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Another way to look at formative assessment: Newsmap

This morning, I awoke to a tweet from Vicki Davis/@coolcatteacher: “A faster way to read the news: Newsmap.” It caught my sleepy attention, because I had, for years, used Newsmap in the classroom. Vicki linked to her quick blog on the way that Newsmap works. (Read it to find out more about Newsmap.) While, I have never thought to use Newsmap for my personal quick perusal of the daily news, the blog did inspire me to write one of my own. This one, however, is focused on the use of Newsmap as a formative assessment tool for the classroom.

If you want your learners to keep up with current events, assign learners to gather a current event related to the focused unit of study. For example, if you are teaching a biology class and studying genetically modified species, here’s a great article on the link between GMOs, chickens, and the bird flu. The article comes from Rueters and finding it was easy through the use of Newsmap. It is a one stop shop for learners, rather than a possibly unproductive, more general Google search. (In fact, Newsmap is powered by Google.) Since Newsmap color codes their articles by general topic, they are easy to find. It is also a great way for learners to compare data from other countries. What is news in the U.S. may not be as newsworthy in Canada, the U.K., or Australia. If you are fluent in another language, or are teaching a higher level language course, this is also a great source to compare the news of Germany, Spain, Mexico, France, India, or any other number of foreign nations.

Step two is where the use of Diigo comes into play. It is one thing for learners to find the article related to the unit of study, but that is only scaffolding on the understanding level of Bloom’s. Diigo allows learners to socially bookmark their page of news and share it with the group that you have created for your class. Step three is where it gets really interesting. Learners need to have highlighted and annotated their articles. This is a digital talking to the text process. Now learners are moving into the analyzing portion of Bloom’s. Step four will take the process into the evaluating level of Bloom’s. Learners must take one shared article and respond to the annotations from the original sharer. Throughout this multi-step process, learners are now moving into the higher levels of thinking. It goes way beyond what my 8th grade civics teacher, Mrs. Peters, used to require of us for current events. Rather than just sharing aloud a brief synopsis of a newsworthy find, (or in some cases in my 8th grade past, a not so newsworthy find), this allows for a true formative assessment of the understanding of the current topics of study.

 

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