Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Instructional Design Article Critique #4

Cheating Themselves Out of an Education: Assignments that Promote Higher-Order Thinking and Honesty in the Middle Grades
Instructional Design Article Critique #4
Chris Boyd
Morehead State University

The title alone grabs my interest as a middle school educator. Zito and McQuillan report their findings on attitudes of learning and cheating from a study at Goodwin School, a private, nondenominational, coeducational day school, in northeastern Massachusetts.
As students transition from elementary to middle to high school, teachers increasingly assign great weight to performance and grades as opposed to understanding and the process of learning (Anderman & Midgley, 2004).  Students correlate grades as the highest consideration towards admission to colleges and professional opportunities.  Students associate their future prosperity to test scores, grades, and class rankings. 
The study revealed that the environmental factors of secondary education lead to a change in student behavior.  Structure, and student perceptions of their learning,  grows increasingly performance-based.  Students are motivated largely by isolated performances and the grades they receive for their work, regardless of how they attain those grades.  (p.7) 
Goal orientation theory attributes student motivation for learning to the structure of the classroom environment as being either performance or mastery-oriented (Stephens & Gehlbach, 2007).  The differences between these two concepts of academic success influence how student think about their assignments and the purpose of learning.    A classroom that focuses on performance can promote a culture where achieving a particular grade becomes more important to students than the learning.   In mastery classroom, students appreciate the inherent value in the work they undertake and strive to realize course objectives because they find them personally meaningful (Wiggins & McTighe, 2008).
At their worst, performance-oriented classrooms prioritize grades over genuine understanding, present achievement as a comparative phenomenon, downplay the link between effort and achievement, and ultimately create a context in which cheating becomes a particularly viable and morally defensible strategy. (p. 15)
Students cheat less on assignments that they consider valuable to their learning.  If the primary purpose of receiving a good grade is to please parents, or protect their eligibility for a sport – students have more potential and pressure to cheat.  Teachers must create assignments that promote outcomes rather than just performance.   When teachers implement this strategy there will be more value to the work and students can be expected to complete assignments in an honest and ethical way.
Teachers must be careful in weighing assignments – how much something will count.  Students must view learning as preparing them for the future, and that the work that they are doing has value.  Teachers must recognize that when students understand how learning can be used in the real world – they are not as likely to cheat.  As educators it is our job to help students understand why each class is going to be of value to them down the road.  We need to help students make meaning from the content they engage in their courses (Wiggins & McTighe, 2008).
The nature of authentic, relevant, real-world assignments will discourage cheating, because the assignment’s connection to the real world makes it difficult to misrepresent their work (Wiggins & McTighe, 2008).
Strategies to connect are collaborative group projects, student choice and autonomy in their work, teaching experiences for students, use of technology as a tool, open-ended questions, and real-world application.
Wiggins and McTighe are two of my favorite designers.  They are credited with the creation of UbD.  Their philosophy runs true though-out the entire article.  We do not want our students to make believe that they know what they do not know.  We need to create projects and opportunities that engage students in rich learning and give their experiences real world relevance, personal meaning and demand a proof of understanding. (p. 13)
As middle school educators we have the perfect opportunity to help students balance the pressure of performing for grades.  This is so difficult in an educational system that is driven by assessment, standardized scoring, and oriented towards direct results.  Only a collective effort towards authentic learning will help promote the understanding of genuine learning.  UbD is one of those designs, but it would demand a buy-in attitude by an entire staff, administration and parents. We need professional learning communities to offer development for exploring how student work can be designed to integrate authentic and real-world tasks.  Experiences with personal meaning will provide students with the desire to understand, and recognize that cheating will not provide the real answers needed to be successful in the real world and, in fact, may rob the student of an opportunity to learn how to be successful in the real world.

Zito, N. & McQuillan, P. (2010). Cheating Themselves Out of an Education: Assignments that Promote Higher-Order Thinking and Honesty in the Middle Grades. Middle School Journal. Vol. 42. Number 2. November 2010. pages 6-13.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Great Teaching Must Inspire Great Thinking - Article Critique

