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How Do We Know They’re Getting Better?

How Do We Know They’re Getting Better?
Assessment for 21st Century Minds, K–8

January 2012 | 264 pages | Corwin

Boost your students' 21st century skills

How do we measure students' inquiry, problem-solving, and critical thinking abilities so that we know they are prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century? John Barell explains how inquiry leads to problem-solving and provides specific steps for pre, formative and summative assessment that informs instruction of 21st century skills. Included are examples that show how to use today's technology in the classroom and how to use inquiry to develop and assess students' ability to:

  • Think critically and creatively
  • Collaborate with others
  • Become self-directed learners
  • Adapt and become resourceful
  • Develop a sense of leadership, responsibility, and global awareness

The authors challenge teachers to reflect on their own learning, thinking, and problem-solving processes as well as those of their students. The text provides frameworks for monitoring students' progress and guidelines for communicating with parents. Teachers will find examples from all grade levels that show how to observe and assess students' growth in their development of 21st century capacities, making this a timely and valuable resource.

About the Author
1. An Overview
2. Teacher Modeling
3. Creating the Invitation-to-Risk Environment
4. Curriculum for the 21st Century
5. Preassessments
6. Formative Assessments: Gathering a "Wealth of Information"
7. From Stories to Powerful Questions
8. "My Inquiry Skills Shot Through the Roof!"
9. "STEM Changed My Life!"
10. "Cookie-Cutter A" Becomes Self-Directed Student
11. Inquiry Begins at Home
12. After Action Reviews

“John Barell's writing provides insight and a compelling vision for educators in design and inquiry to promote critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration and the engagement of all learners. This is a must read for educators, parents and policymakers to successfully create a culture of inquiry for 21st century learning.”

Donna DeSiato, Superintendent
East Syracuse Minoa Central School District, NY

"This courageous work, told brilliantly through the stories of teachers and students throughout top classrooms in the U.S. and Canada, gives readers tools for observing, monitoring, and assessing students’ critical thinking skills and project based outcomes. This is a must read for 21st century teachers and school leaders."

Carol Van Vooren, Assistant Professor, School of Education
California State University San Marcos, CA

"An inspiring and practical direction for assessing the most critical skills our students must acquire to create, lead, and problem solve. Barell demonstrates the urgency of a curriculum standard for implementing inquiry learning in today’s classrooms. This book offers an exciting vision for revolutionizing instructional methods in the 21st century."

Crystal Martin, Elementary Teacher
Lee County Schools, FL

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter One: An Overview

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This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.