Archive for March, 2010

Moving Toward Collective Intelligence from Collective Stupidity Part 1

A critical aspect of Web 2.0  is the concept that when people are connected, they create  a collective intelligence.  I would like to offer another view.  Science shows us that water will move to the lowest point , it seeks the lowest point in a river stream to flow.  If there is a break in the bank that is lower than the stream, than the stream flows in that direction.   Likewise, a chain breaks at its weakest link. In a class room, one  student can destroy a small group or even a class discussion.

In addition, a extreme amount of water becomes a flood which destroys the river bank and other objects.  Too many tall trees kill the smaller trees in a forest.  A mob operates at a very basic level,  not at the highest level of thinking.

The act of merely being connected does not provide “collective intelligence”.  We educators have to create the structure for changing from possible “collective stupidity” to “collective intelligence”.

My  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

My book,  Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Reponding to Your Students

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Opening Students’ Minds in Formative Assessment

I had the good fortune to present a full day  formative assessment workshop to a great group of teachers on Friday. They listened, asked questions and created their own formative assessment materials.

During the workshop, I stressed that after we have presented the information and students demonstrate that they do not “get it”, we need to either drastically paraphrase the information or give an entirely different strategy for learning it.  During the workshop, I used several metaphors

Students have a one channel TV.  Although they have the option of many different stations, they stick to one only. When they do not get any reception on that one channel, they do not switch to another way. We have the responsibility to show them how to use the other stations so that they can move forward in their formative assessment.

Students get stuck in a rut when they cannot understand what we present. That rut prevents them from moving forward. We have to help them get out of the rut by providing them with a new strategy for understanding the learning goal. That formative assessment strategy enables them to start back on their learning.

Some quotes about a closed mind or looking at a problem in only one way.

“If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”

“Our first problem is not to learn but to unlearn, to clear out some of the old assumptions (ways of thinking and doing).” G. Steinem

“If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.”  V Hill

“Half of being smart is knowing what you’re dumb at.”

“It is not a disgrace to start over, it is usually an opportunity.”

“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.” F Zappa

“A closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood”  Chinese Proverb

“A closed mind is a good thing to lose.”

How do you open your students’ minds so that they can learn the critical learning goals in your subject?

My  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

My book,  Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Making Final State Exam Review into Formative Assessment for Higher Scores

I was talking to a teacher who has been reviewing for the  state assessment (New York State Regents) since January. I asked what he has done. He has taken a part of the regents exam and has had students do some practice activities. When I asked how his students were doing, he responded that they seemed to be doing fine. I asked how he knew and he answered that they did all the activities.

I suggested a different approach.  He can  pre-assess each part of the regents to find out  in which parts the students presently do well and in which parts they need improvement. If all students can do a part well, then they do not need to practice it.   Then once the teacher knows which parts are areas of weakness and determines what the actual gap is, the teacher finds  a new strategy or a new way of thinking about that specific learning  goal. The students use the new strategy on practice activities.  One or more  of the practice  activities become a formative assessment to determine well they are doing. The teacher diagnoses whether students have learned the goal to the desired level or whether they need another strategy if the initial strategy has not work.  When the teacher constantly is monitoring, diagnosing, giving feedback, and allowing time for improvement, students move forward.  Students who use formative assessment in their state exams will score much higher!

How do you “review” for the big state test or the final?

Formative Assessment books by Harry Grover Tuttle

Formative assessment keeps students from getting stuck in pot holes

The more I teach and the more I observe other teachers, the more I see formative assessments as avoiding or filling in the pot holes as soon as they show up in students’ learning.  Our students can only hit so many pot holes in their learning before they get an educational flat and cannot continue.  If students do not get the help to overcome these pot holes, then they give up. The students know when they hit a pot hole but they do not know how to avoid it in the future.  If we do not give them a new strategy, then they will continue to hit the same pot hole in their learning. They will get stuck and not be able to proceed forward in their learning.  Let’s keep students on the road to learning, not stuck  in their learning gap pot holes!

Formative Assessment books by Harry Grover Tuttle

Textbooks – Not sufficient for students to be proficient.

I recently had the opportunity to examine three textbooks all written at the same time.  They all claimed to be standards based.

I was shocked by the differences.  Each had the same critical information but one textbook  just showed the essential information and then had an exercise, another explained how to do it but provided no exercises, and the third talked about it generally. Even though I teach the subject, I found many of the exercises confusing or not focusing on the standard.  None of the textbook had sufficient information to guide the student from knowing nothing about the topic to be able to use the information.   To accompany the information, one had up to many colorful pictures, a second had quotations, and the third had news articles.

How can a book claim to be standards-based if it does not guide the student from the very beginning stages through to the proficient stage?  A book has to explain the information so the student understands it,  see the specific forms, and uses these forms in meaningful ways. Hopefully, these books will provide  formative assessments that permit the student to assess how well he/she is doing and to learn a new strategy to overcome any gaps.  Let’s convince textbook publishers to move from  seeing the  “cuteness” of the subject to moving the student forward to success.

How well does your textbook guide the student to success?

My  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

My book,  Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Reponding to Your Students


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