"Why do the media report the decline in our ranking rather than the decline in our results?"
- Dr. Rachel Wilson.
Assessment is a topic that is critically important, hot, and over done. Yet there was an attitude that came through from the abstract for Rachel's presentation that sounded positive and excited about assessment which is not an attitude that I have come across before.
Rachel made some cold points to start with. We have, she began, an assessment system which is essentially external to the classroom and which created a situation where her own daughters, currently in fourth grade, have already sat more exams than Rachel did during her entire schooling and which has created a competitive streak in them she had not expected. She made the point that research demonstrates that emotions and feelings are at the heart of learning and therefore that these things should be at the heart of our education system which is certainly not the case when the perception of school is that it prepares you for an exam which serves only one purpose; to determine what university and courses you are eligible for.
The media reported, quite vociferously, the recent release of the latest PISA results (for example here, here, here and here). The issue is that the stance taken is one of bemoaning our drop in ranking relative to other countries. Rachel questioned this attitude; "why does it matter if we are ranked below Kazakhstan in PISA?" Rachel continued by acknowledging that our testing results across reading, writing, mathematics and scientific literacy are certainly declining, despite the near zealous focus on standardised national testing
We were asked to consider how often a student has been unable to answer a question or complete a task in a test situation that they have demonstrated the ability to do ordinarily. It is quite often, and the rhetoric around oh, I'm not a test person is demonstrative of the fact that we are aware of the impact that testing can have on our emotions and feelings. Rachel invoked Hattie's research and exhorted us to know our impact and to consider the impact that our choices have on our students.
Assessment should, we were told, engage students. It should be something that they want to complete. Consider how eager the majority of students are to learn and to engage with learning tasks in their early years of schooling. What happens that we then see the fourth grade slump and students disengaging with learning? Assessment should engage students and allow for professional judgement. This is not, as far as I can see, reconcilable with the current system of mandatory reporting each semester in an A-E fashion how a student is going relative to their peers across a range of subject areas and the pressures put upon teachers and students to ensure growth, but that perhaps says more about the focus of our education and schooling systems.
Rachel then took the audience on a whirlwind history tour of assessment in Australia. We have traditionally utilised three main forms of assessment. Norm referenced demonstrated where students sat on a bell curve. Criterion referenced assessments were designed to measure student achievement against a clear set of criteria or learning standards that indicated what students should know and/or be able to demonstrate. Standards references assessment was designed to be a process of collecting and interpreting information about students learning and allows for teacher professional judgement. Much assessment that goes on at the moment is a hybrid of all three models, however, there is another option. Ipsative assessment.
Ipsative assessment was not a term that I had heard of previously, however, a read of the brief overview provided onscreen (captured in the above tweet) indicated that this is probably being used on a regular basis in many classrooms, though perhaps not in the structured and formal way that Rachel was indicating. She went on to talk about an online system that is used in New Zealand that allows teachers to log on and see data across a range of curriculum areas and quickly identify gaps in learning which can be used for planning purposes. It also allows assessment tasks to be completed on an as needed and appropriate basis rather than the current model here in Australia of a big day or week of assessment testing each year. Being able to input student results, have them mapped to curriculum areas and use that data for planning in a timely manner would be useful, especially given that the purpose of assessment of learning should be to inform the next steps in that area. It highlights the fact that the delay in results after NAPLAN testing makes the tests themselves completely redundant as a pedagogical tool, especially considering that neither the student or teacher is given access to their test paper to talk about what they have done and use it as a feedback tool.
Rachel's talk was very intriguing and seemed to be well received by the audience. I heard a few people sitting around me comment that they wanted to research ipsative assessment more and look at how they could adapt their current assessment processes to suit and the buzz as we moved out to lunch demonstrated that she had given many people food for thought.
If you have missed any of the articles in this series or Storifies of the Tweets from FutureSchools, you can find them here.
Disclosure: My attendance at Education Nation (#EduNationAu) was through a media pass provided by the conference organisers.
