Blog Post #5 The Authentic Assessment

As wikipedia states the, “Authentic assessment is the measurement of intellectual accomplishments that are worthwhile, significant, and meaningful.” They go on to say those qualities are in comparison to standardized testing. I couldn’t agree more. I can’t think of an instance that I have used anything from my high school standardized testing career that I revisited in the real world. One of my favorite components of an authentic assessment is that they can be created in collaboration with the students. This gives students a sense of ownership with the class.

Creating an authentic assessment starts by asking the question – what should the students be able to do? To apply authenticity students should be able to mirror real tasks or problem solving skills that may be required from them outside of the school. The good authentic assessment or assessments in general should involve an act of learning. An authentic assessment will in many cases ask students to require a judgement toward the quality of something making it subjective in nature, in essence to get the student making opinions about the subject matter to display their knowledge about it.

Some other aspects, other than the real world applicability, that authentic assessments should have are: backwards design ie-creating them before the curriculum, creating rubrics to ensure rigor, gets students using critical thinking skills, they help students self-assess their learning, they measure how they think not what they remember, and perhaps most important they engage students because they are based on content that students have genuine interest in.

Place-based instruction at East High

For the amount of diversity I am surprised at the lack of diversity regarding the teaching methods at East High. Moreover, there is quite a lack of student-based learning. It is very teacher centric which leads me to believe the teachers think student learning either doesn’t work, is too much work for the teacher or teachers just don’t know the value of it. My host teacher, while he does the most that I have seen, says he has so much stuff to teach them sometimes he doesn’t have the time…

One of the things he does that is place-based is he takes the students into the woods across the street to identify plants in the fall before the snow starts. He works on identifying plants in the classroom then takes the students outside to do it for real with their own keys they made in the classroom. This is one of the few opportunities many of those kids will have to spend with nature. It is very place-based and good for the students to understand their real surroundings not just their nintendo (is that outdated?).

Loosing Heart…

I read in a biography of Einstein’s that he had trouble learning from the Germanic style of instruction that were(/are?) commonplace throughout Germany where he grew up and that we have in our public schools today. After several years of poor performance he moved to a Montessoriesque school in Switzerland where he flourished.

This is one in a million stories of hardship in this instructor/students relationship. In a species that spent most of its evolution 150,000+ years in roving lifelong clans of 100-200 people I can understand why teachers have a hard time connecting. Trust is earned; that takes time. Nine months is understandably not long enough to make such connections for people who are programmed to know everyone around them for their entire lives. I think it also can create anxiety in the fact that we live in a society where those conditions are rarely found. People strive to connect. David K. agrees we are all staved for love, which is the mother of connection. Furthermore, connection is accomplished much easier if people already have the same cultural background. This amongst all the other variables that act as barriers we have been learning about when working in classrooms of 30+ kids can and do make student/teacher relationships void of the kind of connections humans need to flourish.  So, I can see why so many teachers end up loosing heart or burning out. Perhaps the real solution is more than just a pep talk.

I could go on an restate the reasons I hold Mr. Gates in high regard but I think stop here.

Teaching Students To Teach Themselves

books-floating-cloud-23748914-2To forget or to not forget that is thine question. Lectures tend to go in one ear and out the other. Involving critical thinking and getting ones hands dirty helps to remember. The Guilds of The Renaissance always stand out to me when talking about project based learning. There is no better way than to do.

One post in our cohort mentioned project-based learning is slower without having an expert on the subject. That is true however, where is the struggle if you can just get the answer and it is through the struggle one learns or gets better at learning. Although, in our case, I feel like the museum was the expert. I may have never visited the museum if it wasn’t a part of our class. An artifact is worth a thousand words…

Two things about this class that I think are invaluable are the technological aspects and how to’s of project based learning. Haiku Deck, Google map making, iBooks, WordPress, etc all have uses beyond what we used them in class for. Furthermore, it will happen, for all of us in the cohort, one day we will have to teach and don’t know much about a subject or we are unprepared. Project-based learning is invaluable in that sense and it aids retention. Most of all, teaching students how to teach themselves is the most important lesson any teacher can give.

Cars’ Headlights

Micheal Oleksa hit the nail on the head with his quote  defining how culture is more of a view than a thing. Culture is the “the way we see our world” but our own culture is invisible to us in so many ways. He states, “Like a car’s headlight, our cultural view does not shine back on itself, but illuminates what is in front of it. He goes on to say looking at our own culture becomes possible only when we leave it.

