Bio: Prior to her current work, Kara enjoyed teaching at Holmdel High School as a special educator and at Manchester Middle School as an English teacher. While she instructed a summer program at the Center for Talented Youth, her first experience in education was as a teaching assistant at a private school for students with multiple disabilities. She deeply appreciated learning from and working with a diverse group of students. Today, Kara is a graduate advisor at Monmouth University and a student at Rowan University in the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership.
Reexamining the Mid-Term
January always seems to be a challenging month for both students and teachers at the high school. The holidays have just left us as the winter cold settles in our bones. At the beginning of the month, a familiar email circulates within the walls of the school; it is the mid-term exam memo detailing the deadline for submission along with the schedule of exam blocks. This is the catalyst that inspired Ms. Kelly Dabinett and me to turn this January into an experience of blissful student learning by way of matching student interest to their academic needs and their learning preference. We were determined.
There were several pieces of the puzzle which turned this traditional exam into a more interactive assessment, the first being that I knew I was collaborating with one of the best English teachers in the school. Kelly and I worked to create a meaningful experience to engage learners. In order to accomplish this, we set the parameters of the project -based learning experience which revolved around the books the students had read during the first semester. We decided to link the readings to real life interests of our students. For example, Values of the Game served as a springboard for studying the New York Knicks and The Alchemist proved to be an entry into a study of dreams. The topic selected was split into two areas of interest to be researched utilizing web based resources on iPads. Then, a personal connection web was completed to translate specific learning to the readings, oneself, and the world. Students selected from simulating an interview, acting out a scene, utilizing drawings or photographs with verbal explanation or considering another mode. Students used Flip Cameras for student recording. Then students conveyed their ideas and research to the class.
Luckily, two phenomenal students were willing to share their beautiful product with everyone. They completed their process on the text The Contender with an interest in high school dropouts. They discovered they wanted to learn more about existing differences of people in the world. One student reflected, “As the interviews unraveled, I realized I wanted to focus more on the dreams of people.” She went on to discuss the use of technological tools as a mode of expression, “It’s in front of you. It’s not paper and pencil in front of you. This is the new, that was the old. I can now share my ideas and thoughts with the world.”
Please follow this link to see the beautiful product of what was once the eighty minute mid-term exam.