Archive for September, 2007

Online Grading Program Misses Being Formative


I talked to an educator whose school implemented a new online program that keeps track of the attendance and puts the homework assignments and quiz dates online for students and parents. After the work has been graded or a test scored, the grades can be released online. I applaud this program for making students and parents aware of what topical information is going to be covered and then providing the grading on these. This creates a grading accountability.

However, I think that the program is typical of a summative approach to learning. There is no learning accountability. If the program had a comment box where teachers could put in a comment or two about specific ways for the students to improve then the students would know how to be successful in the course. They could do better academically in the class. Such an online program would be formative and not grade-this-quiz summative. Likewise if each homework or quiz was labeled with a specific standard such as 1.1 or 2.3, then the program could report on standard learning accountability. If the program could group all quizzes and homeworks by the standard, such as all 1.1 work, then the online program could report out standard learning success. Parents and students would know more than just grades, they would know how far their child had progressed in each of the standards.

What does your online grading program do?


Multiple Assessments from the Same Authentic Task

A business teacher was telling me that she used one task as the pre-test for her course. She had the students word process a a business application business letter and email it to her. She checked whether they could 1) use business email procedures, 2) do attachments, 3) use the proper format for a business letter, 4) write in a business style, 5) do an application letter, and 6) write well. She scored each skill on a scale of 4 (above proficiency) to 1(does not demonstrate proficiency). The students took about 25 minutes of class time to do the task and she took about 1 hour to rate each student’s work and record the information. However, with only 1 1/2 hours of time, she knew how to change the course to best fit the needs of the students. She could modify her plans so that students would be successful. She could skip those skill areas that all students had demonstrated. She had used just one task to get a richness of information (6 different skills) about the students.

What authentic task do you have your students do that enables you to analyze how well students can demonstrate the many critical skills for your course (or unit)?

Spanish Language Transportes (Transportations) From Various Hispanic Countries

As a Spanish teacher you can use the following Flickr images to show your students the variety of transportation in Spanish speaking countries. These images also provide great speaking and writing opportunities. If you do not teach Spanish, please share with your Spanish teacher. Gracias.

El tranvia -Buenos Aires, Argentina

Transporte popular – Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala

Transporte publico 2 Tijuana, Mexico

Transporte ecologista-Malecón, Centro Habana, Cuba

Transporte – aeropuerto, Madrid, Espana

Transporte – Parque Tezozomoc, Azcapotzalco. Mexico

Transporte publico taxco-Mexico

Transporte publico -Monterrey, Mexico

Servicio de bicicletas – Sevilla, Espana

El transporte -Habana, Cuba

Medio de transporte-izabal, Guatemala

Imagen -transporte Valparaiso, Chile

What other flickr images have you found for Hispanic transportation?

Other Spanish (Hispanic images) for conversations or writing

Spanish streets – Calle

Spanish sports –Deporte

Spanish restaurant Restaurante


Spanish Language Menu




Shiny Bright Student Fomative Learning: Paint Metaphor


I did some painting this weekend. I had to scrap off the old chipped paint, apply a primer, and then paint. I wonder how we preparing students for their learning?

Do we pretest them and report the information back to them so they know how to improve. For the first day of class, I had them do a task which is one of the two tasks on the final. I assessed it according to the writing rubric (analytic assessment with no total) and then returned it to them. In a spreadsheet, I kept track of their analytic scores as well as a running record of their common errors and misconceptions so that I can focus on helping them be successful.

Do we let them know the standards and the specific parts of the standards for which they are responsible? Do we let them know how they will be assessed in the course? “What’s the purpose of this course?” is my favorite question to my students, followed by “How will you show it?”

Do we break the information into section that can be assessed for feedback? I had the students learn the format for a business letter without the content. I assessed their letter format and returned with comments for improvement. Then we practiced the structure of the introduction, body, and conclusion parts of the letter.  I assessed their “body paragraphs” and returned with comments for improvement. Then we learned different types of letters (the actual content) and how to modify each structural part for that type of letter. Each time they do a letter of a certain type, they hand it in and I identify their strengthens and areas for improvements with specific prompts.

How do you help prepare your students to be shiny bright in your subject’s standards?

My front porch is shiny white due to my scrapping, priming, and painting. Hopefully, my students will be shiny bright in their proficiency in the standards.

