Archive for December, 2007

Diagnosis of Student Writing and Formative Feedback

As I prepare for my college writing courses, I am realizing more and more than I was not trained in giving formative feedback in students’ writing. Yes, I can mark up students’ papers but I do not think that I have given students useful information on how to improve. I’ve identified their problem (run on sentence; lack of vivid description) but have not helped them to translate that into an specific improvement action.  Certainly, phrases like “awkward sentence”,  “write better sentences”, “be more descriptive”  and  “use the same  tense” do not provide the learner with practical information to be able to improve; those statements are observation statements, not formative feedback.

I am trying to create checklists and success lists so that students know what is required and how they can do it. I am struggling to  find resources to help me.

Imagine if all English teachers worked together to identify students lapses in learning and suggested a specific way to improve for each lapse.  If each English teacher contributed one lapse and one practical suggestion for improving the students’ writing, we could create a powerful learning environment.

Powerful Learning Pictures from Flickr

I’ve been preparing some images to use in my Writing classes.  Flickr  has the biggest selection of high quality and of good vivid images.  There are many pictures that convey emotion as well as action and location. The advantage of being able to search helps to find the “right” image to use in the class for the particular purpose. I’ve made a word processing document of the picture URLs and the writing topics I’ll use the students for such as cause-and-effect and  process writing. I look forward to using exciting pictures in the classroom that will encourage the students to write.
How have you used Flickr images in your classroom?

Why write in an English course?

I believe in purposeful writing.  I have trouble when a course is just an exercise.  Often many writing courses have students do paragraph patterns such as narrative and description even when the students will probably never write in these literary styles.  When students are in a business specific college, they need writing that corresponds to the type writing they will do in their occupations. Reading great literature and copying its writing style probably is not a valuable life skill for these students.

What type writing do your students do? Is it real life writing or is literary exercises?  Do they ever send their writing to a person outside of the school to response to? Are they writing for the 21st century or for a traditional century old theory of writing?

Digital Camera and Writing in the English Classroom

A few ways to use a digital camera in the writing class

Take pictures of things around the school to serve as writing prompts

Have students take pictures of a sequence and then write a narrative.

Pass out a different picture to all the students and have them write a description of their picture. Then they put the pictures in a huge pile that someone shuffles and turns picture up.  Students do same with their descriptions so students try to match up the description with the picture.

Have student groups  create dramatic scenes, take a picture, and have the class write about cause and effect for the picture.

Show students a picture of two fruit or two sneakers and have them do comparison writing.

Scaffolding for Students Success

I’m preparing two writing courses for next semester. After checking the textbooks, the workbooks, and teacher DVDs/websites for both courses, I still do not feel that the students have enough structure to help them be successful in writing. Using high level writing terms or asking “Does your topic sentence convey a controlling idea?” does not provide much assistance to struggling writers. I tried to read the textbook and write the paragraph patterns such as narrative writing based on what I found in the book, I could not write what the book rubric indicates as a good paragraph. I searched the Net and likewise found many generalities but did not find specific structure to guide students through a complex process. I found this past semester that my students need much guidance in writing. I hope that as I create materials by greatly expanding on the textbook that I can provide them with the step-by-step they need to go from writing anything to write a vivid narrative.

How much guidance does your textbook, PowerPoints, worksheets, etc.. provide for the students so that they can be successful.?

Not Really Web 2.0 Classroom Use

When is a Web 2.0 tool, not a Web 2.0 tool? The answer is when we use a Web 2.0 tool as a Web 1.0 tool. I hear of many schools that have blogs. Students post their ideas to the blog but they do not respond to each other. The blogs are closed to the class. They only blog during class time. I don’t see that as a Web 2.0 tool use.

Students use Google docs to share their documents for peer-review. Ok, they are sharing a document but how different is this than sharing a physical paper within the class? The sharing just allows the other person access to make comments. They could do it with email.

I see videoconferencing that is 85% lecture or demonstration. The students do a token activity. Is that an example of social sharing? Or is videoconferencing really a one-way tool to dispense information?

How do you use Web 2.0 tools in your classroom?