When I read that Federal Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham (@birmo) would be speaking at Education Nation, I was intrigued as to firstly, whether he would actually attend given that there is an ongoing election campaign at the moment, and secondly, what he would actually say. When he arrived, you would not know that he was five weeks into an election campaign, and looked fresh and energetic. Minister Birmingham spoke for approximately twenty minutes and then took questions from the floor for about ten minutes before leaving. Overall, I think he did well to avoid any overt political campaign rhetoric, other than one small comment, which was not in itself particularly inflammatory or accusing of the Opposition, before moving on. He also made some very sensible and thought-provoking comments. I have included here the full recording of his address, with the only editing being the introduction from myself, and a slight adjusting of the audio levels to make them more consistent throughout.
Minister Birmingham began by relating a personal anecdote involving his daughter, Matilda, showing the persistence and enthusiasm of five-year-olds, before relating that he was glad to hear of the discussions that were taking place within Education Nation. He added that as a father, he was confident that he could provide the best for his daughter, but that as the Federal Minister for Education and Training, that his focus to be on ensuring the best for all students across the country.
He then said something which I get the impression was rather unexpected, and which I found quite heartening.
“We have a good [education] system and a lot to be proud of. We need to celebrate our successes more than we do. In general, we are above OECD averages [on a range of measures] and our system is underpinned by a good basic foundation.”
This was a refreshing message to hear, and to be realistic, it should not have been entirely unexpected; he is in the midst of an election campaign and speaking to a room full of educators, it was unlikely he would give a negative message about education. The measures that he indicated we are above the OECD averages included education funding, literacy, and numeracy results, however, he did acknowledge that there is always room for improvement
Minister Birmingham spoke about the long tail that we have and the falling results of students at the top end of the academic scale and that the challenges of education are largely well-known and understood, which does not make resolving them any easier. Our PISA results, Minister Birmingham commented, have dropped, in both real and relative terms and while they are not the be all, they are an important indicator that does need to be monitored.
We were then reminded that ten years ago, the iPhone and Netflix did not exist and that Facebook was in its infancy at one year old. We do not know, he continued, what the world will look like in ten years and what the world will look like for our students in the future when they graduate, however, we do know that they will require a richness in varied skills and learning, which sounds rather similar to the now famous Alvin Toffler quote shown below.
Minister Birmingham said he welcomes the discussions taking place at Education Nation and that his commitment is to make sure that Australia is driven by evidence that is credible and reliable and that appropriately reflects what can best improve student learning outcomes. This, he continued, will be supported by two key goals. The first will be to continue delivering the basics on which all learning now and in the future is based upon, though he didn’t elucidate further as to what, exactly, that meant. The second is to prepare students for the dynamic world they will be entering into as young adults. Minister Birmingham added an additional thought to this. Typically, he told us, the two goals are considered in terms of either/or, however, they should be considered as complimentary goals.
It was here that we heard a modicum of election rhetoric, Minister Birmingham reminded the audience how much funding the Turnbull Government would commit to education, however, and I have respect for this, he also noted that while there were differences between the funding both parties had committed to, under either party, there would be an ongoing increase to education funding. Irrespective of your political stance, it would have been easy for him to make negative comments about the other side, yet he actually paid them a modicum of respect. A politically astute and rather sensible choice.
He continued past this, commenting that funding would continue to be distributed on a needs basis and that they would be working to address the challenges that education faces, specifically reading, writing and science, working to set minimum standards of achievement. This confused me a little, as I thought we already had minimum standards, as laid out as part of NAPLAN, if nowhere else. He spoke about the need to identify clear targets and address reading levels at a young age, to identify and learning difficulties in our children earlier in life.
There will be fourteen measures put in place to lift STEM rates, including additional training and support for teachers, early years support, and the lifting of ambition for graduating students to encourage more to enter into STEM-based Undergraduate programs, though there was no mention of specific steps to ensure these occur.
