One of my favorite things about December are the summaries that bloggers share with their networks detailing the posts that drew the most attention in digital spaces. By pulling the best pieces to the forefront, they make it easy for me to quickly find important bits that I missed in my feed reader during the course of the year.
Since 2011, I’ve done the same here on the Radical, spotlighting the five posts that had the highest number of page views during the previous calendar year. For 2013, those posts were:
Technology is a Tool, Not a Learning Outcome – Sharing a provocative hand-drawn graphic detailing the kind of thinking that should drive #edtech choices, this piece and its companion image on Flickr were viewed almost 30,000 times in the past 6 months, making it the single-most popular piece of content that I’ve ever created. I think it resonated with readers because it communicates the widely-held belief that learning outcomes should stand at the center of our technology decisions in simple terms.
Are Grades Utterly Useless – If you’ve spent any time reading the Radical in the past few years, you know that I struggle with the role that traditional grading practices play in schools. For me, grades deaden students — causing them to see learning and curiosity and wonder as something that happens only when it is incentivized. Those thoughts sit at the center of this post, which begins with a great quote from assessment and learning expert Grant Wiggins on the uselessness of grades as a tool for giving feedback to students.
Is Standardized Testing Changing ME for the Worse – The hardest part of 2013 for me has been responding to the incredibly crappy #edpolicy choices that are rolling out the legislative chambers in our state’s capital. Perhaps the WORST of those choices has been the decision to (1). tie teacher evaluations directly to student scores on poorly written standardized tests and (2). introduce competition to the teacher pay scale by providing raises only to the teachers whose students produce the best results on those exams. This post was written one night when I was reflecting on — and deeply ashamed of — the feelings I was having towards my peers and my struggling students in the wake of last year’s end-of-grade exams.
Blogging Resources for Classroom Teachers – What I’m the proudest of about my presence in digital spaces is my willingness to share. Peppered through a year’s worth of the Radical are handouts and activities and lesson plans and slides and links to sites that I HOPE will make work easier for other teachers. This post is an example of that sharing in action. In it, I’ve posted a bunch of resources from a blogging workshop that I delivered in October. It’s a great starting point for teachers thinking through the role that blogging can play in their instruction.
How Testing Will Change What I Teach Next Year – This may not be the most viewed post of 2013, but it is definitely the most important. In it, I detail the knowledge and skills that I plan to cut from my classroom practice because (1). our state has decided to make standardized tests the single most important measure of the value that I add to the lives of my students, (2). this stuff ISN’T tested, (2). I’ve got WAY too much that MIGHT be tested to grind into the minds of my kids before our exams are given in early June. Take a look and tell me whether or not you think my students are going to be better off now that I’m “being held accountable.”
In the end, 2013 has been nothing short of a wild ride — filled with new opportunities, new instructional experiments and new lessons learned, both personally and professionally. Through it all, Radical Nation has been there — reading and reflecting and challenging and questioning. For that, I continue to be incredibly grateful. Here’s to hoping that you’ll stick with me into 2014. I’d miss you if you were gone.
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