I came across this article by chance as I was seeking information on Instructional design.  The title interested me, as did the date of the article, which is 1987.
The author is Dr. H Ward Hill, Vice-president and Dean of Union College, Lincoln, Nebraska.  At the time of the article he served as Chairman of the Dept. of Religion and the Division of Humanities.  With this introduction, the audience can immediately understand the religious implications of the article, but on the other hand he shares many interesting points on the issues that arise when schools attempt to teach students to think.  Dr. Hill describes “true education” as training youth to be:”thinkers, and not mere reflections of other men’s thoughts.” (p.7)
Dr. Hill states that teaching critical and independent thinking does not appear to hinge on the controversy between the merits of teacher-centered or student-centered learning.    He goes on to say that most undergraduates don’t go to college to learn to think; most teachers don’t see their role in teaching students to think.  In reflection, I tend to agree, as most of my undergraduate and Master’s classes were for my preparation to enter my career choice.  There was not really time in the class to probe and question philosophies in education.  As a matter of fact, there was really not much time to discuss, debate, or have any real type of dialog.    The difference with the doctoral level is the amount of time that we are allowed to think.  We are operating in an environment of thinking.  Students at this level do not have to worry about standardized test scores, right or wrong responses, and feel the freedom to challenge without repercussion.
Dr. Hill goes on to argue on the lecture style of teaching and the teacher-centered classroom.   He goes on to state that an expert lecture can include techniques that challenge the audience to the highest level of thinking.  Good lecturers can intellectually awakened students to explore other aspects of the subject.  Many student-oriented classrooms may amount to little more than a pooling ignorance, especially if students do not receive guidance in ranking the relevance of ideas and observation. (p.8)
Questioning can serve well in teaching students to think.  Believing that “asking questions” can be an art form, it is essential to pursue a line of questioning that progressively builds to an understanding causing the student to savor the solution. (p.9)  With a series of questions the teacher and students can explore together the solution to questions.  Dr. Hill suggests that it is useful to let some time elapse before asking for solutions, and so as to not let students be “left hanging,” he shares his own preferred solutions, not favoring one over any other.  I remember in one post Dr. Lowell responding to one of my questions, with a comment that he wanted to wait and see what others wrote before sharing his thoughts. 
I find this to be a successful strategy.  We often view our professors on another level of intellect and authority.  As students we have a hard time viewing this authority as just being another peer sharing opinions in discussion.  We were raised to respect authority and part of that respect was to not challenge aloud.  I have had very few of my middle school students challenge my authority in any way.  This article makes me reflect on my own classroom environment.  I usually have questions to stimulate discussion, but most students respond looking for a right answer, and the discussion is often directed at me instead of the rest of the class.  
Dr. Hill encourages teachers to seek to stimulate a higher level of thinking by using a series of questions paralleling the sequence of Bloom’s taxonomy, with questions moving from lower to higher levels of thinking. (p.32)  Teachers should encourage students towards deeper reflections on their own ideas.  Lastly, he points out that some teachers like to move students into unexplored terrain and directly challenge their ideas.
We all recognize the pitfalls that come with questions and discussions.  Some students monopolize the conversation.  It can lead to arguments and controversy and there is never enough time to fully explore ideas.  As John Milton wrote in the 17th century, “Where there is much desire to lean there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinions in good men is but knowledge in the making.” (p.33)  I say “good” for the students that speak up and want to be heard.  Just because you aren’t talking in a discussion does not mean that you are not thinking and learning.  Both students can be equally engaged, just in different ways. 
In our rapidly changing world it will be important for our students to think and adapt to different situations. There is still a place for the teacher-led classroom.  It is important that teachers define what they want the students to learn.  Sometimes there is a practical necessity of helping students obtain specific knowledge and this will take precedence over more idealistic concepts.

Hill, H. (1987). Great Teaching Must Inspire Great Thinking. Adventist Education. October/November 1987. Retrieved on November 26, 2010 from: http://circle.adventist.org/files/jae/en/jae198750010706.pdf

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sipping cocoa...

If I have learned nothing else – I have acquired a newly ingrained habit.  Somewhere in my day I have to go to my Goggle Reader and look over the many articles that I have marked to embrace my feed.  This addicting habit has introduced me to a wealth of topics and opinions that I never would have pondered if I didn’t take the time to sit with my cup of cocoa and nestle myself down for a good read.  It is a sort of “My time” instead of wandering around the kitchen looking for something of a high sugar content to satisfy my needs.  So now my caloric intake is satisfied by authors such as D’Arcy Norman Dot Net, English Muse, Cool Cat Teacher, Curriculum Matters, etc. etc.  By the time you look up, forty-five minutes to an hour has passed by and you are only on thirty-four of the 101 in the current folder. 
I have discovered that the only way to get good at something or to learn something – is to invest some time in it.  It is like that nightly math homework that I had in the seventh grade – it was expected and required for me to become proficient.  Now the proficiency is mine for the choosing, as I long to get connected to an academic world of thought that I never knew existed, (accompanied by the cocoa of course).  It also gives me the opportunity to talk out loud and exchange thoughts and perspectives on a myriad of subjects.
So now that I have rambled on long enough, I wanted to share some thoughts on an article by Laura Pappano for Education Week.  It correlates with the Humanistic theory that I am such a fan of – and it made me long for a principal that cared as much as Anthony G. Smith.
In 1999, his Cincinnati Taft High School was in “academic emergency”.  With the focus on the value of relationships, the school progressed to an “excellent” rating which is Ohio’s’ best.  Smith did this by going door to door in the neighborhood and asking for resident support.  He met with every teacher and “listened” as to what was working and what was not.  He built a key relationship with an outside stakeholder, Cincinnati Bell.  This partnership offered his students an alternate vision to what they see in their neighborhoods (only 55 percent of adults in this census tract have a high school diploma, and 53 percent of households live below the poverty line) (Pappano, 2010).

Cincinnati Bell president, Jack Cassidy provides the use of a cell phone and laptop to every Taft Technology student who maintains a 3.3 grade point average; it also wires the students’ homes for high-speed Internet because, says Cassidy, “poor families can’t afford broadband, but college exists on the Internet.”

Realizing that most of his students come from homes where college is not even considered, let along having a career, Smith provides a safe environment outside of the home and neighborhood where children can be tutored, recreate, and be fed.  But it is just not about their bellies being full, but their minds as well.

