Personal Communication

We will use this page to discuss our thoughts on using Personal Communication as a form of assessment.

Below are some examples of questioning strategies:

Tasks for this Module:

Due by 10/9:

  1. Read Ch. 8 in Stiggins and watch/read the additional resources posted above. If there are any redundancies, please bring them to my attention. 🙂
  2. Watch Annenberg’s video about questioning strategies.
  3. Critique the questioning strategies used in the classroom lessons in the video and post on this page. Also,
  4. Find a topic specific (or general if you want) questioning strategy exemplar video and post it. Whichever you choose, I want you to describe/discuss its merits in an original post.
  5. Please respond to at least one other person’s post. If you are taking the devil’s advocate approach, please let us know that in the post. That way we won’t take things personally. In your responses, please reference other sources and use appropriate discipline-specific vocabulary.
  6. We won’t be making, taking, or breaking Personal Communication measures this week, as your skill in this area will show up in your lesson plans later in the term. (Hint: I will be evaluating your lesson plans with respect to personal communication assessment elements in them.)
  7. Make two multiple choice items reflecting salient information from Ch. 8 and post them on this page. Please remember to rank them in order from correct to far distractor.

19 Responses to Personal Communication

  1. Roxanne Winston says:

    This video is from a 7th grade resource math class. After she selected a volunteer up for the introduction activity, she asked the rest of the class what she meant by the direction she gave the volunteer. This was a great opportunity to explore meaning in the question and to allow students to discuss verbally what was meant as well as give the student at the front more information or explanation as provided by the other students. As the student finished up, she asked “what did you do to figure out a better buy?” having him explain his thinking process with necessarily having to know the answer.

    As she started the more direct instruction or explicit part of the lesson, she prompted the students by asking about other ways to show division. In group work she asked them to discus how figuring out the unit rate would help. One student clarified her approach and the teacher followed up with a question of “why” and then asked the others in her group if they agreed. I think this gives students an opportunity to process out loud and bounce ideas off of other students. Group partners have an opportunity and responsibility to evaluate their own processes as well as the processes of the others students. It’s a discussion of problem solving and not judgment of the others students.

    I think the way that she asked her questions and follow up questions helped contribute to a safe space. Students were engaged with the lesson and each other. Most students would raise their hands eventually when she waited after asking a question. Students were actively writing in their notebooks and the small group closest to the camera were engaged in task related discussion.

  2. Roxanne Winston says:

    There are a few things that jumped out at me in Annenberg’s video. Initially, I enjoyed the probing type of questions used in the holiday lesson leading with a “why” question. This teacher also had the students create a representation of the sun and earth using a student and the globe. The how a law becomes a lesson fell a little flat for me. Questions were organizing questions related to process, but missed opportunity for depth. I think her assignment was useful and this lesson might lead into greater analysis, although this is elementary, so maybe not.

    The lesson I enjoyed the most was the social studies with literature. The questions were about compare as well as just identifying different components. There was so much going on in the lesson and yet it was well organized and clear. I appreciated how his learning target was about understanding historical change and that it didn’t matter the subject.

    It was the last activity that seemed to exemplify the concept of defining a problem space to ask the teachers create a unit/lesson about the pledge of allegiance. It was fun to watch the teachers explore the topic together and pulling different ideas and experiences into their presentation.

    Yes, it would be more applicable if we had secondary teacher example, however, there was some good questioning and asking kids to explore and think about rather than just recite.

  3. Oona Badgley says:

    I felt as though many of the ideas that the consultant gave the teachers in the training session were useful and had the capabilities to encourage all of the aspects mentioned that promote learning. The consultant seemed quite good at questioning her pupils and giving responses and I suspect she has quite a bit of experience. I did like seeing all the different examples of classes, but I agree with Erika, I would really like to see examples of secondary classrooms, and perhaps in a less staged manner? If that is possible?

    I was fond of the exercise in which teachers developed a lesson plan surrounding a topic, not only could this exercise be handy in my own future classroom, it was great to see what these experienced teachers came up with on the fly. It validated some of my own thought processes about the flexibility of lesson plans and unit plans and the many different ways to teach a subject.

