It is vital to keep track of the progress of the students in your class in terms of their ICT capability. Record keeping is not only good for that but also it aides in the progression and continuity of student learning. Imagine if you were able to keep accurate records of students and be able to pass it on to other teachers so that they can plan. You may recall how I discussed earlier on the importance of accurately assessing students’ capabilities and being able to use the Learning Continuum level descriptions in a more effective and efficient way. By keeping accurate records you will be able to achieve exactly that. The ‘best fit’ scenario will mean that you will be able to pin point where they are exactly between various levels of progression.
To keep effective records it is important that they show the complete coverage of ICT used and the progression that you had planned for it (Ager, 2003). It needs to be a quick way for you to recall which group has done which activity. The first record I would suggest for this would be having an ‘aide memoire’. As a teacher myself, I know that time is never on our side and so having one of these will help you keep track. Adequate information needs to be kept in them to help not just your planning but also if you have any pre-service teachers or supply teachers who might be taking your class in the future. Most importantly, and I will quote Ager (2003, p. 71) that there “needs to be an appropriate balance between the time time to fill in the information and the detail of information recorded.” For example, if you make it too quick to fill out it may hold too little information and be worthless. On the otherhand, a sophisticated recording sytem may be fantastic in theory with potentially great information, but teachers don’t have a lot of time on their hands and so you may not have of that time to fill it out completely rendering the entire system useless too.
Keeping records needs to be a manageagle task not just for you but the whole school system. You may recall the activity planning sheet I discussed earlier with you. You can follow on from this by having a checklist indicating which students have carried out various activities. Your record must be informative and contain the main techniques you want the students to learn and develop. Once again, I will emphasise the assistance of the coding sytem to record the progress. If you need help in completing these systems enlist the assistance of an adult helper or teaching assistant.
Continuing on with your teacher records from the planning sheet you can design a sheet to record anything significant concerning a particular student’s progress. This should not take up too much time as it has little to do with the activity itself. Instead record points about the coverage of techniques a student learnt and their confidence in using them. In addition, don’t forget to recognise their higher order skills such as planning, choosing techniques, hypothesising and evaluating the techniques and tools used.
Finding the Time
Planning, monitoring, assessment and record keeping are all integrated parts of what goes on in the classroom. They should not be a delineated activity. Assessment by itself should be a natural part of teaching and learning in addition to be able to arise from current classroom practices and based upon student’s previous experience.
In any ICT-based activity, there needs to be ICT checking points. For example, if the students were working on a project where they had to produce a book with illustrations relating to a different part of the story they would indicate as such:
- Select an appropriate clip art image;
- Import the image into the paint program;
- Use the magnifying tool and change colours and shape at pixel level;
- Include appropriate text in speech bubbles?
ICT checking points are an ideal method to implement as they can be undertaken throughout the lesson and this cuts back any additional time that may be needed and enables you to provision more time to other tasks. However, if this doesn’t occur it is best to ensure that any record keeping necessary is completed at the end of the lesson when your memory of student capabilities is still fresh or as soon as possible after the lesson.
Ten tips to remember
Here are ten tips that Higgins, Packard & Race (1999, pp. 86-87) provide in keeping effective records:
- Do as little as you can get away with – Keep It Simple, Succinct (KISS);
- Examples of work will jog your memory when it comes to report writing – it will be worthwhile collecting work in a usable form when it is completed;
- If you are going to use it, it is worth spending more time on it;
- If it might benefit the students, it needs to be accurate – if you are going to pass the record onto the next teacher to use, then it is worth making sure that it is useful. Sit down with the teacher and ask what they would find useful;
- Keep your records concise enough to be useful – records for the next teacher should summarise what you did, and where the students go to, in no more than three broad groups;
- Make class and group lists on a computer – you might even ask the administration for a copy of the class list and use this as basis for the group. Remember groups will be easier to manage if you make them yourself;
- Records should reflect what you planned – what did I say about how assessment is linked to forward planning?
- Consider a format you can share with parents and students;
- Record what students did, how much help they needed, and whether they achieved they achieved the learning outcome;
- Be efficient!
Self-Assessment: How effective are they?
Student self-assessment records will need to be kept on file. They can record their own progress. Can you recall what I said about how they should look? Possible statements that it could include are:
- “I can analyse results and present the information in a variety of forms.”
- “I can access information from the Internet.”
- “I can program a sequence of instructions (traffic lights) using a control box.”
Such records can be used by the students as a basis for talking to you about their work when they completed the task.
Self-assessments allows those students who are less confident with ICT to learn on a step-by-step approach while those who are more capable can justifiably miss out huge pieces of earlier stages and produce well designed documents including clip art, graphic elements, charts and graphs. The end result means real progression in their ICT capability as both students are able to make the most of the power of the ICT device or resource in front of them.
For you as a teacher, it means that you don’t have to set up different software as the children will be able to use more advanced tools when they become aware of them and also it will unlikely that they will run out of features.
Despite this, there are challenges with this approach. It is important that you prevent students from jumping ahead to more complex activities when they haven’t be able to understand the more basic features. If this is allowed, it will lead to demotivation as they will continually get stuck and asking for help. Frustration might set in on your behalf as you spend a lot of time undertaking an activity that is too difficult for them.
While this assessment method does contain valid points, the main disadvantage here is that over-confident students may over rate their capabilities. It does provide a useful method of assessment as it helps students to understand the purpose of the activity. However, in my opinion by asking the students to actively log their decision you will be to effectively and efficiently assess their higher order skills – they ‘why’ and ‘how’ they chose a technique/software/hardware for this particular solution. Self-assessment by-passes this process and students sometimes are not as confident and competent in techniques as they think they are.
What should self-assessment records look like?
All assessment sheets should look professionally produced and be tabular in structure. It is important that they are written in a certain language level using terminology that is appropriate of the age level you are teaching. Ensure that there are spaces for the students to indicate that they have undertaken particular work as well as space to identify the activity that was involved. There also needs to space for the teacher to write comments and to confirm that the student has satisfactorily completed the task.
Self-assessment sheets may take many forms and structured correctly can indicate the level of ICT capability a student may have.
Teacher ICT Capability – Having Knowledge of the Resources
To be able to effectively determine a student’s capability it is significant that you are familiar with the program in such a way that you will be able to identify the circumstances when students are ready to move onto a new feature or to use the software for a more demanding task. In addition, having clearly defined purposes for activities will help you to be able to sharpen your focus during your interventions.
Being knowledgeable about a program must involve more than you knowing how to use a program but reflecting on the processes it helps the user to carry out and the techniques implemented to achieve a goal.
In terms of record keeping, being familiar with the software will enable to comprehend whether a student can confidently and competently use a technique to create a desired solution.