Rethinking Innovative Assessment and Evaluation Through Making: A Reflection

As we can see from a review of Grant Wiggins’ creativity rubric, we know that dynamic assessment is rooted in creativity.  Though it is easy to ignore, it has become clearer than ever to me that the root of the word “creativity” is the heart of its true meaning: to “create” is to be “creative.”  While the connotation we perceive to be synonymous with creativity is often novelty, we forget sometimes that the source of novelty comes through creation.  What novelty, or creation, can we expect our students to innovate in our classrooms if they are never afforded the opportunity?  The answer is quite simple: nothing.

Imagine a day in a classroom where the lesson begins and ends with textbook-drilling, of reading prompts, or math problems.  Unfortunately, this type of teaching is still a real problem, and it is taking place in classrooms across the world.  Our culture has always assessed its citizens’ worth based upon their contributions to society.  Why have our classrooms not evolved to reflect that?  This is a concept that Richard Culatta discusses in his TED Talk, “Reimagining Learning.”  This proves that the best strategy for classroom assessment is demonstrated mastery through creation.

The question most employers ask in interviews is no longer “what do you know?”  It has evolved to ask, “what uniquity can you bring to us that will make us better?”  Are we sure, then, that we are preparing our students to be “college and career ready?”  Maybe, but only in the classrooms that are actually having students create novelties, novelly, that advance or transform our industry and our world as a whole.

This understanding emphasizes the utter importance of the Maker Movement–the focus of the CEP 811 course, “ at Michigan State University.  This semester, I created a MOOC that could be used to give teachers professional learning experiences in Educational Technology.  Additionally, teachers and students around the world are using Maker Kits to innovate in classrooms.  I was fortunate enough to be able to use a 3D Printer in my graduate work this semester, to design a lesson plan that I could not have created without the power of the mind to create the sundial I needed to make the lesson successful.  This sundial elevated student learning experiences because it brought a symbol into the classroom for analysis that was not at all readily available.  By using Makerware, as soon as I thought it, it became real.  What potential these tools have for our classrooms!

One of the best pedagogical strategies for assessing students by “making” is Project-Based Learning.  If students are presented with a problem that they need to solve, maker software provides them with opportunities to develop novel and effective solutions to real-world problems.  This takes our education, domestically, to the next level.  I use PBL in my classroom, but since taking this course, I have realized the value and potential of interweaving making and PBL.

My experiences in the MAET so far have reinforced my understanding that assessment should also be based upon growth, and not necessarily on performance.  As I have progressed through the MAET Certificate courses, I have told myself that I want to walk away, somehow, changed by my experiences.  I know that I have progressed because, though I thought myself to be very proficient at technology integration and immersion prior to taking these courses, I now deeply understand the cognitive pedagogical strategies for why technology is such an incredible tool to improve student learning.  That is a rare gift in the study of Educational Technology, and I fully believe that studying at Michigan State University gave me that opportunity.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to study the Maker Movement so extensively. I cannot wait to see what the outcomes will be as I implement the Maker ideology when I return to my classroom in the fall!

References

Culatta, R. (2013). Reimagining Learning: Richard Culatta at TEDxBeaconStreet. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0uAuonMXrg#t=10

Joyce, Matt. (2013). hackrf at makerfaire | Flickr – Photo Sharing!. Retrieved 25 June 2014, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/openfly/875290988

Wiggins, G. (2012). On assessing for creativity: yes you can, and yes you should.Granted, and… Retrieved from http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/on-assessing-for-creativity-yes-you-can-and-yes-you-should/

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