Chapter 6: Assessment: Keeping Our Eye on the Literacy
"Assessment should not be about defining a reader but about piecing together information to help us design classroom experiences so we can observe our readers learning and understand what each one needs." (pg. 87)
What a great way to start a chapter! I really appreciated the story about Franki's daughter Ana learning about Minecraft in so many authentic and digital ways. This story reminds me of so many of my students, who have been addicted with and almost obsessed with Minecraft. This story illustrates so perfectly how our students use technology in meaningful ways without realizing they do so because it is not the "traditional" way it's used in schools. I would like to start a conversation with my students about their own research and reading lives, using a similar topic or example.
Overall I found this chapter very reassuring, as I have always felt that one of my strengths is using formative assessments to fully understand my students' needs and planning the next steps for learning accordingly. My district is a Google Apps for Education school, and as such, we use Google for almost everything, with each student having their own Google Suites account through the school. The reading teachers have digital portfolios for each kid that are easily shared with next year's teachers through Google Sheets. We utilize Google Classroom in small ways, increasing its use as we become more familiar with it. I experimented with giving assessments on Google Forms for about a month last year (before a series of storms sent the power out every hour or so, shutting computers down, and the computer-based tests started and took away all access to computers that I had). Students begin using Google Docs to create shared projects that they can work on while in separate locations in 4th and 5th grade.
Some things I plan to add to my classroom this year in order to increase authenticity, intentionality, and connectedness (and that can also be used for assessment):
- Global Read Aloud
- increase use of Google Forms for surveys, check-ins, and assessments
"We assess digital literacy as we have always assessed print-based literacy." (pg. 90)
Chapter 7: Beyond the Classroom Walls: Connecting Digital Reading at Home and School
As much as Chapter 6 was affirmation that what I have already been doing is good, Chapter 7 focuses on an area that I, and my building/district as a whole, struggles with. We have taken measures in the last year or so to rectify this, but we still have a long way to go.
Part of the struggle is that we are located in an area where most families do not have a computer of any kind in their home. Many other households in the area have computers or similar devices, but do not allow their children to use them. I think this comes from the lack of understanding the parents have for these devices and their potential, as so the parents fear the technology and what their kids may do on the devices without the parents knowing or knowing how to stop them. Our school needs to focus on educating these parents, guardians, and families in order to decrease the gap between the students who have and those who have not. I loved the idea of an Internet Safety Night discussed on pages 102-103.
Last year our district had each building create a Facebook account through which we can share updates, photos, and videos about individual classroom activities and whole building events. Every teacher is also provided with their own classroom website through the district site. This has always been my classroom hub, but I spent some time after reading this book updating the format and adding to it in order to best utilize the space provided.
"Knowing that all of them may not “take off” and that I may need to add something that seems missing later in the school year, I can be flexible and use what works for both my students and their families. The key is having a plan with goals for communication that supports literacy in multiple ways and involves families as digital readers." (pg. 108)