Internship Reflection

Throughout the internship I found it easiest to identify the potential differentiated needs of students with a similar Minecraft experience as myself. My differentiated tools therefore leaned towards helping students who were new to the game. In Givercraft Amanda, Ali, and I created chests filled with books of memories for teachers to hand out to students who couldn’t find their own. This was a tool I immediately connected with as I needed ample help myself as I fumbled my way through Minecraft.  My contribution to the tool was to fill approximately two of the large chests with books. Each book was filled with a memory from the Giver for students to recreate in Minecraft as well as a thought provoking question about the memory to be used as a writing prompt on the wiki. Being new to Minecraft and the story line for The Giver, this took a significant number of hours. Especially since I accidentally broke and destroyed a full large chest when checking inventories to make sure all chests were full. Three more hours. However it was time well spent as our books of memories were definitely used. The screenshots below that I took at the end of Givercraft show our depleted book inventory which indicates teachers found and gave the books to students.

Chest in Building 1, all but one book used

Depleted book inventory Chest 1

Chest in Building 2, no longer full

Depleted book inventory Chest 2

Chest in Building 3 unused inventory

Chest 3 unused books

We made a sufficient number of books with memories and it was clearly a tool that was used. I also found scenes in the game that were created from the memories in the books we provided, although I was unable t0 prove if it was from one of our memories or one they found on their own. However, in the wiki I found a student that provided a screenshot of a memory. The wording identified the memory as one of ours which confirms the students did in fact need and use our differentiated tool. Success. Our differentiated tool was just what this student needed to continue on their learning path.

Familiarly worded books of memories

another familiar memory I spent a significant amount of time thoroughly reading the wiki following up on students’ work. A couple of students in one class mentioned they did not find a memory and made up their own. We found out from the end survey that this was per instructions for the class. Of the two out of five teachers that completed our survey, one teacher shared that out of 3 classes 75% of their students received memories from them. Both teachers that responded said the tool was easy to access and find and their students appreciated being given memories in scenario 2.

Unfortunately my newbie status in Minecraft seemed to be more of a hindrance than a help when I entered the world (picture things accidentally being broken, getting myself completely lost that I could do nothing else but end the game etc.) so I did not provide much support while students and teachers were in the game. However, I did regular checks of the progress ‘after hours’. Once I had to rebuild the wall on one of our houses of memories and I also observed some builders for a while to see what they were up to. I used the Live Minutes app to check in almost daily to see if anyone needed assistance but it was very quiet. I forgot to take screenshots in Givercraft but my favorite scene by far was the cargo airplane in the sky and the dome building used for the ceremonies . I assume the kids must have watched the movie because the dome was an exact replica from the film. I was surprised by the number of students who had not read the book before starting Givercraft, it soon became obvious in the game.

Due to the success of our books of memories in Givercraft, Amanda, Ali, and I again collaborated to fill chests with supplies, this time we provided food and tools, in a secret teacher-only world. The idea again was for teachers to have supplies to hand out to their students who were struggling with the basics of the game. My contribution to the tool creation involved making and filling five large chests with foods that would quickly increase a player’s hunger bar. I helped to edit the explanation of our tool for the Teacher Training page, as well I created the screen cast explaining how to use our tool for the teacher training. Once again my experience, and also schedule, only allowed for me to document student progress, and their need for direction and guidance, after hours. I read the wiki and made frequent visits to the world and found the following:

Our differentiated tool was used by teachers and therefore students. It appears the food was more of a necessity than the tools however, they were both used.  Students expressed frustration in the wiki about trying to stay alive long enough to do anything. Our supplies of tools and food were able to help these students students survive so they could focus on playing the game.

Diamond Pick Ax Supply

Cooked salmon depleted

Fishing Rod Supply

Cooked Chicken Depleted Inventory

I also wanted to include my favorite LOTF creation, a game room for I believe it was called ‘Chicken Ball’. I wanted to play!

