Where I'm struggling right now is the assessment piece. I think I'd like to get into some kind of portfolio assessment for students to demonstrate their competencies, skills and mastery of the outcomes, but there are a few problems. The first step to making things better is admitting you have a problem, right?
Problem 1: The curriculum. Joe Bower would be proud. What really hampers my ability to assess effectively is often the thing that is supposed to guide me and my students. The Alberta Education curriculum for Audio-Video is so void of substance and real action verbs (thanks Deana!), which can be a great thing for a teacher or a terrible thing. Right now when my students are putting together a 4-7 minute daily newscast, the curriculum is not working for us.
Take for example AV Preproduction 1 (COM 2105). The main outcomes (the bold ones) are words like: describe, identify, consider, discuss. The only one that actually is an actionable item that could be considered higher on Bloom's taxonomy is "present and discuss a production plan". Fail.
And don't get me started on the outcomes that ask the student to demonstrate consistent and appropriate workstation routines, or demonstrate basic competencies like communicating, thinking, and solving problems!
Problem 2: Right or wrong, the CTS outcomes in Alberta are developed for the one stop shop idea where students can get in, get what they need and get out. This doesn't leave much for a program that I want to develop with the Television Arts. So many outcomes from multiple modules are overlapping as we create our news program.
Problem 3: Television Broadcasting is only 1 module in the curriculum and credits in the province are tied to hours of instruction. I can work with this, but I need to be creative. There are several other modules that students will get credits for at the same time as COM 3165- AV Broadcasting.
Problem 4- Where's the substance?
The outcomes in the AV Broadcasting module are pretty basic, and the students have actually achieved all of them within in the first week! We are working on direct feedback from students in other news programs, feedback from the web, myself and the student news team themselves. Where is the curricular guidance for students to look deeply at the craft and art of TV production? Where is the connection to the real world? This is where I have to do a great job of connecting it to those in the industry.
Problem 5- Diversity of Occupations
I have at least 10 different jobs in my newsroom. All have their own challenges and tasks each day. They each have a detailed job description to follow that they helped develop. Students have been given certain jobs for now based on their strengths that they have shown me before the news began. All students have the opportunity to change what they are working on if they ask, but how long do they really need to feel that they have demonstrated proficiency or mastery of an outcome? Some don't need to demonstrate mastery of certain outcomes to do their job. Do I need to have knowledge and be able to help students achieve an outcome in math? No, there are math specialists for that. The blanket, one size fits all concept of our curriculum has the same flaw that our current approach to teacher PD: it is limited in its effectiveness because it only serves a small percentage of the population. Deep thoughts...
Putting it all together.
This post has been all over the place. Thanks for sticking with it. The outcomes in Audio Video just don't cut it here in Alberta. They are delightfully insufficient, and vague and basic all at the same time. It's frustrating. Now I need to focus on what I really want students to learn and to demonstrate because I know our news is going above and beyond what the outcomes tell us in AV production in Alberta. (All of this is my own doing for changing things up halfway through the semester.:))
Part 2 Coming Up
This is the negative, teacher B.S. side of what goes on in my brain and keeps me awake at night. At the end of the semester I need to report a percentage grade for a process and learning by the students that I truly believe in my heart and my mind doesn't need to be communicated in that way. What does an 84% camera operator look like? How do we know that an anchor is a 58% anchor? This isn't important.
Part 2 of this look inside the news will look at what is awesome and authentic and engaging (buzzword!) and keeps students excited to be a part of producing our show each day!
Thanks! Any thoughts, ideas would be appreciated!