Brian M. Pete

Brian M. Pete comes from a family of educators—college professors, school superintendents, teachers, and teachers of teachers. He has a rich background in professional development and has worked with adult learners.
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student journals

The Power of Student Journals

Categories: Authors

As I look back on my own educational experiences, there are two powerful instances that revolve around the use of student journals. In the first situation, I was a Master’s student and had been required to keep a journal for the term. It was to be an integration of reflections on the assigned textbook readings, the professor’s regular lectures, and class discussions, including the point of views expressed. The final blow was to track the informal leadership roles we were learning about, as they emerged throughout the course of the class. Even though I love to write, this was quite a daunting task to pile on us, considering most of us had full time teaching positions. Yet, I consider it one of the most profound learning experiences I ever had and I attribute that to the mindful reflections I wrote every evening after class.

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Problem scenarios require 21st Century skills to solve

How to Write Problem Scenarios

Categories: Instruction

If you’re thinking, “What is a problem scenario?” let’s start at the beginning. As part of the 21st Century curriculum, teachers are beginning to move toward inquiry learning, with problem-based learning, project-based and service learning models. The inspiration for this change in curricular approaches comes from a focus on 21st Century skills of the 4 Cs: critical and creative thinking, peer collaboration and ongoing classroom communications (Bellanca, Fogarty, Pete, 2012).

In addition, the use of problem scenarios or performance tasks (Fogarty, 2001) illuminates what students know, but also, they demonstrate more evidence-based behaviors and artifacts of what they are able to do. This robust endeavor provides multiple sources that are visible examples of learning. Read more

Formative assessment is to summative as a chef tasting soup is to the customer tasting it.

Informative Assessments Inform

Categories: Assessment

Simply put, when chef tastes the soup it’s formative assessment.

When the customer tastes the soup it’s summative assessment.

Dylan Wiliam, 2001

It’s an experience we have all experienced in some form or another. The chef is tasting the soup in its formative stage and based on his appraisal, he may sprinkle in some flavoring, reduce the temperature, add some thickening, or he may set the soup on the back of the stove with the satisfaction that it is just right and ready to serve. However, when the chef serves the soup to the customer, the final judgment, the summative stage, is made as the customer finishes the soup with a smile and remarks about how good the soup is or sets the partially-eaten soup aside, commenting on the flavor or temperature or her own peculiar preferences. Either way, the chef is aware and concerned with the outcome.

Harkening back to Richard DuFour’s (2006) quintessential questions about what we want students to know, how we know when they know it, and what we do if they do or don’t know it, the formative assessment question is particularly ambiguous. How we know what students know depends on continual and informed assessment as students are planning and working. These kinds of evaluations, formative by nature, occur on the fly, as students work to prepare the final submittal. Read more

Diving deep to learn more

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Going Deeper with Deeper Learning

Categories: 21st Century Skills

Deeper learning? What do we observe that indicates deeper learning, learning that goes beyond surface information, inert knowledge and mundane regurgitation of facts? What is the evidence that teachers look for to determine that deeper learning is occurring? What qualifies as high quality student work that truly impacts students’ ability to think, problem solve, make a decision and to innovate with ideas?

The word most often referenced when educators talk about deeper learning is rigor, a more rigorous approach to learning. In fact, several years ago, if you Googled the word rigor with Common Core, rigor appeared 280,000. Not surprisingly, when Googled today, rigor appears 872,000 times. Yes, rigor probably does signify deeper learning, yet, the mystery is still there because we’re not sure exactly what we see when we look for deeper learning or for rigor. Both are unclear. Perhaps one appropriate response comes in the form of a question, that we ask, “Are we causing kids to think?”

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