Mystery Draw: A Listening Practice

A teacher recently asked me what were the top three skills they should teach in a computer elective course to prepare students for SBAC testing. It's not about explicitly teaching students skills to prepare them to take an assessment on the computer but creating authentic conditions that allow students to meaningfully use technology as they learn all the new standards.

With the CCSS standards, there is an emphasis on the listening and speaking standards. SBAC assesses the listening standards by having students watch or listen to media content of various lengths and complexity with the expectation that students will be able to extract and apply the information. Students struggle with this if media content isn't part of regular instruction. Many students don't realize that it is ok and they are expected to replay and pause content to allow them to capture the information they need. During a discussion with a friend and colleague about this and my obsession with Google Drawing, the idea of mystery drawing was born.

I remember doing mystery drawings in elementary school. The teacher would provide written directions to follow or read directions orally and repeat as needed. I'm imagining updating this practice and providing recorded audio directions such as:

  1.  Draw a circle with a diameter of 2 inches in the middle of your canvas.  
  2. Use the color fill tool to make your circle red. 
  3.  Create a 2.5 inch with a thickness of 8px that runs though the center point.
And the directions would continue. If students followed the directions correctly they would have a recognizable image at the end.

Mystery Drawing would provide a means to practice acquiring information from different media formats. Students would have the ability to control the flow of information and be encouraged to pause and replay as needed. Also, the tasks could be designed to help reinforce key vocabulary concepts. These tasks could be done individually as a whole class and then provide opportunities for sharing. Students would gain valuable speaking practice as they described their mystery drawing using the key vocabulary. There are so many possibilities with this. They could create the directions themselves and then others could help refine the clarity of their directions through feedback and critique. Now I just need to problem solve a few of the immediate challenges I anticipate in making this reality. I look forward to sharing my first iteration of Mystery Drawing soon.

Note: The above blog post has been marked as draft since mid-June. I've had this idea in the back of my mind since then but couldn't figure out a way to make it feasible within the classroom. I wanted to create a way that teachers could push this type of assignment out via Google Classroom as a single entity and not have to rely on different file types or multiple tabs open. It was also important that students be able to complete the initial assignment independently to get the practice of controlling the listening media. I think I found a solution that meets these parameters. As I was began writing my how-to blog post, I figured I should post this first to provide some context. So much for swift iterations. Better late than never!