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When teaching, it’s always interesting when you teach something that people know a lot about versus when it’s something relatively new.  Using some basic facts quickly reveals what you’re up against.

So if I asked the question, what has more ice the north or the south pole or which would create a largest sea level rise if it melt? 

Before I give you the answer, most people know a little more about the arctic and its polar bears because it’s closer and it gets more press.  The Antarctic is the fringe at the bottom of the globe.  Other than the recent penguin movies, it’s like another planet.  People might know more about Mars than the South Pole.  Besides we know where Santa lives.

Well the real answer is that if the Northern Ice melts sea levels rise just more than 25 feet.  If the Southern ice-melts sea levels rise 210 feet.  Why the difference?  Take a look at these basic facts.

  • Antarctica has almost 9% of the land area in the world

  • Antarctica is the 4th largest continent in the winter and the 5th largest in the summer

  • The Antarctic ice cap has 29 million cubic kilometers of ice. This is 90% of all the ice on the planet and between 60 and 70 % of all of the world’s fresh water.

  • Antarctica is considered a desert because it so cold the air can’t hold much moisture

  • The cold and dry conditions in the “Dry Valleys” region of Antarctica are so close to those on Mars that NASA did testing there for the Viking mission. It has not rained in the dry valleys for at least 2 million years.

  • At the thickest point, the ice is almost 2-1/2 miles deep

  • Antarctica has the lowest recorded temperature; -90°C at Vostock in 1983. Inland, temperatures range from -70°C in winter to -35°C in summer. Corresponding figures for coastal regions are -30°C and 0°C.

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True and false, multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching and even essay tests for the most part evaluate knowledge and comprehension.  They’re easy to write.  Easy to score and easy to compare one student to another.

However, knowing and doing are two very different things.  That’s why there is often very little correlation between how employees do on classroom tests and how they perform on the job.  Unless you’re training academics, there needs to be a more meaningful way to do testing.

It’s actually fairly easy.  You ask an expert to watch the student work or perform a required task.  That expert will be able to tell you a lot about what that student knows and doesn’t know.  Most experts tell me they’d know in less than five minutes. 

You can then ask the expert what he or she is looking at.  What are the key inidicators?  Now you have a good evaluation checklist that you can use to train others on this type of evaluation.

This type of evaluation doesn’t favor those who are “good test takers.”  It also tests the links between a range of tasks and knowledge.

Unfortunately, this type of test isn’t very easy with elearning unless you can do some very sophisticated simulations.

Here’s a reading test that any school system can use that is guaranteed to be better than what they use today.  Give a student a book.  Say, okay read it to me.  After five minutes, ask, “what did you just read?”  Any good teacher will know where this student is on their reading ability.  You also won’t get anyone through high school who fakes their way through without learning to read. 

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