Ripples & Reflections

"Learning is about living, and as such is lifelong." Elkjaer.


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Google Certified Educator

Today I took the Google Certified Educator (Level 1) test for a few reasons:

  1. GCE_Badges_01To check my own competence in Google Apps for Education basics.
  2. To see how long it would take, with an eye on how we might support colleagues in taking the test themselves (e.g. PD time, cover or an event).
  3. To see how it might support our colleagues in getting up to speed at school in connection with our use of EdTech and integration in classes.

I can’t write too much as participants need to sign an NDA before beginning, but here are some basics. 

To register, sign up here and pay USD $10. It might take a day or two to get your web-assessor account, then you have seven days to complete the test (in a single sitting).

Participants are allowed three hours for the test, during the entirety of which your webcam is on. It starts with some multi-choice questions and then leads into a series of scenarios were you have to work in Google Apps to complete a range of tasks (they create a model environment for you for the test, it does not use your own account). From mail, calendars and docs, to classroom, forms, sites and more, it is a pretty thorough assessment for getting going.

It took me almost 1 1/2 hours to complete, but I already know my way around Google Apps. There is a lot of reading and flicking between tabs – and EAL participants or new users might need the full amount of time. Fortunately there is a progress bar and each of the eleven tasks are similar in their time demand. I have not taken Level 2 yet, as I predict it will take longer, but plan to do so soon.

Applications as a tech leader/ co-planner

A small team of us have been working on connecting ISTE standards to IB ATL skills and from that starting to outline a ‘tech drivers’ license’ for teachers and students. I think this test would be a useful validation for teachers getting started in GAFE at our school, and maybe something they work towards over the year. We would need to structure PD time or support with this.

I can see the value in even advanced users taking this test, as it will give some empathy or insight into starting over again and will help support colleagues. A reminder of the basics for efficient and effective use of Google Apps should help us help our colleagues do the best things, with less stress. I did learn some efficiencies.

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Footnote 

There are quite a few companies out there offering (pretty pricey) training towards this test. If you have enough techy types in your own school, it’s be hard to justify that investment. The test is only $10 per person. I imagine that once you get beyond the basic competence, some more ‘transformative’ PD would be a better return on investment for teachers.

Resources

Eric Curts (@ericcurts) has a couple of useful skills audits online:

 

Update: Sept 2017

We have these tools available in our school, and I want to make the best use of them, but am wary of advertising/branding teachers or schools as X-product. There is a very thought-provoking piece in the New York Times here.

 


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Capturing the Curriculum, Criteria & “Zooming In”

Shortlink to this resource: is.gd/mypassess

Update Sept. 5 2017 based on edits summarized in this update from the IB.

Big Update Dec. 2 2017: added subject group overview (curriculum articulation) tabs for each subject group, with data validation for key, related concepts, ATL. 

If you find this useful, please consider making a donation to one of my chosen charities through Biology4Good

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Capturing the Criteria (and the Curriculum)

After some parent-teacher conferences recently, I was asked to show all of the MYP assessment criteria together and realised I couldn’t find something that met our needs for a single-reference, quick overview of the MYP assessment objectives and criteria.

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 17.52.59Here is an attempt to put the big ideas and rubrics together in one place, so that colleagues can quickly see vertical and horizontal articulation and connections, and so that parents have a resource to hand to help understand assessment.

You might find it useful.

To make your own copy, click “File –> Make a copy”.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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Disclaimers:

  • This involved a lot of clicking and is bound to have some errors. Big thanks to Mitsuyo-san, our data secretary, who helped with this. 
  • Descriptors in bold did not make it across from text to spreadsheet. Use original descriptors in student assignments.
  • This is intended only as an overview of the programme. Teachers must exercise caution with this, and default to the published guides on the OCC for assessment rubrics, clarifications, rules and guidance.

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Zooming In: Focus on what’s important in assessment

Edit: added 3 May 2017

Why the green bands? 

In each of the subject-area bands, you’ll find the Level 5-6 row accented with green. This is part of something I’m trying to work on with colleagues and students in terms of zooming into the objectives-level of assessment, and was something I used in #HackTheMYP.

The basic idea is this: 

  1. As a model of a 4-band rubric, we typically see the third band as ‘meets objectives‘. This means that the rows below are approaching and above are exceeding.
    • Try it: add up the scores for all 5, all 6 or a combination thereof. What does it come to when you apply the total to the 1-7 conversion chart? This is the kid that meets the outcomes of our core curriculum. 
  2. When we focus only on the top-band descriptors we may inadvertently end up doing one of two things:
    • Causing students to get stressed by default as they’re aiming for the ‘exceptional’ descriptors first. “The gap” between where they are and want to be is too big; or,
    • Falsely making our core expectations for all students fit the 7-8 band, thus leaving nowhere to go from there – creating a “low ceiling” and no room for extension into genuinely meeting those top descriptors.
  3. If we zoom into the 5-6 band first – in task design and as a student – we are able to set an appropriate expectation for all learners, see how and where to scaffold and support those who need it, and provide a “high ceiling” for innovation, application, analysis, synthesis, etc.
  4. It should then become easier to create the task-specific clarifications. If we can clearly describe the 5-6 “core” band first, we should then make sure that the levels above and below can be really clearly distinguished. In my experience, this is easier than starting at the top and working back.

