Saturday, October 29, 2011

Notes about effective meetings with Laura Lipton

Laura Lipton - leading groups. 

If meetings are used to dispense information you are wasting people's time. Meetings should be used to process and discuss information. 

A skilled group leader recognizes the needs and wants of others first and puts their own needs ands wants last. 

A skilled group leader is like a zoologist who recognizes the inherent characteristics of all group members and celebrates the diversity of each. 

To present is to teach and transform group members by enriching and extending their knowledge, skills, and attitudes. 

Successful meetings are outcome driven not activity driven. 

Skilled leaders craft presentations that help group members transform information into ideas and ideas into action. 

In high performing groups expertise comes ultimately from the group not the province of any one person. 

Leaders should save a place at the table for themselves, but to be equal with the group and not perceived as taking a "one-up" position relative to the rest. 

If you are implementing a certain strategy but can't explain why then most likely it is not an effective strategy

It is always the group's group not your group. 

The goals of a grou p should not be focused on the leader but the group. The leader should be implementing strategies and conversations to create the group more effective not the leader. 

Planning with punitive action (seating plans) will get you resistance instead of engagement. 

If meetings are comfortable then you are probably not talking about the right stuff. 

You can't have a blueprint for change when dealing with people. There are no nice right angles with people. 

Leaders should be aware of any biases they have on a topic and allow the group to create their own view. By asking the right questions and you can always get the answers You want. 

Before an individual can embrace new ways, unlearning, at a variety of levels is necessary. 

Instead of worrying about having "measurable" outcomes or goals start focusing on looking for evidence of learning or goals..

If when you leave a meeting you don't feel challenged you have just wasted your time 

If your activity is not task orientated, it is just fluff and wasting time. 

 We are living with a high autonomy culture but have too much mandated collaboration. 

Just because we are talking about the same issue doesn't mean we are collaborating. 

The work we do outside of our classroom is just as important and critical as to the work we do inside the classroom. 

Too many meetings are seen as a place where minutes are taken and hours lost. 

Provide the agenda for the meeting before to allow members to reflect and create thought on the topics before the meeting. 

Effective groups take collective responsibility. 

The process of a meeting should not be created to make everyone feel good but to challenge and be purpose orientated. 

Skillful leaders focus more energy on learning and the learners, less energy on the content and on themselves as speakers.

False collaboration may build resentment or become a disguised presentation.

Listening is more than just waiting for your turn to talk.  

7 premises of effective groups:
1) groups develop, and their development can be influenced. 
2) human behavior has a biological and social legacy. 
3) there are predictable dynamics in groups 
4) work sessions should be learning sessions. 
5) investing energy in design saves energy in delivery. 
6) shaping the discourse determines direction. 
7) you can't lead where you won't go. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Students are talking about assessment are we listening?

I recently went to a grade 12 math class where multiple choice, numerical and written response exams were abolished and replaced with open ended projects.  These projects were handed in and given back with written feedback only. Then students were allowed to make changes and re-hand in the project.  This could occur as many times as the student needs.  The teacher noticed an increase in both student achievement and, more importantly, student learning.  I am a full believer that students should have a voice in how they will be assessed.  Consequently, I gave these students a quick survey on their assessment in the class.  Below are the questions I asked, accompanied with the students’ answers. 

First off, a very scary statistic…I asked:
In your past schooling experience, how is your knowledge demonstrated in your classes?

Every single student in the class reported: “Multiple Choice, Numerical Response, Written Response Exams”
I am saddened by the truth that after 12 years of schooling, students are shown that the ONLY way to demonstrate knowledge is on a MC, NR and WR exam!
Now, if you believe that testing is a choice that STUDENTS would prefer, I strongly ask you to read the answers below. 

Comparing between open ended projects and traditional exams (multiple choice, and numerical response), which do you feel as you LEARN more as you complete the assessment?
88% Answered Projects, while 12.5% Answered Exams.

Explain why you don't feel as you learn as much from projects/exams (depending on your answer from the previous question). Start your sentence with: I don't learn as much from _____ because...
I don't learn as much from traditional exams because they don't allow you, as projects do, to use your creativity (which in my opinion should be much more important in school than it is now yet always takes a backseat to logic) or to be able to apply the information you've learned in a flexible way as opposed to the cookie-cutter approach of tests. Also, I feel that test marks are based partially on luck, as some tests might just happen to have easier questions than others, or people can make lucky guesses. Projects, on the other hand, offer a more general way to demonstrate knowledge of a subject.

