Friday, January 25, 2013

Cycles in Assessments

In speech we finished up the communication model of a message being sent, received, feedback given, cycle goes on and repeats. Everything is a cycle, right? A day does not go by that we don't communicate or do anything besides a cycle. Life in general is a cycle. Work is a cycle. School is a cycle, even though it shouldn't be. But we can bust out of cycles, right? We can break habits and routines and the society we have to conform into. After talking with Angela Maiers last week I started to question. I don't think on the spot, I need time to ponder most everything. Here's what I came up with:

Is a process and a product different than a cycle?
  • I see a definitive difference between the two. A process and a product is thought of as a static unchanging occurrence  They are extremely similar in the fact that you have to put in work during the process to get a product and outcome you like. A cycle is viewed as taking it a step higher and taking that process and product and doing it again. Tweaking and changing it, but in essence doing the same thing again justifying it as a dynamic occurrence. 
  • Example: A student taking notes, participating in activities, and studying to get the outcome they would like of passing the assessment. If they are satisfied, is it done and over? Move on. If they did not get what they wanted it could be retaken and reassessed making it a cycle.

Was the process different than the product? Which was more important?
  • This is tough. In every instance there is a process and product as a result of it. Quality of the product is dependent on the process. But what if the process is more important? A student can demonstrate their critical thinking skills amazingly but the essay they wrote was not typed or well written. It had grammatical, spelling, and organizational issues. Is it still a good piece? What part matters most: the thought process or the end result? Too often I feel like the end result is being looked at too heavily. As the famous saying goes, it's the thought that counts.

Is there a point where you can stop and call it good enough?
  • Even in a cycle there must be a product generated at some point. It may just be revised numerous times. But now the question comes back to the definition of a cycle? No where is it stated that a cycle can stop. If it is not done regularly it is not a cycle. It could be referring to the overarching idea of reassessing work until an end point is reached where all parties, teacher, student, parent, are satisfied. 
  • Going back to my example of the student being assessed from question number one, how do you know when you reach this magic end point? Is it when they get an A+ on a multiple choice assessment? They most likely did not reach the highest level of understanding and certainly did not demonstrate it in that form. 
Angela stated plain and simple that "It's not about the number [product] that matters but what got you there [process]". Though this was referencing clout scores and online digital footprints it can be applied in every situation. That is where reflection comes in, to think about your thinking and the process behind where you are.

Summing up this debate with myself we can conclude that:
  • cycles have a process and generate a product
  • Often the thinking and skills used in the process can be poorly represented or poorly assessed in the product.
  • Cycles are more of an overarching term of a repeating revision in the process and product.

Instead of leaving questions unanswered at the end of the post I am trying a new format of answering them during the post. Pretty smart, huh? ;) I would love to discuss and hear what parts of your thinking were pushed farther from my intense questioning whether it be in the comments or on Twitter. Game on.

Friday, January 18, 2013

"45 Lessons Life Taught Me"

My principal, Mrs. Murphy-Tiernan, shared these recently with the staff who felt it was important to pass onto their students. They are 45 life lessons written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, from Cleveland Ohio. Here's how they go....

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Don't buy stuff you don't need.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with yourself. You can take it.

9. Save for things that matter.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow..

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive but don’t forget.

29.. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. People love you because of who you are, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.

42. The best is yet to come ...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Number 27 Is my personal favorite. It really hits home being a teenager where people tend to question their self worth. Just remember, you matter

What are your life morals? What is your legacy? How do you survive the hour/day/week? 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Importance of a Goldfish

Tonight I volunteered at the Waukee Public Library booth at the first Maple Grove Elementary Parent University. I was the official “Handy Hippo Helper” (how about that for a properly alliterated title) that got the privilege of decorating bookmarks and applying tattoos. Tattoos are temporary but the joy and connections I made cannot be scrubbed away.

I got to work with the kids during story time and helped with assembling their craft for the program. A couple recognized me and dubbed me as “the tattoo guy” and showed me that they were still on their hand where I put them. I offered help and many accepted it. One kid blatantly told the storyteller that he worked better by himself and sat himself away from the others. He didn’t need my help. I admire him for knowing what works for him and adjusting it to work that way.

Crafts are creative and interpreted differently by everyone. One table represented the drastic differences that arts and crafts have from one another.
“Can I put a goldfish on my snowman?” Erik was asked.
Note that this did not start out as an edible craft though some were persistent on making it one.
“That would be AWESOME!” bellowed Erik right back.
From that point they made a hipster snowman with sunglasses, a spider with many eyes and legs, and numerous gold fish cracker covered snowman.

I noticed one boy was attempting to glue one goldfish to another.
“That won’t work. You need to glue them to the felt.” I discouraged.
I dismissed it and ubiquitously floated to another table group. He found me later and was very excited to prove me wrong and show off his proud work of two goldfish stuck together without being smashed.

At that point I realized how much I was being looked up to for guidance and shunned for the unenthusiasm of his creative work. I was whom they were looking to for help. I was his negative motivator that led him to try again and do what he was trying to achieve. I was the person who would impact these kids’ lives today. I was the image of who they admire to become one day. That last one seems to be pushing it a little but I still remember the event when I was in first grade and the fourth graders wrote a story with us about something with PJ’s. I still have that memory. I recall how my “buddy” was irritated in being forced to work with younger kids. I just hope that wasn’t me tonight. Unlike the temporary tattoos I applied earlier, the guidance and connections I provided will never be washed away.

How do you impact others everyday? How does your unintentional communication represent you? How do you make a difference? Your Story Matters.