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SCHOOL-IT  February 2004

SCHOOL-IT February 2004

Subject:

Performance Assessment Tasks

From:

Doug Reaves <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

School Information Technology Discussion <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 4 Feb 2004 13:54:06 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (58 lines)

I apologize in advance for my ignorance regarding the Performace Assessment
Tasks (and regarding everything else, too!) that are being discussed on this
list. However, I want to share a concern. I have looked at the ISTE
recommendations for "performance indicators" relating to technology, and I
am very surprised at the recommendations they have made. I will wonder aloud
as to their developmental approprateness, educationally, pedagocially, and
emotionally.

Here is a selection from the pre-k through 2nd grade:
- Use developmentally appropriate multimedia resources (e.g., interactive
books, educational software, elementary multimedia encyclopedias) to support
learning.
- Create developmentally appropriate multimedia products with support from
teachers, family members, or student partners.
- Gather information and communicate with others using telecommunications,
with support from teachers, family members, or student partners.

Here it goes....Is multimedia and internet fluency a goal we need to spend a
lot of time or money on when we have large percentages of our children who
can't read, write, and cipher?  Electronic books? What is wrong with the
paper kind? They're much easier to read, and talk about resolution! It is
difficult for me to understand why we would choose to spend any of our
precious educational minutes with our 5 and 6 year olds on multimedia or the
internet. In my opinion, they need books, art materials, music, rich
converstion, playground, sunshine, and trips to see the world. Our district
can't provide them all, so what gets left out?

Even with middle school students, I see much higher level thinking and
analysis happen (except perhaps occasionally in math and the sciences) with
books and periodicals as opposed to time spent in front of a computer. I
don't believe most students are ready for the level of abstraction that
technology demands until middle teen years and older. If we need performance
standards having anything to do with technology, the focus should be on the
higher level thinking and not on the buttons. Edward Tufte has a very
interesting essay called "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint." The thesis of
this essay is that slideware diminishes thought because of the constraints
in the software.

If I were paranoid, (Who said that? I know who you are!) I might think that
an underlying impetus for creating technology proficient children lay at the
hands of corporate retailers who want to condition our children to feel
helpless without the gadgets it sells. (How can I survive if I can't get my
email?!!!). As educators, it is imperative that we not allow ourselves to be
hypnotized by marketing and glitz.

Obviously, I feel strongly about this subject and obviously I have not just
made a well thought out and developed argument against too much technology
in our classrooms, but I hope that before we jump into yet another round of
assessment that students and teachers will have to endure, we have sound
educational reasons for doing so. Spend time in computer labs. Objectively
analyze what it is that students are spending their time on. Of course some
of it is wonderful, but I feel that objective observation will show that
minute for minute and dollar for dollar the bang for the buck is very meager.

Doug Reaves
Bellows Free Academy
Fairfax, Vermont

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