His next point, the need to address and fix NAPLAN and the way it is implemented in order to foster richer data that is more quickly and easily accessible to teachers in order to make it useful and usable, was one which I believe surprised a few. NAPLAN, from what I have heard this election campaign, has had little attention in this vein, so it will be interesting to find out more about what that looks like if the Turnbull government are re-elected.
We need to ensure, Minister Birmingham told the audience, that students receive one year of learning for one year of teaching and one way that this will be attained will be an improvement in the quality of initial teacher education (ITE). This is an area that does need to be addressed, as there are significant skills that teachers need that were not included in my own ITE, which I have written about in the past.and which I suspect are not an isolated issue.
Debates surround educational policy are typically painted as binary arguments; we hear about public versus private education, or about STEM and coding versus traditional subjects, or about direct instruction versus experiential-based pedagogical practices. Minister Birmingham said that these all sit in a grey zone and that we should, in fact, be looking to give autonomy to our teachers, our schools, and our students to make contextualised and evidence-based decisions for the benefit of our students’ learning outcomes. Which of course brought to the fore the point that not all evidence is equal and that we need to be aware of the prejudices inherent in research, whether from the researcher or the commissioner of the research.
Minister Birmingham closed with an idea that I suspect gained him respect throughout the room. He spoke about what he would do, what issue he would resolve; if he could wave a magic wand and fix any single issue or challenge that faces education. It would not, he said, be within schools that he would look. It would, in fact, be in the home of students, to improve the home lives of students where improvement is needed. Minister Birmingham said that whilst teachers provide the greatest influence on a student’s learning outcomes within a school, outside of the school, it is the home life which provides the biggest influence.
The session was opened up at this point to questions from the floor, which I will not cover in this article but will leave for you to listen to in the audio above.
I thought Minister Birmingham’s comments regarding a desire to address and improve the home life of students interesting. I have heard colleagues from both government and non-government, and from early childhood, primary and secondary, all make remarks about students whose home lives negatively impact their learning outcomes.
Thank you, as always, for reading this far, and I would be interested to hear your thoughts on Minister Birmingham’s address.
If you have missed any articles in the Education Nation Series, you can find the full list of articles here.
“We need to find the sweet spot in our teaching.”
– Peter Mader
Disclosure: My attendance at Education Nation (#EduNationAu) was through a media pass provided by the conference organisers.
After morning tea and some time in The Playground, I was scheduled to join The Leader stream to hear Peter Mader (@mader_peter) speak about Strategies for bridging the policy / practice divide. I was very much looking forward to this session, as it is a real problem which faces educators everywhere and hearing some strategies for working through the divide that can occur would have been ver valuable.
I say would have been, as Peter, to his credit, was up front at the beginning and said that the abstract from the website for his session is not what his session actually was. This, to be honest, really annoyed me. I had chosen this session, as had everyone else, based on what was written in the abstract. I do not know whether an updated abstract was sent to the organisers and not uploaded, or whether Peter chose not to send an updated abstract, but I felt misled. Despite that, Peter’s session was interesting.
He opened by asking us to discuss in our table groups the question “if you could change any one educational policy for the benefit of student right now, what would it be?” Peter asked someone from each table to share what they came up with and a range of responses and some common themes heard.
Peter identified that there seems to be a common theme across these areas, which is a feeling of disconnect between the policy writers and those who are required to operate within the constraints of the policies. He indicated that he wanted to talk about policies of leadership at the macro level that can affect change at the micro level.
His next comment was that having recently spoken to some newly graduated teachers, he found that there was little to no awareness of the importance of professional associations. He is absolutely correct. From my own experience, in my initial teacher education (ITE) program my peers and I had at the time, and largely still do not, no awareness of the professional associations available. I would qualify that by also noting that no professional associations reached out to us by sending representatives to the university to speak to us or via e-mail with the sole exception of the NSW Teachers Federation.