Student Talk or Assessments To Verify Standards-Based Learning

Student Hand up

A Social Studies friend complained that he showed his students the important geography of a country via pictures, maps and movies and his students, as a class, could orally say the geography. They could talk about the impact on the country. However, when he gave the students a map and asked them to label the geography and comment on its impact on the country, they could they not do it (average score of 45). He said that he realized his students could verbally talk their way through content but still not be able to really do it. He became aware that each student may be able to answer a single question but still may not understand the answers to several questions. He decided that to build frequent “reality” checks (assessments) into his class so that they students would have to demonstrate the learning. He began to use maps, outlines, charts, drawings, concept maps, etc. instead of relying on the verbal answers of his students. He found out that he could quickly assess the students’ learning in a comprehensive and in-depth manner. He could verify their actual learning instead of their verbal footwork. He created these assessments from the unit final.

What do you rely on- student talk or assessments?

Modeling- Telling or Showing

I have my students doing a WIKI to better understand the concepts in the class.  I explained what they were to do it and how to do it. When I looked at their first WIKI standards-based assignment, I discovered that they had not done it as I wanted. I realized that my error was in my not showing them what I wanted. Spoken words can easily be envisioned in many ways. However, when students see the actual model then they “see” how to do it. I made up a model and showed them how to format it. The students did the next assignment to a much higher quality due to the modeling. I knew that they were learning the information in a comprehensive and in-depth manner due to the modeling.

How do you model the end goal that you want for the students?

Giving Students a Scaffold for the Course

Scaffold steps

Often we may go through a course, teaching topic after topic. The students do not see the connection between the topics. However, if we could give them an over arching scaffold, then they could fit things into it. For example, an English teacher may teacher a standard format for writing within the writing process (introduction; body with paragraphs to supply the examples; and conclusion). Students can use this format whenever they have to write in class. They learn that they only have to slightly vary the body organization and content to achieve the specific purpose of any writing. Therefore, each writing task does not seem like a completely different type of writing. One teacher had the full writing steps printed out on business cards so the students could always have the scaffold with them.

What do you have in your course that provides an over arching scaffold to the students? What serves as “the great connector” for all the learning in your course?

Lesson Planning Based Only On the Standard or on Activities

Thinking person

I tried two different approaches to lesson planning. In the first, I thought of the topic and wrote the activities. In the second, I wrote the standard (or “be able to” and “understand” class goals for the class standards) and then selected my activities. When I looked at my activities from this first lesson planning way and checked to see if they directly lead to the day’s learning goal, I found that many were not critical. They were interesting, fun, and somewhat related to the standard.

However, when I used the second approach in which I wrote the standard first, the “be able to” and “understand” goals, and then selected an activity, I found myself creating activities that more directly lead to student success in the standard. Once I wrote an activity, I would ask myself “How well does this help the students be successful in this standard?” I found my activities to be much more targeted. In addition, my technology use changed to only doing things that purposely helped the students to be successful. I verified each activity against the test of “Will this activity help the students to do well on the day’s assessment of the standard?” If I answered “No”, then I would write the activity so that they could demonstrate their new learning.

So how do you write your lesson plans?

Textbook/Class Powerpoints – Talking Points or Educationally Engaging


I am teaching several courses and for two of them, I have a CD that includes the PowerPoints for the textbook chapters. One has a few bullets per screen on a simple background and no visuals. Supposedly there is a movie in each PowerPoint but they do not seem to work. The other textbook has some cutesy graphic, block transitions, and layered bullets (each bullet shows up after pressing Return). Both of these do not supply any real information; they serve as talking points. Students looking at them cannot learn by the words or the visuals.

Furthermore, the PowerPoints do not include any interactive aspects. There are no questions asked, no visuals to react to, no examples to assess the ideas, no links to websites that visually depict the information or provide more insight into the topic, no surveys, and no organizational visuals.

How do your PowerPoints help the students to achieve the class’ standards in an engaging manner?

Restaurant Pictures From Flickr For Spanish and Other Language Conversations

Here are a few restaurant pictures from various Hispanic countries so that your Spanish students (and other students) can practice their conversation skills. If you are not a Spanish teacher, please share them with your Spanish teacher or other language teacher.

Restaurante rojo, Mexico

La Vita e Bella (Italian Restaurant en Madrid Espana

El rico pulpo en Carballo, Espana

Arte Vida en Espana (beach restaurant)

Desayuno 1 de enero,Colonia, Uruguay


Calderitas, Mexico Restaurante

Restaurante, Acapulco, Mexico

Restaurante , Buenos Aires, Argentina

If you know of online pictures of Hispanic restaurantes, please share.

