Tools to Evaluate 21st Century Teaching

Earlier in the EDTC program, I blogged about Future Ready Schools which is an initiative aimed at evaluating a district’s current progress in terms of meeting 21st-century learning goals. The feedback I received from my peers was that it seemed like an interesting program, but left little support for teachers wishing to independently identify their own areas of possible improvement. For this week’s post, I wanted to focus on evaluation tools available to teachers for self-assessment or coaches for mentor feedback. While many options exist for teacher feedback, my focus was on observation tools that support teachers in implementing 21st-century learning skills in support of ISTE coaching standard 2: “Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences.”

Before considering frameworks for evaluation, it’s important to establish what is meant by the term ’21st-century learning.’ I found the above graphic from the Partnership for 21st Century Learning to be helpful in considering the interconnected skills required of 21st-century learning. 21st-century learning focuses on deep rather than shallow learning, opportunities for real-world problem solving, overarching themes that cross disciplines, and equipping students with the ability to process, filter, and synthesize information from a variety of sources.

 

Evaluation Tool 1: Council for 21st Century Learning

The Council for 21st Century Learning is committed to supporting 21st-century learning by offering consulting and training to districts and schools. Their work begins with a diagnostic to identify areas of need. Support is then provided through coaching, workshops, and presentations. One thing I find interesting about C21L is that they emphasize two components for successful implementation- in and for. Learning IN the 21st-Century involves the use of technology to process, interact, and publish information. Learning FOR the 21st-Century refers to the experiences and skill sets necessary to thrive when interacting with technology such as critical thinking and collaborating. C21L has publicly shared many resources on its website that are available for all teachers to use.

The following observation form is designed to be used by coaches or administrators when completing walk-through evaluations. The checklist format makes it easy to take note of the various elements within the classroom environment. I appreciate how comprehensive this list is. In addition to types of technology use (by both student and teacher), there are places for feedback on the types of instructional strategies being used, student grouping, and even levels of Blooms’ taxonomy. Instead of using this checklist solely for evaluative purposes, it would also be a powerful tool for teachers to utilize when planning or reflecting on a lesson.

Evaluation Tool 2: Strengthening Your Reflective Commentary

This tool was created by AJ Castley and included in various methods on the Warwick Learning and Development Centre for teachers to self-assess. The form provides teachers with 7 open-ended questions to consider their teaching across 3 areas: teaching, assessing, and curriculum design. Within each broad question are more particular questions designed to walk teachers through a deep analysis and reflection of what went well and what could be improved within a given lesson. Some of the guiding questions include “Why did you do it that way? How else might you have done it?” I thought this tool paired particularly well with the conversations my 6105 class has been having about probing questions (see my earlier post on Inquiry Method for Educational Coaching).

These questions on this form facilitate strong self-reflection for teachers choosing to use individually. The framework would also work well for coaches looking at ways to draw out reflection from a teacher. Another way to utilize these reflection questions is to frame discussion within a PLC about a lesson or unit.

Evaluation Tool 3: Learning Design Matrix

One of the resources shared in my 6105 class this past week aligns with my exploration of feedback tools. The Learning Design Matrix was adapted from Eeva Reeder, a frequent Edutopia contributor on Project Based Learning. Within the four-square matrix, teachers and coaches can consider elements of a 1) Standards-Based Task, 2) Engaging Task, 3) Problem-Based Task, and also how technology enables and/or accelerates learning of that given task. Rather than viewing the matrix as a comprehensive to-do list, it is helpful to choose several key elements and consider how a lesson you’ve taught or want to teach fits within those elements.

Coaches can use the matrix when evaluating a teacher’s lesson or unit or when assisting them in planning. One activity we completed in class was reviewing a teacher’s unit plan and reflecting on the unit in light of the matrix. My classmates and I found elements of the matrix being used in the unit with success and then considered how we could improve the unit plan using other elements from the matrix. It was an extremely enlightening exercise.

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