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Tagged With: assessments

7 Authentic Assessment Tools

assessmentAssessments have become a critical piece to education reform. To prepare students well for college and career means they must deeply learn the material and its application to their lives and future learning.That means assessing student knowledge authentically and accountably.

This doesn’t stop with quizzes, tests, and memorizing facts. Those approaches may be prescriptive, but they don’t measure results in a way that leverages learning. Good assessments should verify:

  • that students have unpacked a lesson and applied it rigorously
  • that students have connected lessons to other learning and applied it to their lives
  • that students take responsibility for their learning by embracing deep learning
  • that students think creatively with their new information
  • that lessons are scalable and dependent upon each child’s learning style
  • that students are stakeholders in this effort, not passive consumers

A well-formed assessment achieves these six characteristics constructively. It’s not always measured by a grade, as is common in summative assessments. Sometimes it derives evidence of learning from anecdotal observation, watching students apply prior learning, working in groups, or participating in classroom discussions.

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Categories: Classroom management | Tags: | 3 Comments

3 Apps to Combat Grammar Faux Pas

Grammar has often been a subject students resisted learning, were bored by, or flat out didn’t understand. That’s changed, thanks to the popularity of iPads and their multimedia, multi-sensory apps. Here are three apps that will turn your classroom grammar program around.

photoGrammaropolis

Free (fee required for full options)

4/5 stars

Overview

Called the Schoolhouse Rock of the 21st Century, Grammaropolis gamifies a subject that has traditionally been about laboriously conjugating verbs and diagramming sentences. Its eight cheery cartoon characters star in 9 books, 9 music videos, 20 animated shorts, 26 quiz categories, and a multitude of games which–when blended together–teach grammar. Through the vehicle of a map, catchy music and fast-paced lessons, students learn the parts of speech and win seals. Content is thorough, useful, and accurate, the app intuitive to use with a minimal learning curve. There is no software to download, no maintenance, no fuss. Students can sign up as an individual or through a class account where the teacher can track their progress. It’s available on iPads, smartphones, and the web.The iPad app opens immediately to the student account (only one user per iPad account) while the web interface requires a log-in.

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Categories: Web Tools, Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

How Do You Grade Tech? I Have 14 Ideas

gradesIt used to be simple to post grades. Add up test scores and see what the student earned. Very defensible. Everyone understood.

It’s not that way anymore. Now we’re looking for understanding, transfer of knowledge, scaffolding for future learning, habits of mind, depth of knowledge, and a general preparedness for college and/or career. Here are factors I consider when I’m determining grades:

  • Does s/he remember skills from prior lessons as they complete current lessons?
  • Does s/he show evidence of learning by using tech class knowledge in classroom or home?
  • Does s/he participate in class discussions?
  • Does s/he complete daily goals (a project, visit a website, watch a tutorial, etc.)?
  • Does s/he save to their digital portfolio?

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Categories: Classroom management | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Mind-n-Mettle–Great Assessment Tool

Mind-n-Mettle LogoEvery year, I end classes with a game designed to assess student scaffolded knowledge. It’s a game I mash up using ideas from Hollywood Squares and Jeopardy with a touch of Survivor thrown in. Every year, I wish I could find something fresh but easy enough to use that I wouldn’t have to spend hours preparing and then teaching students. But I end up doing it in the time-consuming way I’ve done it every year.

I think I found the solution. It came out of the blue, a contact from the folks at Mind-n-Mettle, asking if I was interested in reviewing their website. The more I looked, the more excited I got. In a nutshell, Mind-n-Mettle is an interactive, quiz-show style game that can be played with individuals or groups on PCs and Mac.  The teacher inputs questions, selects a few settings, and then students play.The game is still in the planning stages, but here are a few images that show the ease with which you can set up and play the game:

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Categories: Games/Simulations | Tags: | Leave a comment

How to Prepare Students for PARCC Tests

prepare for parccThis is a reprint of an article I posted last Spring. By starting these tasks in Fall, you’ll be ready when the yearly assessments arrive in April-May:

As part of my online tech teacher persona, I get lots of questions from readers about how to make technology work in an educational environment. This one from Terry is probably on the minds of thousands of teachers:

Any help for identifying and re-enforcing tech skills needed to take the online PARCC tests (coming in 2014-15)? Even a list of computer terms would help; copy, cut, paste, highlight, select; use of keys like tab, delete, insert; alt, ctrl and shift. There does not seem to be any guidelines as to prepping students on the “how to’s” of taking an online test and reading and understanding the directions. It would be great to take advantage of the time we have before the PARCC’s become a reality. Thanks!

Between March 24 and June 6 (2014), more than 4 million students in 36 states and the District of Columbia took near-final versions of the PARCC and Smarter Balanced efforts to test Common Core State Standards learning in the areas of mathematics and English/language arts. Tests were administered via digital devices (though there are options for paper-and-pencil). The tests weren’t intended to produce detailed scores of student performance (that starts next year), but field-testing was crucial to finding out what worked and didn’t in this comprehensive assessment tool, including the human factors like techphobia and sweaty palms (from both students and teachers).

After I got Terry’s email, I polled my PLN to find specific tech areas students needed help with in preparing for the Assessments. I got answers like these:

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Categories: Classroom management, Education reform | Tags: | Leave a comment

Dear Otto: I need year-long assessments

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please contact me at askatechteacher at gmail dot com and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Mary:

We are required to create 2 measurable Student Learning Objectives this year. Last year was our first year having this requirement so mine centered around 6th grade and their mastery of technology vocabulary. They didn’t fare so well. I need suggestions of what specific skills I could include this year. We are required to have pretest data, midyear data and end of the year data to show gains. I thought about assessing keyboarding but most of it is assigned outside of class as I only see each group an hour a week so honestly gains would be minimal there as well. Ugh. Any suggestions??

Hi Marykeyboarding

I think keyboarding is a good assessment choice. Especially by 6th grade, students should be improving their keyboarding as much by authentic use in classroom projects and communications as through drill–or more so. Let students know the correct way to keyboard (posture, habits, do it right every time they sit at a computer–that sort–there’s a lot of information on that in my keyboarding book here). Share this with other grade-level teachers, parents, even the library media specialist. Make it clear to students that wherever they use a computer, they use good habits. Then, assess them regularly to track progress.

The fact that you only see students an hour a week is fine. Technology should be a tool that students use outside of your hour a week with them–in their core classes, for homework, for projects, in their family life. This brings up another good assessment–tech use. Students can start the year with a blog (Kidblog, Edublog, GAFE’s built-in Blogger). Their first post can be a discussion of how they use technology. Then, ask them to post once a week (or a couple times a month) on how they use technology in their life. It could be for a class project, communicating with friends, reflecting. It must be evidence-based and include a sample of whatever they used technology in (via an embed or a screenshot). Then, ask them to comment on the posts of friends–use suggestions from friends in a future project. Assess this activity based on how they use technology and share their knowledge–not the perfection of the project.

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“Our children love being tested”–Here’s Why

There have been a number of stories about the failure of tablet technology in schools. 3rd grade teacher Michele Rice at Prairie Elementary School in Haysville, Kansas has found a way to markedly improve student achievement in lessons using tablet technology. She offers a step by step approach to ensuring an efficient and effective implementation of the technology.

How’s that relate to testing? Read on…

TECH OR TRADITIONALIf you told a child they were about to be given a ‘test’ to try to raise achievement, you could normally expect their enthusiasm to be almost non-existent. However, 3rd grade teacher Michele Rice at Prairie Elementary School in Haysville, Kansas has found a way to markedly improve student achievement in lessons which leaves children enjoying what they are learning, often without knowing they are taking a test at all.

Michele explains how she has used tablet technology to achieve such notable improvements.

“At Prairie Elementary School, we set high standards, based on our mission to equip learners with 21st century skills to achieve excellence in a continually-changing world. In these times of change, students need to learn in a way that will stimulate them and prepare them for the world they are going to live and work in.