Favorite Creation: Game Room

Favorite Creation Game Room

Overall, our differentiated tools were successful in keeping our targeted students engaged and on their individual learning path. The wikis revealed many students were totally new to Minecraft and needed help in navigating the game. In Surivorcraft, a number of students expressed deep frustration about trying to survive. In both situations our diffi tool helped remedy the situation. There were also students present who were Minecraft experts, some helped their groups along while others seemed to have no prior knowledge of the book and/or did their own thing. The whole experience was an interesting mix and a situation that called for numerous levels of differentiation.

Slightly off task with Sponge Bob and Patrick

Slightly off task with Sponge Bob and Patrick

By comparison a class that was significantly on target.

In looking at both the Givercraft and Survivorcraft experiences on the wikis I noticed one teacher’s class seemed unengaged and happier to just goof off during their Givercraft experience, whether it was from lack of motivation or not knowing how to play. However in Survivorcraft that same class seemed to become slightly more productive and engaged. It appeared they were not participating in the wiki on a regular basis which made outreach difficult. As Mia had stated on my blog “Having minimal contact or access to students makes it feel like a guessing GAME sometimes.” However, something made them more productive the second time around. I believe it was the differentiation tools provided by our class that helped make it so.


1) I chose GerJulia’s work to evaluate as she managed to document both The MazeRunner and Lord of the Flies. GerJulia came into the experience familiar with Minecraft and collaborating efficiently with peers in the creation of the maze. She expressed concern over the size of their glade as she “hoped it had a enough room for everything” demonstrating her knowledge of the book. She expressed frustration with trolls, poor connections, a fire that destroyed their forest, and having to log out due to someone throwing invisible potions but she was conveying information rather than complaining and continued to move forward. She explained what they were building and why, “We built a hole like the griever hole in the book that leads to the way out”. In LOTF GerJulia immediately found trouble being put in the hole and having her house destroyed. She instinctually ran away and began building with people in her group displaying once again her effective collaboration. She managed to survive and collect supplies for herself and others, demonstrating her Minecraft skills as well as strong leadership and being a team player.

Rubric evaluation for GerJulia:

CCS 1.Key ideas and Details: Met – uses phrases to indicate construction followed text as quoted above

CCS 2.Key ideas and details: Not Met – did not document themes in the wiki

CCS 2. Key ideas and details: Exceeds – explains being killed and supplies destroyed by MrG

CCS 9. Research to build and present knowledge: Not Applicable – no evidence that student built skills in Minecraft through online research, seemed to begin the game with strong Minecraft skills

CCS 7. Integration of knowledge and ideas: Met – Uses Minecraft blocks, screenshots and text to assist in demonstrating her understanding

CCS 9. Integration of knowledge and ideas: Not Met – Did not present analysis of similar themes

NETS -1 a. & b. Exceeds – Created a system of behavior and way of working which enhanced world in book with positive attitude and being a team player

NETS 1 c. Exceeds – Fully engaged in Minecraft environment to explore simulation of the world of the text, “adding vines to the walls inside and around the maze and the glade”

NETS 2 a. & 2.b. Met – Used wiki and Minecraft to collaborate and communicate with other students

NETS 2. b. Exceeds – Demonstrated a willingness and ability to communicate and collaborate with other participants who are at a distance, helped others struggling to survive in LOTF

NETS 2. c. Exceeds – Led and contributed with a group to build maze and survive in LOTF

NETS 5. a,b,&d. Exceeds – Demonstrated excellent digital citizenship, minding the rules and remaining positive through many setbacks (fire, trolling, poor server connections)

NETS 5.c. Exceeds – Shared supplies in LOTF with others

Overall grade: A. GerJulia exceeded in all the NETS standards and met all but the two CCS criteria relating to documenting themes.

2) I chose SiCasper as he contributed more to the wiki than the rest of his class. He posted multiple screenshots with minimal explanation of his progress, including his creation of pi when he admittedly “got bored”. His screenshots included a couple from Scenario 3 for the MazeRunner. He did not contribute anything about the Lord of the Flies experience so I am evaluating solely on his work in The MazeRunner.

