Colin's Sandbox

Assessing Students, er, Teachers

by on Apr.10, 2013, under #diffimooc

Now that the testing madness is over I’ve been working with the members of my group increasingly over the past few days in getting ready to roll out MinecraftEdu in Nathan’s classroom as well as to check out another teacher’s program that is already in progress.  Very exciting – what started as a personal obsession is being taken on whole hog by others with me moving more and more into the support role.

I shared my NETS-C Rubric with members of my group and I received some mixed results.  A big concern one teacher identified was to not take up too much of the teachers’ time in creating units for Minecraft, which I agree with completely.  I do think that the biggest portion of planning for something like this is all of the communication aspects, such as utilizing Google Docs, or a Wiki, or *something* in order to facilitate collaboration between groups of students, as well as the formats for project publication.  The good news is that the time spent on working on that sort of communication and project framework is directly applicable to other projects, so I view it as time well spent.

How to assess progress along the rubric however?

For the students’ side of the unit, Anne has signed on to develop a pre/post test for measuring student progress, although we discussed this morning with Nathan some limitations with this approach, as it would be hard without a large number of students to measure performance gains with this approach.  I suggested a more qualitative approach to measuring level of engagement and ability to transfer knowledge to other areas.

But what about measuring the teachers’ progress?

I don’t think a pre and post assessment applies here but I do think a simple checklist meets the needs.  Most of the items on the rubric lend themselves well to simple binary logic, answering questions such as: has the teacher worked with the students to select and define a real world problem?  Has the teacher implemented a good communication workflow to assist student collaboration?  Since the “high” qualification for items in the rubric were planned for as much classroom and community participation as possible (i.e. using online resources such as Google Docs), assessment should be easily possible.  The difference between “Moderate” and “Needs Improvement” levels of achievement are harder to monitor since by design they signify reduced openness in the curriculum.  Perhaps my rubric should instead just be a larger series of small Yes/No suggestions instead of hard and fast graded rubric items.  As it stands now, I’ll likely have to rely on direct observation while in the classroom to accurately identify levels of achievement.

“Classroom” Management

In the past few weeks my “classroom”, which I would call the members of my group whom I assist, has seemed to become for the most part self-managing.  Nathan has goals on how he wants to approach the creation of a Minecraft LAN program at his school involving his tech people, Anne is heavily involved in creating a world and working on assessment, Chip has been invaluable in our Google Hangout sessions as a moderator as well as working on “The Monster Lobe” unit and possible other suggestions for expanding what we’ve done so far in new ways.  Others have been contributing feedback to aspects of our unit as well (thanks Adrianna and Tracey!).  We have been most active over our email group, Google Hangout, and back channel IMs.  For the size of the loose ad-hoc group that we have it seems to be an ideal set of mediums.  If we had a larger group it may be more difficult to keep the chaos on track.but for now I think we are OK.

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