If you’ve tried this idea (or similar), how did it go?

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For a similar discussion and great resources, but in an SBG context, check out Jennifer Gonzalez’s (@cultofpedagogy) posts on the “single point rubric”:


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Standardization: Cycling away from the moderation “event”

A quick post to share a resource, based on some of our work at CA. I love cycle diagrams and was thinking about the process of moderation, planning and the challenges of effective collaboration when there are grades (and a big pile of ‘done’ grading) at stake. 

If you’ve ever tried to ‘moderate’ work that’s based on two or more teachers’ hours of effort in grading, you’ll recognise the challenge. The proposal here is to reframe stadardization as a cycle – various points of entry to working together on a common understanding of assessment – so that teachers align their assessment standards more closely. Post-hoc moderation events may tend towards defense of our own grading work; who wants to go back and change all that work?

Do you think you could put the cycle to work in your own context? 


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Don’t feel hopeless, despite the world right now.

Students and adults alike are confused and worried about the state of the world right now, including me. Here is an attempt to use the Learner Profile to buoy IB students and to boost the Biology4Good project with donations to organizations helping the refugee crisis.

i-Biology

learner-profile-sticker-englishoptmized IB Learner Profile 

With the world at fever-pitch for humanitarian crises, discrimination, a swing to the political right and environmental problems becoming compounded, it can seem like we are powerless to make a change.

This might be even more true if you are underage, personally affected (directly or indirectly), a holder of a sensitive passport, living in a delicate location or even shielded from the reality of the situation by the privileged bubble of international schooling. But it does not need to be hopeless.

Our missions as IB schools and international schools around the world should be in clear focus right now. Our education, through the disciplines, service, TOK, approaches to learning and international mindedness is our toolbox as a global citizens.

You can help and give without putting yourself (or those around you) at risk. Here are some suggestions, framed through the Learner Profile.

Be Caring

Above all…

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How International Is Our School? MA Dissertation

This post is to store and share my MA Dissertation.

A pilot-test of a visualization and set of evaluation rubrics for factors affecting the promotion of international-mindedness and global engagement (IMaGE) of a school.

After starting this investigation with my Education in an International Context paper, and building on it through Research Methods in Education, I refined the idea, developed the rubrics and dug deeper into the research literature in the process. Through the process I learned a lot about the current state of research in international education, and I think the continued development of the web chart and rubrics could be a a never-ending task.

The end goal of the dissertation was to pilot-test a draft of the rubrics using a cross-section of volunteers from my own school. This allowed me to see the issue from different perspectives within the school, to test the rubrics (and statistics), and to spot issues and errors in the tools. I thank them all for their time and interesting perspectives.

The further I got into this research, the more concerned I became with the issue of homogenization (Fertig, 2007, 2015) or isomorphism (Shields, 2015), in international education. I see these issues as potentially a significant limitation to the applicability of a tool such as this, or any other which applies a universal set of descriptors to a global industry. Where the design of the project intended to try to capture the diverse and often hidden elements that contribute towards as schools IMaGE development, I worry that working towards a set of prescribed descriptors may pull a school away from the context-specific ‘unpredictables’ that make it international (and interesting) in its own right.

How do we strike the balance between observing and enhancing the ‘IMaGE’ of the school with the tendency towards a sterile centre-ground?

I’m not sure at this point what life this research will have beyond the MA, but I remain interested in its development, testing and critique.

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Quick References:

Full references for the dissertation are included in the uploaded document, with live links where possible. These few are of particular interest. 

Fertig, M., 2007. International school accreditation: Between a rock and a hard place? Journal of Research in International Education, 6(3), pp.333–348.

Fertig, M., 2015. Quality Assurance in National and International Schools: Accreditation, Authorization and Inspection. In Hayden, M., Levy, J. & Thompson, J. (7th Edition). The SAGE Handbook of Research in International Education. pp. 447-457.

Shields, R., 2015. Measurement and Isomorphism in International Education. In Hayden, M., Levy, J. & Thompson, J., 2015. The SAGE Handbook of Research in International Education. (7th Edition). London, UK: SAGE Publications Ltd. pp.477-487.

The whole of The SAGE Handbook of Research in International Education (7th Ed) is an important read for anyone looking for the current state of play for international education research. I wrote a brief recommendation here.

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The full dissertation (edited lightly for upload) is posted below.