K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

About this video

Daniel Lunk
Date created
December 2010
Flash Video
This video copyright ©2010. Terms of use

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In the classroom

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Using teacher interviews and classroom footage, this video illustrates how using perspectives-based assignments can improve classroom instruction and assessment. Teachers from elementary, middle, and high school discuss how this approach contributes to effective formative assessment, informed differentiation, and higher test scores.

This video is one in a four-part series about creating and implementing perspectives-based assignments. The other videos include:

The videos are associated with the article “Who Cares?: Using Real-World Perspectives to Engage Academically Gifted Learners.”


Student (00:10)
Dude! Read this. Read this sentence and tell me…
Hayden Simon (00:20)
In doing the "who cares about," I’m really able to see what my kids are interested in, what they care about.
Ebony Williams (00:27)
Using this technique allows me to understand my students better as learners, because I am able to see what it is that they want to know, I am able to see what it is they know, and see how they can relate the two, and apply it to other things, other classes, other assignments. No matter what it is they’re doing, and I have an open relationship with the students, because they’re more apt to talk to me about about how they apply a concept.
Molly Patterson (00:56)
I definitely have a different sense of my students since I’ve been teaching this way. It almost lets you know a little bit more about their interests. One child in particular, it doesn’t matter which unit we’re doing, he always says a mechanic. A mechanic cares about graphing, a mechanic cares about electricity and magnetism, a mechanic cares about area and perimeter. So it tells me that he really enjoys working on cars, or working on engines, and things like that. So I think you get a better sense of your students, not only of their knowledge, and what they already know or have learned about as subject matter, but also actually about them and about their interests. So you can kind of gear learning more towards their interests.
Carrie Brewington (01:35)
There was this one time that — it was almost an "a ha" moment when I was using this "who cares" challenge strategy. Cellular transport is such a dry topic in science, and who needs to know why things are transported and packaged and sorted and what all the different organelles and the structures and the functions of the cell is? And so I had on the board a "who cares" challenge and it was all about cellular transport, and one of the students raised their hand, and they were like, "Well, the UPS and the FedEx guy would need to be able to relate to cellular transport because it’s all about packaging and shipping and moving things across concentration gradients, and it’s kind of like trying to ship something at Christmas time when there’s a lot more packages moving out, that’s going to use a lot more energy, maybe more stops, so more gas." And he was — the student was really able to make something as simple and as dry as cellular transport and active transport and passive transport, and whether or not it uses energy or not using energy, to the postal service, and the FedEx shipping industry. And I just thought that was kind of amazing for me because as a teacher, usually I try to think of all the things in my mind that are going to come up, you know, pre-plan, and be prepared for what the students are going to shoot at me, and that one even kind of stumped me, and I just thought that was amazing, that was a great moment.
Hayden Simon (03:01)
I think that it’s allowed me to get to know my students better. Their levels. I’m understanding the kids that they are really thinking outside the box, and then I have the kids that you really are having to push them to come up with stuff, so then I know when I’m pulling students who’s going to be able to take a topic further and who’s going to need a lot more prompting. For example the student that I discovered through doing this, he loves to rap, he loves to come up with raps. His family comes up with raps. That’s something I never would have known if I hadn’t done the "who cares about." So then I’m able to pull that into things like RAFTs and really grab his attention.
Student (03:40)
If I wanted to have a good business, like selling horses or dogs, I’d want the best ones, so I would be interested in genetic engineering.
Carrie Brewington (03:48)
This strategy really helps me get to know my students in a sense that every student is so different, and how they see a perspective career. For example, when we were talking about why genetic engineering would be important, some of the students would talk about the medical field, talk about farming and agriculture, and I had one student who wants to be an entrepreneur, and that kind of gives me a sense of who is and what he would like to do with his life.
Hayden Simon (04:15)
As far as formative assessment, it really allows me an opportunity to go around and talk to my students, and through talking with them, I’m able to see, are they understanding the concept? I’m really big on actually just kind of getting in there and having discussions with them, and I can see through those discussions, are they understanding, do we need to look at the topic a little bit deeper? You know, they might be out in left field. And so then we need to kind of rein them in and see where they were going wrong.
Carrie Brewington (04:49)
I’m able to use the "who cares" challenge to monitor student learning initially as — almost as a pre-assessment. Because when we begin this it’s almost as a bell ringer, and it enables me to see what students have learned about a specific topic up to this point. [In class] I heard Jorge, you said one of the things right off the bat was doctors, right? Doctors obviously need to know about genetic engineering. [In interview] And using that information I kind of can use that as a launch pad of kind of what more I need to do. Now when we do the "who cares" exploration, those are more in-depth, and that’s a more detailed — it may be a project, it may be an activity that spans a couple of days, and during that time I’m able to kind of walk around and monitor what the students have — the knowledge that they’ve gained about a certain topic by the quality of their product, how they’re able to explain what they’re working on. I think that a lot of times, just a multiple choice test, you can’t really gauge higher content, higher order thinking skills that like you can. If a student can actually verbally express what they know about something, then the quality in that assessment is just as much as would be in a formative assessment, such as the multiple choice assessments that we’re so used to.
Ebony Williams (06:08)
What they’re doing in class goes beyond their state assessment, their county assessment, and even common assessments that we have to do within the team, and so being able to monitor them, to work at a higher level, and then apply it to the lower levels, and they get great scores, and it’s like, wow, if everyone could do this in their class, at any level on any subject, all students would be able to learn. I love it, the students love it, and we have a wonderful time.