Blog Post #5 (Authenticity)

What is “authentic” about “authentic assessment”? Why are authentic assessments a more valid measure of student learning? Describe any authentic assessments employed or discussed by your host teacher or another teacher at your school.

First, authentic assessment is the most practical type of assessment. It is similar to how a contractor can do years of book work, but without experiencing trial and error while using different tools to build or construct different types of projects the information they received until that point is useless. Authentic assessment is the use of utilizing the information gathered and using and practicing it in daily situations.

Second, the measurement of authentic assessment is a larger scale that leaves room for improvement. On the typical multiple choice, true or false, or even fill-in-the-blanks tests all have answers that are correct or incorrect. In an authentic assessment, students are on a scale between “needs practice” and “efficient”. This leaves more room for growth and healthier practice.

Lastly, my host teacher and I have not intentionally looked for authentic assessments, but it is something we have talked about and are interested in drafting possibilities. We both believe that a student who can’t apply the material to their own life will be less likely to receive the information. We are looking towards a speech-like format while discussing persuasive essays and effective argumentation.

Blog Post #4 (Curriculum and Assessment)

What are the requirements and guidelines for curriculum and assessment in your school? How does your host teacher address district goals and mandates?   How does this relate to teacher evaluation?

The curriculum is drawn out by the Juneau School District and is set in stone. The Alaska State standards and Common Core standards are similar, if not identical, and Juneau follows the curriculum for each grade level. However, my host teacher views the curriculum for seventh grade language arts as guidelines. He follows the book nearly religiously in order to provide students with standards they must know before moving to the next grade level.

The timeline, on the other hand, is what he bends in order to make sure students have an understanding before moving on. The Springboard workbook occasionally doesn’t provide enough time for students to get through the entire lesson. He extends some lessons to multiple days while he skips over a few lessons to compensate for lost time.

Assessments are outlined in the Springboard curriculum and my host teacher uses them the majority of the time. He explains that it is the curriculum Juneau is being taught and to accurately prepare them for next year, he must keep to the curriculum. Since the book has a specified curriculum, he also sees fit to use the summative assessments the book provides. However, he does add his own formative assessments in order to identify how much time will be spent on each unit or to observe percentages of students who grasped the major concepts of the lesson. These assessments will provide feedback for Springboard who will then adapt the lesson to make the curriculum more efficient for future generations.

In my school, teacher evaluations are judged based on how efficiently, effectively, and timely they provide information to the students. I was lucky enough to participate in informal teacher evaluations to provide feedback to teachers on how easily their learning objective is to find, how relevant the lesson is, and how well the average student copes with the lesson.

Blog Post #3 (Backward Design)

I have been teaching many different lessons, but if I was able to select a learning objective for students to learn that I have not yet taught, nor will I teach during my unit, it would be to have students say “I can identify irony, and by extension satire, in common day situations and current events.”

After identifying where students will be at the end, the next step is to identify the what will be an appropriate measurer of ability. In this case I think it could be giving multiple situations and having students answer true (ironic or satyrical) or false (not ironic or satyrical). However, since irony would be the goal of the day, a quiz might not be the best idea because this wouldn’t be a larger lesson or unit. The quiz could be replaced with formative assessment of asking students to explain, in their own words, what irony is similar to or a definition that makes sense to them.

The final step in backwards design is to identify which activities would be best suited to get students to answer the formative assessment question and be able to define irony and satire. The first step would be to have students read a textbook definition of the words and what they mean. Next, students would draw parallels between definitions of new words and previous knowledge (e.g exaggeration, hyperbole, sarcastic, mockery, or parody). After that, students will undergo multiple activities to help them identify ironic situations or uses of satyrical humor.

Blog Post #2

Below this post are one of the writing standards for seventh graders in Alaska.

Over the last week, my classes have been working on their personal narratives that describe a significant event in their lives. This “big event” has explored the following components of essays: cohesiveness of beginning middle and end, incident response and reflection, transitional phrases, sensory details, figurative language, dialogue, full-circle cycle, voice, diction, hook, and conclusion. Over the last few weeks, the activities have students analyze short narratives then practice what they learned by developing their own story.

Student narratives started out as a draft. The next step in the revision process is workshop where students share in groups of three to get feedback. They had the opportunity to receive critique on their own stories while providing feedback on others’. All of the stories are stating an event that had occurred previously. Every step of the way, students were developing a claim and expanding the “clear reasons” and “relevant evidence” to create a more in-depth and personal stories. In this case, the “argument” is more of a thesis and the following paragraphs support and provide appropriate evidence. Through writing their essays and analyzing popular essays, students experienced subsections a-e underneath writing standard 1 for 7th grade.