“While it can seem incredible that a piece of hardware can really impact learning, the results are astonishing. When any learning activity is delivered on our tablets, attention, drive and results all improve. When I deliver a test from time to time to assess each student’s comprehension and level of development, they see it as another fun task!

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Categories: Classroom management, Guest post | Tags: | Leave a comment

10 Factors to Inform Tech Assessment

assessmentIt used to be simple to post grades. Add up the test scores and see what the student earned. Very defensible. Everyone understood.

It’s not that easy anymore, especially in technology. Here are all the factors I take into consideration when I’m posting grades:

  • Does s/he remember skills from prior lessons as they complete current lessons?
  • Does s/he show evidence of learning by using tech knowledge in classroom or home?
  • Does s/he participate during class discussions?
  • Does s/he complete class goals?
  • Does s/he save to their network folder?

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Categories: Teacher resources | Tags: | 4 Comments

Dear Otto: How do I prepare students for PARCC Tests?

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Terry:

Any help for identifying and re-enforcing tech skills needed to take the online PARCC tests (coming in 2014-15)? Even a list of computer terms would help; copy, cut, paste, highlight, select; use of keys like tab, delete, insert; alt, ctrl and shift. There does not seem to be any guidelines as to prepping students on the “how to’s” of taking an online test and reading and understanding the directions. It would be great to take advantage of the time we have before the PARCC’s become a reality. Thanks!

Between March 24 and June 6, more than 4 million students in 36 states and the District of Columbia will take near-final versions of the PARCC and Smarter Balanced efforts to test Common Core State Standards learning in the areas of mathematics and English/language arts. Tests will be administered via digital devices (though there are options for paper-and-pencil). Though the tests won’t produce detailed, scaled scores of student performance (that starts next year), this field-testing is crucial to finding out what works and doesn’t in this comprehensive assessment tool, including the human factors like techphobia and sweaty palms (from both students and teachers).

After I got Terry’s email, I polled my PLN to find specific tech areas they felt their students needed help with in preparing for the Assessments. I got answers like these:

“They had to drag and drop, to highlight, and they had to compare and contrast. They had to write a letter. They had to watch a video, which meant putting on headphones. They had to fill in boxes on a table. There were a lot of different mouse-manipulation tasks.”

“Students are asked to retype a paragraph to revise. My students can’t type fast enough!”

“…questions [are] a mix of multiple-choice, problem solving, short-answer responses, and other tasks. Students had to drag and drop answers into different boxes.”

It boils down to five tech areas. Pay attention to these and your students will be much more prepared for Common Core assessments, be it PARCC or Smarter Balanced:

Keyboarding

Students need to have enough familiarity with the keyboard that they know where keys are, where the number pad is, where the F row is, how keys are laid out. They don’t need to be touch typists or even faciley use all fingers. Just have them comfortable enough they have a good understanding of where all the pieces are. Starting next school year, have them type fifteen minutes a week in a class setting and 45 minutes a week using keyboarding for class activities (homework, projects–that sort). That’ll do it.

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Categories: Dear Otto, Education reform, Research | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Dear Otto: How do I grade technology in my school?

tech questions

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Barbara, a principal at a local school:

Dear Otto,
May I ask your thoughts on giving grades in Computer Class? I can’t find research on this topic.

..

There isn’t a lot of research on the topic of grading tech classes. Anecdotally, it seems to be all over the board–whether teachers grade or not, and if they do–how. The short answer to this question is: It depends upon your expectations of the tech class. If it’s fully integrated into the classroom, treated more as a tool than a ‘special’ class (some call them ‘exploratories’, akin to PE, Spanish, music), then you probably want to hold it rigorously to the grading scale used in the classroom. The projects created will be evidence of learning, more like summative (or formative) assessments of academic work than tech skills.

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, Dear Otto, Education reform, Teacher resources | Tags: | 2 Comments