Online Diagnostic Testing

As teachers we have so much to do in a class. When we can enlist the help of technology, we gladly welcome such help. A teacher could create online diagnostic tests and provide some remediation or the teacher could use a program such as MyWritingLab by Pearson. Such a program gives numerous diagnostic tests, provides the answers to each question and even has a video (mostly text) to help explain the answers. Students can retake the tests until they have shown proficiency. When an online program can help with lower skills, then we can concentrate on helping our students with higher level thinking skills.

What diagnostic or online computer programs does your school use? What is your reaction? What does it do well? How could it help you more?

TomTom Navigation: A Metaphor for Formative Assessment

I just received a TomTom car navigation system as an early Christmas present. I really like it since I get lost alot. I am fascinated that it knows where I am, where I want to go, and can show me how to get there. It tells me far ahead when I have to make a turn and reminds me as I get closer. If I make a wrong turn, it can redirect me.

How many of us are TomToms for our students? Do we show them their end destination and scaffold their learning experiences so that they can successfully arrive at the destination? Do we help them to be their own TomToms through self-reflection and critically analysis?

Pool Curriculum Resources for Students’ Success

I have been asked to do three courses next semester, two of which are new to me. I was given a one page syllabus listing 7 outcomes and the name of the textbook. This course has been taught for over 16 years and surprisingly, that is all the resources I’m given. Why do school districts or universities not have a pooling of resources so that any new teacher can not only start off running but can start off at a high level of running? If schools and universities want their students to be successful, then each course should be built on the students’ successes from when the course was taught in the past. What helped the students to advance in the standard? Which learning experience were not helpful in moving the students forward? Where did students encounter learning problems in the course? Of course, each class is different but if teachers had all that previous information at their fingertips, they could have their students soar in their learning.

Does your district, school, or team pool resources so that each teacher is curriculum rich in practical strategies to help students be successful?

Having students assess classroom teaching and learning

We all think that we are good teachers and that we have great lessons. However, last year I did a study on the difference between students’ and faculty eportfolio perceptions and it struck me how different they were. It reminded me that when I taught in public schools, I would have my students assess each unit in terms of how well the various classroom activities helped them in doing well in the standard. I was alway shocked at that special activity that I thought was the perfect learning activity did not strike the students that way; the rated it as one of the lowest. I also included the open ended “What do you think would help you to learn this standard better?” question and I was amazed at their great suggestions which I incorporated into the next time I taught the unit.

The students can do your unit report card in an online system that will instantly give you the information by categories. Instant feedback on your teaching!

Are you willing to grow based on our students’ assessment of the unit? Students can be the best in-class professional development we can have!

Students Hiding Lack of Learning From Us

Some students are very skillful in our classes. However, their skill is not based on how well they have learned the standard but their skill consists of  hiding their lack of learning or their misunderstandings. They love group work since they can hide behind other students’ comments and work. They enjoy our large group presentations and responses since they can get away with not saying or doing anything. And yet until they say or do something, we cannot help them.  Silence and a blank paper do not help us diagnose the students’ present learning status. We are like doctors whose patient will not talk about his symptoms so we cannot help the patient get better.

What do you do to not let any student hide his/her learning?

Twitter More Reaction

My reaction to my limited trial of twitter:

In education, Twitter communication would work great in a department or team situation where you have an established circle of people that want to be in touch but may not have time for face-to-face.  I can imagine a teacher writing “Science water lab from the kit  did not work. Who has had  success with it?” or “In writing, used a fishbone graphic organizer helped students to see cause and effect. Worked well” Short nuggets of success or concerns.

I see Twitter as disjointed as early email non-threaded conversations were. As times I feel like I standing in the middle of a busy intersection watching the cars go by. They are going in every direction (from serious to silly). So far, I have not find a car that is worth the time of following.

The aha moment in the third revision

I’ve mentioned that my students can revise their final. One student was on her third revision; I asked her how she would react to getting the letter she had just written and she responded that she would not do what the letter asked. I could see the light bulb finally go off. She said, “I changed my whole letter, I really had not followed the persuasion format. To get my manager’s attention, I mentioned how long-valued waiters were leaving due to our lack of a tipping policy..” She went on to describe how she had implemented each part of a persuasion letter; she gave her examples. She finally had gotten it; her letter was one of the best of the whole class. If I had just given her her final grade on her portfolio, she never would have reached her understanding of the outcomes required in the course. Once that light bulb went off, she tackled other letters she had not been proficient in. She finally understood using WIIFM (What’s in it for me- the reader) and the tone of her letters changed from demanding an action to showing the tangible benefits of the action for the reader. She easily modified the other letters and their reflections. Her final score went from a C to an A. More important, she is now proficient in those types of letters.