Other Spanish (Hispanic images) for conversations or writing

Spanish streets – Calle

Spanish sports –Deporte

Spanish transportation Transportes


Spanish Language Menu




Finding Information on the Web: Search Engine or Metasearch Engine

Google searches its own collection of information. However, other search engines are metasearch engines which mean that they search numerous search engines at the same time. You cover more territory with just a few clicks. Also since each search engine has its own strengthens and weaknesses, when you use a metasearch engine you find a variety of different sources.

Some metasearch engines:


Try them and see if you find better, more diversified, results than with your present favorite search engine. Do you have another favorite metasearch engine?

A New Class Schedule Format – Standards Based


This year I am using a different format for the class calendar/schedule that I give to the students. At the top I list the major outcome/standard/proficiency for whole course. I list each class. I no longer list the day’s topic for each class. Instead I list what they will “be able to…” and what they will “understand” by the end of each class. I list a major assessment for the day. Then I list the homework for the next class. I have found that students usually first look at the assessment so that they know what they are responsible for. Then they look back at the “be able to”and “understand” column. They know how they will be assessed and they know what they are to learn or be able to do. They have a global view of the class and a specific view of the class. I can assess if they have been successful and they can assess if they have been successful.

Calendar for learning

What does your class calendar look like?

Embedding Assessments In Each Class

As I plan out my course, I  embed assessments into each class. I have to understand what the standard/proficiency is and what part of the standard/proficiency I am trying to have the students achieve each class. In addition, I have to figure out which activity I can use that demonstrates the standard at its highest level.

I try to have a short assessment that students do not see as anything other than a regular activity. After they do the assessment, I often ask them what the activity/assessment measured.   I evaluate the assessment according to the rubric which I have given the students.  I usually give them their score on each part of the rubric and a few specific suggestions for improvement or I just give them the suggestions for improvement.

By embedding assessments frequently into the course, I can see if the students are progressing or if they need more structured support.

Diagnostic Test With Technology at the Beginning of the School Year

Do you start you class at the beginning of the year (within the first few weeks) with a diagnostic test of where the students are in terms of the skills and knowledge that they need for your class? If the diagnostic test does not cover the whole year, does it cover a truly representative part of the course? For example, a business teacher could have the students write a business application letter to be accepted into the course. The business teacher can quickly determine which parts of a business letter the students can already do and which the students need improvement in. The business teacher can determine if the students are writing in a business style. After looking at this short diagnostic test, the business teacher has a solid idea of what he/she can do to improve student learning in the course and how to modify the curriculum.

If the business teacher has set up an analytic rubric, the teacher can record the results for each part of the rubric in a spreadsheet. Therefore the teacher can easily see the class’ strengthens and the class’ area for improvement as well as individual results.

Starting a WIKI in my Class

I started a WIKI for a class that I am teaching. It is easy to find free wikis (pbwiki, wikispaces,and wetpaint.

I find it difficult to find examples of how educators are structuring them and why the educators selected those formats. I do not know the advantages of using a no template versus a course syllabus structure. I could not easily find any list of what to do and what not to do in structuring a WIKI. I do not know what features I will need as the class uses the WIKI more. Why have some educators gone to the paid versions?

In additions, in terms of pure mechanics, I created a link from text and did not see the new page so I created another one. I found out that when I clicked on the link that the new page appeared. I did not find out that there was a File section under I had made a page for whole documents.

I wish that more information was teaching about actually using the WIKIs then “selling” them. Perhaps a think-aloud video of how an educator selects to do something within the WIKI would be a great teaching video that could jump start teachers at a high level.

What have you learned about using a WIKI in your class that can benefit others? What advice to you have for someone starting out? What mistakes can you help others to avoid? Let’s learn from each other.


Big Picture of the Curriculum or Too Many Tiny Trees


“You cannot see the forest for the trees” can be a metaphor for many school curriculums. The teachers are looking at the trees but often do not look at the forest, the big picture. They probably have not identified what the final outcomes or standards are for the course. What do they really want the students to be able to do or know at the end of the course? Doing well on the state benchmark is not the goal. How does this course fit into the students’ lifelong learning?

When I see a course with a long list of outcomes or standards, I wonder what the students really are to learn or do. One teacher summarized her course in a short sentence, “My students will write a ten page research paper using APA style.” She says that everything in the course leads up to the final paper. Everything else that is done in the course prior to the paper is building up the necessary prerequisite skills for the paper. She has a fixed goal and she has identified those skills necessary for her students to be successful.

Do you have a final outcome for your students? How do you scaffold their learning so that they can be successful learners? How do you use technology to assist in that scaffolding and keeping track of their successes?

