Sunday, August 4, 2013

What are your "takeaways" from the course?

What are your "takeaways" from this course?

I would welcome the opportunity to reread some of the articles presented in the class. I hope that we can get a list of them or keep our login for awhile so I can save some of them.

If I would get to teach an online & hybrid class again, I would make it more interactive, for sure! I would have the kids introduce themselves to each other and post weekly blog comments. I would encourage them to email each other for help.

I gave feedback to my online kids as I do with my traditional classroom students and it takes lots of time. I knew it was essential for student learning in an online English class and this online/blended class affirmed that feedback to online students is key to success.

I like the symbaloo as a sort of holding place for tools I use and tools I want to use but don't have time to use at the moment. I will color code tools to visit when time allows or at point-of-need.

The blog comments from peers were just fun! Blogging is BORING when no one comments. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Using social media in the classroom

What is your opinion of using social media such as Facebook and Twitter for educational purposes with older students? Federal law states that individuals must be at least thirteen in order to have an account. In your reflection, consider the viewpoints of other stakeholders.

I'm glad you asked me, Online & Blended class!

We need to talk about the economic concept of opportunity cost to address this question. Opportunity cost is value of the next best option - it is the value of what you give up by selecting what you think is the best option.

So the question asked means the teacher has to decide between using Facebook or Twitter or doing something else for a lesson. What would Facebook or Twitter be used for in a classroom?

1. Writing for an authentic audience.
2. Communicating with experts.
3. Summarizing - a great meta-cognitive task.
4. Communicating with other students, say, to plan a project. 

Now, you have to add the hidden costs of doing these types of activities using Facebook or Twitter, which include the time it takes to get all students working on Facebook or Twitter (getting out their devices,waiting for them to start, opening up Facebook or Twitter) + the time spent getting kids on task (instead of spending time reading Tweets, students need to get to the academic task). And there is the very real cost of all the time students will take trying to use their iDevice to get on Facebook or Twitter for the rest of the year; once a teacher opens the door to iDevices, it never, ever closes.  Many students, unable to ignore the call of their iDevice, will be only half present for the rest of the year if they are allowed to use them at certain times in the classroom. Technology enthusiasts have yet to offer real-class solutions to this problem.

It's time for the teacher to weigh the costs of the options. One one side are the costs/benefits of using technology to complete class work through Facebook or Twitter. On the other side is the simple cost/benefit of getting out a piece of paper to do the task or turning and talking with a partner or any of the countless ways teachers have right in their classroom, using almost nothing but brains and materials at hand, to do the same task, undistracted by the siren call of technology. 

Look, the idea that we need to get kids prepared for college by using technology such as iDevices, Facebook, and Twitter is outlandish. Technology skills are low-level skills; my mother, for example, learned to make kick-butt websites when she was 55. She had the desire to learn so she learned, tried, practiced, failed, learned some more, and got really good. 

We better prepare students when we help them expand their attentions, learn to think deeply, converse with others in a face-to-face environment. Learning is simple and we're making it hard. Here's the formula: dynamic teacher  + student brains + rigorous lesson plans with lots of scaffolding = increased student achievement. That's the option I will choose.

But I could be completely wrong. It could be that adding that student engagement piece and excitement that technology brings to the classroom positively impacts student achievement to such an extent that it cannot be ignored. For this reason, I do use technology in the classroom and look for tools that enhance student engagement and achievement to such an extent that the opportunity cost of choosing a traditional classroom devoid of technology is too costly, indeed.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

BDA Strategies

Just finished one week of intensive Reading Apprenticeship (RAISE) training and realized by day 2 that that program is just good old fashioned BDA strategies:
Before, During, and After Reading Strategies.