Rubric Evaluation for SiCasper:

CCS 1.Key ideas and Details: Met – Mentions they made the box and the glade

CCS 2.Key ideas and details: Not Met – Did not identify the themes in the text via wiki

CCS 2. Key ideas and details: Not Met – No analysis of character motives, most screenshots are of himself or friends

CCS 9. Research to build and present knowledge: Not applicable – Appears to have had the Minecraft skills from the start. Managed to build ‘pi’ and get off track without any help. No mention of online research or sharing skills.

CCS 7. Integration of knowledge and ideas: Met – Used screenshots and text to demonstrate their understanding of the Maze and how it was constructed

CCS 9. Integration of knowledge and ideas: Not Met – No theme analysis present

NETS -1 a. & b. Not Met – Created an accurate portrayal of the world in MazeRunner, there is no evidence of contributions that are individual expressions of the student (related to the book anyway)

NETS 1 c. Met – Student engaged somewhat within Minecraft to explore simulation of the world in the text

NETS 2 a. & 2.b. Met – Used wiki to communicate work through collaboration with group photo

NETS 2. b. Not Met – Provided not effort to communicate or collaborate with others at a distance

NETS 2. c. Met – Referred to ‘we’ in the making of the glade and shared group shots when in game with others therefore contributing within a group to enhance building

NETS 5. a,b,&d. Not Met – May have distracted others from their task with the building of Pi

NETS 5.c. Not Met – There is no indication the student reached out for resources on playing Minecraft nor shared any of their Minecraft knowledge with anyone.

Overall Grade: F. SiCasper did not meet the majority of standards set forth for this project. By not having contact with the student I am unsure what contributed to this but I can safely assume he needed more guidance to keep him on his learning path.


Survivalcraft Rubric. Retrieved from

Week 13 Reflection

Mia talk about approaching assessment as it is used in out-of-school programs. Where participants are not expecting or needing a grade and they are typically intrinsically motivated to improve.  As Mia stated “Their ‘success’ in a particular program could be based on their attendance, behavior, effort, interactions with others, progress, and impact on a group of contributions made in the program”. It is a different way to think about assessment in the classroom that I can relate to.

Scott mentioned in his blog that “Tests should show what a student knows, not what they don’t know.” To which I agree, and never understood the reasoning behind trick questions on tests other than for bragging rights of the student who answered it. Scott gave a glimpse into his classroom and assessments, being that he teaches Math as well I appreciated him sharing his ideas. As a result I plan to follow his lead and make the summative assessments cover less material.

Thomas’ PBL unit on Measurement got me thinking on how I can improve my own lessons when I teach measurement. Besides percents, measurement is probably the second most applicable topic I teach. I really need to emphasize that in my lesson so students can make the connection. Thomas’ unit served as great motivation for me to make that happen next semester.

Week 13 Using Formative & Summative Assessment to Enhance Intrinsic Motivation

How can I use formative and summative assessment to enhance intrinsic motivation? First I need to clarify in my mind what the difference is between the two. I found two helpful definitions the first from Carnegie Mellon (n.d.) explains Formative Assessment involves monitoring student learning, ongoing feedback to improve teaching and learning, and is a low stakes assessment. On the other hand Summative Assessment involves evaluating student learning at end of an instructional unit (ie. project, paper, exam) by comparing against some standard. Kharbach’s (2007) infographic below added that visual piece to keep things clear.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 12.19.00 PM

Popham (2014) explains in order “to support actionable instructional decisions about how best to teach students, norm-referenced (summative) inferences simply don’t cut it. Criterion-referenced (formative) measurement revolves around clear descriptions of what a test is measuring. If teachers possess a clear picture of what their students are supposed to be able to do when instruction is over, those teachers will be more likely to design and deliver properly focused instruction.” This philosophy lends perfectly with Understanding by Design, if we teach with the end goal in mind then the instruction and assessment will reflect that.

Khon (2007) brings up a problem with summative assessment, cheating. “If students are led to focus on how well they’re doing more than on what they’re doing, they may do whatever they think is necessary to make it look as though they’re succeeding.” Using solely summative assessment, we are setting students up to care only about the end grade rather than learning the material. Khon adds teaching strategies should be geared not to covering a prefabricated curriculum but to discovering the significance of ideas. This is where intrinsic motivation comes in as it negates cheating, because students are occupied with discovering rather than memorizing! We need to teach them to think not to just memorize, and our method of assessment can sway that.

