Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Utilize Tools to Demonstrate Mastery in Different Ways

Student mastery is a hot topic these days in education. As educators, we want our students to be able to demonstrate that they have mastered the content that they have been presented. When I was in school, mastery consisted of taking a test and achieving a score or a grade that was acceptable to move on to the next unit. Mastery looks a little different today in education than it has in the past.

Students need to have choices to demonstrate that they know content. What methods students and teachers use to demonstrate mastery depends on the content.  Digital tools gives students and teachers many more options to demonstrate mastery than a school without the use of personalized tools or resources. Students have the tools to use innovative ways to prove they know content and can formally use it in different modes.

Some important things to keep in mind when utilizing digital tools with a variety of ways to demonstrate mastery:

Use of Apps or sites
Creating a PowerPoint, while at times effective for different situations, is close to being archaic in the classroom. Students and teachers are finding more innovative ways to present information and communicate a message. Utilizing apps and different sites are great ways for students to demonstrate mastery. Some of the different apps/sites that I have seen students & teachers use include:

Haiku Deck– great way to tell a story
Toontastic – students create cartoons to explain concepts
Video apps such iMovie, Capture, Videolicious
ShowMe, EduCreations – create tutorials for others to utilize
Tackk – great tool to use for sites, blogs, or flyers

Creative Teachers
If you want your students to be creative, the teacher should lead with an open mind. As many in education know, students will blow your mind with the different things they can create. As a teacher, make sure you clearly describe to students what you are requiring for them to demonstrate mastery of the content. Think outside the box and don’t tell a student “No!” initially out of the gate. If the student needs to provide more evidence to demonstrate mastery, tell them what they need. Trust me, the students will find ways to do it.

Creative & Supportive Administrators
As an administrator, if you want your teachers & students to be creative, you need to be willing to venture outside the box too. Encouraging students and teachers to try different methods and providing them with the key resources (funds, apps, etc.) is critical. Also, providing the teachers with professional development on how different ways students can show mastery is important.  A great way to do this is to have teachers share each day during teacher-based team meetings the different ways they utilize tools to have students show mastery. Trust your staff and students. Teachers want students to learn. Students want to prove they know content. Let the rest of it play out by utilizing tools.

Educate Your Stakeholders
As I mentioned above, demonstrating mastery isn’t just taking a test anymore. The problem is, many of our parents were in school when this was the only way students demonstrated mastery. Educate your parents on the changes in education. Have your students and teachers utilize school events and social media to demonstrate how and why we offer students different methods to demonstrate mastery.

Student Interest
While not every student will take advantage of the opportunities to illustrate mastery in different means, more students will be engaged in class. Giving students options is the key to personalizing their learning. Student engagement and interest will increase if they feel like they have a say or voice. Give students the opportunity to share their ideas and tools with other students. The creativity level in the class will increase and more ideas for mastery will grow.

The topic of demonstrating mastery and how to do it can be messy at times. With the use of digital tools, it doesn’t always have to be complex. Let the students and teachers help each other and show what they know.

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