While looking for RAISE support on the web - seeking schools implementing RAISE and the supportive material they provide teachers, I found this terrific school corporation's strategies page which explicitly merges RAISE reading strategies into the BDA structure. Yay! Here it is:

Renton Technical College in Renton, Wa., offers terrific resources for teaching reading strategies: The list of resources under the Routines & Topics may be better than West Ed.'s RAISE Resource page (West Ed. is the creator of RAISE). Be sure to click on their RAT Tracks to read the monthly tips newsletter.

West Ed.'s RAISE downloadable resource page: Matches what is found in the book. PDGs are good to display on a projector so you can use the whiteboard to jot down notes and student responses for the class.

Okay...RAISE is great but it isn't anything new. I found this TOTALLY AWESOME READING RESOURCES PAGE ABOUT 8 YEARS AGO, and it was created and is run by a social studies teacher:

Tech tool to try: Shelley, from my Online & Blended Learning Course, suggested PearlTrees as a resource to try (mostly because she liked the name but it does look like a good tool for demonstrating visual thinking):

Friday, July 12, 2013

Reflection Time!

Which concepts from the course seem most applicable?

1. Of the information shared in the course so far, what do you believe will be most applicable in your professional situation?

I am going to print this list from edutopia and tape it by my desk. These 10 assessment tips can be used for any formative or summative assessment:

Ten Takeaway Tips for Using Authentic Assessment in Your School

How you can get started.

The School of the Future's (SOF) mission is to empower each and every student. Teachers accomplish this not only by making their classroom content and instruction engaging but also by making their assessments authentic.
Teachers ask SOF students to demonstrate their comprehension and mastery of the curriculum in ways that are meaningful to them. This goes beyond getting the "right" answers on tests. At SOF, students develop the learning skills and habits of mind that are essential in the classroom -- and the rest of their lives. Here are ten tips to help you use authentic assessment in your school.

1. Break Down Skill Work into Small Steps

Authentic assessment can seem overwhelming at first. Take little steps such as collecting data one day a week, analyzing it, and using the results to group students for the next week. Use a goal-setting sheet with other teachers and lay out short- and long-term plans to achieve those goals. Develop a system to track learning that works for you. Set time limits for collecting and analyzing data so you don't set the bar too high for yourself.

2. Build a Community of Practice

Authentic assessment can be deeply rewarding for everyone involved, but it does take time and effort and can be demanding on teachers. It should not become overwhelming, however. Teachers can work together to create dedicated common planning time for sharing their strategies, challenges, and eureka moments. School leaders should join the meetings as often as possible to help strengthen teacher community. (Talk to others who care about assessment in Edutopia's Assessment Group.)

3. Work Backwards

SOF teachers design their concluding summative assessments first. These assessments are based on what the teachers would like the students to ultimately show as a demonstration of their learning. The teachers then create lessons and smaller-scale formative assessments that will help students build toward those final assessments. Teachers approach units as ongoing works-in-progress, which culminate in a project or presentation. While students are deep in the grip of researching, writing, editing, building, and creating, teachers are observing and questioning student progress all along the way, constantly and organically doing assessments to discover students' grasp of the material.

4. Have Fun

Authentic assessments engage students when they are fun and interesting, so try to think of entertaining ways to approach your content. In one humanities class at SOF, students dress like ancient Egyptians and put on a play to demonstrate they are learning the content. In physics, they build a catapult to learn about velocity and acceleration.

5. Ensure Rigor

You can be creative with authentic assessments, but you still have to base your assessments on the standards you are teaching. Develop rubrics that will show you exactly what your students are learning. Share these rubrics with your students so they’ll have a clear idea of what you want them to accomplish and how you expect them to demonstrate it.

6. Give Cards a Try

Simple index cards or Post-it notes are a great way to get a snapshot of where your students are in their learning. Ask students to answer one or two questions on a card or Post-it on the way into class as a warm-up activity, on the way out of class, or as a homework assignment. You can then quickly review the cards to get a lot of helpful information to guide your instruction.