Peter continued by remarking that we need to find the sweet spot in teaching despite the discord and the uncertainty across the entire education sector about the perceived purposes and goals of education (there is that concept again). He spoke about there being two narratives around education and that they conflict with each other. Peter spoke about the need to co-design policy ahead of the consultation phase, i.e., if stakeholders are engaged in the development process, the consultation is less likely to throw up red flags. Typically, he indicated, the policy is written and given for review without enough time for genuine analysis and feedback to be provided ahead of the implementation, showing that it is a superficial request, with no actual interest in hearing feedback for improvement.
Peter argued that decision makers and policy writers either need to have an education background, or to have trusted and experienced people around them who have an education background. I have heard arguments on this topic from both sides, however, and it is an interesting subject. Changing tack, Peter then said that to affect change, educators need three things; relevance, reason, and resources.
South Australia, Peter’s home state, is the state with the worst cash balance in the country he told us and so questions about how to fund education were serious and relevant. Politicians, he noted, often talk about the economy vis-a-vis what it should look like and how they will achieve that goal. However, they rarely connect education to the future by talking about what education should look like (purpose and goals again?) with any real substance, nor do they talk about how they will achieve that goal with any real substance. There is even less talk about to feed into that change and improvement with regards to ITE.
Peter then introduced the first of the narratives that he mentioned earlier, which was the role that media commentary plays in education, yet that it also has no real connection to schools. He posited that the clickbait headlines surrounding things like NAPLAN and PISA results induce a sense of nostalgia in adults, a feeling of back in my day… and a panic that there is a need to return back to basics and drill and skill. This, for me, was echoing comments and sentiments that Brett Salakas had made in his presentation to the Rethinking Reform delegates earlier in the morning. If our results are falling, then we need to copy what the top countries are doing because it clearly works seems to be the prevailing mindset impressed upon us by the media in its educational commentary.
Peter phrased it as the media and older generations wanting us to subscribe to a better version of the 1960s. He noted that there were some good things in the 1960s, but that we have of course moved on from then and that there were some definite poor practices in the 1960s.
Given I was born in 1983, I will have to take his word for it.
Peter quoted Ball from 2008 who apparently said that “learning is re-rendered as a cost-effective policy outcome and achievement is merely a set of productivity targets.” While the media give the impression that education is all about NAPLAN and PISA, Malcolm Turnbull has said that “[t]here has never been a more exciting time to be alive than today and there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian.“
Peter then asked us, in our table groups, to discuss what it is that is stopping us from shifting away from the obsession with standardised testing. There were, again, some very interesting ideas that came from the room.
My next note simply says YouTube: Future of Work which at the time, I must have thought would be enough information to find the video that we either were shown or that was discussed. Unfortunately, there are several videos on YouTube with that phrase in the title. I have reached out to Peter to find out who the speaker in the video was to help me narrow it down and will update this article when he confirms that for me.
Peter rounded out by commenting that learning is for life and accordingly, it should be meaningful, that we need to focus son assessment rather than testing, which are distinctly different from each other and asked us if there was, perhaps, a third option.
I was disappointed that the session was not what it was advertised as being and there was some frustration in the room about that. Speaking with one delegate, he was very disappointed as he had chosen The Leader specifically as it fits with his own Professional Development Plan and the goals of the school he is in at the moment, but that this session, as with many of the others in The Leader were a let down and that he had wasted the school’s money and two days of professional development. Overall, for me personally, whilst I was disappointed that it was not what it was advertised as being, I did find it an interesting, though at times frustrating, session.
Now the problem with standardized tests is that it's based on the mistake that we can simply scale up the education of children like you would scale up making carburetors. And we can't, because human beings are very different from motorcars, and they have feelings about what they do and motivations in doing it, or not.
