Evaluation is a vital part of healthy programs and projects. Without it, how does one measure success or failure. We would continue pulling the cart with square wheels, even though a better solution is right there. This course made me realize the essential role evaluation plays in the area of educational technology (as well as other programs and projects). As I’ve mentioned before, prior to this course, I understood and witnessed many school districts misusing technology or wasting money on new technology they believed was the answer to their problems. Now I understand what was missing. EVALUATION!
As I move forward in my career and in my role as a technology teacher and leader, I plan to communicate the importance of evaluation before, during, and after implementation. I want to use evaluation to make a difference in my district.
Throughout this semester the element that has stuck out the most is authenticity. Project Based Learning is about providing students with authentic, relevant, inquiry based learning experiences. Without the authenticity you just have another meaningless or meaning-lite activity. The authentic projects provide applicable and often lifelong lessons.
I guess what I understand least, would be how to properly assess students. There are soo many methods and assessment can be very time consuming in both the development and actual assessment process. I would like to understand more about efficiently and effectively assessing all aspects of the project.
In this course I expected more content about PBL. I expected to do more reading about what it was, the various elements, the research, etc. Instead, we learned about the elements and how to apply them through the creation of an actual unit.
First of all, I hope to use my project at some point and I would like to develop others in the future, although I think I would rather work with a team of teachers. I also plan to use the resources gathered from the course to find already develop projects I can adapt to my needs.
Here is the link to my final project: Business Savvy
After a quick and overwhelming semester my evaluation has come to an end. I was surprised at how easily this flowed as I started writing out the report. I’m pretty satisfied with my final project, and I feel that I have concise and complete report providing clear results of the project. I feel that the length of the report made it easier for me, because I didn’t have to find ways to add material to increase the length. I was actually forced to shorten some sections to reduce the page count.
I too struggled with the budget because I didn’t really put a full day into the report. It was pieces of days throughout the summer, so my estimate is very rough. I also found it challenging to evaluate a project in which I have very little subject knowledge (networking). This lack of knowledge created a new challenge when meeting with the technology specialist to gather data. Maybe this is why so many of the job ads we discussed in week 6 required experience in the field.
I was overwhelmed at the start of the semester, but value the knowledge gained about the importance and practical application of program evaluation. I hope to apply this in the coming years in my career as an educator or in helping schools with technology integration.
Attached is a copy of my final Evaluation Report Project.
One of the best pieces of advice given to me by my former senior pastor was to immediately reflect and take notes about projects or events. If you don’t do it immediately he said you would put it off and forget to do it and when it came time to holding a similar event or project you would often fail to learn from the successes and failures of the past. Well, it took me awhile to catch on, I had to learn myself I guess, but I’ve finally begun to apply this advice to my teaching and plan to do so more diligently this school year.
Reflection by the teacher is perhaps one of the most valuable tools of instruction, but probably seldom used. I find the best resource to use in my post-project reflection is the students. I often conclude a project by asking students what worked and what didn’t. I usually include these questions during a project as well, especially during those frustrating moments when they all seem to be having problems or questions. It can sometimes be difficult to elicit valuable responses from students, most likely because they aren’t used to being asked or answering this type of question from a teacher. Honest, reflective responses from students are vital in helping me adjust my instruction.
As a specials teacher I see 5 different grades each day, all with very different projects. To help myself keep track of which class is where, at the end of each day, and sometimes at the end of each class, I take a few minutes to make notes about progress, successes, failures, etc. This becomes an invaluable tool of reflection from day to day, week to week, and even year to year as it allows me to improve upon instruction as I learn from what does or doesn’t work. It’s an ongoing process, and there is always something new to learn or some minor tweaks to make to improve the project or instruction.
For many teachers, stepping into the role of a facilitator rather than lecturer is a great struggle. It is difficult to relinquish that control and give students some freedom to ask questions, attempt to solve problems, fail, and take some liberties in the direction of their learning. I feel that I have always found a good balance between the two in my personal teaching. As an elementary teacher, I still find traditional teaching necessary, but in short bursts with authentic practice and application.
As an effective educator in the 21st century I believe our role must change. Education is no longer about finding the right answers. Technology does that for us. We must move into the role of teaching students to ask the right questions, how to research, how to discern the validity of sources.
Effective teachers of the 21st century are patient. They are eager to see students succeed with as little intervention as necessary. They allow time for students to explore, discover, and fail. Yes, fail. Failure is ok and students must understand that. A facilitator is able to take a step back when they see a student may fail, but they are there to guide the student through that failure and ask the questions to guide them through a new approach.
One of my largest struggles with facilitating a PBL unit, is pushing through the failures of my own design. PBL is not easy. There are always kinks and snags, some of which turn into holes and tares. Part of this I think is due in part to the freedom I give students. As mentioned in this video, students get frustrated and shut down when they get behind. I need to do a better job of helping each student or group manage their tasks, as well as checking in to make sure groups are on task and on schedule.
When thinking of scaffolding, “we tend to think of structures thrown up alongside of buildings to support workers in their skyward efforts.”
I agree, scaffolding is structure, but I think another key element to scaffolding is support. Scaffolding is a system of structure and support. I’ve tried more of a discovery approach with several projects giving students very little guidance in order to let them learn to solve problems on their own. These projects generally turn out to be nightmares. They do not go in the direction I had envisioned and my time is spent answering questions and pushing students along because it just isn’t clear what they are to do.
Continuing with the building scaffolding illustration, the scaffolding is a guide to the workers. Workers can see where they must work and the direction in which the work is moving. The scaffolding is safe and provides an efficient means for construction. Scaffolding in PBL must be the same way. It should provide learners with a clear sense of direction. They will know where they can move in order to stay within the supports and they will have a clear sense of the direction they are to go.
In my project “Business Savvy” I plan to support students through demonstrating the goal of the project. Students will get a clear sense of direction through rubrics and good and bad examples of completed project segments. I plan to guide students by creating resources and providing links to resources I’ve already approved and know will be of use. This is a large project, so it’s success depends on the use of scaffolding to provide a clear sense of direction to keep students moving forward.
I have very little in the form of assessments at this current stage in the project but I feel the assessments I do have, provide a meaningful tool to guide teachers, but more importantly, students. My initial pre-assessment isn’t necessarily authentic, but it provides the teacher with valuable information about where to go with the instructional portions of the project, while providing students with an outline for what they are expected to learn through the experience. By ending with the same assessment both teacher and students gain a clear picture of the knowledge gained in relation to entrepreneurship.
With group projects such as this, that allow students some freedom in the direction they take, a teachers time is often consumed with answer questions and “putting out fires.” This creates a problem when it comes to monitoring the progress of each group. The exit card I’ve designed provides students with a tool to measure their progress and address questions or concerns. The teacher can also use this to ensure the group is on track and they can address the questions or concerns they may not have been available to address during class. To instill a small sense of ownership, some blank rows are left to add to the checklist as students find tasks that may have been left out.
Finally, the Business Plan and Presentation Rubric is a tool with relevance to the students. It provides a clear model of what an exceptional finished product must contain. Prior to beginning the business plan, groups will receive the rubric and it will be discussed orally with the entire class. If possible, the teacher will provide examples of products demonstrating various ends of the rubric. Throughout the development of the business plan and presentation students may consult the rubric to reflect on the quality of their work and make the necessary adjustments.
To get students more actively involved in the assessment process, after they’ve had a chance to develop their plan and presentation, I would ask students to develop a peer feedback scale about effective elements of a business plan presentation. Students would then use this as a peer evaluation/feedback tool to practice their presentation before presenting to the investors and bank.