Using projects and performance to check for understanding are important methods that are often under utilized in the teacher environment. By using these mthods, teachers would be able to reach students that may not benefit from environments that are less active and less engaging on a personal level. By using projects and performance, students would be able to invest personally in what they’re working on.

Making learning appropriate goals is an important method by which to design these projects and performances around. If the lessons doesn’t have an appropriate goal, students would simply be going through the motions. For example, if presenting a lesson on mask making in indigenous African tribes in an art class, it would be important for the students to not only make the masks, but adaquately understand the cultural significance behind them. This includes learning their purpose, their history, etc.

Using performance based assessment would be difficult in an art classroom. Surely, there may be students who identify with performance art, or art that includes the artist being an active participant in the work. However, it would probably be more prudent to say that the bulk of teacher assessment would consist of projects from students. By being able to properly utilize skills assigned for practice in smaller, more concise projects that lead to larger ones, I could properly assess at each level how much each student understands. For example, in teaching the students how to properly utilize 1 point, 2 point, and then 3 point perspective, there would be three levels of assesment. They would begin at the most basic level, 1 point, where they utilize a few skills to properly render certain objects. Students would then move up to 2 point, and then to 3. At these various levels, I could check for understanding and properly assist students at each level.

Advertisements

In this video, the presenters explained the values and challenges presented by using group activities, projects, and presentations to teach students. They utilize many different methods at many different skill and age levels.  These techniques may be used to the benefit of all students, but there are some associated risks with the associated techniques if not utilized properly. Despite these inherent risks, groups, projects, and presentations have the potential to greatly improve students.

The value of group work for students of all ages is immense. At every level it helps students form social skills that will prove invaluable as they make their way through the education system, and in the world beyond that. These social skills will help them to communicate ideas with peers, work together to meet a common goal, and to paraphrase what one child said in the film, “When we put all our ideas in together, we create something greater than the sum of our parts. ” Because of these things, group work can help to make students of all ages better learners and better people. There are inherent risks with utilizing these group techniques, such as students being off task and having the rest of their group need to pick up the extra work. However, by delegating exactly what students are expected to do, within reason for the age group, these group techniques should be successful.

Projects can be utilized to help students gain a myriad of skills and techniques that they will be able to utilize to better their future. Being able to make a personal investment is an important part of projects, as the greater the amount of interest garnered from students, the more permanent their understanding of the topic will be. Also, by being able to perform all the work necessary for the project, students will gain a greater degree of understanding provided by some traditional assignments. Some students may benefit greatly from project techniques where they might flounder otherwise. Not only that, but these projects will aid students in delegating responsibilities such as time management, organization, and being able to accurately communicate ideas to their peers.

It is important for student to learn presentation skills. These skills will help them become more confident in their future endeavors. It will also help them communicate ideas to their peers. This idea is so important in all these activities. In emphasizing this communication among peers, the students will be able to communicate in a variety of settings that may be outside their comfort zone and the scope of their knowledge. However, being able to properly function in these settings will give students an ability that will aid them through their educational careers and beyond.

Group, projects, and presentations are great techniques that make a permanent impact on a student’s learning. By having them connect with the material, other students, and their audience students are bettering themselves and learning great skills for the future. The onus is on the teacher to properly utilize these techniques in a way that will be beneficial to all students, regardless of age or skill.

Philip Beadle was an interesting teacher that had many ideas and techniques to aid in student assesment.  He earned teacher of the year in his country, and the video really supported that honor. Many of the methods he utilized in his class challenged his students and helped them form logical connections that assisted them in deeply understanding the topics they were studying.

One of the most interesting methods he utilized in his class was argument tennis. Students were required to read a text, and form arguments based on one perspective from that particular text. They then presented their arguments to their peers, either face to face in pairs, or in a forum with representatives elected to argue a specific viewpoint. By using this method, Beadle encourages students to colloborate and hear alternative viewpoints. It also encourages students to critically think about the information they’ve digested and utilized their own particular viewpoints to inform an argument with or against their classmates. For Beadle, this provies many opportunities to check for understanding as at the various steps in this lesson, he would be able to check individual understanding through face to face arguments, and also group understanding through the forum debates.

Link: http://www.teachers.tv/videos/a-lesson-from-the-best

Writing is an important assessment tool that should be utilized when checking for understanding. From very early in a student’s curriculum reading stays an important focus in their education. By being able to properly communicate by writing effectively, students will be able to properly transmit their ideas in a medium that their peers can understanding. It is important that teachers utilize this method to properly assess student’s understanding as writing can be used in a variety of situations to convey ideas that students and teachers would have trouble using in a variety of other settings. By using these techniques students could properly be able to communicate narratives, informative essays, and persuasive writing. By assessing these methods, teachers can learn a great deal about how much students understand. There are many methods that also utilize group interaction to help students express ideas to other students, and then reform any errors or make improvements based on another student’s perspective. This method of  Reading the associated text or knowledge base, Writing about what they’ve gained through it and understand about it, Pairing up to share their ideas, and then Sharing them with each other proves beneficial as it allows students to properly assess their own success, but also helps the teacher assess how well they understand the topic. Writing is an important tool for assessment, but it can be misused as a punishment. In this way, the students do not gain understanding and have issues with properly expressing what they understand. This doesn’t help the teachers check for understanding, and it doesn’t help the students learn.