Last week, students across Australia in Years Three, Five, Seven and Nine were required to sit the annual NAPLAN testing. NAPLAN is ostensibly inflicted upon students to assess their growth over the eighteen months since their previous NAPLAN (or to serve as a benchmark if it is the student’s first NAPLAN). This testing process has a significant number of flaws and causes stress, anxiety and frustration, amongst students and parents, but also amongst some teachers. This year was my first involvement with NAPLAN, as while I am teaching a combined Year Five and Six class this year, last year I was employed in an RFF capacity and had only been in that role for a few weeks when NAPLAN arrived, and thus felt only a minimal impact as a result.
I remember sitting the Basic Skills Test in Year Five sometime in the early 1990s (though I have no recollection of sitting it in Year Three), and my recollections of it was that it was a low-key test, where my parents received a booklet which talked about grade-level expectations, and indicated where my results across the various tests sat in relation to my peers at my school, and then either across the state or across the country, I cannot recall which. My teacher, Mr. Davies, who is one of the reasons I entered the teaching profession simply told us that we had to sit this test to assess our progress and to just give it our best effort. Mr. Davies was a fantastic teacher, and as far as we knew, the test had little importance beyond what it told him about our results. We sat the test, I rushed through it as I always did (and still do) with multiple choice tests, and then went outside and read a book while I waited for my classmates to finish. Mum and Dad received the results sometime later, we chatted about them, Mum asked if I rushed through the test (cue the head hang, “Yes Mum, sorry, I just wanted to read my book”) and life moved on.
I do not doubt that there was more to it than that, however, from my perspective at that time, as a ten-year-old boy, was that it was just something we had to do, but not something that was particularly important. Things have changed, however, and not for the good. My students seemed to do ok. I had two or three students who were a little anxious, but otherwise, they did not seem overly concerned. There were, however, students across the Central Coast, from conversations with other teachers, who could not cope and actually made themselves sick, including one student in Year Three. Additionally, there were students who would ordinarily write a high-quality narrative, with excellent character development, a complex plot twist, and a clever resolution, who simply froze because of how little time they were given.
I do not know what approach other teachers took in the lead up to NAPLAN, whether much preparation was in class, or set at home; nor do I know how much preparation my students’ put in outside of school, of their own volition (or at the behest of their parents). Personally, I sat down on Monday afternoon to talk to them about it for the first time (I had studiously avoided mentioning NAPLAN) at any point prior to that), and the reaction was immediate. Some students I could tell were worried about it, some were ambivalent, and some were annoyed that they had to complete them due to the time they took out of class. My Year Six students were ecstatic, as they would be spending the time undertaking Peer Support Training with another teacher and myself.
I talked to them about NAPLAN for a little while, telling them about my own experience with the Basic Skills Test, and then made it very clear that as far as I was not worried about their NAPLAN results, as long as they put in their best effort. I reminded them of the formative testing in literacy and numeracy that we had completed at the beginning of the year, and that we would be completing those assessments at the end of this term and again at the end of Term Four, and that I was focused on the growth they showed across the three iterations of those tests. I reminded them that NAPLAN did not know or care whether they had slept well the previous night, or had eaten breakfast or not, or are more athletically inclined, or anything else, other than the results that they put on their paper and submitted for NAPLAN.
We talked about the way they get feedback on their learning outputs in class, through the marking systems we use, or through one to one conversation during class time and that I do not get to see what they write and so cannot give them feedback, or know how they went, other than the number which is given for each test result. I could see some of the tension leaving some of my students, and my Year Six students were helpful as well, talking about their experiences and that it was not as hard or as stressful as they thought it would be.
I have a great group of students.
Whether or not we like NAPLAN, it is here, and it is here to stay, though I do not doubt it will evolve over time into something else (such as the move to digital completion which has been discussed for some time). There is a body of research about the impact that it has across the education sector and in the current education environment, where we continually here about the fourth-grade slump and the drop in results across PISA and TIMMS, short-sighted politicians are looking for a quick fix that will get them votes at the next election. There is talk about planning for the future, but I sincerely doubt that it actually means anything, given the way that politicians lie in order to get the support they need.