Tomlinson (2013) suggests “Designing and administering assessments so that they get as close as possible to the student’s “true score”, or full understanding, should be a teacher’s goal.” In order to do so, it involves “grading and reporting at particular moments that happen periodically in a much longer cycle of planning, teaching, learning, feedback, and measurement.” This takes the focus off of assessment and makes teaching and learning the primary focus of the classroom.

Two concepts Tomlinson (2013) brought to light that hit home for me in my own classroom were:

-When giving zeros for missing, late, or incomplete work, “Many discouraged students accept the zero and never master the goals attached to missing work. Zeros significantly discourage student investment in the learning process.”

– Focussing on progression rather than an average of their grades. “Better marks later in a marking period suggests growth and effort.” This should be reflected in their grade rather than averaged in.

I found Tomlinson’s “3-P grading system: student performance (what knows, understands, can do), process (habits and work that categorize successful people), and progress (student growth in goals since prior marking period)” a great way to bring together all parts of the student for assessment.

I can use summative assessment as a pre-test to figure out students ability levels and post-test to measure their growth. I can use regular feedback, asking questions, and smaller projects to formatively assess students growth and direct them to continue learning.


My unit assessments:

-feedback at the end of each activity

-asking questions to understand thought processes during activity

-final project to reflect understanding of unit

1. Are my assessments norm-based or standards based? What are the limitations to each of these types of assessments?

The feedback and questioning are formative assessments. The project is summative. Formative gives me a snap shot of where each student is at the moment in time and allows me to give them guidance to continue to move forward. However, it does not give me a full picture of their progress from beginning to end of the unit. The final project will give me more of an idea of their overall learning, however the nature of this assessment may cause pressure on students and the temptation to cheat to receive a good grade.

2. Are my assessments open response or closed response? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each of these assessments?

They are mainly open response. This allows for students to explain their thought processes and understanding of material. The drawbacks of open response is it is hard to assigned a number grade to it. So I suppose I will be creating a rubric to help with that.

3. Are my assessments high stakes or low stakes or a combo? Why have I made these choices?

They are kind of a combo. I would like for them all to be low stakes so intrinsic motivation can take over and students focus on discovering. However, there are students that will not be motivated with the content if there is not a grade attached. The project will be slightly higher stakes just to reflect the importance of it, but hopefully students will be motivated enough that the assessment won’t negatively influence the experience.

James Popham, W. p. (2014). Criterion-Referenced Measurement: Half a Century Wasted?. Educational Leadership71(6), 62-68. Retrieved from: Egan Library

Kharbach, M. (2007) . The Key Differences Between Summative and Formative Assessments. Edudemic. Retrieved from

Kohn, A. (2008). Who’s Cheating Whom? Phi Delta Kappan. Retrieved from: 13 April 2015.

Tomlinson, Carol Ann, and Moon, Tonya R. (2013) Chapter 6: Assessment, Grading and Differentiation. Assessment and Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD). ProQuest ebrary. Web. Retrieved from: 13 April 2015.

Unknown. (n.d.). What is the difference between formative and summative assessment? Eberly Center Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation. Carnegie Mellon. Retrieved from

Week 12 Reflection

Through my discussions with Tristan on my blog this week I came to a bit of a realization. It seems like there is a fine line for a student being disrespectful and being true to their learning style. I instinctually feel students aren’t engaged if they are doodling, or looking off in the distance, or fidgeting, and it can feel disrespectful. We agreed that the answer is to work with the class to create a common understanding of what is considered respect. And then to educate ourselves of our students backgrounds and learning styles that may alter their behavior in a seemingly disrespectful way. All of this of course requires teachers to take the time to discuss and work through things with their students.

Thomas reminded me that although it was great to see the Key Largo school teaching to the students learning styles, that it is not actually a reality in all schools. Limited staffing and resources do not allow for such devoted accommodations for each student. However, being aware of the different learning styles is likely the most important part. That way teachers can make accommodations according to their schools’ available resources.