    I was quite happy to hear how a “safe space” was discussed as I agree with this concept and have seen many examples of how a safe space was NOT provided for students and how detrimental it can be. It is, in the consultants opinion, the teachers’ opinions, and my own that creating a “safe space” for students is mandatory to achieve the kind of personal communication needed for learning and growth.

    I will say, the film is most certainly dated and there a few striking examples of this. First, the pledge of allegiance is no longer particularly relevant. Second, many of the teachers used the terminology “boys and girls”, and this is not sensitive to students that identify as neither or both or? It’s always safe not to make assumptions about your students and get informed as to what is appropriate.

  4. Oona Badgley says:

    I found this exemplar/webinar of questioning strategies. While it doesn’t show teachers and students in questioning sessions it is very well organized, and reviews much of the information we went over in the book. It also provides useful insight and tips for educators as well as things to veer away from when questioning your students. In the clip, the narrator goes over why questioning can be engaging, evaluative and efficient and how it can develop students as life long learners. I appreciated how this film reiterated how good questions should be framed, gave suggestions for when to ask them in class and the number of questions that you might fit in while teaching a science class. I also appreciated that the different types of questions were detailed and an interesting pie chart showing the typical types of questions asked in the classroom (most of which being recall). I have subscribed to R14 Science on youtube and i’ve added this video to my library as a valuable resource for future adjustments and reference for the classroom.

  5. Oona Badgley says:

    Alright, here are two questions. I like the first one, however, I had a hard time scoring the second one. Should I toss it or reframe? What do you think?

    1. Which of the following would be the best option if your goal is to get students to keep written records of the achievement targets they have mastered?

    a.Class discussions (far distractor)
    b.Personal writing journal (distractor)
    c.Response journals (close distractor)
    d.Learning logs (correct)

    2. What would be the best option for a shy, reserved student when using personal communication for assessment?

    a.Instructional questions and answers (far distractor)
    b.Conferences and interviews (correct)
    c.Class discussion (distractor)
    d.Oral examination (far distractor)

    Thank you!

  6. Alex Anley says:

    Before, During and After Questions: Promoting Reading Comprehension and Critical Thinking

    I think the teacher from this video does a good job of using questioning to stimulate conversation among her students about the book they are reading. She uses color coded sticky notes to distinguish before, during, and after reading questions. Initially, she asks the students what they are wondering about the picture and title on the cover. She then asks the children to converse with each other about their pre-reading questions.

    She also encourages students to be actively wondering about the story while she reads. I think this is an effective way for the students to continue asking questions throughout the book. At the end, the teacher goes through their during-reading questions and labels whether or not they were answered. Finally, she goes through their after-reading questions and together they decide if the answers to these questions help to understand the meaning of the story. This encourages the students to engage in higher level thinking.

  7. Erika Peterson says:

    I like that the Annenberg video has a focus on active learning and different kinds of questioning strategies but I wish that it included classrooms of older students as well as younger. I think it’s important to show higher order thinking, depth of knowledge and connectedness to the world with lower grade classrooms and I do find the conversations these teachers are having as very helpful I’m having a bit of a difficult time fully relating these ideas to an 8th or 9th grade classroom. Because even though the ideas about questioning are similar there are different kinds of classroom management involved in classrooms across grade levels.

    I did like the questioning strategies of the teacher in the 3rd classroom segment. It’s something I remember doing quite frequently in my high school social studies classes; In small groups, students would focus on one figure from whatever unit we were studying and become experts on them and at the end of the unit all the groups would come together and teach each other what they had learned about their specific figure.

  8. Erika Peterson says:

    I chose this video because the Socratic seminar is one of my favorite approaches to questioning strategies and it’s very similar to what we do in AVID everyday. One of the things I like most about it is the majority of the weight of responsibility of learning is on the students. The instructor gives the prompts for the discussion/ debate and leaves it in the hands of the students, usually in smaller groups, to discuss the prompt and their ideas or opinions and then listen to everyone else and be ready to defend their own ideas with a strongly constructed argument that uses their own background knowledge. As well as the ability to change and adapt their ideas when they hear another persuasive and strongly constructed argument.

