Assessment: Who’s in Control…of the Fear

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Photo used under Creative Commons from PhoTones_TAKUMA

Originally posted on Embed_Ed Tech blog

Back in March I wrote a post about answering the question: What if students were able to choose when and what they wanted to be assessed on?  Through answering that question my colleagues and I have come up with a framework that allows students to choose not only their own assessment product (essay, experiment, video, website, expert talk, etc), but also the objectives by which they will be assessed.  Students are grappling with what our MYP objectives are and how best to ensure that their progress over the year matches the objectives by which they must demonstrate their learning . . . and it’s freaking me out!

Last night I had a moment of panic lying in bed and I was tempted to throw in the towel and call the whole thing off when I realized how little I was in control.  How in the world am I going to manage all these independent inquiries?  What if someone slips through the cracks?  Are they really learning enough content?  Are they making connections to our concepts?  Everything that I could imagine going wrong was flying through my brain.  However, as I began to reflect on why I was afraid of the process I began to realize that it was due to the unknown, and not knowing if this thing is really going to work.  That’s when the light came on that I am right in the middle of my own personal inquiry cycle.  More importantly, I realized that many of my students are most likely also feeling fear and anxiety at various points in their own inquiry.  

So this morning, I acknowledged my fears, reflected on what was causing them, then tackled the issues in my classes today.  I still don’t what the end of this whole process will be, but I know that tomorrow we’ll be having a brief opening to class where we talk about our fears, and how to overcome them in our own personal inquiries and journeys as learners!

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5 Responses to Assessment: Who’s in Control…of the Fear

  1. whatedsaid says:

    I love this post, Brian. I admire your courage in letting go and your honesty at how scary it feels not to be in control. I love the realisation that you are all inquiring together. And especially that last paragraph, in which you talk with the learners about about the learning, the process, the fears, the challenges… so many teachers only ever talk about the content of the curriculum.

  2. tasha cowdy says:

    Great post! It makes me imagine what it would be like if the approach you describe was embedded in school culture, right from early childhood, and was followed consistently all the way through to high school. A community of inquirers and learners, where everyone shares control of their learning. How powerful that would be! : )

    • brianneises says:

      Tasha, I think you’ve got a great point! One of the main goals of our approach is to align better with what is happening in the PYP where inquiry is standard. In the Middle Years I feel we lose the inquiry focus (as Darryl has pointed out in his recent post!). We’re fighting to keep inquiry, and actually boost the role of the student in that process as they cognitively develop through adolescence.

  3. Blessina says:

    Great post

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