At PETE&C, Kyle Schutt shares how to “Teach Smarter Not Harder”

At PETE&C on Monday, Discovery Education’s Kyle Schutt filled the room with educators who were interested in learning how to “teach smarter not harder.”

Kyle began his session with an essential question; How can we use digital tools to inform teaching and learning and engage students?  The road map to his presentation included three main learning progressions:  1) monitoring our own beliefs about assessment, 2) considering how formative assessment is part of the instructional process, and 3) discussing how to connect formative assessment “processes” with 21st century skills.

The audience was asked to identify the focus of their classroom (click on the image below for a full screen view).

The big idea illustrated in the diagram was that those whose classrooms resembled the right side of the scale were focused on formative assessment whereas those whose classrooms resembled the left side of the scale were focused on summative assessments.

To demonstrate the contrast between formative assessment and summative assessment, the following analogy was used: “formative assessments are to summative assessments as physical exams are to autopsies” – Doug Reeves.  I think this analogy drives home the idea that formative assessments are informal assessments “for” learning where as summative assessments are assessments “of” learning.

When considering formative assessment and its role in good teaching, a model developed by Margaret Heritage was shared.  According to Heritage, good teaching includes: learning progressions, learning goals and success criteria, descriptive feedback, self and peer assessment and collaboration.  From these indicators, we can conclude that it is important to teach with the end in mind, and it is critical for students to help each other and assess their own learning during the learning process.

Building off these five components of good teaching, as determined by Margaret Heritage, Kyle developed a matrix of 13 digital tools that can be utilized to reflect the components of good teaching.  Though these digital tools can align to Heritage’s ideas, the key is HOW you implement them to monitor student achievement.

Here’s a list of the tools and a picture of the matrix (click on the image below for a full screen view).  Though I have utilized several of them in my own classroom, my personal favorites include the Discovery Education Builder Tools, Google Forms and Google Docs.

I encourage you to take a risk and utilize these tools in your classroom!


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