Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Show Me the CCSS Part I: Animated Explanations

A few days ago, I wrote about the importance of shifting classroom assessment methods from the traditional - selected response questions, for example - to more advanced options. The "old" way just is not enough, especially when teachers start tying in Common Core State Standards to their various ways of assessing student achievement.

Here is an example of a 7th grade ELA standard:

     ELA.RL.7.7: Compare and contrast a written story, drama, or poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or      multimedia version, analyzing the effects of techniques unique to each medium (e.g., lighting,              sound, color, or camera focus and angles in a film).

As a teacher looks at the necessary skills associated with this standard, the first one that jumps out is the ability to "compare and contrast" two versions of a story. Yes, that is right. Time to bring out the ol' VENN Diagrams.

Now I am not condemning the vicissitudes of the VENN Diagram. (See what I did there?) Rather, I am contending that if C/C activities begin and end with John Venn's timeless creation, then we have a bit of problem when it comes to assessing against this standard in particular (and all CCSS in general).

Compare/Contrast essays do have their place in pedagogy, but how many of them can a group of students do before they want to pull their Venns out of their Diagrams? And what teacher wants to countless hours pouring over boring student papers week after week?

Here is my suggestion, and it comes in the form of an animated infographic courtesy of Pow Toon, a free online program that just happens to be a perfect path to proficiency on any of several CCSS performance assessments. Take a minute to watch the video, will you?

With a program as simple to use as Pow Toon, your students can more quickly and efficiently "show what they know" about any given topic in just about as much time as it would take them to write a traditional compare/contrast essay. What's more, the videos they create on Pow Toon can be uploaded to a public or private YouTube channel that allows for easy viewing for not only you as the teacher, but also for peers (comment section for feedback and questions) and parents too, who just love seeing what their little darlings have created!

Again, there is a time and a place for essay writing. However, on a weekly basis, would it not be time better spent having students produce original videos with a program such as Pow Toon, that allows them each to showcase their own creativity, personality, and knowledge?

The process of making Pow Toon videos (as a final product) has a multitude of benefits:
1. It is engaging for students
2. Covers the same amount of content as would the writing process - but in less time
3. Creativity and information combine to form an enlightening presentation 
4. Saves grading time
5. Offers opportunities for collaboration and feedback via social media, i.e. YouTube comments
6. Video editing allows for quick and easy revision of content and ideas. Formative Assessment!
7. It is...dare I for the kids

Go on! Give it a try with your students. You will not regret it.

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