What struck me is the fact that Smith leaves nothing to chance.  W always read about stories where students have an adult come into their life and mentor them down the road to success.  Taft takes it a bit further to “insure” that every student has a mentor and environment where creativity is fostered and the tools to do it with.
The opportunity for success must be rooted in relationships throughout the process of change and in a recalibration of expectations that students have for themselves (Pappano, 2010).

What a blueprint for success!  Why doesn’t every school have leadership that steps out of the box and the time constraints of 7-5?  Unfortunately, I think I do know the answer to that.  We have our own lives - but wait - this is our life. Is this not the call of servant-leadership? There are student homes we need to visit. We need to learn from each other and take the time to listen to our fellow peers. There is a corporation or business in every town to solicit help from.  If our school leadership is not willing to do this, why should we be satisfied with that?

Whew I am exhausted from that speech, and I must move on to Melanie McBride’s new piece.  My cocoa has cooled off, so I need to warm it up again…

This is a metaphor right? Or is it a paradox?

Pappano, L. (25, October 2010). In School Turnaround the Human Element is Crucial. Education Week Retrieved from http://www.cps-k12.org/whatsnew/TaftEdWeek.pdf

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Last night's discussion on Integrity

I did not know if anyone would go back to the Core Values discussion board thread...so I am posting on here as well...because I am so interested in this topic..so to continue our conversation from last night.

Here is an interesting article for you to read.  Lisa (as usual) brought up an interesting question about Hitler and integrity.  Definitions seem to abound on the meaning of integrity:  Interesting interview with Stephen Carter, author of the book Integrity.

"There is a broad range of issues on which we have to be willing to say that people of integrity can take different sides. I happen to be an opponent of the death penalty. I think that position has some integrity to it. I know a lot of thoughtful people with plenty of integrity who are in favor of the death penalty. I don't think they are evil or morally worse than I am. I don't think they are stupid. They've reflected and reached a different view.
I also believe there is a small set of issues about which a person of integrity can hold only one position. For example, we can say racial hatred and mass slaughter are wrong. We know that from history. We don't need to agree on a philosophical system to agree on that.
"There is a lot of moral agreement in America. The amount of moral disagreement is exaggerated because the media focuses on a handful of issues on which people have sharply different views--abortion, gay rights, affirmative action. But beyond this there is a large core on which we can reach agreement. These teachings are common to various religious traditions. They also show up in public opinion surveys and in the Constitution. For example: respecting others, believing in family, not lying or stealing, being courageous."

Read the entire article (don't worry it is short) and let me know your thoughts..I anxiously await!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity | Video on TED.com

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity Video on TED.com

Instructional Design for Play

While scanning blogs on the Reader, I came across one by David Penrose at San Juan College.  He has some techno-phobic faculty who don't have the time or resources to experiement with instructional technology, so this has caused him to consider the role of "Play" in desensitizing individuals and  groups to try something new.

He has some interesting notions for Instructional designers to set up "playgrounds" or "play rooms" for the faculty to experiement with techie toys without having to worry about the cost or breaking anything.  He concludes that play is the appropriate context for learning the limits and limitations of technology. 

Penrose, D. (10, June 2005). Instructional design for Play. Retrieved on November 17, 2010 from: http://www.edcause.edu/blog/penrose/InstructionalDesignforPlay/164547

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Back to Play again...talking about Susan Codone's Report

Technology based play can be elaborative and promote deeper processing by serving as an exploratory and investigative device (Codone, 2010).  Play within interactive multimedia can be open, voluntary, pleasurable, and non-goal oriented.  Play has such significant value and has become connected to many other psychological constructs, such as language formation, symbolism, abstraction of intellectual prototypes, acquisition of tool use, social skill development, perspective or role taking, and the development of creativity (Sutton-Smith, 1979; Christie & Johnsen, 1983). Technology can be created as guided play where educators structure an environment around a general curricular goal that is designed to stimulate children’s natural curiosity, exploration, and play with learning-oriented objects/materials(Hirsh-Pasek & Golinkoff, 2003). 

Trying to define “Play” is a construct in itself.  There are so many definitions out there as I shared in my Creative piece.   Johann Huizinga (1951) defined play as a free activity standing quite consciously outside ordinary life as being not serious, but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly.  Christie and Johnsen describe play as an activity that is pleasurable, voluntary, spontaneous, devoid of imposed tasks or regulations, intrinsically motivated, undertaken for process rather than expected outcomes and that requires active participation.  Gitlin-Weiner (1988) describes play as pleasurable, the antithesis of work, free of extrinsic goals, and an absorbing process involving the temporary loss of awareness of one’s surrounds.   In all of the many definitions I read, one common theme was enjoyment, fun, creativity,  and a sense of timelessness due to intense immersion.
Constructivist instruction, with its emphasis on student-centered learning, the active construction of knowledge, subjective meaning, and learning situated in authentic, real-world environments, provides an open and acceptable place for play in instruction (Codone, 2010).  Play can consist of problem solving, exploration, and an opportunity to try things out without risk or evaluation.  Play can allow a student to explore what could happen by trying out a variety of actions and observing the consequences.
Play is consistent with the developmental principles of how children learn.  Play is active, has meaningful context, and uses a whole child approach to learning (Hirsh-Pasek & Golinkoff, 2003).  Play also fosters strong learning through interest, engagement, attention, and intrinsic motivation.
Gagne, Briggs, & Wager (1992) state that instruction is a human undertaking whose purpose to help people learn.  They list five assumptions for the design of instruction.
1.      Instructional design must be aimed at aiding the learning of the individual
2.      Systematically designed instruction can greatly affect individual human development
3.      Instructional design has phases that are both immediate and long-term
4.      Instructional design should be conducted by means of a systems approach
5.      Designed instruction must be based on knowledge of how human beings learn
There is not a lot of research out there, and since there are so many definitions a long-term goal will be to identify the conditions of play to prescribe them for use by instructional designers (Codone, 2010).  These studies will give us a better understanding of play and the ability to train designers on how to “design play” (Codone, 2010).  The W.I.R.E. Indicators of Play aids us in determining what “Play” is.  The W.I.R.E. model is defined as: Way to use play, an Indicator of play, the Result of using play and the Elements that are necessary for play to occur.  This model can be used by instructional designers as a way to “WIRE” their instruction with play, embedding elements into the environment that will stimulate the indicators of play, while at the same time providing designers with specific tactics (ways) to deliver instruction through play (Codone, 2010).