I dont learn as much from exams because i cram the day before to learn everything just for the test and I get anxiety because of it anyways which then leads me to stress and worry about my mark way too much. Also, if i fail the exam because i simply dont care then i accept it and just move on. These assignments dont cause this because it gives me time to actually work on it and if i get something wrong it doesnt just end there. I can fix my mistakes and actually learn from them. Also if a exam is on a specific day and i am very busy and cannot study for it then that leaves me as being screwwed where as these assignments give you time to get them done and they also work around your life.
I don't learn as much from Exams because you write them and you finish regardless of how much you actually know. With the projects you finish them like an exam but instead of just getting the mark you would have gotten on an exam the project gives you questions of things that you need to know and gives you time to learnt them and complete them. If you didn't get 100 the first time around you get extra chances to learn the concepts until you are comfortable with the course.

I don't learn as much from traditional exams because I am less inclined to look at the questions I got wrong since it doesn't benefit my mark.
I dont learn as much from traditional exams because they assess what you remember... the projects allow me to look back at my notes are relearn things that I may have forgotten and having XXXXX checking it over and giving it back allows me a second chance to fix and understand what I did wrong

i feel that i dont learn as much from exams because i only look at what i do wrong and sometimes i just leave it because i cant get that mark back. compared to open ended projects, i can redo it and earn marks.
I don't learn as much from exams because if I don't understand something I can't ask. When I do open ended projects I can ask right then and learn right then and apply my knowledge right then.

I don't learn as much from exams because I don't get a chance to askk questions or work through any questions I don't understand. I get stressed out and hate having to prepare for them.
i dont learn as much from exams because i dont take the time to go over them. i just get upset over the mark and discouraged in my ability to understand the material. with XXXX projects, he gives us in the moment feedback to iron out any kinks and make sure we fully grasp the concepts before moving on. students that fail tests normally dont go back and look over them, so they never end up understanding the concepts.

I don't learn as much from exams because it is just memorization and when doing the projects I have to actually know how to do things and the steps involved.
I dont learn as much from multiple choice tests because they dont allow us to apply our knowledge and all it basically does is make us memorize how to answer questions instead of understanding how it works.

I don't learn as much from exams because I cant ask much questions and with the projects feel like i know the content and can be more confident more in my answers. With exama I find that they are good to an extent because we are thrown random questions that we need to know the basis of the question to asnwer. I find that both of the assessments, projects and tests are a way to assess our knowledge however I find that we need a balance of tests and projects..
i don't think i learn as much from exams because it gets marked and we don't really go over it and learn from our mistake because the teacher only goes through the question that most people did wrong

exams test my ability to regurgitate information and projects force me to get creative
I dont learn as much from exams cause they test you not teach you. But they do require you put more effort to prepare for them.

i dont learn as much the standard test because i usually dont usually get the chance to go over it and fix what i know
This is just because i get stressed out for tests and study for them so i get more practice but i still prefer the projects because they relieve the stress that tests cause and it still evaluates the extent of knowledge well.

I don't learn as much from the projects because I feel like on an exam I am being tested in a variety of ways on a certain concept instead of one or two ways in a project.
I dont learn as much fromExams because i do it then i dont really get to see what mistakes and how to fix it

I don't get to see a variety of different types of questions.
Exams are just answers and questions. If I get it wrong, I sometimes don't know time and the class moves on so its hard to ask.

I don't learn as much from exams because once I get a question wrong and I get the test back, I look over the answers but dont really care about why I got it wrong. With the projects, I am "forced" to learn the content, and I get to keep trying until I get it right. I love it.
exams because when i make a mistake on a exam i just get it back and then we move onto a different concept without me understand completely the previous one

tests, I do not get the corrections I need

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Possible solution to DA of Applications of Derivatives

Instead of a multiple choice, numerical response and a written response exam on "Applications of Derivatives", I gave my students an open-ended assessment.

Here is one of my student's work. As you can see, students still can demonstrate knowledge and understanding without shading in "c" on a scantron sheet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New final Exam

Here is what I am giving to my students for the Final Assessment. 

