A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Trivia Crack and the History Teacher

I withheld as long as I could.

After several weeks of hearing about Trivia Crack, I succumbed. If you don't know the app, its Trivial Pursuit meets Wheel of Fortune meets Jeopardy. It is also addictive. I am currently playing about 10 games with friends at the same time.

Shock of shocks--my best area is history. Shock of shocks (the sequel)--my worst area is sports, followed closely by science.

Here is the question I have...Is Trivia Crack a useful tool for an educator. Its popular and fun to play, but does it (or any trivia game) show learning has taken place? In some ways, a comprehensive test (multiple choice, true and false, blah blah blah) is a kissing cousin to Trivia Crack isn't it? How well can you regurgitate data?

I prefer assessments which require more than just data regurgitation. Writing a paper. Analyzing a map, photograph or piece of art. Creating a podcast or documentary. Show me you know the data by showing me how you'd use the data.

Now, data regurgitation has a place in the classroom. The 'teachery' jargon is formative versus summative assessments. Formative assessments are those checks while you are in learning mode. Data regurgitation can be a useful formative tool. Summative is an assessment at the end--what did you learn and how can you use that information in a meaningful way? My feeling is that a summative assessment needs to go beyond data regurgitation.

I remember reading a story about a class that had an all-day project. A farmer unloaded a huge pumpkin to the school's doorstep. It was far too large to get the pumpkin in through the doors. So the student's worked all day to figure it our. They had to use math to figure out slope and calculate measurements. They had to communicate with each other by writing out questions and the corresponding answers in a way others could understand, interpret and respond to. They employed scientific method. They had to learn from mistakes without letting the mistakes consume them. In the end they had to report their findings, whether they were successful or not. As a teacher, its hard to manage chaos and not feel the need to jump in and 'help.' Its difficult as a parent as well. However, I love the idea that we hand the kids the keys and say, we trust you enough to get out of the way. To me, that is where you get a real assessment of the work you've done.

As I've been writing, I realized that this is a new thought for me. I've written about this idea before. Here is that link.

As I've said before, this is a place for me to dump ideas. So I can remember them again in the coming months. Consider these thoughts on assessment dumped...besides, my computer just let me know its my turn, pray I don't get sports or science this time.

BTW-happy holidays for the folks who read this blog.

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