An Introduction to the Final Project

In this final unit I will be looking at Digital Storytelling in Grade 1.  Over this year I have read a vast number of interesting articles encouraging me to re-examine my practice.  In addition to this, I have a wealth of experience in ICT in the classroom, but this year I have been fortunate enough to teach Visual Arts in the PYP to grade 1 and 2.  This has given me a new lense through which I can examine my teaching and find new way to use technology with my students.

I started planning this unit based on the remit of “re-designing a unit from the ground up to embed technology meaningfully and authentically as a means to enhancing learning”.  My Grade 1 classes seemed the perfect playground for this.  The Unit of Inquiry that the students were working on in homeroom was ‘How we express ourselves’, with the central idea of ‘Stories communicate meaning and can influence the way people feel and think.’.  Most specifically, the students explored the following lines of inquiry:

  • How to construct an effective story
  • What stories can convey
  • The way stories influence feelings and emotions

During the provocation for this unit students experienced many adult from all parts of the school reading their favourite stories to them, all influenced from a variety of cultures,  from the the Gruffalo in Scots to Traditional Japanese Kamishibai.  Within this environment of storytelling the students previously created Paper flipbooks (See Course 4 reflections for more details) with varying degrees of success, based on student abilities.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to introduce technology to enhance learning.

I completed the COETAIL UBD for my final course 4 reflection, however when I really started to think about some of the key questions in the course 5 guidelines I realised that some of the planning I would have to do was missing.  Namely, when I thought about ‘How do you think you might get there?’ and ‘What are you hoping to see in your students learning as you conduct the project?’ I thought about assessment – How will I know what the students have learnt, how will I know if they have got there?  This coupled with a school wide focus on assessment led to believe that the UBD has something missing… assessment.

Considering assessment helped me to focus my thinking on ‘What I was hoping to see in my students?’  In the lead up to launching and during this unit on Digital Storytelling a read a lot about assessment and tried to connect it with this course, technology education and visual arts.  A blog by Sam Sherratt (2013) made me stop and think about assessment ‘Thinking Beyond the Summative Assessment Task“.  He provoked me to consider the following questions:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • What do I hope my students will understand?
  • What is the enduring understanding I hope the students will leave with?
  • Does my summative task assess the right thing?
  • How can I ensure the emphasis remain on understanding and not the ‘task’?
  • Have I planned enough time to watch my students and listen to their understanding?
  • Is my summative task timely?

As assessment is a key aspect of course 5 I decided to re-work the UBD and plan for assessment in these initial stages.  I wanted to add a rubric but found it so hard to develop levelled criteria, especially with such a young age group – surely they understood or they didn’t, they could do it or they couldn’t?  I was adding words like ‘a developing understanding’, ‘working towards..’ it was driving me nuts.  Finally, I settled on a single point rubric.  Danah Hashem gave me 6 succinct reasons to use one!  I think I like the final point the best!

  1. It gives space to reflect on both strengths and weaknesses in student work.
  2. It doesn’t place boundaries on student performance.
  3. It works against students’ tendency to rank themselves and to compare themselves to or compete with one another.
  4. It helps take student attention off the grade.
  5. It creates more flexibility without sacrificing clarity.
  6. It’s simple!

Put visually here are the stages of assessment:

So here is my new UBD, with the assessment component added:

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