Math 31 Final Assessment
This assessment will be in addition to a written component.  The written component and this assessment will both be worth 15% of your final grade.  In this course we covered many outcomes, the outcomes which are important to success in future calculus courses are:
·         Slope at a point, using first principles.
·         Limits
o   when do they exist and not exist
o   one sided limits.
o   Limits as x approaches infinity
·         Derivatives using, chain, product, quotient, and implicit differentiation rules of functions which have:
o   Trigonometry
o   Polynomials
o   Exponential
o   Natural Logs
·         Absolute and relative maximums and minimums.
·         Related Rates.
·         Curve Sketching.
·         Integration rules of functions which have:
o   Trigonometry
o   Polynomials
o   Exponential
o   Natural Logs
·         Determining area between two functions, both graphically and algebraically.
You must demonstrate your knowledge of all the outcomes anyway you want.  Your presentation can take any form(s) you would like, a powerpoint presentation, a prezi, a video, a skit, etc.  The presentation will be as long as it takes to demonstrate your understanding; however 30 minutes is the maximum the presentation should be.  You will be presenting in front of a panel of judges, one of which will NOT be a math teacher.  You must relate most of your knowledge to a real world application and demonstrate how calculus is used outside of the math classroom.  After the presentation, 10 minutes will be allotted for questioning from the judges.  Your mark will be decided by the judges and based on your presentation and your answers from the questions you are asked.
You may work in groups up to 3; however you will each receive a separate mark and will be differentiated by your individual answers of the questions from the judges.

Here is a rubric I will use to assess their knowledge.
The speaker provides a variety of types of content appropriate, such as generalizations, details, examples and various forms of evidence. The speaker adapts the content in a specific way to the listener and situation.
The speaker focuses primarily on relevant content. The speaker sticks to the topic. The speaker adapts the content in a general way to the listener and the situation.
The speaker includes some irrelevant content. The speaker wanders off the topic. The speaker uses words and concepts which are inappropriate for the knowledge and experiences of the listener (e.g., slang, jargon, technical language).
The speaker says practically nothing. The speaker focuses primarily on irrelevant content. The speaker appears to ignore the listener and the situation.
The message is overtly organized. The speaker helps the listener understand the sequence and relationships of ideas by using organizational aids such as announcing the topic, previewing the organization, using transitions, and summarizing.
The message is organized. The listener has no difficulty understanding the sequence and relationships among the ideas in the message. The ideas in the message can outlined easily.
The organization of the message is mixed up and random. The listener must make some assumptions about the sequence and relationship of ideas.
The message is so disorganized you cannot understand most of the message.
Very original presentation of material; captures the audience’s attention.
Some originality apparent; good variety and blending of materials / media.
Little or no variation; material presented with little originality or interpretation.
Repetitive with little or no variety; insufficient use of materials / media.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Angry Birds and Calculus

During my first unit, instead of assessing with a traditional exam I used an open ended project.  One of my students submitted the following video to answer question 3:

As you can see, he used a timer on his phone, a ruler and the game Angry Birds.  Here is his work

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

DA with Quadratics

Before, I have assessed Quadratic functions in the traditional sense with worksheets, homework checks and quizzes.  This year I wanted to assess my students' knowledge through an open-ended project and allow for differientated assessment.

Here is the task:

Quadratic Graph Project
1.      Take a digital copy of a picture which has a parabolic shape in it.
2.      Log on to using the following log on:
***I just created a class log on and password***
3.      Select blank template.
4.      Select insert picture, and import your picture onto the prezi.
5.      Using insert à shapes àlines, draw in two axes.  Neither axis may go through the vertex of the parabola.
6.      Using either the pen tool or the circle tool, create a point on the vertex of the parabola
7.      Label the vertex using points which are appropriate.
a.       Vertex:____________
8.      Label another co-ordinate on the graph.
a.       Point:_____________
9.      Using your vertex and co-ordinate you created, determine the value of a, either as a fraction or a whole number, if your parabola was written in standard form .  Show your work on Prezi.
10.    Label another 4 points on your graph.  Try to space out the co-ordinates evenly across the parabola.
a.       Point 1:_______
b.      Point 2:_______
c.       Point 3:_______
d.      Point 4:_______
e.       Vertex:_______
11.  We will now have the calculator create the function.
a.       On your calculator, push STAT, then EDIT…
b.      In the first column (L1) input all the x-values, and in the second column (L2) input all the y-values of the points.
c.       Click STAT, then the right arrow  (à) to the CALC menu, then scroll down to QUADREG.
d.      Write down the values your calculator gives you, to the nearest hundredth if necessary.
12.  Inputting your values into general formyour function will be_____________________
13.  Change your general form into standard form, by completing the square.  Show your work in prezi.
a.       Your standard form now is ________________
b.      State the vertex, domain, range, direction of opening, and axis of symmetry from the function above.
14.  Write a couple of sentences explaining any differences from the vertex you stated in part 7, and the vertex in part 13.
15.  Using the equation from Part 9, determine the functions x and y intercepts, if the picture was extended such that it intercepts both axes.  Solve this part by graphing.
a.       x-intercept________
b.      y-intercept________
16.  Using the equation from Part 12, determine the functions x and y intercepts, if the picture was extended such that it intercepts both axes.  Solve this part by the quadratic formula.
a.       x-intercept________
b.      y-intercept________
Here is an example of my student working up to Section 14.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Grading with O'Connor