The reason 7th graders are asked to write arguments and support their claims is because this is a relevant life-long skill. I have been questioned by students, “why are we doing this” and “will we actually use this?” I ask them to give me a reason to support why they SHOULDN’T do this assignment, and they couldn’t get passed the phrase “I don’t want to do this.” I then would describe how this process is designed to help them find quotes, phrases, or concepts that will support their statements. This is an important step for every human to take. Without the ability to use relevant evidence or competently support claims, students will struggle to persuade others into their way of thinking.

Writing Standard #1 for 7th Graders:

1. Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

a. Introduce claim(s), acknowledge alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.

b. Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and accurate, relevant evidence, using credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.

c. Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), reasons, and evidence.

d. Establish and maintain a formal style.

e. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

X-treme Math and Myths

First: I am a 7th grade Language Arts student teacher and we have been analyzing poetry and taking our time in the revision process. We have not had any type of CRT, but later on we will be discussing a few Raven stories. That won’t be happening for a few more weeks, but I have connected a storyline– beginning, middle, and end– to the metaphor of Mount Jumbo. It was a 4 minute metaphor, but that is one of the few times I could link English to culture or location. I look forward to the Raven stories.

Second: I have been talking with the 7th grade Math teacher and she has a class that is called “X-treme Math.” She has a unit coming up where a Tlingit carver will come in and teach the students the carving process. He will show and explain some of the designs (frog, wolf, bear, eagle, and raven) and their significance. The students will try their hand at creating a story on a skateboard. Honestly, the math is put on the back-burner, but it is an interesting lesson and I am helping brainstorm group sizes, materials, prices, means of finding skateboards, and other details. Hopefully I will be able to sit in on a portion of that class period.

Weaving the classroom: Woodshop and P.E.

The passage seems to be geared more towards inspiring teachers, but to me, as a student, the passage is interpreted as being part of a creation. Each student is a section of the fabric that will eventually be so well-knitted that the final product is a masterpiece. As a student, it makes me believe that each person in my class is part of this product and I need to do my part to make sure each person knows their value and their importance.

I have had a few teachers that show this type of mindset. I don’t believe that it was an intentional mindset, but they have it nonetheless. They weave community within their class that is based on common rules that each person in the class deems important. I was in a P.E. class where there was the normal competition between individuals or teams, but each person was encouraged by everyone on their team or by everyone spectating. There were some people that were naturally competitive and wanted to win, but for the most part everyone was excepting. The teacher didn’t keep score. Even if it was obvious which team was winning, there would be no official score to verify.

My high school years were similar. Most people switched which electives they selected, but I took woodshop, metals, and physical training every year. For woodshop and metals, there was a beginners class, then the second semester was intermediate. After a year of woods, students that wish to make their independent projects would continue in Advanced woods I, then Advanced woods II, etc. I did wood shop every semester through high school, even though one of those semesters I changed to do basic construction. Anyway, When I got up to a high enough level I was a teachers assistant, off the books, so I would get a full credit compared to half of a credit (which TA’s normally got). The woodshop was a relatively safe place. There were some accidents, but everyone in each of my classes were willing to help those that needed help. It felt like a family or a tight-knit group of individuals that worked together to build their own pieces of furniture. If every person in the class worked together, by the end of the semester there would be furniture to fill a two bedroom house. It would contain a dining table, a coffee table, four chairs for the dining table, a few lamp stands, a book shelf or two, a TV stand or two, and even a desk. We worked together to make each piece of furniture into a masterpiece.

My Three Words

I have selected Hope, Influence, and Uncomfortable from our word wall. These words are all words in my vocabulary that I thought I knew the definition of. I originally questioned why such simple words would be up on this wall. It is true that they made it onto the wall because they were subjects that we touched on during these last few weeks, but also because they play a large role in teaching.

I want to say that each word has changed slightly in their definitions. Hope use to be nearly the same thing as luck, but now I found that hope is more of a verb than a noun. Originally I thought hope to be an outcome to be reached for, but it is a verb of hoping. Which then translates through my mind as goal-setting and striving to reach that bar.

Influence, as we know, can be positive or negative, but I have never really heard the word Influence spoken unless it had a negative connotation. As teachers, we will be an influence to our students, and will need to stay away from creating a negative environment. The definition didn’t change, but it made me think a little bit.

Uncomfortable, it is simple to dissect this word into NOT and COMFORTABLE. Like influence, we need to stay away from bringing this into the classroom. However, in most cases we cannot control how a student feels directly, but through discussions and this class I have realized that teachers fill their classrooms with positive energy and indirectly make the students more comfortable. This can be achieved by setting classroom norms and standards early on.

Uncomfortable, Hope, and Influence are all common words, but I am surprised that I have not looked at them from a teaching perspective until this class. These three words impact students in the long run, even if the effects aren’t felt immediately.

For the future I plan on designing a comfortable learning environment that inspires hope and faith for a better tomorrow. I also want to help the students find the hope within themselves. Influence is important and I believe that it comes in to play naturally when in the position of teacher. If done right, students will look to the teacher for guidance and influence. I plan to be there for each and every one of my students.