7. Tap into Students' Interests

Children are passionate about so many things. Tapping into students' interests is one way to get useful assessment data and to help students take ownership of and deepen their own learning. At SOF, kids who love video games study projectile motion in the online game World of Warcraft. Students who enjoy art and creative writing create graphic novels about the book Persepolis. The students' own interests get the ball rolling and open them up to a variety of ongoing and authentic assessment techniques.

8. Use Tasks on Demand

There is no one simple diagnostic tool that tells the whole story, so try a number of strategies to get a more well-rounded picture of your students. Tasks on demand, or TODs, are a powerful way to get a snapshot of student comprehension. TODs are quick in-class assessments given without warning and without any scaffolding or help. The goal of a TOD is to determine if students can actually apply the knowledge they've been learning. One way to make TODs more rigorous is to give students problems with incorrect answers and then ask them to explain why they are wrong.

9. DYO: Do Your Own Assessments

Set aside time for the kids to reflect and write about their own progress. Let them explain their process and approach to a certain skill as well as their opinion on the current unit, text, or concept. How they are thinking about the concept is as important and revealing as their ability to give a "right" answer. Students' ownership of their own learning is at the core of authentic assessment.

10. Use a Variety of Tracking Tools

There are a variety of low- and high-tech tools that can help teachers track their students' progress. Technology lovers use applications like Easy Grade Pro to track particular skills. Others prefer a more traditional approach and use pen and paper, tables, or spreadsheets to chart student progress at any given time. The most important thing is to find what works for you and to look at tracking as part of the whole assessment process.

2. Which concepts will be harder for you to incorporate?
This is my blog so I will be honest: I'll try anything that I think will help kids master content. Ideas are not a barrier for me; I love to try new things. Hey, I'm moving from 12th grade to 9th grade next year just because I want to see what 9th grade is all about. I embrace change and the unknown. 
So I looked through the course to find what will be hard for me and I think the idea of using digital tools to teach or enhance skills, while not difficult for me, may not be my focus when I am in the midst of a technology-rich project. I get into the projects and students learning together and the collaborative environment. I don't ever track the skills we utilized and then review with kids how the project helped us reach our targeted skills, and I think this could be a powerful summative piece for the students and me as we wrap up a project. I need to DEBRIEF as a concluding activity: What did we do, why did we do this, what skills were applied, what new skills were learned, what hurdles did we overcome. Yes, I want to do this.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Web tools are a great way to showcase assessments.

Cool visual of Bloom's / 2.0:

Web Tools Speed Dating:

Online Presentations
1. Animoto - publish short music videos using images, text, music - professional looking
2. Voicethread - a personal favorite of hers (& mine). Students can make voiceovers and text annotations. Great collaborative tool.
3. Prezi - But I will never choose to watch a Prezi again; they make me dizzy. Apparantely, she's not a fan because she talked about how PowerPoints are still great!
4.Google Docs
5. Slide Share

Mind Maps + Graphic Organizers
1. - simple & easy to use
2. SpicyNodes - turn a graphic organizer into a presentation. Highly engaging.
3. Mind42 - Collaborative nature. The 42 stands for "for two" people

Audio recordings - help prevent cheating online. Give students choices; students will be more successful choosing webtools they are comfortable with.
1. Audacity
2. Podbean
3. Podomatic
4. Screen-cast-o-matic
5. Jing - My personal favorite

The more writing in a virtual class, the better. And collaboration is great.
1. Google apps, especially Google Docs. (Does it kill Microsoft that no one ever mentions 365??)
2. - each student is assigned a specific color. Teacher can run a report - see everything written & deleted. Great for creating interventions for students. Other tools like Etherpad are similar.
3. Todaysmeet - a safe chatroom. Great for instant feedback for both you and your students!

Miscelaneous Resources

1. Animation
a Voki
b. Blabberize (upload a photo. easy & fun)

2. Create a poster
a. - make sure you use the .edu version
b. - create own infogram with statistics students research

3. Comics
a. Toondoo
b. Makes believe comics (how spelled)

4. Website Creation
a. Google Sites
b. Weebly - Kellie Jacobs at Plainfield HS has a neat one - click here
c. Wix
d. Wikis - blank, collaborative webpage. Some teachers have students create a class one over the whole semester, creating their own textbook.