Conversations with Thomas and Cindy on Theresa’s blog created some food for thought. The fact that the brain can only take in three to seven chunks of information before it simply overloads was eye opening. And this week I totally experienced it, my brain went into system overload as I made my way through the readings. It made me wonder if technology is influencing those numbers one way or another. I sense myself checking out sooner than I did in college, but is it possibly because I am exposed to exponentially more information?

Week 12 Brain-Based Learning

What is brain-based learning?  As Eric Jensen (n.d.) simply puts it, “It is the engagement of strategies based on how our brain works.” Basically, it involves using the science of how are brains work to help students learn. And Terry Sejnowski (Jensen, n.d.) summaries that the best way to do this is to “Learn, discuss, then take a walk.”

It was interesting to me to note that Jensen (2005) mentioned “Engagement is not a requirement for all learning”. It took some of the pressure off of having every lesson to be ‘on’. Instead the learning comes from what follows: discussion, collaboration, and time to reflect and absorb.  Jensen (2005) summed it up like so, “Start with meaningful, developmentally appropriate curriculum, and add leaner choice and positive social groupings. Create the challenge, build a supportive environment with compelling biases, and get out of the way!”

Another interesting idea I came across when reading about working with students in poverty was how to change your perspective of students from these situations. Jensen (2009) claimed one should “Reframe your thinking: expect students to be impulsive, to blurt inappropriate languor, and to act “disrespectful” until you teach them stronger social and emotional skills and until the social conditions at your school make it attractive not to do those things” and also to “see students as possibilities, not as problems.” I found this to be true not only for teaching students but also for raising children.

How can brain-based learning inform PBL and differentiation?

“Differentiation is a sequence of common sense decisions made by teachers with a student-first orientation.” (Tomlinson,2012) If teachers have the background knowledge of how the brain works, they can use that science to influence their common sense decisions.

I found this video (Ellis, 2003) of a Key Largo school using brain based research, technology, and unique classroom environments to teach. It was interesting to see it all in action.


Three “ways of being” that White (2014) discussed that will lead to ongoing differentiation and brain based learning in my classroom include:

1. Creating an atmosphere of encouragement which has shown to make a difference – when students feels the teacher likes or cares about them, achievement improves.

2. Inclusion of multifaceted instruction such as multi sensory input, scaffolding, and reciprocal teaching.

3. Making content relevant. If the learning experience is designed to solve a meaningful problem the information will likely make it to long term memory.


Ellis, K. (February, 2003). Building a Better School with Brain-Based Learning. Edutopia. Retrieved from

Jensen, E. (n.d.). What is Brain-Based Learning? Florida Education Association. Retrieved from

Jensen, Eric. Teaching with the Brain in Mind (2nd Edition). Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD), 2005. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 5 April 2015. Retreived from:

Jensen, Eric. Teaching with Poverty in Mind : What Being Poor Does to Kids’ Brains and What Schools Can Do About It. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD), 2009. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 5 April 2015. Retrieved from:

Tomlinson, C. (March, 2012). Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner Friendly Classroom. SGIS Conference. Retrieved from

White, C. (September, 2014). Opinion: How Can Brain-Based Learning Change the Classroom? edSurge. Retrieved from

Week 11 Reflection

I appreciated Jon focussing his diffi-tool on students that need to be challenged in Minecraft. I have to keep reminding myself most students are not like me and could use the extra challenges to help keep them on track. It was a good reminder that students at all places on the spectrum need differentiation.

Through discussions via email and the blogs this week Ali, Amanda, and I are coming together again to provide supplies for teachers to hand out to students in need. In scenario 2 of LOTF and in scenario 3 for the MazeRunner students will need food and tools to survive. If students are struggling with this portion of the game, a teacher can teleport to our secret TEACHERS ONLY area where there will be a house full of chests with tools and food that they can take back to their students. Ali has posted our diffi-tool to the online community for us. We have divided up jobs for creating this tool and will get to work on it tomorrow night.

