Building Self-evaluative Mindsets and Tools

I had a teacher recently ask how handle it when students ask if their work is “good”. She wants to help them, but doesn’t want to be seen as the ultimate authority on what is “good”.

Firstly, “authority” and “expertise” are not bad things, and we don’t want to remove that experience and skill from our teams. However, I totally get where she is coming from in terms of not wanting to train students to be constantly reliant on others for evaluation of quality.

When students ask a teacher for guidance on whether their work is “good”, I usually try to do the following:
  • Let them know anything I share in terms of evaluation is only my opinion, based on my own experience, while appreciating that they view my opinion as valuable
  • Be open about my desire to help them calibrate their own ability to evaluate product quality
  • Try to help them be more specific in their language. For instance I might say: “I’m not sure what you mean by “good”. Are you wondering if I think the client will be happy with it? Or if it meets the criteria you are designing towards? Or if I think it demonstrates knowledge of the skill you are trying to develop”? etc.
And finally, I would invite the students to help me evaluate my work at times as well, and each other’s work, so they build that evaluative skill as well as practice the language of inviting and sharing analysis of work.
I hope that’s helpful. I’d love comments on how others approach this subject with care with their students.

ISTE 2010 – Day 1 Takeaways

OK, please forgive the stream of consciousness here. This is mostly a compilation of my notes from these sessions, with some added thoughts. here and there. Unless otherwise clear, the ideas here are from the presenters ( I don’t want to misrepresent any of the genius here as my own). Everyth9ing written here is something I considered powerful or important.

Karen Cator, Department of Education
Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology

National Education Technology Plan

Personalized learning, not individualized learning

Measure what matters

Embedded assessments – real-time feedback loops

Technology as force multiplier

Excellent presentation of the Beta version of the NETP. She says it’s close to version 1.0, after the latest round of feedback from educators.
She outlined some of the major challenges and opportunities that will be involved getting to where we need to be. The one that is on my mind lately? Assessment: Defining what is important to measure, and determining how to measure it. Everyone seems to agree that performance assessment is the best (only?) way to measure what is important, but there are huge hurdles. Agreeing on what is important is the first step. But even if that could be agreed upon, is there a way to objectively measure performance in a comparable way that can be used to ascertain the success of methods? Performance assessment is inherently subjective to the reviewer (or is it? – challenge me!). And if so, how can there be a national standard, or even a state standard for proficiency in a given area? Is it ever possible to get away from standardized tests if the goal is to compare outcomes across systems? Should we move to community standards?

Gary Stager
Creativity 2.0: The Quest for Meaning, Beauty, and Excellence

Gary’s blog

All media construction should mirror the writing process

Successful 1:1 programs changed everything when the computers came in

Students should feel intellectually powerful

Learning should be non-coercive

Kids need access to expertise and need relationships with adults

Knowledge is a consequence of experience

Make thinking visible

PBL (Project Based Learning)
If the scale or prompt is too large you narrow the possible outputs. The problems must be bite sized, but large enough to enable depth.
Elements of successful PBL
See slides on site ( – don’t seem to be there yet)

When students come up to teachers in later years they always want to reminisce. Teaching should involve more of the kinds of things they reminisce about.

Mitchel Resnick
Lifelong Kindergarten: Keeping Imagination and Creativity in the Learning Process

Imagine, play, share, create, reflect

Tech should enhance this, not just make the current information-through-funnel model more efficient

Leigh Zeitz and Angela Maiers
It’s Not about the Gadgets, It’s about the Possibilities!


We’re trying to put new things into old structures = confusion

Internet is about network and community not just another place for
students to find, memorize, and regurgitate data.

Synthesize, communicate, evaluate
These need to be basic skills, not just graduate level

Book: disrupting class
Must read

Chris Dede – must read blog