Students across the country have teachers who know and understand that NAPLAN is relatively meaningless, a single snapshot in time which takes twelve weeks to develop, and where the original negative (student submissions) are not available for checking. NAPLAN is a broken and flawed tool which causes stress and anxiety in students and teachers and from anecdotal reports, some parents far above what it provides in return. I await the result of this year’s NAPLAN test for my students, which will mean little as the text-type for the writing test was a different text-type to what they were required to write when they were in Year Three, making the data comparison invalid from every point of view I can think of.
What was your experience with NAPLAN this year? How did you, your students and your students’ parents cope? Do you prepare your students with pre-testing or give them a speech similar to what I gave to my students? Is your school one in which NAPLAN is a highly important test, or is it largely disregarded? I would appreciate hearing about your experiences with NAPLAN and the strategies you employ in your context to survive the infliction of NAPLAN each year. As always, thank you for reading.
“Mobility can be really difficult for children and can often interrupt their learning, so it is important that we focus not only on their education but also their well-being…”
– Lila Mularczyk, President of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council, as reported here.
In early March of this year, I stumbled upon an ongoing Twitter conversation (storified here) about student mobility and its impacts on student learning that stemmed from this article published in the Sydney Morning Herald. The author, Alex Smith (@alexsmithSMH), wrote an article with the summary of “Students who change schools several times do worse in NAPLAN than their peers and are more likely to drop out of school” and the ensuing Twitter conversation made for interesting reading, with the opening tweet in the conversation being this:
I agree with Alice, in that the reasons behind why students move schools are typically completely out of the realm of influence for schools and teachers, yet the impression that is left after reading the article, for myself at least, and I suspect some others in the conversation, is that the schools are to blame. It is an interesting article to read, and the statistics (based on enrolment data from 2008-2014) are, in many ways, not that surprising.
The reasons behind why students move schools are myriad, and are, indeed, often outside the sphere of influence of teachers or schools. Speaking personally, I attended six different schools (East Tamworth PS, South Tamworth PS, Orana Heights PS (Dubbo), Inverell PS, West Tamworth PS, Tamworth HS) in three towns (Tamworth, Dubbo, Inverell and back to Tamworth. I wrote five towns in my Tweet, however, I am not sure where I managed to pull five from). The moves, for my family, were mostly related to my father’s occupation, where he would be transferred from one office to another, across towns. The moves within the towns were typically related to the fact that we were renting and the house would be sold, or we needed to move to a bigger house as my siblings were born and we then grew up and needed more space.
There are so many other reasons for student mobility, as alluded to in the above tweet, more than can be covered in this article, but there is no way that any school or teacher would have been able to influence my mobility as a student. There are steps that can be taken by schools and teachers to help students settle into a new school, however, and that was the focus of the majority of the conversation.
Alice’s above Tweet provides an interesting insight into the importance attached to developing strong relationships with students from refugee backgrounds. The tweet implies that developing strong relationships, including characteristics such as mutual trust and respect, plays a key role in the student’s ability to integration into the school community, form social bonds, and see academic success.
I do not believe I would hear too many opposing voices if I put forward the notion that those ideals form a key part of any teacher-student relationship, and that any student who joins a class after the start of the school year will require assistance. My recollections of changing schools during the year are rather hazy due to the passing of time, however, I do not recall any particular teacher who spent time with me to determine what gaps I had in my knowledge based on what the class I was joining had already covered.
I managed. I completed my HSC (poorly), found myself a job and worked for ten years before returning to undertake my initial teacher education (which I completed with far superior results in comparison to my HSC). I feel confident in saying that any teacher would tell that NAPLAN does not represent the students in their classroom accurately, that Student A gets incredibly anxious with time pressures, that student B struggles to articulate their thoughts in writing, or that Student C is living with a messy divorce, or came to school without having eaten that morning any one of a dozen other emotional, psychological or wellbeing issues that teachers see in their students each day.