Codone, S. (2010). The Effectiveness of Play as an Instructional Strategy on Procedural Learning, Learner Enjoyment, and Instructional Design.  Raytheon Interactive Technologies. Pensacola, FL. Retrieved from: http://cc.bingj.com/cache.aspx?q=susan+codone+the+effectivenes+of+play&d=4685130859089411&mkt=en-US&setlang=en-US&w=87d35d0,914e414f

Hirsh-Pasek & Golinkoff. (2003) A Mandate for playful learning: Framing the definitions and the evidence. Retrieved on November 15, 2010 from: http://www.researchconnections.org/files/childcare/pdf/KathyHirsh-PasekPresentation.pdf

Monday, November 15, 2010

Humanistic Approach - Self-Actualization

It was nice to just spend some time reading this weekend.  After studying more instructional designs and strategies I have come to the conclusion that before I am done I will create the BOYD model.  As I see it the most successful design is one that is a blend of several combined.
I have always been a fan of Maslow and his theory called the Hierarchy of Needs.  If you don’t feel like you have a place of meaning in this world – you are not going to become invested to learn anything of the world (Cherry, 2010).
The school has become the provider of many student biological needs.  Some of our students do not have basic meals from anywhere other than our school breakfast and lunch programs.  The school is a haven of safety for many that have violence, brokenness, and a lack of supervision as the norm.  The school is a provider of love, affection, and a sense of belonging for many children.  The classroom should provide an environment that is conducive to building self-esteem -   a real oasis for the heart to grow. 
Children want to learn when relationships are established.  Carl Rogers’ central theme was that facilitating learning to develop learning individuals should be the purpose of education (Cherry, 2010 ).   Achieving this purpose is a direct result of the relationship between the educator/facilitator and the learner.  As a facilitator I feel this is one of my key roles.  My relationship with my students is an essential component of a successful learning environment. 
Valett suggests that humanistic education is a lifelong process designed to develop individuals who will be able to live a joyous, humane and meaningful life (Brockett, 1997).  The mission statement of Warsaw Community Schools is dedicated to providing all students with an excellent education to enable them to be life-long learners and successful citizens (Warsaw, 2010).
To achieve humanistic oriented education you need class sizes that are small enough to encourage person to person relationships.  The subject matter is flexible and allows the academic content to meet learner interests, needs or abilities.  Classroom practices and procedures should help a learner discover his or her own talents, abilities, and skills. 
The central assumptions are that human beings behave out of intentionality and values (Kurtz, 2000).  Humanists believe that it is necessary to study the person as a whole, especially as an individual grows and develops over their life. 

Cooperative learning, discussion-based learning, confluent education and thematic teaching are specific teaching techniques associated with humanism (2010 ).  I measured my obesity unit against many of these requirements and found that our approach has been very humanistic in nature. 
Students were put in small groups where each member of the group could participate in clearly assigned and collected tasks.  We hoped for lots of synergy that would promote cooperative skills, group reflection and goal setting. 
With the team interviews there was a lot of teaching through discussion.  As facilitators we did a lot of guided discussion and reflective discussion.  We wanted to be sure to promote student understanding as they were processing their research.  Through the discussion we asked questions to stimulate critical thinking about obesity and its problems.  The discussions include identification of the problem and establishing procedures and definition of terms and concepts related to the topic.  Students then had to research, question, and support their opinions.   The students have to assume a lot of responsibility for their own learning. 
Humanism provides a way of looking at the instructional design process that emphasizes the strengths the learner brings to the environment (Brocket, 1997).  Humanism is a paradigm that emphasizes the freedom, dignity, and potential of humans (Lamont, 1965).  There are several components of Humanism that I do not agree on with; the main one dealing with belief. 
Humanists do not believe in any supernatural force such as God.  They hold the belief that “human beings are an evolutionary product of nature and, since body and personality are inseparably united one can have no conscious survival after death (Brocket, 1997).  To this point I disagree.  I do believe in a higher power that knew me before I was born.  I was gifted with certain talents and traits and when you are achieving the purpose that you were created for you can become self-actualized.  With this comes a feeling that surpasses all others.  It transcends any earthly happiness, and gives complete contentiveness within an individual.  I am so fortunate to experience this within my life.  I know what I was called to do and feel very complete to be doing it.  I took a break from teaching when I had my children, and I felt a void that was almost unbearable.  Through time and circumstance I was provided another opportunity to teach again, and I do not believe that this was just by chance.  I know that it is part of the design, and I become self-actualized by participating in that design.  I truly believe that this is what has sustained me through my divorce.  When your earthly life is challenged or in shambles, the divine purpose of self-actualization is what can give you life and meaning.
Maslow believed that self-actualization was the highest level of human growth, where one’s potential is fully realized. 
Maslow held that self-actualizers tend to “possess a more efficient view of reality and a corresponding tolerance of ambiguity; to be accepting of themselves and others; demonstrate spontaneous behavior that is in tune with their own values and not necessarily tied to the common beliefs and practices of the culture; focus on problems that lie outside of themselves, thus demonstrating a highly ethical concern; maintain a few extremely close interpersonal relationships rather than seek out a large number of less intense friendships; and possess high levels of creativity” (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991).

