More Awesome, Please
Either I’m a glutton for punishment, or there’s just too much awesome on the Internet and I can’t help myself. Whichever is true, I want to build something, and I need your help to do it. Here’s what I propose:
Here’s what I mean. As a math teacher, there are two things I need more than anything else: awesome tasks and awesome assessments. And maybe it’s because I just joined the party, but it seems like people are absolutely killing the task-creation side of the equation right now. The number of people creating tasks, as well as the number and quality of the tasks they’re creating, is exploding. And with some recent changes, Dan’s 101qs.com appears to be morphing into a place where entire tasks can go to live. I hope I’m right. If I am, the proliferation of creators and their creations will only accelerate.
But that’s only half of the equation. I need more than great tasks. I also need great assessments. I firmly believe that the quality of my courses will rise or fall with the quality of my assessments.
Why is my AP Calculus course stronger than my Precalculus course? The assessments my Calculus students take (throughout the year, as well as in May) are better than the ones I give my students in Precalculus.
Why am I stoked about the Common Core? It’s not because the standards are better than my state’s old standards (which they are). It’s because the assessments promise to be worlds better than the CST (fellow Californians know what I mean).
Weak assessments allow me to teach a weak course and get away with it.
But awesome assessments force the issue. If students aren’t doing some serious learning, we’re going to know. And it’s going to be uncomfortable. And we’re going to have to get better.
So Let’s Get Better (By Sharing Like Crazy)
So what if we all started sharing more of our assessments? What if they had a place to live, with room for rubrics and commentary and comments and suggestions for improvements and whatever else will make it easier to share and steal and tweak.
Let’s share the ones we think are fantastic (like this one from Daniel Schneider) so others can learn from our best moments. Let’s share the ones we’re embarrassed by so others can tell us why they’re terrible and how to make them better. Let’s share the ones we’re not sure about, so others can tell us what works and what doesn’t, what to keep and what to throw away.
Let’s start sharing. And giving feedback. And revising. And making our classrooms better by making our assessments better.
Are you in? If so, head down to the comments, hit me up on twitter (@mjfenton), or drop me an email (mjfentonatgmaildotcom). And by all means, let’s all use our megaphones to get others involved.
I’m next to nothing without you guys. But together… This could be exciting.