When I was a social studies teacher, we had something that was on the cutting edge. We had a program called “oral assessment”. Students chose a controversial topic, obtained sources, wrote bib & note cards, drafted an outline, created a two page paper, and then presented their argument and had a debate which was judged. It was powerful, thoughtful, and so beneficial for our students as they go into high school and embark upon group-work in college. If only I had this.
Now here comes oral assessment 2.0.
Once again, I had the privilege of judging a virtual debate arranged by Melissa Butler, (@AngelinaShy) a middle school ELA teacher in North Jersey. Melissa coordinates a series of virtual debates through Google Hangout with her classes against other classes around NJ and the country. She coordinates the topics, arranges the online coin tosses, has rubrics, shares a wealth of resources, and coordinates judges from around the United States. The amount of time, talent, and professionalism really can’t be measured.
Please watch the video above and see what most adults can’t even do today. I hope every educator can incorporate something like this into their classes.
For those that could not attend the February BOE meeting or the PARCC Parent Night, I made a narrated video going over the PARCC test. It’s pretty generic, so feel free to use in your district.
Everybody loves it when things work the way they are suppose to. Granted it doesn’t happen that often in any aspects of our lives, but when they do, it’s bliss.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit in on a group conference with a parent and a team of teachers that all had a myriad of concerns for a student.
This was not my first conference rodeo. I’ve seen parent-teacher conferences in just about every way known to man. Some of them are amazing; some I cringed; most are typically just “eh”. The one I sat in on – AMAZING.
It was the first time I got to see the team I assembled really work in full sync. Granted all are working well as is, but I never got to see them in action. It was a tough conference to have; a student, who is having some issues, also has some major home issues. There was no plan of attack, or pre-game strategy. Everyone just down, introduced each other, and it was like a whitewater raft ride. Some parts were serene; other’s were intense, but the takeaway was incredibly worth it.
I always said as a teacher that you know you hit home with a parent when you see tears. Some come five minutes into a conference; others come in 50; some never come. A group setting can be rather intimidating, but the Mom held her ground. About 45 minutes in, tears were acknowledged. The lead-up to tears wasn’t a barrage of negativity, finger-pointing, or excuse generating. It was a fluent conversation, and the teachers controlled it like a well-managed game of volleyball, just going back and forth all around, and a powerful (yet polite) spike would hit. It was just THAT GOOD.
I really do love my staff and am appreciative of them. I know they don’t hear it that much ( I need to do more than food and a cheesy joke), but after such a fantastic meeting, I don’t even know how to follow it up.
Rock on, LAC.