Week 11 Opportunities for Differentiation in Lord of the Flies and MazeRunner

mazerunner               Lord of the Flies

Ugh! After creating both infographics I re-read this week’s assignment and now realize they were supposed to be about opportunities to differentiate either scenario for Survivorcraft. Big whoops! The bright side is I now have a strong visual of the plots of each story to keep things straight, I needed the review anyway 😉 I have listed ways to differentiate below.

Opportunities to differentiate in Mazerunner:

– Provide a chest of food and one of weapon supplies for teachers to handout to students (my kids tell me an ender chest would likely work best) to give them a nudge if they are struggling to create these in Scenarios 1 or are unable to find any in Scenario 3.

– Provide how-to videos on making weapons and cooking/storing food for Scenario 1

– Quick reference sheet on how to create moving parts in the maze.

– Provide a list of additional maze requirements for students who quickly and easily build a maze. ex. maze must contain 5 moving parts, waterfall, etc. Take screenshots of the ‘extras’ they added.

– Students who finish building their mazes quickly can time themselves to see how long it takes them to complete their own maze. Record their times and keep trying to beat the best time or continue building to make it harder/longer. Possibly set a minimum time requirement, for example if you can complete your own maze in 30 seconds or less you must continue to building.

Opportunities to differentiate in Lord of the Flies:

– Provide a chest of farming, mining, and hunting supplies to hand out to those who are struggling in those areas.

– Students who finish Scenario 1 early could write a journal entry of the day before they got on the plane, or the day they found out they would be going on a plane, etc.

Apparently I am still thinking of differentiation through my own eyes. It is easiest to identify what a Minecraft newbie like myself would need in these scenarios in order to participate and learn. The diffitool I will create for the Survivorcraft experience will be chests of supplies (one of food items and one of weapons) for the teachers to hand out as necessary in Scenario 1 and 3 for the Mazerunner. I will experiment with an ender chest, ideally one ender chest would be in the teacher’s world and the other would be in ‘the box’ in the students world.I like the idea of supplies being given to them the same way they arrived in the book but I have yet to figure out how to ensure there is ‘the box’ in each community.

I did something similar with Amanda and Ali in Givercraft and it was effective so I feel this is a valuable tool worth creating for this go round.

Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, December 11). Lord of the Flies Summary. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from

The Maze Runner. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 31, 2015, from

Infographic.(n.d.). In Wikipedia.  Retrieved March 31, 2015, from

Week 10 Reflection

We have come to a consensus that yes, the books of memories that Amanda, Ali, and I created were a successful tool in Givercraft. Amanda created a brief survey to find out the effectiveness of our tool. Two out of five teachers participated, one teacher stated that out of three classes 75% of the students were given memories. The other teacher changed things a bit but hid memories around the community. So they were definitely used. I found proof of students building the memories on the game and also in the students’ reports on the wiki. I feel our diffi-tool was effective.

I was able to remind Cynthia of our challenge on the blog, funny, because I almost forgot that part on mine. And I was able to commiserate with Tristan on the difficulties of getting back into a routine after back to back spring breaks. As well I shared Math Academy Dining Out as potential projects for using math in everyday life which Tristan believed would be helpful with her 7th grade students. Thomas also supported my project idea, it was nice to have feedback to know if I am on the right track. He also reiterated that assessment of PBL does not only include the students’ work but also the teachers. If we continue to assess ourselves as well as our students we continue to improve.

Amanda’s ideas for tools for Survivorcraft were definitely welcomed. I was really struggling trying to think of something that would be helpful. Her suggestions gave my brain a little nudge in the right direction.

Week 10 Impact of my diffi-tool on Givercraft

I believe our books of memories had an impact on the Givercraft game. The screenshots below show our depleted book inventory which means teachers found and, I assume, gave the books to students.

Building 1, chest was full at the beginning of the game.

Chest in Building 1, all but one book used

Building 2, again, it was full of books.

Chest in Building 2, no longer full







Building 3, looks like we made more than enough books!