An important element of Maslow’s theory is the notion of the mystic experience or the high that one can experience when they are in the flow of self-actualization.  The goal of humanistic education is to help learners become self-actualizing persons.  The curriculum is not the end, but the means of promoting the goals of humanistic education.  Learning needs to be fostered in a cooperative supportive environment.  It celebrates human goodness and the limitless potential of human beings. 
Humanistic education is student-centered with the role of the teacher being that of a facilitator, and helper in the learning process.  The facilitator is the one who is able to set a climate that values and emphasizes the unique experiences and needs of each learner.  It is important to make the learning highly personal by letting the learner invest in its importance and meaning.  Growth is best fostered in a cooperative supportive environment and its main purpose is to help learners become self-actualized.
I think that it is obvious that humanism can compliment other paradigms and contribute to a comprehensive theory of instruction.  It fits perfectly with the Warsaw mission as it emphasizes the development of the person across an entire lifespan. Learning is a lifelong process and this approach does put the Learner as the center of the picture. This approach certainly correlates with what we have been exploring in Principles of Leadership. Coincidence?

Brocket,R. (1997). Humanism as an Instructional Paradigm. Retrieved on November 13, 2010 from: http://www-distance.syr.edu/romira1.html

Cherry, K.  Hierarcy of Needs Self-Actualization and the Hierarchy of Needs. About.com: Psychology Retrieved on November 13, 2010 from: http://psychology.about.com/od/theoriesofpersonality/a/hierarchyneeds_2.htm

College of Saint Francis/St. John. (2010).Program Goal VI:Instructional strategies. Retrieved on November 13, 2010 from: http://www.csbsju.edu/education/knowledge-base/kb-iv.htm

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Formative Assessment or 'Formative Instruction'?


This article is an interesting springboard.  As you know as of late I have been obesssed with assessment and how to do this in a constructivism design. 

The key messages being put forth were these: Don't let the push for new-age assessments mess with formative assessment, and don't forget what formative assessment really is.
And what is it, exactly? According to Margaret Heritage of the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, it's a reciprocal feedback loop of students and teachers, figuring out together whether deep learning has taken place. Her very pointed point here was that you can't get there with a pop quiz. (Gewertz, 2010)

It has been an interesting process through the obesity project.  How to measure progress?  The kids are obessed on how they are going to get a grade.

1.  Collection of information about Obesity (definition, what causes it, what happens as a result of it, etc.)
We did a group check to see if they were headed in the right direction - then after several weeks - we asked for a self evaluation on their own individual participation and contribution to the group (Scale of 1-10 - with explanation)  I felt the responses were very honest and candid.  But as soon as we posted their grade in PowerSchool...I felt from the conversation that from here on out they would give themselves a better grade.  So the self-evaluation has now lost its true worth. ( Am I being to pesismistic????)  They are learning how to play the game for the A..

2.  In the explanation we asked what they thought they could do to improve as an individual...and we thought that we would evaluate them next on that aspect.

3.  I had them respond to an article on the moodle and give their opinions and comments.  As I read their comments - I asked them questions about their opinions and now they have some individual questions to answer.  All of this will eventually contribute to the group work down the road. 

I am definitely looking for some input here...on forms of assessment about the journey.  Ideas?  New  territory for me as well...so a lot of design is developing out of each turn of events.  It is sort of progressing as we go along.    I could go on forever, but I will end with this final comment from the article:

Can such a process be designed, formatted and distributed widely? If not, how can—or should—it be employed in the era of numbers-driven accountability?(Gewertz, 2010)

Gewertz, C. (11, November 2010). Formative Assessment or Formative Instruction? Education WEek Curriculum Matters. Retreived from: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2010/11/formative_assessment_or_format.html