Tell  me and I forget. Teach me and I remember.
Engage me and I'll learn.

Notes from Authentic Assessment in an Online Environment

Challenge for online class: Creating assessments that can't be Googled. Love this phrase!
Must have valid & reliable assessments. What's best practice for traditional is best practice for online.

Traditional = Scantron, low-level / recall. Not critical thinking skills. But needed sometimes.

Alternative = authentic assessment/ performance assessment --> The application of skills. Demonstrate meaningful understanding through some sort of task. Graded with a rubric or checklist. May not have a right/wrong answer.

You want your driver to both be able to pass the driving test and get behind the wheel and know how to drive.  Both recall and performance are needed.

In a virtual classroom, need both types of assessments, just as in a traditional classroom both are vital.

Share rubric of good performance & poor performance. Authentic assessment already lends itself to student originality and creativity so aren't likely to limit students when showing examples and not likely to see copying.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Daniel Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation notes

My Online/Blended Education course asked participants to watch Daniel Pink's video on motivation and relate it to our work as educators.

Notes - 
  • Rewards narrow our focus and restrict our possibilities. The answer isn't right in front of us; it's on the periphery. 
  • The Candle Problem
  • Right brain matters. Do problems have a clear set of rules with a single solution? No. Answers are surprising and not obvious. We're all dealing with The Candle Problem. The If-Then Rewards don't work. This makes Daniel Pink crazy.
  • Higher rewards often lead to worse performance. This is not a socialist conspiracy here.
  • Get $ off the table and then give autonomy.
  • FedEx days =  You have 24 hours to work on anything you want and then you have to deliver something overnight. 1/2 the new products from Google in any given year are the result of this radical autonomy.
  • Daniel Pink describes autonomous use of time in a business world model that a teacher could never have: Teachers have to be present room 7:15-2:55 each day in an assigned room.
  • Science knows the drive to do things that matter creates more and better output. Carrots & Sticks are lazy. 
Q1: How might you incorporate autonomy, mastery, and purpose into your professional situation? 
A1: Enthusiasm and a conviction that this matters - the very characteristics Daniel Pink has about what he is saying - can spur internal motivation. Giving kids choice so they can use their right brain can lead to internal motivation.

Q2: What sort of results would you expect if you made this change? 
Q2: Well, before the results come in, I would have to be comfortable with uncertainty. How could you know what results to expect? Isn't that the whole point - that the unknown will surface and this unknown could be amazing, such as Google Earth was - both amazing and unexpected?

Final Word
The biggest takeaway for me is to be comfortable with the unknown. So much of what I could do next year as an English 9 teacher could be very prescriptive. Pink's message is a caveat to me to respect students as independent learners, processing knowledge without any input from me.

Dan Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation notes

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Where do you fall on the Technology Integration Matrix?

This space left blank (except for the big pink arrow) so I could move my grid down, thus avoiding its running into the right-side menu.

Where do you fall on the Technology Integration Matrix?

Levels of Technology Integration into the Curriculum

The teacher uses technology to deliver curriculum content to students.
The teacher directs students in the conventional use of tool-based software. If such software is available, this level is the recommended.
The teacher encourages adaptation of tool-based software by allowing students to select a tool and modify its use to accomplish the task at hand.
The teacher creates a learning environment that infuses the power of technology tools throughout the day across subject areas.
The teacher creates a rich learning environment in which students regularly engage in activities that would have been impossible to achieve without technology.
Students are actively engaged in using technology as a tool rather than passively receiving information from the technology.
Indicator: Students use technology for drill and practice and computer based training.
Indicator: Students begin to utilize technology tools to create products, for example using a word processor to create a report.
Indicator: Students have opportunities to select and modify technology tools to accomplish specific purposes, for example using colored cells on a spreadsheet to plan a garden.

