Tech Integration Workshop - Step 11: Gather a Body of Evidence

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Lesson & Action Guide

Hello once again and welcome back to the Tech Integration Workshop here at SchoolTechnology.Org.  My name is Brad Flickinger, and welcome to Step 11 of our 12-Step series here - and it is called “Gather a Body of Evidence.”

Now, as we have talked in the past, back in the first couple of Steps, we use a K-T-E-C System, so K is for Knowing, T is for Training, E is for Embedding - and now we are finally at C, which means to Check on the work that has been done.  And this is what this is all about:  A body of evidence is all those little pieces you put together that PROVES your teachers and your students have 21st Century Skills in your Building.  And that is what it is all about - that body of evidence.

Because remember, for the most part - I mean, it is starting to get a little more popular out there - but for the most part none of the skills that you have taught these students will show up on a standardized State or National test.

Now, 21st Century Skills are being added to a lot of State testing.  But for right now, like in my State of Colorado, everything I have taught them about podcasting, and creativity, and collaboration - all those things like that - would just not show up in a normal standardized test.  So you need to have a different way of collecting the data.

And really we said 21st Century Skills deserves 21st Century assessment - and so we get little artifacts; digital artifacts are what you are looking for.

So we want to celebrate the successes of the students.  So students that were shy are now suddenly doing podcasts, or movies - those types of things; that had a hard time in other academic areas can excel in animation and… you know, it just… So you want to find all those moments when the whole system is working and students are having a great time, teachers are having a great time, and you want to celebrate those with either an evening of showing things off, or an assembly - whatever - but find a way to celebrate the successes in your Building.

And of course I don’t mind putting in a little bit of a competition and awards.  Now I spread out my awards; so for example when we make a documentary, we have “Overall Best Documentary,” we have “Best Cinematography,” “Best Sound…” So we have different categories so that there are different winners in there.  And it is not like we are trying to give a blue ribbon to everybody for participating because I don’t think that is authentic.

But I think if someone really has exceptional, let’s say, cinematography; how they film everything is so beautiful, see you can use that the next year when you show the upcoming students, and say, “Now, why did this one win Best Cinematography? Why did this one win Best Sound?”  And all the kids are like “Oh, you know, because we can understand everything that’s being said, and the sound track’s not too loud…”  All those things you collect, all those things - and of course these students walk home with an award for doing something really, really good on a project.

And so we have competitions in my schools with all these digital artifacts, and then we have little awards; and we just get simple trophies and those types of things to give out.

Now, you can see I crossed out here this whole idea of “Audience of One.”  And that is because these kids work hard to produce all these things and now it is time to put them out there for the world to see, in a SAFE way.  So you don’t want to be putting their full name and address and those types of things.

But your school website should have some type of an area where you show off the best of student work.  So you show all the best web shows and podcasts and documentaries and animations and all those things; best writing, best photos… those types of things all should go in some type of Showcase so that these kids can get home and realize their aunt and uncles can come to see it; everybody in the WORLD can come to see it - and they just LOVE that idea of being open to the whole world.  And it is great that way.

And also it is really important to gather what I am calling “Best of” examples - again going back to the awards that are given out for like cinematography and sound and stuff.

But think of it from a teacher’s point of view, not a student’s point of view.  So if you have a teacher working on a great digital product, you want to get like the BEST example from the school so when NEW teachers come in, they can go online and see, “Oh! THAT’S what it means when we were going to do an animation about cell structure!” because you are showing them the best possible one there is.  Don’t show them the cheesy ones - show them the really GOOD stuff, so that the teacher goes, “Okay, we are going to use clay, and we’re going to do it this way; and we’re going to take photos, and it is going to end up being an animation.”  They will get it once they can see those “Best of” examples.

And I also like to survey my students with just a simple little survey, just asking how much they enjoyed these projects, what could we do better, what could we do different; what would they do if they were in our shoes - those types of things.

Because, you know, when I gather them all up and look at them over the summer, when I make all the changes to the curriculum and to the ideas, it’s good to look at them with, well, you know, you have got to kind of weigh it out for how much weight you might put on a student survey because sometimes they might be very opinionated in one way or another; just because student doesn’t like to write they might go, you know, “Way too much writing.” Now, that doesn’t really play out.

But you should look for trends though.  So if all of them are saying, “Oh, the project was just way too long,” you go, “Well, okay, let’s not do a five-minute documentary - let’s do a three-minute documentary.  Those types of things are what you are looking for.

And most importantly, when my teachers go back and take the self-assessment that is on Atomic Learning, this is what I am really looking for, is them to come to me and say, “Mr. Flick, look at where we’re at now.”  And you know, I don’t have access to what their information is, but they voluntarily bring it to me and say, “Look at what has happened to ME! I had no idea what a Wiki was..” or a blog - all these things.  And now their classroom is doing all these things and they can show their results from their self-assessment, and they are very happy with it.

And number one is that the STUDENTS are very happy with being able to acquire 21st Century Skills.  So THEIR self-assessment is way up, that they take on Atomic Learning.

So suddenly, you know, we are seeing these big, huge leaps in one or two years of students now having great 21s Century Skills.  And THAT is what it is all about.

So gather all this body of evidence - because in Step 12 we are going to talk about making just those minor improvements that you need to do to it.