I have always thought traveling is perhaps the best education anyone can have. I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to travel to Europe, Africa, Mexico, Cuba and live in many different places across  throughout the US. It was the only way, I thought, that one could actually see the biases, bigotry, falsehoods and genius of one’s own culture. This class didn’t just shed light on back on to my own culture but was more like shinning my headlights into a mirror. This class reinforced and added to my understanding of Indigenous cultures of Alaska.

  1. As far as how an understanding of culture and power will impact my teaching I realize, as I did before, that some cultures hold power and influence over others. I want students to know, as David puts it, they are all noble, precious, unique and intelligent. I will do what I can to build them up starting from their strengths, and to create a safe place to learn. Place-based learning is another key to building a culturally responsive plan.
  2. Privilege: One culture’s opportunity in regards to another’s. As soon as people understand that we can start to find ways to break down the barriers to opportunities. Boot straps: How many times have I heard so many white people say, “I made my way through hard work and effort; they should be able to do it too.” when talking about other minorities. This illustrates the “invisibility” domineering cultures have on others. The problem doesn’t lie in hard work or effort but accessibility of opportunity and education. Transformation: In order to fully understand multi-cultural education one needs to transform their self to think critically about the things that shaped their cultural views and to be an advocate for social change.
  3. Some of the techniques I will use to teach in a culturally responsive way are: being involved with the community, bringing in community members and elders to speak, lifting students up by their strengths, place-based learning, creating safe spaces with in-class discussions regarding that and letting everyone in class they are noble, intelligent “be-ings”.

Standard B: Grounded In The Past & Growing Into The Future

Any good knowledge is that of which is continually changing and adapting. The Inupiat people have this as a part of their culture’s wisdom as do the Japanese and many other cultures on our pale blue dot. However, building on ground without a foundation is  futile.

This poster represents the multi-cultural knowledge of our past that we embrace in the present, build on it and you can bet your sweet bottom dolla it’s gonna be carried into the future. Take numbers for instance. Genius. Instead of carrying little pebbles in my pocket I could just write a syIMG_0533-252x300mbol down. As far as the evolutionary evolution of the “el numero” goes you got the caveman’s chicken scratches, and then the Romans counting with letters because they drank so much wine, then finally the Arabs are like “let us not stand in the face of adversity by misrepresenting math with literature. Let us create the number!” and so it became its own universal language, “e pluribus nerdum”. The next portion of our work displays the arrogant “smart man”, fully equipped with his horse blinders, claims he came up with the modern day revolutionary idea of sustainability while half of the world’s cultures have been practicing that since the dawn of time, otherwise known as the ice age, which, isn’t the ice age anymore because it took too long to come up with the dang idea. Next, we have a beautiful rendition of early astronomy from two separate cultures, roughly at the same time, 12,000 miles away from each other. One could land a whole colony of people on an atom across 7000 miles of ocean by using the stars, whilst the other named almost every star in the modern sky. The final section in our work of art has to do with letters and stuff but I am a math/science guy.

Methods Of Adapting To Changes In The Arctic

275052main_seaicestill1_HIFor this lesson plan I would like students to gain an understanding of how both western and indigenous cultures use observation and experimentation as a basis for their scientific methods. My essential question is basic:  What methods do people use to find solutions to problems? This lesson is most closely tied to the Culturally Responsive Curriculum Standard B: A culturally-responsive curriculum recognizes cultural knowledge as part of a living and constantly adapting system that is grounded in the past, but continues to grow through the present and into the future. In essence this lesson is all about “methods of adaptation”.

Unfortunately, a wealth of indigenous wisdom has been lost only because they weren’t first with guns, germs and steel. So, I  highlighted some of that lost wisdom in my lesson plan, mostly through the work we read in class by Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley and Ray Barnhardt.

In this lesson I tied the western scientific method to the way indigenous cultures perform their science while highlighting the example of how Inupiat culture has adapted to climate change. In the first part of the lesson I bring in an elder(s) or community member(s) to talk about two main questions: 1. How they pass down knowledge? How do they make sure it is accurate? 2. What environmental changes have they have seen in the arctic. How have they adapted to those changes. For the second part we looked at the essential question of What methods do people use to find solutions to problems? I touch on the fact that we all use the scientific method for finding solutions to our conundrumRocket-Engines-300x300s. The scientific method is not rocket science but can be used to build a rocket! Click on the link below for a pdf of my full lesson plan.

Methods Of Adapting To Changes In The Arctic