Chest in Building 3 unused inventory







I also saw scenes in the game created about memories in the books we provided although there is no way to tell if it is one of our memories or one they found on their own. However, in the wiki I found one student that provided a screenshot of a memory. The wording looked familiar so I assume that it is one of our books. Which would confirm that the teachers did in fact hand at least some of the books out.

Familiarly worded books of memories             another familiar memory

A couple of students in Ms. Oliveri-Barton’s class mentioned they did not find a memory and made up their own. I’m not sure if this was per her instructions for the class. If so, I wonder if she knew of our diffi-tool? Hopefully the feedback from the survey that Amanda made for our chests of memories will clarify this. It may be a matter of informing teachers more of the tool in the future to make it more effective.

From browsing the wiki it sounds like the teachers’  hands were full moderating student behavior, as there was numerous complaints by kids about stuff being broken or stolen. I assume that having a memory to hand out when needed was appreciated as it was one less thing for the teacher to have to manage.

Now on to assessment and PBL. Right, so how do we assess creativity? And if we can collect data, what does it even mean? The Ontario Leadership Framework (2014) used Albert Einstein’s famous quote, “not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted” to warn of the misinterpretation of data. As a former student of statistics, I am aware how data can be manipulated to support a favorable argument. In this same article it went on to warn, “dangers lie in wait for those who misunderstand exactly what data can and cannot do. In fact, he (Hess 2008/2009) has coined the phrase “the new stupid” to characterize the misuse of data.” So we just can’t collect data and expect that to be an effective assessment. As well, we cannot just assess for the sake of  having a grade to record as Macdonald (n.d.) stated “Enquiry and Problem-based Learning are processes leading to a variety of outcomes and that the challenge is to use assessment to contribute to more effective learning, not merely to lead to marks or grades.” Assessment should be part of the process to contribute to more learning not just an end result, as well, it is a way to check that the changes we are making in our teaching are effective.  As Timperley (n.d.) stated, “Changing teaching practice in ways that benefit students means we have to check constantly that the changes are having the desired effect because effectiveness is dependent on context; these students, these teachers, this school.” A brief summary of assessment in PBL from George Wood (Boss, 2012)  exclaims, “Students should be able to demonstrate their knowledge through application. That’s the ticket.” Assessment is part of the process, checking that we as teachers are guiding students in the right direction as well as verifying students are growing and participating in the learning. The application of knowledge seems to be the most likely and solid assessment of student understanding.


I must admit I am behind in my challenge, the back to back local school district and UAS spring breaks gave me a much needed rest but also gave a major hit to my time management and work ethic. I have been struggling coming up with an ill structured problem for PBL that was not just another project. In the reading this week though, Suzie Boss (2014) commented “When teachers design PBL experiences, they start with a thorough understanding of their content standards. Moreover, teachers consider the reasons why those standards matter. What are the big ideas of their discipline? How do those ideas connect to the world beyond the classroom? Good projects make content standards relevant.”  Aha! I have found my starting point. So after looking over the content standards for my class with new eyes I gravitated to the objective “Students will be able to manipulate whole numbers, integers, fractions, and decimals”.  The biggest obstacle I see for my students each semester is that they do not see the relationship between numbers and their different forms. I feel if they can understand those relationships then math will be less confusing as they progress. A quick google search lead me to  Math Academy Dining Out! which explores the use of fractions, decimals, and percents in daily life. I need to  look into further but feel it will construct the basis of my PBL unit. This particular activity is funded by The Actuarial Foundation which I found somewhat coincidental as I actually began studying to be an actuary at one time in my life. It must be a sign. 🙂

Boss, S. (October 2012). The Challenge of Assessing Project-Based Learning. District Administration. Retrieved from

Boss, S. (October 17, 2014). Time to Debunk Those PBL Myths. Edutopia. Retrieved from

Macdonald, R. (n.d.). Assessment Strategies for Enquiry and Problem-Based Learning. Sheffield Hallam University. Retrieved from

Ontario Leadership Framework. (2014). Using Data: Transforming Potential into Practice. Ideas Into Action.  Retrieved from

Timperley, H. (n.d.). Using Evidence in the Classroom for Professional Learning. University of Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from