Improve the Class Calendar/Schedule from Topics to Actual Learning


I was given a class calendar/schedule and as I looked at it , I saw the date, week, topic and homework. As a future instructor of the course, I could not figure out what the students were to learn in each class. A topic such as “Email” does not tell me much. I assume it tells the students even less. I have been going through each class session and changing the topics into specific learning. For example, “Email” became “Be able to use email (compose, send e-mail, reply, attach a file, forward, distribution list, and new contact). “Computer basics” was changed to “Understand the computer basic concepts (input, processor, memory, output)” since it is a concept rather than a performance. As I look at the new calendar/schedule, I now know exactly what the students should be able to do and know at the end of each class. I also can see how each class provides additional subskills necessary for the students to be able to do the final class project. The students will be able to assess whether they have able to achieve the designated learning during that class and, hopefully, feel successful at the end of each class.

I have added another column, “Assessment,” in which I have indicate how I will assess the learning in each class. Usually the assessment is embedded into one of the class activities so I can give students formative feedback during class.

What does your class calendar/schedule look like? Does it quickly convey what the students are to learn during the class with clarity and preciseness? Run to your word processor and modify it to promote better student learning!


Critical and Common Educational Vocabulary

Computerized list

Does your district or school have a list of its critical educational vocabulary such as “authentic assessment” or “performance task”? Does the district define each and provide an example of each? Do all faculty understand the critical vocabulary and use the critical vocabulary in the same way? Do the same school have a common vocabulary so that the whole school talks the same talk and means the same thing each time they use a specific educational vocabulary? If not, then help your team or grade level to create a list of terms so that you all are on the same page each time a word is used. You want to avoid “Oh, I thought you meant …… when you used the word “assessment”. Each time you update the word processed list email it out to all the team or school or post it on the school’s blog (website).
See how much better you all communicate and how much better you focus on student’s standards learning through having a common educational vocabulary.

Does Your Textbook Reflect the Real Curriculum

Business speech

I have been asked to teach a Public Speaking course for business majors at a college. As I examined the textbook, I quickly found out that it is a general public speaking book; it does not focus on speaking in a business environment. For example, the textbook does not deal with the elevator speech (the 30 second speech about your product or service), doing an business job interview, or responding to irate customers. In addition, the textbook’s PowerPoints are bulleted text with no visuals.

Does your textbook really cover the critical parts of your curriculum? Does it include real life examples of the standard? Do the technology materials that go along with the textbook really demonstrate the standards?

Videoconferencing and Standards: Content Providers or Teachers


I recently read some information that teachers feel that their students benefit from videoconferencing since there are standards. Content providers usually provide a standard (or standards) for each videoconference. I’ve looked at the standards supplied by various content providers and I’ve noticed that usually the providers do not supply a specific subcomponent of the standard. The providers indicate the standard at its most general level. My biggest objection is that the content providers are supplying the standard and not the classroom teacher.

The classroom teachers should be selecting content providers’ programs based on the subcomponents of the standards that they want their students to achieve. The classroom teachers should be verifying that the activities in the videoconference lead the students to the highest level of thinking in the standard subcomponent. The classroom teachers should make sure that assessment of the standard subcomponent is included in the videoconference or very soon after the videoconference. Classroom teachers should not leave standards-based learning to a videoconference content provider.

How do help your videoconference content provider to meet your standards-based learning?

Are Our Classroom Signals Standards-Based?


Recently I almost got into an accident at a construction site. I saw the Stop sign. I also saw the sign holder point at me and then do a 180 degree motion. I assumed he wanted me to go through the Stop sign. He explained in a loud voice that he was pointing for me to stop.

What signals do we send out students about being in a standards-based classroom? Do we constantly refer to the standard or a subcomponent of it or do we refer to the unit topic such as a novel in an English class? Do we list a standards-based performance agenda or do we list topical activities such as “read the chapter”? Do we give standards-based tests or do we give a topical quiz such as who did what in the novel? Do we give formative feedback on a regular basis to each student or do we grade each student’s work with a letter or number grade? Do we ask students what they are doing and expect to hear a standards-based answer or do we expect to hear “answering these math questions” type of responses?

What standards-based signals do you give your students? How do you use technology to help make those signals clear and obvious to the students?


Developing Students’ Listening Comprehension Skill With an Image (Picture)-Spanish, World Language, ESL


Developing the listening skill through using images (pictures)

One student describes a picture orally to a partner. When the first person is done, the partner repeats the description, using the picture as an aid for recall.

One student orally describes the picture to another student who does not see it; the second student then repeats the description to the first student.

Two students look at a picture; then one student looks away while the other student asks him questions about it.

One student orally describes a picture to a second student who does not see it; the second student then draws a copy of it.