The point was raised that teachers invest time and effort and heart in their students who need it, in order to support them, bring them up and the growth that is achieved, across a range of domains can be immense, yet at the same time they are being questioned about NAPLAN or HSC results.
I have a few students in my class who are new to the school, and I am fortunate that my class is very welcoming and supportive (the whole school is incredibly supportive of each other in general, to be honest) and I feel confident that if a student transferred tomorrow, that they would be made to feel welcome by their new classmates, and that myself and my teaching partner, Mrs. W, would also be able to support them and build a positive relationship with them as we have with our other students.
The questions implied in the original newspaper article, or what I see as the questions being implied, is what can be done to better support students and the families who are considered mobile vis-a-vis changing schools after the commencement of the school year, and beyond that, is reducing the need for families to change schools, something that can be impacted?
I would be very curious to hear your thoughts on this complex issue and the variety of factors that play into it.
“There’s a mindset of flexibility and adaptability that comes with us. We don’t mind hardship. We don’t mind somebody saying, ‘Go in and do this nasty job.’ Whatever the job is, we can do it. That’s why the nation has a Marine Corps.”
-Attributed to James F. Amos
The above quote may have come from someone talking to the context of the United States Marine Corp, but it applies equally to the teaching profession and the jobs that teachers do. This week, all year three and five students, and their teachers are undertaking the annual NAPLAN assessment. Wherever you sit in regards to the NAPLAN Debate, it has to be acknowledged that NAPLAN causes a large level of disruption to the whole school community, and for some students, is a highly stressful experience.
Yesterday saw two sessions of NAPLAN testing, and for me, personally, it was the cause of no small amount of frustration. My first class was unaffected, as it was a kindergarten class, however that was only the start of things. After the first half hour with the kindergarten class, I proceeded to a Year three and four composite class. I had been advised that morning that that particular class would consist of only the year fours from it and another class with the years threes from the two classes sitting NAPLAN in the same room. That is okay, I thought to myself, I can work with the year fours first, and then the year three students, as two separate blocks of students, cover the material needed and not double up.
Unfortunately, that didn’t work. When the session was finished, and I was packing up, I was told that the NAPLAN session had not yet finished and they needed more time, which was not really an issue, as I simply took my RFF (release from face to face) session then, and came back after that, expecting to have the combined cohort of year three students.
Wrong. I had the entirety of the class, both the year three, and the year four students I had previously had that morning. My initial thought was that this was a good opportunity to have the year four students cement their own knowledge, by peer tutoring the year three students on the skills I had just taught them. I did not have enough year four students for this to work properly, and then lost further year four students to errands that needed to be done.
At this point I decided that it was not working, and changed what I was doing with the students, and worked through some different topics using my store of videos, which allowed me to work through some different areas of learning with the class.
Today has been an even bigger mish-mash. My first session was as normal, with a year four class, I lost my entire second session due to NAPLAN, and then had technical issues with my third session. I was usingmyedapp.com with a year five and six composite class, which was also a BYODD class using iPads. I had created two quests that I wanted the students to undertake, the first being a fundamental computer skills quest, and the second a book study. The computer skills course consisted of a series of short videos, each covering one skill, with formative assessment throughout.
Unfortunately, the videos were not working, the upload file (for students) was only allowing photos or videos for the students, and when I tried to upload a video in place of the link, that also would not work. A quick message to the myEdapp team via their in-app contact button resulted in a phone call from Yohan, the CEO a few minutes later, for a quick conversation to let me know what the issues were, while I was live in the room, which was hugely helpful.
I have another year five and six composite class this afternoon, and I will be doing similar skills, however will be utilising the school bank of laptops, which unfortunately only have Internet Explorer loaded, a browser that myEdapp does not support. This means that as a workaround, I will be showing the videos on the class projector/interactive whiteboard, and we will be discussing the skills. This will not be as engaging for the students, however, I will be able to intersperse this with some practical hands on activities as well.
As always, thank you for reading, and I would like to hear from you as to how you have been impacted by NAPLAN this year, and how you are working around it.