Monday, November 1, 2010

Creative Assessment

Creativity is an ability that everyone is born with.   In proof, a child left alone will entertain himself with play. As a physical educator I have seen this form of creativity come from a variety of sources. According to Matthew Fox (2002),“ In  play, our imaginations not only get refreshed, they also get set up to connect with new and untried possibilities. Play is the mother of surprise.  Surprise is a sure sign of the Spirit at play”.  All children play, and they play in all kinds of ways.  From infancy we see delight in a peek-a-boo game to more sophisticated games that include made up rules.  I believe that if adults came back to their roots of “play”, that the spirit of creativity would be fostered in one’s own soul and then become emergent through their work.  The word recreation has a form of re-create in it.  Play is an opportunity to recreate oneself.
From the articles that we read, it was easy to correlate play with the potential of unlocking the creativity in each person and how this can contribute to the innovation of an organization.  Solitary play is when a child engages in an activity alone.  He or she becomes totally absorbed in the activity and is not reliant upon the actions or words of anyone else.  It is a form of self-exploration and learning.  A lot of the activity involved here is a result of trial and error, but through this type of play children learn through their actions.  A child learns to scoot, crawl, walk, skip, run, jump, and dance as creative expressions of the movement action through play.  As a child develops, their action, or creativity become more sophisticated and then more deliberate.  The important thing to recognize here is that the deliberate movement was born from the creative thought. Through play, children learn the skills necessary to effectively participate in their world.  Play provides children with natural opportunities to engage in concrete and meaningful activities that enhance physical, language, social and cognitive development (CPIS, 2004).  During play, children increase their knowledge and understand of self and others. 
Play nutures creativity, and play can take on many forms as a person grows older.  A key element to promote the growth and development of creativity is to provide an environment that stimulates the opportunity to create.  Whether it is building a sand castle or creating a new invention or process, it is important to have the time and place to play.  Once “play” becomes a social collaboration the possibility for creativity is multiplied.  “I have always found creativity to be all about juxtaposing concepts and ideas from different fields and places, making unexpected connections” (Play, 2010). Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, believed that creativity comes from play and fantasy.  When a person plays with his or her tools, inspiration, intuition, forms, colors, and the mind, play will take us to realms that are preconscious and pre-judgmental (2004). Fantasy occupies a big role in much if not most of what adults do and is a major element in our intuitive sense of the degree to which adult activities are play (Grey, 2008). An architect designing a house is designing a real house. Yet, the architect brings a good deal of imagination to bear in visualizing the house, imagining how people might use it, and matching it with some aesthetic concepts that she or he  has in mind. The house is really a pretend house in the architects mind before it ever becomes a real one.
William Klemm, in the article Leadership: Creativity and Innovation, states that leaders know in their gut that creativity and innovation are the lifeblood of their organization. I believe that leaders know in their gut that creativity and innovation come from the interaction of others in the organization through private thought or collaboration in play situations.  The play situation might look like private time during the work day, or the joining of forces to solve a puzzle or problem. 
Play provides a state of mind that, in adults as well as children, is uniquely suited for high-level reasoning, insightful problem solving, and all sorts of creative endeavors (Grey, 2008). Play is activity conducted for its own sake.  The playful student enjoys studying the subject and cares less about the test. In play, attention is focused on the means, not the ends, and players do not necessarily look for the easiest routes to achieving the ends.  One reason why play is such an ideal state of mind for creativity and learning is because the mind is focused on means.  It is the journey that is fun, rewarding, and important.  There is no fear of failure because players are not confined; they are free to incorporate new sources of information and to experiment with new ways of doing things (Grey, 2008).  The player’s attention is focused on the process more than the outcome.  The mind at play is active and alert and free from stress.  “Attention is attuned to the activity itself, and there is reduced consciousness of self and time (Grey, 2008).  Jung shares that the creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity (Grey, 2008).
Strong pressure to perform a certain way inhibits creativity.  It narrows the goal, thereby reducing the ability to focus on means.  In a pressured state, one tends to fall back on the well-learned ways of doing things.
 Lee Vygotsky said in his essay “The Role of Play in Development”, “When we pressure students to do well on their schoolwork by constantly evaluating their work, we put them into a non-playful, goal-directed state that may motivate those who already know how to do it to perform well, but inhibits experimentation and learning in those who don’t already know how” (Grey, 2008).

My Creativity Test score was a 119, which rates me somewhere above average.  In a scientifically cautious statement, (Maslow,1977) similarly noted "the concept of creativeness and the concept of the healthy, self-actualizing, fully human person seem to be coming closer and closer together, and may turn out to be the same thing."  Most people believe that creativeness is a component of self-actualization.  (Yonge 1975), reviewed research showing positive correlations between intelligence and creativity as they relate to self-actualization scores. 
Many believe that certain people posses special talents and personality traits that enhance creativity, but you do not have to possess exceptional artistic, literary, scientific, or entrepreneurial talent to consider yourself a creative person and live a creative life (Davis n.d.).

Creativity is a lifestyle – a way of living and perceiving (Davis, n.d.).  I found several areas in the creativity test to be ambiguous. The questions regarding, I have engaged in a lot of creative activities and most of my friends are unconventional, can’t really be definitive by any type of definition.  What makes a friend unconventional?  How do I know if I have engaged in a lot of creative activities?  By whose definition am I determining my participation of creativeness on a scale of one to five?  These types of tests put a particular mindset to the term creative. These tests “box” us into stereotypical definitions of the term creative. A Mesoamerican poet wrote, “We are creators at our very core.  Only creating can make us happy, for in creating we tap into the deepest powers of self and universe and the Divine self” (Fox, 2002 ).
According to Michael Fox, “It is not the essence of the human to be passive.  We are players.  We are curious. We are yearning to wonder.  We are longing to be amazed. We are eager to grow, to learn, to be excited to be enthusiastic, to be expressive.  In short, to be alive” (Fox

The Sufi mystic Hafiz once wrote, “All the talents of God are within you.  How could this be otherwise, when your soul derived from His genes” (Fox, 2002).  We came from the Creator and we were made in his image.  I believe that everyone has the creative spirit within them.  Creativity knows no age limits.  It can come from a natural expression of self, or stem from careful planning and experimentation.  Creativity can be alone or with others, but it can be increased to grow, because it exists in all of us.

