PBL Assessments Reflection

Week Six Learning Log Task

Assessments.  A one word sentence that can cause crippling anxiety in some of our strongest performing students.  In our world of high stakes testing, assessment has become a dreaded and often hated topic.  However, not all assessment is useless nor should it all be feared.

An advantage of a Project Based Learning opportunity is that in which the assessment, a relevant and meaningful measure of reaching one’s learning goals, is formed with help from the learners actively involved in the project.  When students are offered input into their measures of success and quality of work the process no longer seems to be a daunting end task that towers over students waiting in angst to destroy their GPA, ego, or whatever they associate to a sub par performance on assessment.

For my PBL assessment the students are creating and performing a mock newscast about a fictional disaster created from their research and activities completed during the PBL.  This newscast features an anchor, on scene reporter, and a special news segment that allow students a great deal of creative freedom to demonstrate their newfound understanding.  In addition to researching the content for their newscast the students will also be tasked in researching how a newscast is formed including but not limited to: set design, script writing, reporting techniques, camera angles, and various other journalism methods to ensure a successful presentation.

This project allows for a great deal of student input as the groups are tasked with creating a successful newscast from their research with little to no direction from me as to what will make the newscast successful.  This will involve a great deal of collaboration, planning, and problem solving on their part; helping to strengthen not only their ELA skills but their 21st century skills as well. Furthermore students will be assessed by multiple measure such as their research skills, presentation skills, subject knowledge, and their ability to synthesize and transfer understanding.

As my students work through this project I anticipate acting as their tour guide through, what is undoubtedly to them, the murky waters of connecting assessments to learning goals.  Unless this has been explicitly taught to the students previously it always seems to be a big mystery, the million dollar question of, “why are we doing this?”   As we journey through our project I plan to adjust my teaching to capitalize on exploration and discovery opportunities that help students make connections between their current task and our end goal to provide students ample and valuable opportunity to submit their input in regards to our evaluation process.  I’ve realized that this may require me to let go of the perfect project I may have crafted in my plans and allow the project and learning opportunities to unfold organically.  Just as aspiring writers are taught that sometimes you have to kill your darlings, as educators we stand to best serve our students if we remember this advice when it comes to a lesson we’ve created or project we’ve designed.  This is especially true if we want the assessment for said project to be as effective as possible for our students.

 

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