So how much revision do you permit on your final?

Portfolio Feedback:Still learning

I do not view a final as the end of the students’ learning. I’ve turned their portfolio into a formative experience since I’ve given students’ email, personal communication, etc. with their areas for improvement. My goal is for them to learn even it involves them resubmitting their final.

Is your final the end or a step stone to greater learning?

Grades: Inflated or Just Successful Students

normal curve vs standards success curve

I shared with a colleague that most of the students in my writing class were getting an A. He commented that I must be an easy grader or that I just believed in giving As. He was half right. I do believe in giving As when students have demonstrated success in the course outcomes. If the goal for the course is for students to be successful in learning the outcomes and we provide them with feedback and with opportunities to revise previous non-proficient work than most (hopefully all) students will earn As. More important, they will know that learning is to be valued over grading. They will know that they can keep on improving until they become proficient. I believe that their final revision grade on a project should count as their grade on the project.

Do your grades reflect your success model or a failure model? How do you structure your class and your technology use so that students constantly improve in the standard until they become proficient?

Student Learning or Verbal Gymnastics in a Portfolio

A student handed in her portfolio and she parroted back to me the feedback I gave her. “I realized that I needed to start with a buffer statement.” However, she did not make the changes in her revised letter. Either she did not understand my feedback which was based on a model we used repeatedly in class, she did not know how to make the change once she had the feedback or she understood but did not make the changes. I think that she did not know how to make the changes. I could have had the class identify buffer and other parts of a negative message letter in real letters. I could have scaffolded it more in class with having them write several examples of each part of the letter such as the buffer. She needed more structure than other students. She was not successful. My next semester’s students will have the scaffolding so hopefully all of them can be successful.

How do you scaffold for student success?

Twitter- My beginning

Twitter logo

I was introduced to twitter at the NYSCATE conference; twitter is a micro-blog applications limited to a message of less than 140 characters. I think of it as a a telegraph. I’ve just begun to use it. As I read tweets, I realize that much can be said or asked within those characters. Messages can be very meaningful and also very silly.

You can get instant help with real-life problems. You can expand your horizons and be exposed to new ideas.

The trick to twitter is to have people you follow and who follow you to create a social network. It makes no sense to tweet yourself. Finding people to be “social” with is the awkward part.

my twitter is http://twitter.com/HarryGTuttle

A quick feedback system

Formative Assessment Spreadsheet for Speech Class

As I have been integrating more formative assessments into my classes, I keep on trying to simply the process. I realize that I can create a simple form in my Oral Presentations (Speech) class that will enable me to focus more on student improvement. I’ll have a row of the type of speech, the topic, the “rubric score”, the proficient areas, and the areas for improvement in a spreadsheet. Each time a student gives a speech I record the type (information), the topic (dangers of smoking), the score according to the speech rubric, the proficient areas (grabs attention, signals conclusion) and the areas for improvement (slow down, look at audience). I will have students have their own copy where they write down their strengths and areas for improvement. After each speech, we’ll both complete the form and then I’ll ask the students for their information. We’ll talk about what they can do to improve. The next speech I can see what new proficient areas there are and what areas need improvement. The simple spreadsheet will give me a quick overview of the students’ growth over time on the major requirements of the course (the various speeches). Notice that students usually do a second speech of the same type so they can show major improvements in that type of speech.

How do you simply your observation and diagnosis of students so that you can give specific feedback for improvement?

Class Standards and Finals: Mixed Signals

Do Course Proficiencies match up with course final?

A colleague emailed me a bizarre story. Her college is part of multi-college educational system. She teaches a course that is required for all entering students. All of the colleges have the same outcomes for this course. However, they all have different finals; the finals do not resemble each other in any way. One college requires a research paper; another requires a timed proficiency test and another requires certain assignments. How can a class be outcome or proficiency based and not have the same or very similar final? How can the final not be based on the specific outcomes?

