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Being more Proficient with Proficiency.

As a part of the Innovator's Mindset MOOC, we've been challenged to implement a change with the goal of innovation. A couple of weeks ago, I had an idea that I want to put in place for my classroom. It's not huge, but it will require a significant step from me to implement and make it meaningful for students.

Over the past years, I have been developing proficiency scales for each of the major unit objectives in my Physics courses.  I've modeled these scales I first learned about from Marzano Research. Find a great bank here and access with a free account. I try to have students look at the scale when we complete a formative quiz and rate themselves on that scale.  But, it's not until we approach the summative assessment where we really take the time to break down what each level looks like in depth.  They then create their own piece of media to demonstrate mastery. I'm looking to change up the way I present the proficiency scale a bit.

I've decided that for the remainder of the year before we begin any new unit, I will do a screencast of what each level of the rubric actually entails beyond just the basic text that appears in the rubric. The idea is to be up front and honest at the start of a unit with where I expect students to be in their thinking by the end of the unit. 

Now, I don't expect students to be watching it on day 1, but as we progress through the unit a quick viewing of the video will help them identify gaps in their understanding.  I hope that it will help students frame questions about what they don't understand when they are seeking help.  When we reach the summative assessment, it will become a curated piece to help them review what they need to demonstrate as they work on their assessment whatever format that may take.

From my perspective, it gives me a chance to articulate to myself what I want students to know and be able to do before we enter the unit beyond just a few statements in a rubric. 

My goal is to go from where I am now where I provide students easy access to something like this for each unit:


To providing easy access to something like this:
Note: I gave myself a limit of 30 minutes of time to create this video. I told myself it could not be perfect. That is going to be a big thing for me.  I can tend to be a tinkerer when it comes to video editing. (It would probably be my 2nd career choice if I was forced to do it all again) I say all that to say this screencast is rudimentary to say the least. OK, enough apologizing for taking a risk.

This video has the two main objectives from the unit. I could have split them into two but I'll wait to see what they feedback says before I take any action. I hope to have students watch the first objective the day after we cover the first content to see where their personal gaps are. I think maybe rather than assigning a bunch of problem sets for students to complete having them reflect on what they don't understand in the video will help us be more focused in the practice each student needs. I could easily collect this information via a digital form. A lot of teachers I know run mini-seminars for extra practice on specific topics.  This feedback on gaps could then drive the seminars. 

Stream of consciousness while proofreading here: I beginning to realize that this screencast is not really the innovation.  It's how I'll use the screencast as a tool to help each learner pinpoint what practice they need. It's a way to make remediation a bit more efficient. Providing a clear picture of the endpoint and having students see what they need to get there is the goal.  The structure of the screencast, reflection, and remediation options will be iterations on my way to innovation. 

At the end of the unit, I really want some feedback on the what would make the video quality and content better for them once we get to the end of the unit.  I expect my students to hold me accountable. If it is something they find useful, they will come to demand it. 

The goal here is to make the end point clear, but not give them an exemplar that would take away from any creativity or give them something simply to copy.  I think I'll keep trying to find that balanced based on student feedback and the products I see. 

I'm taking baby steps here with student feedback for course correction. But thinking big, it would be really powerful if I could start each unit by sharing a student product from the previous year to guide where we are going. 

I hope to do a follow-up post with feedback from students at the end of this unit.

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