Prove it: Stifling innovation with the burden of unobtainable proof

Think of something new and innovative that you are trying out in your classroom, school, or district. Prove to me that it works. Yep, I want you to stop reading this and think about some fancy new way that you have of educating and/or assessing students and tell me what evidence you have to prove that your new technique works. Twice recently I’ve been faced with this demand. In the Read More →

Portfolios as classroom-embedded assessment systems for the NGSS

This weekend at the NSTA national meeting in Chicago I’ll be hosting a discussion about the use of portfolios as the keystone of new NGSS-centered district and state science assessments. Here are the slides I’ll use to start the discussion: NSTA15: Performance-Based Portfolio Assessment of the NGSS from Chris Ludwig Exemplar portfolios can be found here Please join the discussion if you can make it to Read More →

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Accountability without measurement

What if the next generation of teacher accountability systems simply relied upon assessment of student performances?  You’re thinking: don’t we do that now? No, we don’t. In most cases, our current accountability systems of standardized tests are supposed to measure student learning, which is not the same as assessment.  Attempting to measure learning often leads to limiting ourselves to finding the best statistical models, crafting the best distractors, Read More →

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Are you a Master Teacher?

This week I was asked by an administrator if I would like to go observe “some master Science teachers” in one of the big cities here in Colorado. I said yes. I’ll jump at any chance to see other science teachers in action, especially those that are in another school district. But then I got to wondering about the phrasing of this offer, especially the Read More →

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Student-Designed Courses: Phunsics Year 3 First Semester Recap

Previously in this space I wondered about my sanity plans for continuing to allow students to more or less run their physics class as an open workshop or maker-space. As it turns out, I did indeed decide to continue the student-designed format for this class for two main reasons. First of all, this year the physics class got scheduled for 7th hour, which is at the Read More →

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BYOD: Does anyone have a right to WiFi in a school setting?

Free speech. Freedom of religion. Freedom to bear arms. Free access to your school’s WiFi network. We hold these truths to be self-evident. Until the tech department changes the passwords, that is. At my school, students had grown used to a very generous Bring Your Own Device atmosphere that had built up over several years. I suppose most students had their phones on the school Read More →

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What time is it? Portfolio Time!

My wondering for the week is this: should I start grading students on their assessment portfolios from the very beginning of the year rather than wait for the 1st quarter marking period? But if assessment by portfolio starts from day one, is it fair to enter an F grade for everyone at the beginning of the year because their portfolio would be empty? Since I Read More →

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When the batteries die, break out the crayons

This is a cautionary tale about what happens when educational technology fails. Of course, tech breaking down is nothing new, but reliance on technology in a 1:1 learning environment introduces some complications that you might not have thought about. Not so long ago, I would have ranked myself up there on the list of folks who knew how to do educational technology pretty well. I had Read More →

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To What Extent Should a Course Be Student Designed?

This post about my Physics/Phunsics class has been rattling around in my head for more than half a year now, and its a tough one. The reason it is tough is that it involves failure, and I don’t really enjoy writing about failures. Semi-clever ideas and things that work, yes. Failure, no. Let me come right out and say it: the Phunsics class just didn’t Read More →

Learning About Evolution in a Climate of Science Denial

This rant about learning the facts of evolution will make a lot more sense if you realize that I’m a Christian, specifically a Presbyterian, a member of the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO). I also have degrees in Molecular Biology and Neuroscience and have studied Philosophy of the Biological Sciences at the University of Arizona. You should probably also know that my wife, recently Read More →

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