Indicator:Throughout the school day, students are empowered to select appropriate technology tools and actively apply them to the tasks at hand.
Indicator: Given ongoing access to online resources, students actively select and pursue topics beyond the limitations of even the best school library.

The indicators are not useful; I cannot be at Infusion because I have no control over what my students do “throughout the day across subject areas.”

I encourage students to try different technology applications and to teach me what they’ve learned. We will adjust a lesson mid-stream, in the middle of a class, when we discover a limitation or a better alternative.
Students use technology tools to collaborate with others rather than working individually at all times.
Indicator: Students primarily work alone when using technology.
Indicator: Students have opportunities to utilize collaborative tools, such as email, in conventional ways.
Indicator: Students have opportunities to select and modify technology tools to facilitate collaborative work.
Indicator: Throughout the day and across subject areas, students utilize technology tools to facilitate collaborative learning.
Indicator: Technology enables students to collaborate with peers and experts irrespective of time zone or physical distances.

I have yet to connect with subject experts using communicative and interactive technology, so I cannot be at the Transformation level. I do teach my students how to use tools, such as Google Docs’s chat and commenting features, to continue collaborating anytime/anyplace.
Students use technology tools to build understanding rather than simply receive information.
Indicator:Technology is used to deliver information to students.
Indicator Students begin to utilize constructive tools such as graphic organizers to build upon prior knowledge and construct meaning.

Indicator: Students have opportunities to select and modify technology tools to assist them in the construction of understanding.
Indicator: Students utilize technology to make connections and construct understanding across disciplines and throughout the day.
Indicator: Students use technology to construct, share, and publish knowledge to a worldwide audience.

Creating with technology, like writing, helps students to refine existing knowledge and to construct new knowledge. My students’ work is all over my school webpage for others to learn from. Here’s an example:
Students use technology tools to solve real-world problems meaningul to them rather than working on artificial assignments.
Indicator: Students use technology to complete assigned activities that are generally unrelated to real-world problems.
Indicator: Students have opportunities to apply technology tools to some content-specific activities that are based on real-world problems.
Indicator: Students have opportunities to select and modify technology tools to solve problems based on real-world issues.

Indicator:Students select appropriate technology tools to complete authentic tasks across disciplines.  
Indicator: By means of technology tools, students participate in outside-of-school projects and problem-solving activities that have meaning for the students and the community.

I do not teach in a problem-based/inquiry-based learning environment. I am not good with problem-based learning, though a recent conversation with an AP about a young physics teacher in my building has opened my eyes, and I plan on learning from this kid teacher next year. (Showing my age.)
Goal Directed
Students use technology tools to set goals, plan activities, monitor progress, and evaluate results rather than simply completing assignments without reflection.
Indicator: Students receive directions, guidance, and feedback from technology, rather than using technology tools to set goals, plan activities, monitor progress, or self-evaluate.
Indicator: From time to time, students have the opportunity to use technology to either plan, monitor, or evaluate an activity.

Indicator: Students have opportunities to select and modify the use of technology tools to facilitate goal-setting, planning, monitoring, and evaluating specific activities.
Indicator:Students use technology tools to set goals, plan activities, monitor progress, and evaluate results throughout the curriculum.

Indicator: Students engage in ongoing metacognative activities at a level that would be unattainable without the support of technology tools.

Student goal setting isn’t something I am comfortable with. I’m still all about mastering content for self-improvement and for the grade.

But I can change. I looked at the lesson for the Transformation indicator and have a lesson in mind for the first month of school that will help my kids understand syntax better, which was a goal before doing this matrix. I use kinesthetic activities to help students learn about fee modifiers/syntax and will follow up these lessons with a lesson similar to the one in the Transformation indicator that can serve as a reference tool/self-monitoring tool students can use during the editing process. I will post the lesson here after I get it together.