think it is the perfect time for people to take a few minutes to watch the video from TEDxCreativeCoast titled The Future Will Not Be Multiple Choice. The presentation by Jaime McGrath (an elementary school teacher in Savannah, GA) and Drew Davies (a web designer) was posted on Mind Shift’s blog about a month ago and I forgot about it until I saw a tweet last night with the link. It really is a must watch for anyone who thinks that our current educational structure is adequate.
It’s no newsflash the current structure of most classrooms is unchanged from the structure that was created to educate students for an industrial society back in the 19th Century. At one point in our history fitting the right piece in the right hole as quickly as possible and being able to retain large amounts of trivial information in order to regurgitate it or draw from it quickly may have actually been useful. However in a day and age where asking the right questions is of more value than providing a quick response to a multiple choice question, we are past the point of needing a change.
In fact the findings of educators like McGrath, who stray from the current script and look at problem-based education and a focus on “design thinking” are clear.
“All we did was give them the challenge, point them in the right direction and give them the space to be creative,” noted McGrath.
Here are a few of my take-aways made by the co-presenters Jaime McGrath (an elementary school teacher in Savannah, GA) and Drew Davies (a web designer):
- Reports predict that 65% of our students will be working in jobs that don’t exist yet.
- “Such simple tasks as manipulation of blocks helps infants and toddlers develop early skills, including math literacy – the language of numbers.” Huttenlocher, Jordan, and Levine 1994
- Don’t need students skilled in picking A, B, C, D
- “A true understanding of reality is not possible without a certain element of imagination…” Lev Vygotsky
- Design in education compliments all learning styles
- Will it be messy and risky? But what is the reality we are trying to prepare our kids for?
- The future is not a multiple choice test, it is a design challenge
So my question about the state assessment (or a national assessment) posed above was – “How will these students pass the state (or national) assessment. Here’s my answer – “Who Cares!”
I think the bottom line is that students who are being taught in classrooms where they are being taught to think will be successful on any measure.
|Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
I read an interesting article by Associated Press writer Josh Lederman this week which highlighted the comments coming from Education Secretary Arne Duncan in regards to the need for all schools to quickly move away from printed textbooks. While I am a supporter of moving to more modern resources in our schools, the rationale for the move coming from Mr. Duncan seems to be misguided to say the least.
Check out the following excerpt:
I am gravely concerned that the focus here is on technology rather than the quality of teaching and learning that is being reinforced under our current system which places too much of a focus on standardized testing. While technology can help support good instruction, technology alone is not going to cause the change we need. Before we can adopt meaningful “digital learning environments”, we need to talk about the factors inherent in productive learning environments.
While it is clear that other countries have moved ahead of the United States in the integration of technology into their schools, it is also clear that we cannot catch up by just buying stuff and dropping it into our classrooms. Here is an excerpt from the Times of India that shows the thinking necessary to support the successful integration of technology into our classrooms:
“We did not implement the idea in a rush. We trained our teachers first and then we moved on to the students. We also talked to the parents and got them involved. The teachers have their own iPads and they create digital content for the students ,” informed GR Sivakumar, principal, DPS Surat.
|(Photo credit: Abstract Machine)|
Plenty of examples of technology purchased hastily
We need not look far for examples of institutions in our country making the move to digital textbooks without doing the training necessary to support staff in utilizing these resources with students. A recent study conducted on e-book usage at the college level highlighted this a couple of weeks back. I hope I am wrong in thinking that the feelings of the students at these colleges will be the same feelings that many/most students in our public schools will be feeling do to the lack of resources dedicated to supporting staff in implementing digital tools.
The bottom line here is if we are going to spend the money on digital tools and continue to conduct business in the same tedious manner, we would may as well buy writing slates to pass out to all students and install inkwells on their desks. Then again if we did that, we would not be ready to have our students take our country’s newest standardized test (PARCC) online in 2014-2015 as we are being asked.
So the good news is that the technology will allow us to administer standardized testing to our students hundreds of times during their K-12 experience…
Anyone else feeling sick to their stomach?