  9. Alex Anley says:

    I enjoyed learning about the authentic instruction process. Higher order thinking, depth of knowledge, connectedness to the world, substantive conversation, and social support for student achievement are all very critical components that need to be established in the classroom. I also enjoyed learning about the “jigsaw” approach and could see myself using this structure in my future classroom.

    The first classroom example compares holidays in the winter which then leads to a demonstration of what is happening with the Earth’s rotation around the sun. Because it’s difficult for kids to think abstractly at this age, the hands on approach she uses is very effective. The questions used in this example are mostly clarification and organizing, as the others require much more higher level thinking and this is a kindergarten level class. I think her lesson pairs well with the questions for the kids.

    The next lesson is about how a bill becomes a law. The “flip-book” does a good job of highlighting part of this sequence, however, I thought it could have been more in depth. With regards to her questioning, I thought her lesson plan lacked a lot of higher level thinking like essential and probing questions. She mostly focused on planning and clarification questions only.

    The next classroom example is about the early world explorers. The teacher does a great job of incorporating essential questions into his lesson plan. His sequence of questioning was also effective as it led to more higher level thinking with probing questions. One of the participants in the workshop highlighted how he used a “jigsaw” approach in the classroom- which I thought was also very successful.

    The time wheel graphic organizer comparing and contrasting the two different books about farming was a very effective approach to the 1st graders. His questions were mainly focused on organizing and planning, which was more than likely due to the age of his classroom. He attempts at asking basic essential questions, like when he asks the kids if all farmers have fields and also when he asks kids to compare and contrast the two stories.

    Overall, the lessons were heavier on the planning and clarification questions. But, all of these classrooms were 5th grade and younger. I think that the higher order thinking questions are more appropriate for middle and high school levels. The video as a whole did a good job of outlining quality questioning strategies as well as establishing the importance of authentic instruction.

    • Oona Badgley says:

      I felt the same about this video, it was great to see examples from teachers that touched on many of the qualities that the consultant in the film mentioned and listed as techniques of quality instruction. In regards to the bill becomes a law bit, it would have been nice to see them do a bit more than repeat what they read on the wall, although they did have to draw a picture (which is a form of summary), I think perhaps this instructor could have taken them one step further to really test their reasoning skills.

    • Roxanne Winston says:

      I was surprised that there was actually some questions that allowed for these young students to think a little bigger. Thinking about why might so many people celebrate light or what are some similar elements between these two stories provide some opportunity to start comparing or contrasting or exploring. It was a good reminder to me that you can go deeper than call and response at any age.

  10. Elizabeth Day says:

    Above is a link to a video I found describing the “5 why” method. After viewing ALL the links above, it reminded me of a very simple process that we talked about in the context of quality assurance but you can apply it to many situations. The process is to ask “why” 5 times to big down to the root causes of a problem. (You can ask why more times but 5 is a catchy number). Often in analysis, people mistake symptoms for causes. You can end up treating a symptom if you don’t dig down deep enough. I thought this might be an interesting questioning strategy to apply in the classroom. i.e.. Why doesn’t Bob pay attention in class? Because he’s bored. Why? Because he doesn’t relate to the material. Why? Because he doesn’t see how it fits with the real world. Why? Because he doesn’t see how knowing systems of linear equations will apply to real life. Why? Because he only knows the steps to solving the equations, and not what or why you would want to solve it. Why? Because those linkages haven’t been explored in the class…. Oh, we can fix that.

    The 5 whys isn’t fancy but I actually have found it useful. Especially when I’m not sure of the questions to ask. You can always start with “why”?

    • Erika Peterson says:

      I’ve thought for a while that, when in doubt, just ask ‘Why?’
      It’s something very young children ask all the time but at some point in development it seems like people lose it and feel more inclined to take someones word for it. I wonder why that is.

