Tech Committee Conundrum

Last Wednesday our district’s “technology committee” met to continue developing our current goal: Create a technology-standard assessment for 8th graders in a project based learning context. The committee had previously developed a four-step PBUnit with accompanying rubric for educator’s to assess the technology standards. The area of focus for the project was student driven, and all team teacher’s would take part in the assessment process since the content was not the focus of the project.

Wednesday’s meeting was met with renewed enthusiasm. With a project outlined and rubric to follow we thought it wise to develop an exemplar to help us visualize what a project might look like from our students. We immediately ran into a roadblock with a previously unforseen issue. As we started to try to hash out what we wanted our project to encompass a big question loomed before us. Was what we were visualizing really what was being asked of us?

The project vision was promising. A four team collaborative effort to gather and organize data and information, then construct a multimedia presentation that would be published and presented. But one member played “devil’s advocate” with a comment and a question:

How are students grouped here? When kids do group projects the work all gets divided up. Some kids are going to have more tech skills than others and they will naturally be the ones who take on the bulk of the technology project. If this project is collaborative, what will our assessments be telling us?

The goal of developing an assessment of our students tech skills spawned a wonderful collaborative project to fill-out our 8th grader’s time in the middle school. Committee members even began to visualize a community share day, inviting fellow students and community members to a convention like atmosphere where the projects would be shared. But now we are left wondering: Will the culminating assessment actually tell us the data our district is looking for? Do we need to redesign what we’ve done, and if so around what? What is the best learning experience for the students or the criteria we are supposed to assess? Can we find a perfect middle ground?

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About MrMusselman

K-5 Science Specialist for the Burlington Public Schools of Burlington, MA.
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