According to Abraham Maslow, “Self Actualization” is the intrinsic growth, of what is already in the organism, or more accurately, of what the organism is” (Maslow, 1977 ).  I have always defined it as becoming the most you can be – living up to your potential.  Reaching self-actualization is a constant journey.  Events and environments can shake different areas of your life, and I believe that we are in constant flux with self-actualization. I think that the more self-actualized you believe that you are, the happier of an individual you will be.  I scored ninety-two on the Maslow test, which rates me highly self-actualized.
Maslow has fifteen characteristics of self-actualized people; the first characteristic being realistic.  Personally, I would not rate myself high in this category.  I consider myself optimistic, which generally overrides any faction of realism in my life. I often find myself in conflict with things the way they are and the way I hope or believe they can be.  This category is conflictive with the fantasy factor in creativity.  I tend to strive for a life that can be and not settle for the realism of what it currently is.  I find myself scoring high in acceptance, humor, spontaneity, and continued freshness of appreciation. I am ethical and moral, and I rate myself high in the areas of creativity, originality, and invention.  My age in life allows me to have a great deal of experiences to hold to on my journey for self-actualization.  I feel very connected to others and I am deeply committed to friends.  I believe that I am living my mission in life, and that I am actually enhancing it further with my doctoral quest.
I do recognize that I have areas of improvement as well.  I have constantly sought praise and I do not feel that I have a great degree of patience.  I feel that I need to work on handling the stresses of life better, but this has fluctuated with the different experiences I have encountered in life.  I am a bit too egotistical for my own good and lately I have not felt real comfortable with being self-sufficient and autonomous.  These are growth areas on my continued journey to realizing my own self and all that I can become. 
My areas of most peace and pleasure are in my “peak experiences” – moments of intense enjoyment.  My faith enables me to look at life in awe and wonderment.  I am truly convicted that something extremely important and valuable happens to us with each experience and that there is a message and meaning for our betterment in all of them.  From this hope I construct my existence.  I do feel that I have something to contribute and by doing so I am becoming more self-actualized.  There is a limitless horizon opening up to me, and I want to take the  path towards it.  Perhaps because I am by myself now, I can concentrate on my own “flow” and creatively pursue any avenue that lies before me.  I can “PLAY” any game that I want to in life now.
As a leader, I want to provide opportunities for others to have “peak experiences”. I want to provide others around me  with an environment where they can be creative.  People need the space and time to just be still from the daily rigors of life to re-CREATE themselves.

British scientist Peter Russell states “What most affects our development is no longer our genes, but our ideas.  With ideas and creativity to put them into action, we can turn space into a home away from home; we can turn places of 120-degree heat into dwelling places through air-conditioning.  We can live under the sea for months at a time.

I can do this on creative avenues of constructive thinking in the classroom to stimulate both critical and creative intellectual processes.  I want my students to think outside the box, inside someone else’s box, look for other boxes, and live in a no limits virtual transparent box.  3M is reported to encourage their research people to spend up to 15% of their time on exploratory projects, thinking out-of-the- box, while still accomplishing the 100% of their work they have contracted to complete within the other 85% of the time (Black, 1990).  Miles Davis is quoted as saying, “I’m always thinking about creating.  My future starts when I wake up every morning.  Every day I find something creative to do with my life.” As a visionary leader, I want to teach others the benefits of virtual box thinking, while I learn the benefits I have never considered that lie within the boxes where I already am. Let’s play!

Black, R. Out-of-Box, In-the-Box, New-Box, Other-box, No-Box Thinking. Retrieved on October 31, 2010 from: http://www.creativityforlife.com/full_article.php?article_id=37

Children’s Play Information Service. (2004). Retrieved on October 28, 2010 from www.ncb.org.uk/library/cpis

Gray, P. (19, November 2008). The Value of Play. Psychology Today   Retrieved on October 30, 2010 from: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/200811/the-value-play-i-the-definition-play-provides-clues-its-purposes?page=2

Klemm, W. R. (2001). Leadership: Creativity and innovation. In R. I. Lester & A. G. Morton (Eds.), Concepts for Air Force leadership (pp. 449-461). Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Air University Press. Retrieved from http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/au-24/cover.htm
Play- What is Play? The Importance of Play, Elements of Children’s Play, Social Elements of Play. Retrieved on October 28, 2010 from http://social.jrank.org.pages/492/Play.html#1xzz13zjDzRz

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Instructional Design Article Critique #2

Vail, K. ( 2010, March) American School. Leveling the Field. Volume 197, No.3 pages 14-19

