Tips for Teaching for Understanding: Ongoing Assessment

How do we navigate an open-ended classroom, with students working collaboratively while at the same time accurately assessing individual understanding? This is one of the primary challenges teachers face when making changes to their practice and adopting new techniques.

We want students to be driven by their innate curiosity and interests, but how can we chart this evenly across the entire roster of our class?

This simple question forces us to look into our philosophy on assessment. What is the purpose of assessment and how is it being used in our classes? With a shift towards understanding, over coverage, our assessments need to chart understanding and not simply give an evaluative snapshot. Let’s take a look at ongoing assessment. Continue reading “Tips for Teaching for Understanding: Ongoing Assessment”

Tips for Teaching For Understanding: Understanding Performances

Previously, we summarized what Understanding Goals are and their placement within the Teaching for Understanding framework. Let’s take a look at Understanding Performances to see how they relate.

The major difference between understanding goals (UGs) and understanding performances (UPs) is UGs state what students should understand while UPs are what students do to demonstrate their understanding. Continue reading “Tips for Teaching For Understanding: Understanding Performances”

A Framework for Teaching for Understanding

Every teacher incorporates, knowingly or not, a framework into their classroom practice. This is the skeleton, or bones, of a course and helps provide reference points for what needs to take place in class.

A framework is vital for a couple of reasons – to help consciously focus on your practice so that improvements can be made during reflection and also to create a way to discuss with other teachers how to institute necessary changes. Often times, we are tasked with collaborating with others and if we do not have a framework in place, there will be lots of frustration regarding what approach should be taken. How free are you to teach a shared course the way you want? Having a framework in place helps ease such tensions. Continue reading “A Framework for Teaching for Understanding”

Five Superpowers of Implementation of Project Zero

Tina Blythe left us with a final, inspirational message as we all began to stir for home with minds filled with ideas.

What have you found? Was it strategies or a mindset?

What will you do with it?

She reminded us that adaptation is not easy. Nothing works “out of the box”. The question became, how do you adapt with integrity? The ideas themselves should be what is essential about the framework (and don’t get hung up on terminology). Heading back to your context, what questions are people asking that you think PZ is the answer to? What needs are you addressing?

There are 5 Superpowers that we are now armed with as we venture back home.

  1. Professional Friendship – the contacts that we have made offer support, respect, and patience. We can always lean on others to gain perspective.
  2. Power of Failure – any complex system means it won’t be acquired easily and will take multiple drafts and attempts. Get comfortable with failure and ambiguity – as you should be modeling it for your students as well. Try at least one new thing, don’t go crazy, and fail “spectacularly”!
  3. Power of Wonder – we need more wonder in our classes and practices! Avoid being busy! Let things linger, use silence (W.A.I.T.) effectively, not everyone will agree! Slow down and absorb – we are born with a sense for wonder!
  4. Power of Questions – What do you think? What makes you say that? Could you please help me? Opt for inquiry over advocacy! Invite others to observe your class and invite feedback. Questions lead to process over product as the quality of the questions become more important than the answers. Open ended questions do not necessarily have straight forward answers – and complexity is not acquired easily.
  5. Power of One – when asked who is the most influential person in their life, 78% of people polled refer to a teacher. Students will experience relationships and will recall those more than the content they learned. Work on forming relationships with those around you.