I’ve always appreciated the simplicity of a K-W-L chart or table; on a very basic level, finding out what students know, determining what they want to know (or what is missing), and reflecting on the connections made between those two ideas has a straightforward appeal in explaining what is needed in teaching a specific topic or content area. On a larger scale, a simplistic, linear process or view of learning, is not enough; it requires a much more complex and comprehensive understanding of the teaching and learning dynamic between educator and learner. Assessment is a vital part of any teaching and learning process, by both the educator and the learner. While we can often find more ways to conduct assessment, as educators, we must be skilled and disciplined in determining the appropriate assessment that informs our teaching practice. The various forms of assessment can serve to improve our understanding of students and the learning that takes place in our classrooms, as well as how our own practice directly and indirectly impacts that learning experience. The pedagogy that drives that assessment in practice is equally as important as the tools we use and our implementation methods and strategies.
My Final Reflection Paper for the Practicum in Virtual Teaching and Learning course is an artifact of my mastery and use of assessment in my practice. This document meets SOE Goal 5 and ISTE (NETS-C) Standards 2b, 2g, 2h, and 3f.
Our team was tasked with teaching an online MinecraftEdu training course for teachers and facilitating their use of the gameworld in their respective classrooms. By examining the previous content material and tools with my peers, we revisited the goals and objectives of our course and determined what adjustments needed to be made to ensure that our content was relevant, current, and appropriate for our learners (teachers). However, we also had to go beyond that content and assess our course design, processes for supporting effective communication and dialogue, as well as consider or anticipate the gaps that needed to be filled.
We also measured our existing course material by reflecting on research and best practices about course design, online learning, and facilitating online learning communities. Throughout the course, we encouraged and monitored dialogue and resource sharing in the Google Community and in email communications with teachers, we observed and interacted with teachers in the MinecraftEdu gameworld, and we paid attention to transitions between game scenarios to ensure that teachers were supported.
Other logistical tools were used during the practicum that also provided our team with insight about what teachers would need. The registration form included some questions about each teacher’s prior experience with facilitating MinecraftEdu and what they expected to gain (outcomes) from the experience. Combining this data with what I was observing in the gameworld and my own understanding of what skills and knowledge would be needed to facilitate the experience, I was able to create a teacher study guide for completing the teacher training course. Another important factor in my assessment process was the lack of data collected about content or skills that I believed teachers would need; by factoring in these gaps of information, I was able to reorganize the staging and presentation of content to meet the teachers’ needs. By using flipped learning strategies, our team was also able to provide information that teachers needed that did not require our guidance to explain. It’s clear throughout this artifact that I valued assessment as an important tool in my teaching and facilitating of the online course.
Two important artifacts in meeting the ISTE (NETS-C) Standards are the Givercraft/Survivalcraft online teacher training site that I helped to develop for the Practicum in Virtual Teaching and Learning course, and a GiverCraft – Google+Community dialogue that I moderated along with my peers (the Google Community is private so this is a simplified view of the posts).
Through both artifacts, I supported teachers to differentiate instruction for their students and focus assessment on the dialogue and progress of students within the game as well as on their products of learning (individual wiki pages). I modeled effective course design and provided tools for formative and summative assessment that were well aligned with content and technology standards that teachers chose for their students. I provided guidance and modeled use of assessment tools within and outside of the gameworld and gave regular feedback to teachers including resource sharing, problem-solving, and supporting consensus building around game management issues.