One student orally describes a picture to an­other student who then is given a choice of three pictures and must choose the one described.

One student describes a person or an object in the picture and the other student identifies which person or object it is.

While both students look at the picture, one students describes a person or an object in about five to ten sentences and includes one or two incorrect things about it. The second students has to tell what was wrong and correct it.

The first student says ten sentences about the picture and then the partner says ten different sentences. The first student listens for an duplicate sentences.

I would assign students to get several pictures from the Internet (Flickr) on a specific topic such as restaurant, city, house, etc. so that they can share the pictures (URLs) with me and print out the pictures for work with their partners. As a teacher, I can quickly build up my digital visual library for listening.


©Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007


Revised from Harry Grover Tuttle’s “Using Visual Material in the Foreign Language Classroom”, Learning Resources, Vol 2-5 (Feb. 1975) 9-13.

Other Spanish (Hispanic images) for conversations or writing

Spanish streets – Calle

Spanish sports –Deporte

Spanish transportation Transportes

Spanish restaurant Restaurante


Spanish Language Menu




RSS Education with Technology

  • Tech Integration Teacher, What time is it? August 23, 2016
    When someone asks what time it is, that person wants to know the time, not the history of the clock, not how a clock works, and not what other types of clocks there are. Classroom teachers want to help their students improve their academic learning through technology. Sometimes they need help with technology so they go […]
  • Curriculum Focus, Not Technology Focus July 28, 2016
    In my public school career I have been a classroom teacher, a technology integration specialist and a technology administrator. In my technology role, I served under the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction. She had a simple mission: Improve students’ academic learning. My mission was equally simple: Improve students’ academic learning through technology […]
  • Students React to Digital Badges: Pros, Cons and Interesting June 22, 2016
      ISTE 2016 By Harry Grover Tuttle, Ed. D. College World Language Students’ Preferences Digital Badges – 52%        Paper Certificates – 48% World Language: Can-Do Digital Badges Digital Badges Pro- – Breaks down proficiency more – Shows all badges at once – Is more attractive – Is more appropriate since we use […]
  • Digital Badges: Naming the Badge October 29, 2015
    Once teachers have selected what learning and what digital badges (individual or category badges; see previous blog), the teachers encounter another decision. What will they name each badge? Will they use the full name of the Common Core Standard or the national proficiency? For English, under “Speaking and Listening,”will they write out SL.2 “Integrate and […]
  • Digital Badges: Better Than Grades? October 19, 2015
    Teachers understand that the grade in a course consists of many different factors such as homework, participation , projects, tests, etc. Blodget observes that sometimes grades reflect attitude, effort, ability and behavior ( Equally important, a letter […]
  • World Language Students Use of Mobile Devices in the Classroom October 5, 2015
    Do world language students use technology n the classroom? Do their  teachers go beyond having their students use technology simply for the drill and practice in vocabulary and grammar? Students can use laptops and mobile devices to hear authentic language, read authentic texts, read tweets about famous performers, see up-to-the-moment culture,  watch video […]
  • Digital Badges: Individual or Categorized Learning Badges? September 12, 2015
    The idea of digital badges sounds appealing for the digital children in classes. As teachers start thinking about digital badges, they have to figure out what badges will be awarded. The teachers can award social or academic badges. If teachers decide to use academic badges, then the teachers may base their badges on the Common […]
  • English +Common Core +Mobile = Success (ISTE2014 Poster -details) June 30, 2014
    Here are the ten examples I showed at my English + Common Core  + Mobile ISTE 2014 Poster Session: Based on CCSS Anchor Statements: L.2 Take a Conventions Mobile Online Quiz  to pick the  incorrect sentence from four choices (capitalization) SL.2  Evaluate audio recording of a  book chapter on mobile and predict for next chapter. […]
  • Global Cultural Learning Using Mobile Devices (ISTE Mobile MegaShare Presentation) June 28, 2014
    Based on my presentation at ISTE 2014 Mobile Megashare Why teach about other countries? Location: Large view to small on maps. Culture or culture. Find six similarities in a  mobile picture from another culture (“Wars are caused by differences, not similarities.”-Tuttle.) Tell one piece of information from each different Internet visual from a place in that […]
  • English + Common Core + Mobile = Success in Learning Poster Session at ISTE 2014 June 25, 2014
    In my ISTE Sunday 8-10 am poster session, I demonstrate many diverse mobile activities to help students achieve the English Language Arts Common Core Anchor Statements through mobile devices. The mobile activities focus on free common tool apps that are available on both the Android and the iPad. The students use the apps as a seamless […]

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