Mastery Assessment

Assessment in the classroom is vital. It drives the curriculum and gives teachers a good idea of where students are in their understanding of a topic. However most teachers and schools adopt the traditional approach to assessment – teach a topic, give students a test, assign students a grade and then move on. The assessment train only goes forwards – student’s test results for each topic are set in stone, and are not used to increase individual students understanding.

The reverse of this is mastery assessment, a concept I first came across a year ago when I read Sal Khan’s book The One World Schoolhouse. The idea is logical; test results are used to inform future teaching of the SAME topic, and so increase students understanding of it.  And instead of using long, end of topic tests, mastery assessment works best with smaller tests given more often.  With tools such as Google Forms and Flubaroo, teachers can do this without creating lots of extra marking work – students can complete tests online at school or at home, with multiple choice questions marked automatically.

Mastery assessment is something that I’m experimenting with in my own classroom, and is a topic that’s received some more attention with levels being scrapped in the UK National Curriculum.

If you’re a teacher, why not try to implement mastery learning in your own classroom?  It’s got the potential to increase student learning, and in so doing, engage your learners more.

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The Top 10 Skills for the 21st Century Young Professional

Via youturn and the University of Phoenix.

How can teachers help students to develop these skills?

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Using Research to Become a Better Teacher

Dr Ben Goldacre is passionate about evidence-based practice.  Not content with taking the pharmaceutical industry to task over not publishing all their negative clinical trial data, he’s also advocating a clinical-trial like process could be used by teachers to try out ideas and truly evaluate them in order to find if they really work.

Great idea!  But what about those teachers that feel their Goliath-like workload doesn’t allow them the time to generate new research?

Journal clubs are a way for other professionals, such as doctors, to keep up with, and discuss, the latest research in order to benefit their own practice.  And there’s no reason why journal clubs can’t be used by teachers, either face-to-face or using social media.  A great example of this is The Science Teaching Journal Club, in which anyone can use Twitter to discuss a paper and how it could be applied in the classroom.

Perhaps if more teachers engage in reading and adding to the body of research we can convince politicians to stop meddling in education and let the real education professionals decide.

Further reading: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6365275

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Getting the Big Picture

I’ve just read an interesting blog post about engagement in maths education and teaching students the ‘big ideas’, helping them to see the overall story of maths (or the history of maths).

I think this is an excellent idea and could potentially change what is for some an abstract, irrelevant subject into an exciting story of human endeavour.

In fact, wouldn’t this be good for science education too?  Recently I’ve become aware of the Big History Project (BHP) that attempts to do just that for science, using the major milestones in the development of the universe, earth and humanity to teach content.  For me, one of the most exciting parts of this is how the BHP connects science to other subjects – such as history, geography and anthropology – that is doesn’t normally connect with in schools.

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