A new school year and lots of opportunities to try different strategies or tweak approaches to topics. For me, the classroom-based assessment component of the Junior Cycle will be a key focus. Our school is running a junior cycle short course in Coding and Programming which I teach alongside two colleagues. This will be our first year to formally assess second year students which will be part of their overall junior cycle achievement.
We have already started to take advantage of the forty minutes planning time afforded to teachers each week. So far, we have discussed how we can set tasks such that students are given as much opportunity as possible to develop a wide range of skills listed under the Key Skills. We are also keen to ensure we are drawing on as many statements of learning as possible and delving deep into those most applicable to the Coding and Programming short course. The planning templates available on the JCT website have been useful to steer discussion between staff. You can visit www.jct.ie to access these. Below is an example from one of our first meetings.
Our first number of classes have been dedicated to working with students so that they can manage themselves in a digital environment. An adjunct of this is that students must evidence their progress in a safe digital space which can be monitored by teachers. In order to do this we have created OneNote Class Notebooks which are ideal for this purpose. We have the ability to view and provide feedback in each student’s private section of the notebook whilst also distributing worksheets or notes through an area which only a teacher can edit but all students can view. OneNote Class Notebooks are becoming prevalent across the school as more teachers are becoming familiar with the school’s Office 365 platform. This is also coinciding with more subjects coming on stream for the new junior cycle. If you would like to learn more about Office 365, Microsoft’s Educator Community offers a wealth or resources including online courses for teachers.
For the Coding and Programming course, students are tasked with keeping a log of their progress using Scratch to code a number of different projects. This log is completed in their own sections of OneNote where they add screen clippings of their code to show where they have encountered a challenge, had to debug their code, used a new type of block, etc. A collaboration space in the OneNote Notebook can be turned on by us teachers. This opens up a space for students to all add content to a section and see each other’s contributions. This area is ideal for students to post screen clips of any problems they are having with their projects, allowing other class members to comment how they might resolve these. I then as a teacher can monitor how students support one another’s learning and keep evidence of same.
I really don’t know what I would do without OneNote and it is certainly making the implementation of the new Junior Cycle more achievable for me.I would love to know how other teachers are using various ICTs to support their classes as they begin to embrace more formative and ongoing assessment methods.