The Day I Become the Leading Teacher
Through formative assessment, teachers check student understanding, get valuable data on student learning, and then use that data to modify instruction. When teachers know what students know (or don't know), they can adjust to meet students right at their level. The best formative assessment tools also help students self-reflect and assess, figuring out where they are and where they need to go as learners.
Modern technology offers educators a variety of new tools that can be used in the classroom. Technology can help teachers track and assess their students' -- as well as their own -- performance in the classroom. It can also be used to facilitate communication between students and teachers and to create digital records of student growth and development that can easily be passed along from grade to grade.
Teachers can use technology to make their own work more productive -- teachers can use spreadsheets to track student work and also track their teaching plans. If a group of students is performing poorly in a particular area, this kind of record-keeping can highlight areas that the teacher needs to focus on in their own teaching.
These tools can also help administrators assess and improve teacher performance.
Technology can also be used in the production of portfolios. There are now available a whole new range of devices that students can use in producing materials for evaluation. Students can use scanners, digital photographs, and computer-generated movies as part of a multi-media portfolio. Speeches, musical performances, and compositions can also be included inappropriate file formats, allowing for the documentation of athletic, dramatic, musical, and other performance-based activities. One of the advantages of a digital, multi-media portfolio is that it can be made available to a variety of communities. It can be designed so it can be reviewed by the student and their teacher, or by their classmates. It can even be placed on the Web, where students work can be made public. This becomes a wonderful opportunity for parents to see and react to their children's classroom work. One major advantage to digital technology is that the work can become part of a larger, broader conversation. Feedback can then be received from an expanding universe of communities.
Continual feedback between teachers and students generates a way of teaching that is very different from the traditional approach. It becomes more like sailing a ship, with the teacher constantly adjusting course. The goal is set, but the actual path responds to the needs of the individual students. That is a model for what assessment looks like when it occurs continuously during instruction.
Technology is just a new set of tools, which are useful only if they add value to the learning experience.