“All research shows when you do something new, it takes five years to show results”. (p.15)  The Adams County School District 50 in Colorado did not have five years to turn things around.  They had persistently low achievement scores, 75 percent of their students were eligible for free and reduced lunches, and almost 40 percent were ELL.  So Adams 50 adopted a standards-based education policy with the idea that children should demonstrate that they have mastered skills before they advance to learn new ones. 
They selected the Re-Inventing Schools Coalition (RISC) model because it replaces grade levels with skill levels.  Designer Richard DeLorezo describes it best with “We give kids the road map; they figure out how they learn best”. (p.17) They wanted to empower kids to take responsibility for their education.  If students were struggling, the teachers helped them.  Students determined and controlled the pace that they learned, and it proved successful.  Achievement soared with 95 percent of students going onto postsecondary education.
The system searched for teachers with a “constructive critical eye” and they attended training by DeLorenzo’s group. Board members, principals, and central office staff also attended.  Stipends were paid out, and in return for this money and training, teachers signed a contract to stay within the district for three years.  It took a superintendent with vision to convince parents and community members.  Together they formed an alliance to bring reform to the classroom. Ten levels were identified that would replace the current grade system.  Robert Marzono agreed to work with teachers to determine what skills would be included in each level and how they would be measured. (p.18) 
Students were placed in their level groups in literacy and math.  The reform started in the 2008-2009 school year and early signs of progress are encouraging, with fifth-grade reading and math scores rising  and discipline problems decreasing by 40 percent, “because kids were at their own level, not bored or frustrated.”(p.18)  Students will graduate from high school when they have mastered Level 10 learning targets in the four core classes of reading, math, science, and social studies.    Some students finish early and then continue to take AP classes for college credit. “Our dream is to have kids walk across the stage with 18 college credits” says Principal Shannon Willy. (p.19)
This article raised numerous questions in my mind.  It is obvious for a reform as dramatic as this, to get everybody on board.  What would happen to traditionalist teachers, principals, school board members and parents who were unwilling to change?  Would teachers quit?  School board members change every two to four years and our current administrators and educators being trained in this methodology?
It seems to make sense that this would help slow lowest-performing students by giving them more time and not holding back high-performing students who could move at their own pace.  In my school corporation we have students in middle school who cannot read, or do so at a third grade level.  Indiana schools have passed that promotion will not continue past the third grade if a student does not meet the competency level in reading. This is a small step towards competency based learning, but perhaps it is the beginning of reform as a State.
This model would also take a lot of new learning and training to be successful.  Reading about it is one thing, but witnessing its proof is another.  It would take a substantial amount of money for visitations, to train, promote, and implement this new methodology.  Colorado is depending on Race to the Top monies, but Indiana is already out of the running.  Where would this money come from?  Professional development money has been suspended in Indiana.  Perhaps corporation sponsorship could be one source or a tuition requirement placed on participating students.
Graduation is based on the RISC model, but how would different colleges look at a nontraditional transcript?  Most colleges require SAT scores and credit hours in a college prep curriculum. I feel that this reform would need to be nation-wide or at least state wide to be understood and accepted by state schools.  Everyone would need to be on the same page of understanding.  
This is a radical change on a model that has been in place for centuries, so I can see why pilot schools are necessary to test the water. Competence is not trained behavior but thoughtful capabilities and a developmental process (Barrie and Pace 1997; Chappell 1996).  Studies of the development of expertise as well as the constructivist view of learning suggest that people make judgments and review, reflect on, and change behavior, continually reconstructing relevant and useful knowledge as they interact with a situation (Hodkinson and Issitt 1995; Hyland 1994). This brings assessment to mind.  How would each level of competency be assessed?  Would it be a checklist approach, a pass/fail/ or performance of a skill?  Would students only seek to achieve a minimum level of competency or would they strive for the highest standard?  Would it be a one- time assessment or one of an on-going application? The nature of these competency standards will obviously determine how they should best be assessed. Since they are based on the idea that competence is a construct that is not directly observable but rather is inferred from successful performance, it is clear that performance will be vital for assessment (Education Commission of the States. (1995, January).
I believe that this would foster more authentic forms of assessment.  I know that Physical Education is rather subjective in assessment.  Heart rate monitors would provide data to prove a performance level of competency.  In Language Arts the written word could be a form of assessment as well as solving math problems.  In Indiana it is projected that in three years graduated students could be assessed in the fulfillment of their job performance and their college progression. Competence-based assessment needs t o be relevant for students. Competence, being largely work-based, introduces us to the idea that assessment can be made to be relevant, and to be based on 'real' and lived experience, whether in the workplace, or through hobbies, leisure activities or in wellness practices.  I could see where competency-based education could be more conducive to 21st Century learning and prepare students for their life’s work.
There are no set rules for how learning takes place.  In theory the RISC model means that students can take as much time as they need to learn and develop. An open-ended commitment to an individual education would prove to be most difficult with the implementation of individual learning plans and assessment.  There would have to be some form of a time constraint.  I think that going from a time-based system to a competency-based system will be most difficult.  It would certainly require year-round school and a complete revamp of our thinking.  It will be interesting to watch trends, check achievement, and to see if this reform will take hold all over the country.

Armstrong, P. Raising standards: a creative look at competence and assessment and implications for mainstreaming in university adult education. Retrieved from: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00002988.htm 10/17/2010
Education Commission of the States. (1995, January). "Outcome-based" education: An overview. Denver, CO: Author. Retrieved from: http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/envrnmnt/go/go4outcm.htm
Vail, K. ( 2010, March) American School. Leveling the Field. Volume 197, No.3 pages 14-19