Recently I read through "How to Grade for Learning" from Ken O' Connor, who brings up some GREAT points about grading.  Here is synopsis of my own learning:

First and foremost.... "Learning can (and does) happen in the absent of grades!"...This was the biggest myth I believed for quite a while when I first started teaching.  I truly believed that grades were the ONLY way learning could occur...I was wrong (the first and last time I have ever been wrong :) )

Grant Wiggin even said
"Perhaps the most counterproductive aspect of schooling as we know it is the conventional system of letter grades. The problem with grades is not the use of symbols, but the absence of any DEFENSIBLE plan for coming up with the symbol… most grades reflect what is easy to count and average into a final grade.”
O' Conner brought up his 7 persepectives underlying grading:

• Grading is not essential for learning.
• Grading is complicated.
• Grading is subjective & emotional.
• Grading is inescapable.
• Grading has a limited research base.
• Grading has no single best practice.
• Grading that is faulty damages students and teachers!

I have heard many teachers express their views that grades truly motivate students into learning, however O'Conner says:
If grades are extrinsic motivators, they can destroy intrinsic motivation. Good grades may motivate, but poor grades have no motivational value.

Even further, Gusky has said:
“Low grades push students farther from our cause, they don’t motivate students. Recording a D on a student’s paper won’t light a fire under that student to buckle down and study harder. It actually distances the student further from us and the curriculum, requiring us to build an emotional bridge to bring him or her back to the same level of investment prior to receiving the grade.”
Lastly, Marzano (after researching over 8000 studies) said:

The most powerful single modification that enhances achievement is FEEDBACK. The simplest prescription for improving education must be ‘dollops of feedback’.”

And now the big are 15 "fixes" you can do TODAY to change your assessment:

#1 - Don’t include student behaviors (effort, participation, polite manners, etc.) in grades; include only achievement.

#2 - Don’t reduce marks on late work; provide support for the learner.

#3- Don’t give points for extra credit work or use bonus points; seek only evidence that more work has  resulted in a higher level of achievement.

#4- Don’t punish academic dishonesty with reduced grades; apply other consequences and reassess to determine actual level of achievement.

#5 - Don’t consider attendance in grade determination; report absences separately.

#6- Don’t include group scores in grades; use only individual achievement evidence.

#7 - Don’t organize information in grading records by assessment methods or simply summarize into a single grade; organize and report evidence by standards/learning goals.

#8 - Don’t assign grades using inappropriate or unclear performance standards; provide clear descriptions of
achievement expectations.

#9 - Don’t assign grades based on student’s achievement compared to other students; compare each student’s performance to preset standards.

#10- Don’t rely on evidence gathered using assessments that fail to meet standards of quality; rely only on quality assessments.

#11 - Don’t rely only on the mean; consider other measures of central tendency and use professional

#12- Don’t include zeros in grade determination when evidence is missing or as punishment; use alternatives, such as reassessing to determine real achievement or use “I” for Incomplete or Insufficient Evidence.

#13- Don’t use information from formative assessments and practice to determine grades; use only summative evidence.

#14 - Don’t summarize evidence accumulated over time when learning is developmental and will grow with time and repeated opportunities; in those instances, emphasize more recent achievement.

#15 - Don’t leave students out of the grading process. Involve students; they canand should- play key roles in assessment and grading that promote achievement.

Last, Reeves says

“If you wanted to make JUST ONE change that would immediately reduce student failure rates, then the most effective place to start would be challenging prevailing grading practices.”