How does your course’s tests and final reflect the specific standards/outcomes/proficiencies? Giving a state exam or benchmark should not be a final in your course but simply be a small sampling of evidence of the outcomes. How strong is your standards-based learning signal? Does it reach to the final?

Templated Learning Through Word Processing For Student Success

Persuasion Letter Template

I’ve decided that next semester I will provide my students with a template for their writing of business letters. The template will have the major parts of the specific letter format such as (get attention, increase interest, minimize resistance, action or AIRA) for a persuasion letter. This scaffolding will help the students to include each critical part of a persuasion letter. I’ve found this semester that students tend to skip over a part; I think the scaffolded template will guide them through using all four parts. I’m trying to decide whether they need more specific scaffolding such as a list of possible ways to do each part.

How do you use your word processor to scaffold the learning for your students so that they can be successful in their learning?

The Role of Technology in Your Class: Purposeful or Wasteful?

Eli Whitney image from Wikipedia
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eli_Whitney

I recently had a discussion with a Social Studies teacher who was telling me about the great project her students were doing.

She told that the students researched their famous person, spent several days to put it in PowerPoint and a day to present it. I asked her what a project contained. She said it had the person, his/her birthday and place, what his/her accomplishment was, and the impact of the accomplishment. I really liked the accomplishment and impact aspect of the project. However, when she told me that this project took “only” a week to do (one day to get the information, three days to do the PowerPoint, and one day to present); I realized that it was a technology project and not an academic learning project. The students spent one out of five days or 20% in learning the academic information. This information is readily available in most encyclopedias or websites such as Wikipedia so student could find it in little time. They spent most of their time in decorating their PowerPoint statements about the person such as finding a map of the state he or she was born. They could have found the information, found a critical picture that illustrates the accomplishment or impact, and presented in one period. When students have a clear learning purpose (the accomplishments of people), they can thoroughly accomplish the task through meaningful and effective uses of technology. I wonder why the teacher allowed her students to waste four valuable learning days.

Do you focus on student learning or technology in your students’ technology-infused learning?

Final test or Improved Learning?

Final or Formative Final

A student questioned the final in one of my courses. He said that he had self-assessed his work, he had made changes, I had assessed it, and he had made more changes, and now he was handing it in as the final. He was confident that he had done a good job; he really had done a great job. He questioned how it was a final if he knew what he was to do and if he and I had helped him to do a good job. He felt that those two things went against all he knew about finals. He never knew a final where he was allowed to improve and improve. He only knew of finals where he took finals where he guessed what was on the finals and then he received a grade. He also admitted this final was harder since he knew what he had to do, he could not fake it, and he knew that he had to show growth each time an assessment was done.

So what type final do you give?

PowerPoint: Transformed or Simply Electronic Version

Yesterday Tv was so bad that I finally end up at one of the music stations.  I realized that there was an older technology that I could have used – a radio.

I wonder how different the learning from our PowerPoints is  if we compare PowerPoint use to older ways of teaching.  Teachers have used chalkboards to present information. Teachers have used pictures to aid in the learning.  Teachers have shown movies (yes, we used to have movie projectors).  PowerPoint makes it easier to those things.  However, by itself PowerPoint does not increase student learning. What do you use PowerPoint for other than  agendas, notes, showing pictures, jumping to resources?

Do you use PowerPoint to help students to focus on the standard for the unit and to see their progress in the standard?  Do you use PowerPoint to scaffold information in a step by step process for the students so all can be successful?  Do you use PowerPoint to show exemplars? Do you use PowerPoint to provide practice exercises for them to assess how well they are doing in the standard? Do you use PowerPoint to celebrate their learning successes?  If you do those uses, then PowerPoint truly becomes a powerful learning tool for our students. PowerPoint aids you in transforming learning to success.


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 […]
    hgtuttle
  • 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 […]
    hgtuttle
  • 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 […]
    hgtuttle
  • 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 […]
    hgtuttle
  • 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 (http://www.academia.edu/9074119/Grading_and_Whether_or_not_Grades_Accurately_Reflect_Student_Achievement). Equally important, a letter […]
    hgtuttle
  • 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 […]
    hgtuttle
  • 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 […]
    hgtuttle
  • 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. […]
    hgtuttle
  • 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 […]
    hgtuttle
  • 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 […]
    hgtuttle

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