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Wesley Fryer said in January 18th, 2007 at 10:54 am

I think one possible answer that can help this situation is using course management software like Moodle for ongoing assessments. One of the problems David identifies in his post regards the need for timely feedback. We know that is one of the things learners appreciate and enjoy the most about gaming environments: the immediate feedback. When I’ve heard some teachers describe the impact using Moodle has had on their instructional patterns and the learning environment in their classroom, this is one of the main things that has come through: Students appreciate and benefit from the immediacy of feedback they can receive through many of the assessments in Moodle.

I agree with the point that we need to emphasize student engagement and learning more than “covering the content.” With so many curriculum standards to meet, however, I am not sure how we can help teachers escape their perception of being overwhelmed with content unless we REDUCE the number of curriculum requirements. This is the depth v breadth problem. We know we want students to go in depth in their studies, but we feel like we can’t because there is too much material to cover.

Ultimately I think we need to consider this not just from a big picture standpoint, which is perhaps easier but less useful since none of us can directly “change the system,” but also at a classroom level. Part of the answer there may involve getting students to help teach content to their peers in class. While students won’t get into the same amount of “deep study” with the topics they don’t research themselves and they hear others present, they will still get exposed to that content. The content they research and present themselves, however, will be learned better because of greater depth they get into when they TEACH the content.

Enid Public Schools here in Oklahoma has been asking students as well as teachers to develop digital curriculum kits for different curriculum areas, and I think this is a move in the right direction. They’ve even had students at their alternative campus develop kits, and their levels of reported ENGAGEMENT (which was one of the main points that started this thread of discussion, I think) was very high.

No one has enough time to cover all the content that is out there, and no one ever will. No one will also have the time, by themselves, to develop high-quality digital curriculum lessons for all the content standards they are expected to cover. Given these realities, I think we need to work toward a regime where teachers can create, share, and remix the digital lessons of other teachers that can be dropped right into a course management system like Moodle. Assessments included. Once those kits are “built,” however, the work is not finished– I think the act of getting students involved in the process of creating these should continue.

Good discussion here that’s keeping me thinking too, thanks for getting this going!

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[…] Here are some thoughts I posted over at the Tech Chick Tips blog on Anna’s post “Too much content,” following up on her ideas as well as some from David Jakes and Helen, who started this thread originally. The questions discussed here involve whether or not teachers are too focused on COVERING content rather than helping students learn content, whether teachers are spending enough time on the right kind of assessments and/or too much time on the wrong kind, and what can be done on a broad level as well as a classroom level about these challenges. I think one possible answer that can help this situation is using course management software like Moodle for ongoing assessments. One of the problems David identifies in his post regards the need for timely feedback. We know that is one of the things learners appreciate and enjoy the most about gaming environments: the immediate feedback. When I’ve heard some teachers describe the impact using Moodle has had on their instructional patterns and the learning environment in their classroom, this is one of the main things that comes through: Students appreciate and benefit from the immediacy of feedback they can receive through many of the assessments in Moodle. […]

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David Jakes said in January 18th, 2007 at 3:38 pm

But then again, as I mentioned in my post, we’re not doing enought of the right kind, which indeed would help determine whether if they were critical thinkers, or at the very least, had mastered the content.

I did look at your TEKS standards for Biology, and as an experienced biology teacher (15 years), I would consider it a very full plate. In fact, it’s unrealistic.

We’re fortunate that in Illinois that the standards are not that prescriptive, and enable us to have more latitude in the instructional content of our coursework. In fact, we are going through a district-wide curriculum process now (developing a guaranteed and viable curriculum)where we are actually “pulling the weeds” and eliminating extraneous content as it relates to what we currently teach relative to the state standards, so that we do indeed have time to spend to develop true understanding.

Thanks for your posts…they are thought-provoking.

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Anna said in January 18th, 2007 at 9:32 pm

What’s kind of funny is that our district is current all about Schlecty and engaging experiences and treating our students as volunteers. But we still have formatives, and CBA and Rigby’s and… and… and… *sigh* Poor kids.

That’s awesome about eliminating extraneous content. It does seem that so much of our TEKS are too specifically spelled out…

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Anna said in January 18th, 2007 at 9:34 pm

By the way, I’m now responding to David Jakes’ response to Wes Fryer’s response to my response to David Jakes’s response to Wes Fryer’s response to Helen’s post. Wee!!!

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LisaB said in January 20th, 2007 at 9:49 pm

Wow! Thought provoking stuff here.
So, the bottom line–what is the answer?

…….Round, like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning on a never ending reel…..

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