Big Idea Fest, 2011 – Day 4

The Wednesday presentation was a huge success for my Big Ideas Fest Action Collab design team. Our project was chosen as one of three that will receive funding from the Gates Foundation for Beta testing! Gates has provided ISKME with $50,000 to take the three most promising ‘big ideas’ from the Big Ideas Fest to the next stage of development. An additional $50K will come from matching grants secured by ISKME in the coming months. The total fund of $100K will be used to pay for non-labor costs, such as travel, design assistance, software, materials, etc. Everyone from my Collab, plus any other conference participants who are interested, are invited to participate in the follow-on.

The team came up with an amazing way to assess student performance in 21st-century skill areas such as teamwork, creative problem solving, etc. These so-called ‘soft skills’ are not currently assessed using conventional bubble tests. Our assessment tool is very simple, very hands-on, and tightly integrated with the use of design challenge learning projects. In a nutshell, it provides a way to measure the impact of RAFT-style activities on student achievement.

Everyone who heard the presentation agreed that effective assessment of 21st-century skills is sorely needed in education. With Common Core standards right around the corner, the timing is perfect. We already have a teacher in SF who wants to pilot our assessment tool in her classroom.

I could not be more pleased with the outcome! My group of 18 educators was creative, enthusiastic, and very collaborative. We transformed “provocations” into “solutions,” and we converted “No buts” into “Yes ands.” Hearing our name called after three days of hard work gave me goosebumps!

– Greg Brown, RAFT Education Director (Dec 7,2011)

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