All posts by John DeCarli

Reconsidering K–12 Assessment Formats

assessments_120x105Assessment in Education #2 … an ongoing series on assessment

What do we mean when we talk about assessments in education? Testing can provoke a lot of anxiety for students, parents, and teachers alike, so a close consideration of the goals of assessment is essential.

As we discussed last week, the billion-dollar assessment market is in flux. While this situation creates uncertainty, it also affords test makers, school systems, and other stakeholders a valuable opportunity to rethink the goals and the design of assessments. As a result, in the future we may see more models for assessments rooted in new educational philosophies. Although no assessment format is perfect, a few key models seem to endure.

Formative Assessments

Formative assessments offer instant information about a student’s educational progress. The goal of a formative assessment isn’t usually to gauge the efficacy of a teacher or a school, but rather to shed light on where students stand within a particular lesson, unit, or course. Think of these as the “present tense” of assessment: a snapshot of a student’s learning. Continue reading

The Past & the Future: Museums & Historical Societies

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For tourists in London, it’s hard to miss the city’s deep connection to history: it’s everywhere you look, indoors and out. But the Churchill War Rooms museum brings the city’s wartime history to life with a unique blend of the past and the future. The museum is a cavernous collection of preserved bunkers, allowing visitors to experience the same cold, cramped conditions military personnel did. Standing in the space, you can truly feel the looming threat of an attack overhead. And yet the War Rooms also features a glimpse into the future of museum design and education: a giant interactive timeline that uses digital technology to animate correspondences across Churchill’s life.

Victory sees museums and historical societies all over the world as untapped resources for classroom instruction, and even cutting-edge Ed Tech. These resources can help bring history into the future and make it relevant to new generations of students. And you don’t need to take students to Europe to achieve this. Just see what local institutions offer in your own area. Continue reading

Teaching a Holistic Approach to Writing

Here’s a scenario many educators are all too familiar with: a new writing assignment is met with blank stares, or worse, outright revolt.

We know that writing is key to literacy and is linked to great student success, so what’s the problem with this scenario? Instead of approaching writing as a chore, we should introduce students to a more holistic approach to writing. After all, writing isn’t just one thing. It’s a tool we use to communicate in many different scenarios. It speaks to many different audiences and serves many purposes. Taking this broader view can help convince students that, in fact, writing offers them quite a lot.

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Dual Language Programs and the Bilingual Advantage

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Students studying abroad in India

As a college student, I spent a semester studying abroad in Italy. My embarrassment stumbling over new words will be familiar to many language learners. Whether asking for directions, ordering food, or attending class, I struggled to keep up as I frantically translated my thoughts from English to Italian. One night, after one of those expansive, hours-long Italian dinners with friends, I realized with a start that I wasn’t translating in my head anymore. I was thinking in Italian for the first time, focusing on the conversation instead of grammar and syntax. It’s moments like these that make learning another language so rewarding.

Wouldn’t it be great if learners could experience this at age 8 instead of 18? That’s the kind of experience that dual language programs can provide. Continue reading