PodcastPodcastTch Talks 28: Playful Assessment


How might student learning improve if assessments were innovative, authentic, and playful?

Learning can — and should — be fun, but when it comes to assessment, teachers can be very serious. However, there’s no need for the fun to stop when the assessments come out. On this episode of Tch Talks, Dr. Yoon Jeon Kim, a research scientist at MIT Teaching Systems Lab, and Louisa Rosenheck, a designer and researcher of educational technologies in the MIT Education Arcade, come together to discuss how thoughtful design of authentic, creative, and playful assessments can engage students, help them to learn and grow, and allow them an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and abilities in a more personalized and meaningful way. YJ & Louisa — both self-proclaimed “assessment nerds” — discuss types of playful assessment, assessment tools, connections between assessment and social and emotional learning, and their shared goal of empowering teachers with assessment literacy. Perhaps, moving away from traditional assessments and embracing a little whimsy in the classroom just might be a key leverage point to impacting the way students learn in schools. Listen in to find out more.

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Disconnected: How Cutting My Home Internet Access Saved My Teaching Career

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When I started teaching 17 years ago, I began collecting tote bags. Fabric bags, plastic bags — even sturdy paper bags proved useful. On weekday afternoons, I loaded stacks of papers and sets of notebooks. In the evenings and on weekends, I unloaded the bags at my kitchen table or on my living room couch and spent hours at home assessing student work, providing feedback, and recording grades. When I finished a stack, I reloaded a tote and hauled it back to my classroom to start the cycle again. I worked this way for years.

Weaker bags never lasted long. The sides split or the handles ripped away. There were always so many papers, whether they were quick “Exit Tickets” or longer essay drafts, I couldn’t grade all of the work I assigned to my students during my planning periods. Most of my time at school not spent directly interacting with students went to attending meetings, contacting parents, searching for resources, making copies, and writing lesson plans. I had to take work home, I reasoned. I had to sacrifice time outside of the classroom to complete classroom duties. Taking work home was just part of the job. I continued to believe this even as my job slowly drained me.

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What to Watch: Get Lit with Digital Literacy

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The meaning of the term digital literacy has shifted over the years from basic competency to a more nuanced and all-encompassing proficiency that goes far beyond Google and Microsoft Word.

Today, digital literacy calls for students to develop the cognitive and technical skills required to use information and communication technologies:

  • To find information and explain ideas or concepts.
  • To apply information in new contexts.
  • To analyze information and make connections between concepts.
  • To evaluate and question their sources.
  • To draw a strong conclusion and justify a stand or decision.
  • To create a new or original product.
  • To communicate and share information.
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Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

No matter your content, we’ve got a video that will work for you to learn how to help your students level up with digital literacy. Check out these Teaching Channel videos this summer and add your favorites to your plans for the fall!

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Becoming a Connected Educator with Twitter

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Social media is more than posting pictures of your dog or finding new recipes. It’s one of the most powerful ways to refine your craft as an educator. For teachers, social media is a valuable resource for collecting new ideas, activities, and methods to bring into their classrooms.

In this video, Tch Laureate Kristin Gray talks about the impact of social media on her practice as a math specialist.

Social media, Twitter specifically, is a high impact form of professional development. In my time as a connected educator, I’ve gained more from my conversations on Twitter than any professional workshop, conference, or summit. This includes collaborating with teachers and administrators from around the globe, connecting with authors of popular books and subsequently Skyping with them during my classes, participating in Twitter chats, building relationships with nearby teachers and attending conferences together, and more. With today’s ever-changing world, teachers can’t afford to be disconnected from this platform. We owe it to ourselves and our students.

Whether you’re a new teacher and thinking about how you can join in the magic, or an experienced teacher looking for a way to grow your practice, follow these tips to help you get started.

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Tch Tips: 5 Easy Ways to Stay Connected Over the Summer

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Summer is here, so you’ve probably been off from school for at least a few weeks. Your brain may have finally shut off its “teacher mode” and that can be a great feeling. But believe it or not, some educators may already be wishing for the return of the connections and conversations teacher mode brings.

When I first started teaching and didn’t have kids of my own to deal with over summer break, I actually got a little lonely sometimes. I even opted to teach summer school (regretting that decision later!) because I missed my students and colleagues.

If you’re one of those educators missing that connection, here are a few ways you can stay in touch with colleagues without necessarily joining the summer school crew.

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What to Watch: Ready, Set, Get Organized!

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Does outstanding teacher organization make your heart skip a beat? Whether your teacher life is Instagram ready… or you’ve been searching for the secret to classroom zen since day one, these videos will help you create a more organized, peaceful, and supportive learning environment for the upcoming school year.

Create a Flow

A perfectly productive day in the classroom is a lot like a dance between you and your students. If you’d choreograph an upcoming dance number, why not choreograph your classroom this summer? Watch these videos to learn how you can create a flow, manage transitions, and create morning and end-of-day routines.

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What to Watch: Top-Notch Lessons from Tch Laureates

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Teaching Channel Laureates make visible their own problems of practice. They invite you to help them analyze their work, make refinements, and test out improvements with the ultimate goal of supporting all students to achieve at the highest levels possible. If you’re looking for a few top-notch lessons or strategies to take into the next school year, be sure to add these videos to your summer watching queue.

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Surviving the Search: Strategies for Success in the Job Hunt

Tchers' Voice Great ideas from passionate educators just like you.

It’s important to be clear up front: there’s no magic wand, no fool-proof plan, no “if you just do this” to getting a job. The entire process has too many variables. From the personal preference of the person making the hire, to the policies and procedures of the district’s HR department, it would be almost impossible to distill down the exact moves to make or things to say to guarantee success. However, over the last six years as department chair, I’ve personally made nine hires and been part of the interview teams that have hired 12 different administrators, including a superintendent. During that time, I’ve learned a few things that might help you in your search for the perfect teaching job.

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Real Ways School Leaders Can Build Morale and Reduce Stress in Schools

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Sponsored content provided by Concordia University-Portland.

Face it — schools can be stressful places to work, and that perpetual stress can take a serious toll on the faculty and staff. It’s normal to see slumps in staff morale and spikes in teacher stress throughout the year. During busy times, between vacations, at the end of the year, or during periods of change, school staff morale can fluctuate. But strong school leaders can learn to recognize the signs, kick into gear, and give everyone a boost.

Here are some great ways to combat the high-stress peaks and low-morale doldrums.

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