The RAFT approach to checking for understanding is an interesting method. It helps students identify key topics in a piece of writing by identifying them in easy to understand, broad terms. By properly associating the Role of the writer, the writer’s Audience, the Format the author is writing in, and the Topic of the piece, students can understand many of the key points in a piece of writing and be able to communicate their understanding to the teacher.

There are many reasons to utilize questions to check for understanding. Teachers will be better able to check on the level of understanding from groups and individuals by utilizing questions to lead students to conclusions without giving away the answer.  By doing this, students will be required to utilize critical thinking skills, and also display the knowledge associated with the lesson. It is important that the teacher not only utilize questions to check for understanding of the most vocal or outgoing students, but also the students that are less willing to speak up in class. By using different techniques that allow these students to respond, teachers can adaquately gauge their students’ progress at multiple levels.

When responding to students’ questions in class it is important to build self confidence in the students regardless of their answer. Some helpful methods that facilitate this include subtley assisting the student find correct answers by leading their reasoning in a logical manner towards correcting an incorrect answer. In this way, students use their problem solving, logical thought process, and prior knowledge of the subject to utilize a critical thinking method that leads them to a correct answer. This is a necessary procedure as not assisting a student who has answered incorrectly could lead to lack of confidence in their answers, their ability to perform tasks, and a slipping grasp on a subject that may be just within reach. There are many ways to assist students who may not quite be up to par, but need just a bit of illumination to guide their learning.

Oral language is the mode by which we express and understand concepts, ideas, and knowledge. Even the smallest children communicate with simple oral language to describe the things around them. It is important that teachers provide students with the proper oral languages to help them in critical thinking and learning.  There are many tools students and teachers can use to help them communicate.  By properly utilizing these tools, students can better learn ideas, and teachers can gauge more accurately their students understanding. However, some methods of communication that teachers use to check for understanding may be ineffective at truly testing for the critical thinking and understanding that students require. Many effective methods involve students communicating not only with the teacher, but also among their peers. There are many different approaches to take that reinforce learning and emphasize concrete understanding. An example of these methods is the Think-Pair-Share approach.

In order for the students to better understand the concepts and ideas being taught, they are asked to essentially mull over the things they have learned, talk about it with a partner, and then share with the entire group what they’ve discussed. The steps are simplified as thinking, pairing  up, and then sharing. This method isn’t complex and can be used with a variety of other methods. This approach is useful in that it allows the students to get feedback on their understanding in two different ways. First, students communicate with a partner. This first step may help students who are having challenges understanding something by giving them a different perspective, or help students share their combined knowledge to reach an intelligent conclusive idea. Second, as students share with the class their understanding of the topic can be spread to other students who may not have had that perspective before, and may integrate it into their current schema. For teachers this is an invaluable way to check for understanding in that it allows them to hear from students almost individually, and they can address issues as they arise from each group to better assist those individuals and the class as a whole.

Think-Pair-Share is an interesting technique. I am having trouble applying it to an Art classroom. Techniques and skills are primarily individually practiced, but ideas and concepts such as culture and history could be topics that thrive using Think-Pair-Share. For example, when discussing Van Gogh, students could discuss what influenced him, and why he painted the way he did. There are many more applications for these topics and they would probably help students better understand ideas that could help influence their own art.

Checking for understanding is an important step in a student’s learning process, and also the teacher’s teaching methods. It is important to check for understanding during a lesson for a number of reasons. Many students, myself included, aren’t self-regulated learners. That is to say, these students make themselves believe that they understand concepts taught during the lesson, but in actuality, do not really grasp them.  Some students will be unable to ask for assistance when they don’t understand something, this feel of inadequacy will jade them and they will be unable to get assistance in learning these concepts. Though not limited to these reasons, it is important for the teacher to take initiative when the student is unable to. When a teacher checks for understanding, they’re filling in the gaps that students will inevitably have after the initial lesson. These gaps are caused by the issues mentioned above, and others, and checking for understanding helps to address these issues and help to complete their understanding of the topic where it might have been an issue before.

Not only does checking for understanding address some of these issues, but it also specifically addresses others. In order for learning to be enduring and long laster, checking for understanding is necessary in that it allows students to critically think about subjects that they might otherwise just receive verbatim from a teacher. By checking for understanding, students will be able to adapt the knowledge they’re gaining from the teacher and correlate this will knowledge they already have to create a better understanding of the new knowledge.

Utilizing these and other methods, teachers will be better able to address the needs of individual students. Using these plans that are tailored to specific learning challenges that students may have, teachers are able to tailor their lessons around students, and while checking for understanding help fill in gaps, improve their ability to learn, and also creating enduring knowledge.