  11. Elizabeth Day says:

    Assess the questioning strategies used in the Annenberg video.

    The Annenberg video seeks help teachers engage students through active learning. The video connects Authentic Instruction with five questioning categories and strategies. Importantly, “active” learning does not necessarily mean engaging in a hand-on activity, it also refers to active mental participation through critical thinking, conversation, and internalization of the information.

    One interesting point to me was the role of Essential Questions. I was surprised to see that Essential Questions had an overt role in kindergarten and primary classes. Previously, I thought essential questions were used to link big concepts and higher order thinking together for older students. However, they were used expertly with younger children exactly how they are used with older students. I also liked the idea of essential questions stretching across entire units and even classes. In some cases, everything can be linked back to an overarching question so that, as Ms. Messner said in the video, “Students don’t have to ask ‘Why am I learning this?’”.

    In the video, I felt like the examples were heavy on Clarifying and Organizing/Planning questions. In the Bill-to-Law example, many of the questions were designed to show students the sequential path of the bill and then the steps in creating their interactive flip books. This level of questioning led to many of the desired outcomes for students such as conversation (discussion, sharing, summarizing) and connection to the world (explaining roles, showing citizens involved in the process, linking citizen desires to changing laws).

    The Probing questions seemed like a primary category for making student thinking visible and ferreting out underlying assumptions (faulty or correct) in reasoning. I felt that this would be an important strategy in math and science to help students look for patterns to reapply or generalize to push higher order thinking or depth or knowledge. “Have you seen that before? Does that apply to any other situation?”

    The video also talked about how all the questioning strategies could be used at various levels of education. Questions for younger children would be more straight-forward and would grow to more complex questions. For students who have been focused on getting the right answer versus thinking about concepts, they may need practice and training in a safe environment to build their way up to complex questions, regardless of age. Some students may be able to jump into divergent questions but other may need scaffolds along the way to be comfortable with ambiguity and risk-taking.

  12. Elizabeth Day says:

    Personal Communication is a good fit for assessment in which of the following scenarios?
    A. Evidence of student reasoning is needed.
    B. Evidence of student knowledge is needed.
    C. Evidence of a student’s ability to create a product is needed.
    D. Evidence of student engagement is needed.

    Personal Communication can be a more spontaneous form of assessment. Because of this, which of the following statements is true.
    A. Teachers can fill assessment gaps with targeted questions.
    B. Record keeping is not an important consideration.
    C. Students benefit less from this method of assessment than other methods.
    D. Teachers can focus more on content areas than assessment biases.

  13. Alex Anley says:

    All of the following are validity and reliability issues in personal communication EXCEPT:

    A. the problem of distractors
    B. the problem of forgetting
    C. the problem of sampling
    D. the problem of filters

    Personal communication is an effective way to measure a student’s performance skills and product development.

    • Alex Anley says:

      Oops- I misread the directions. Here are my two multiple choice questions (ranked in order from correct to far distractor):

      All of the following are validity and reliability issues in personal communication EXCEPT:

      A. the problem of filters
      B. the problem of forgetting
      C. the problem of sampling
      D. the problem of distractors

      Personal communication is an effective way to measure a student’s

      A. reasoning
      B. performance skills
      C. product development
      D. writing proficiency

  14. Roxanne Winston says:

    What about personal communication-based assessment relies on its use of appropriate contexts and on your ability to manage effectively the subjectivity inherent in this method?
    a) Future application
    b) Contextual factors
    c) Validity and reliability
    d) Questioning and engagement

    T/F Journals help students reflect on their improvement as achievers.

  15. Erika Peterson says:

    Which of the following is NOT an example of personal interaction as assessment?
    A. Journals and learning logs
    B. Oral examinations
    C. Short answer response
    D. Student contribution during class discussions

    Which is NOT a contextual factor to take into account when considering personal communication as assessment?
    A. Socioecomonic status of students
    B. Language and cultural awareness
    C. Students understanding the need for honesty
    D. Accurate records

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