Starting today, I am spending the next 3 days at the Illinois Computing Educators Conference (or ICE as it is known). I plan on posting some thoughts and reflections on the days here over the next few days.
Today I spend a full day some of my colleagues at an Illini Cloud sponsored event with the Meteri group about Data Driven Decision Making (or D3M) as it was called on my sticker. It was a day devoted to spending time taking about the data we have, the data we need, and how to make decisions based off of that. Most of the day was spent talking about aligning our curriculum to standards, etc. and how to evaluate the data to better student learning.
While the presentation was good, I was frustrated because most of the day was spent talking about the need to give kids tests to measure performance, placement etc. The frustrating thing to me was that formative assessments that were project based or more authentic were given gentle lip service and passed over. Look, I know we need to use standards based testing, I get that – but there are other ways than just multiple choice tests. I wish we could have learned more about how to measure project based/authentic assessment – I believe a lot of schools are headed that direction or would be headed that direction if they could understand how to capture and evaluate data from those assessments.
There was a section about social emotional learning (hard to evaluate that on a scantron!), which was really interesting because it talked about what makes students engaged. From my experience its not multiple choice tests but relevant and rigorous curriculum (with an emphasis on the RELEVANT!). One of the presenters glazed over the concept of the flipped classroom and dismissed it as “not so good…” but didn’t give a reason why. For me, I would rather flip the classroom and engage my students when I have them in my class with meaningful and enriching activites and let them have access to the lecture or information on demand whenever they want via YouTube/podcast/etc.
I have to admit, it was a bit of a rough start for ICE for me today. There were some bright patches like the discussions that occured while sitting around a table with 8 technology-minded colleagues from my district. It was great to have 8 colleagues at ICE from our district – I remember when it used to just be me and my LMS. The desire to learn technology is spreading and that is definitely a good thing.
Tomorrow, I present on using smartphones in the classroom to enhance learning. Friday I am just an observer and have a goal going to sessions on changing how learning occurs in the classroom and not going to sessions just based on tools (ironic I know because I am presenting on tools tomorrow). I’m excited to see what the rest of the week brings.