A Biology/English Secondary School Teacher
“Recognizing that students have different strengths, and what I might be, or what I might envision an object to look like, might not be a way a student can present their knowledge to me in the best way possible. And if I want to see what they know, I do not necessarily need to see it in a particular way. I would rather have them do what is comfortable for them so that they are showing me the best work that they possibly could.” – Secondary School Teacher
A secondary school teacher approaches teaching believing that students can co-construct their own knowledge. She is able to do this by understanding what they already know and then building off of that. Her pedagogy encompasses students being motivated by their own learning and leading of discussions, and using a large amount of student choice. According to Lau (2012), in this type of learning environment, students are able to grow in confidence believing their opinions matter, and that they could contribute to generating insight. Examples of this type of teaching can be seen below in various assignments this teacher has created in her Science and English classrooms.
This teacher created what is called a RAFT assignment for a grade 11 college biology class. This assignment is a research assignment where students choose their role, audience, format, and topic. Students work with their own prior knowledge to select a topic of interest, research in order to connect concepts and understand the theory, and take what they have learned and apply knowledge it creatively in a format of their choosing. Students are given a detailed rubric, including self-evaluation, to guide them through successful creation of a product guided by their choosing. Previous students have taken this outline and created websites, posters, or even brochures as if they were a medical professional giving information to parents or a journalist preparing to testify in front of parliament.
In this project below, you will see a “body book” created by a student to showcase the various roles and structure of the human body. Under the “Did You Know?” question mark flaps, are questions and answers about anatomy. The flaps engage students in a tactile experience.
In this project below, a mind map was created by a student to illustrate the concepts that would help her study for the microbiology unit. The student used colour coding to keep the map organized. Through this process, this student was able to pull out the most important parts from the unit to inform her understanding.
Elements of a Story
The following assessment was created by this secondary school teacher to demonstrate an understanding of the elements of a story. This was done in an English class where students read a novel together as a class, and then demonstrated their understanding of setting, character, and plot. Students had the choice to draw or write, as long as they were able to convey the information.
The student below created a comic strip to show the sequence of events in the story. This particular student’s first language was not English and he struggles with writing. However, he was able to draw and verbally tell the story, and this teacher scribed for him. This form of assessment and evaluation is “applying creatively” as Kalantzis and Cope (2016) would argue — “learners make an intervention in the world that is innovative and creative, distinctly expressing their own voices” (p. 75).