I thought about @bgrasley’s post and some of the comments on his post all the way to school and decided to write this one.
To test or not to test. To me this is your choice, if you want to test go for it. If you don’t want to then find suitable alternative ways to evaluate your students’ learning. Yes we have to put grades/marks on our students’ report cards but is a test the only way we can do this or can we find rich meaningful ways that we can also do it? Can we give them critical thinking tasks; ask them to analyse and synthesize information; find alternative strategies to solve problems; etc? I find the concept that we must give our students tests to prepare them for high school or university a very confusing one.
My students just finished their language and their history inquiry projects. For history, 32 students out of 35 send me their work electronically – informational posters; letters; diary entries; vlogs; reports; videos, etc. They were allowed to choose whatever format they wanted.
This week my daughter who is in grade 12 had to choose an article in the news and create a collage to depict certain concepts in it. She found a program on the internet and used it to create a fantastic collage but to her dismay it would not print the way she wanted it to. I suggested that she send it electronically to her teacher. My daughter suggested that this was a no no. She started to stress our about this collage and wanted to use her backup one, which printed but was in no way as good as her original. I pushed and told her to explain to the teacher what happened and if he wanted a hard copy then I would take it to Staples to get it printed off. Thankfully, her teacher accepted the electronic copy.
My reason for sharing this story is because we have been talking quite a bit about doing students a disservice or not preparing them for high school by not giving them tests but what about the big move by elementary schools to use more electronics in the classroom. Quite a few high schools I know do not allow electronics in the classroom so what about the disservice here? Many elementary teachers are allowing students to use electronics to show their learning; they are doing inquiry in the classrooms; they are doing authentic tasks and using a wide variety of strategies for problem solving; there is a big focus on collaboration so are we preparing them for life in high schools where this type of teaching is not necessarily happening? Already, this year, my students have wowed me with the learning that they are sharing; the types of things that they are interested in learning about; and the tools that they are using to share this learning. Should we be returning to pen and paper tasks; all kids doing the same activity; the turn off electronics policy when you enter the door? I’m not sure, but if this is the case then I am more than willing to do my students a disservice. What about you?