SXSWedu Recap: Project-based Learning and Practical Application - Tech Learning

SXSWedu Recap: Project-based Learning and Practical Application

The ability of assessments to accurately evaluate a learning environment falls short for three main reasons:
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All too often, standardized assessments are considered the final step in evaluating the effectiveness of a learning environment. Standardized assessments often disregard the fact that there are many more paths to the same successful outcome for a student, and tests don’t necessarily adequately assess a student’s development in areas other than their ability to retain facts and formulas.

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The ability of assessments to accurately evaluate a learning environment falls short for three main reasons:

    Assessments have a narrow focus. Zak Malamed at ‘The State and Future of Student Rights” session at SXSWedu 2015 actively stressed a student’s “right to a fair assessment.” According to Austin Community College student Joey Vega, a fair assessment “would be able to test someone on all aspects of their education, like interpersonal skills and critical thinking.”

    Assessment results aren’t always used in constructive ways. The analysis of the results from many standardized assessments is seen as the concluding step in evaluating and improving the education system. Immediate feedback of these results to students and teachers would produce the largest gains in leaning. The results of assessments have to be seen as a springboard for productive development and discussion on how to better tailor education to the needs of students.

    The voice of the single most important stakeholder, the student, is not being heard. A student can help to accurately judge how effective teaching methods and learning environments are. Their views, while extremely important, are often not heard by the administrators making decisions regarding their education.

    In my opinion, the idea of project-based learning that writer Linda Darling-Hammond and Executive Director of LEGO Education Stephan Turnipseed discussed seems to be an interesting and creative solution to the previously mentioned issues. Adopting a project-based curriculum and providing real workplace experiences to students would broaden the focus of education and assessments beyond curriculum to include critical thinking and problem-solving skills. A broader, more creative approach to educating students is needed.

    “Policy has to get out of the way to make the world safe for good practice. The creative process can be assessed in a consistently creative way,” said Linda Darling-Hammond.

    As a high school journalist, I have experienced the benefits of a project based curriculum and a school that produces a workplace environment for me to work in firsthand. As a newspaper student I have had the experience of working as part of a staff and also managing one to produce an entirely student-produced publication.

    Ellie Breed attends Stephen F. Austin High School in Austin, Texas.

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    WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (March 6, 2017) – Renaissance®, the leader in K-12 learning analytics, announces that nearly 20 million students—one-third of United States schools—are actively using its innovative, ground breaking Renaissance Growth Platform™. The platform integrates the company’s award winning portfolio: Renaissance Star360® assessment solutions, the Renaissance Accelerated Reader 360® reading practice solution, and the Renaissance Accelerated Math® practice solution. “Over a four-year period we conducted exhaustive research and interviewed hundreds of educators and learned that many of them are struggling to accurately measure student growth on a daily basis,” said Mark Angel, chief technology officer at Renaissance. “We also confirmed that they want to differentiate and personalize instruction, but it’s difficult for them to do so in a way that’s scalable in the classroom. Our Growth Platform makes both of these goals attainable for educators by allowing them to set goals and monitor student progress with greater efficiency.” Released at the beginning of 2017, the Renaissance Growth Platform was built with three things in mind: flexibility, efficiency and usability. In parallel to building the Growth Platform, Renaissance rebuilt its complete portfolio to take advantage of the platform’s robust, scalable architecture. The power of the complete integrated suite manifests in several ways, including a workflow engine that allows educators to manage and deliver all assignments from Star assessments to Accelerated Reader 360 and Accelerated Math practice through a simple-to-use student inbox.