Archive for the 'Content' Category

Consistency in learning

Do we have consistency in learning in our classes?  Do we translate our ending goals into daily learning?    Do our tests, quizzes, and daily classroom activities reflect that same learning?  This backward planning follows the Understanding by Design model. For example, if a social studies curriculum wants students to  answer  the universal questions of Why is there war?,  How do people fight wars? and What are the consequences of wars?, then social studies book tests should  not have  students memorize the names and dates of battles for a particular war in a specific country.  That microscopic view does not help students answer the essential questions.

Likewise, if modern language teachers want their students to be able to converse in the target language, then do students spend most of their time in class conversing?  Do the language tests reflect conversations or do these tests focus on discrete grammar and vocabulary?

Do English teachers who want their students to be better writers  really focus on writing?   Do  these teachers spend more  class time on  doing punctuation exercises than on  developing good ideas?  Do they have their  students spend more time watching a movie than writing about the movie?

When teachers  want to improve subject area learning through Web 2.0 tools,  do the students spend more time on the technology or on the content learning?

I do not believe that we need to add more days to the school year to improve student learning.  I believe that we can increase learning  best when we are consistent in what we want students to learn and then following through in our daily activities, in our quizzes and in our tests.

How consistent are you in your students’ learning?

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Also, my  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.


Fixed or Flexible Learning

I recently talked to someone who teaches an online course.  She says that the college has supplied the lectures for each class.  I questioned how a college could think that the fixed lectures would fit the needs of the class. Then the person reminded me that high school textbooks,  textbook websites, textbook DVDs,  textbook PowerPointsand content websites present the material  in a fixed manner.  I think it is good for a teacher to see an exemplary lesson and then to modify the lesson for the class or  for the teacher to use the fixed  lesson as a jumping off point  but I do feel that teachers should not follow a book lesson blindly. Based on our students’  intellectual, physical and emotional needs, we, as instructional leaders, need to decide how to teach the selected goal.  We need to modify the lesson to meet various learning styles and learning levels in our class. We need to know when to abandon a lesson to teach a missing skill or a complimentary skill. We are the ones to show the students the connections between what they are learning and the big picture, to bring in our life experiences in that learning.

How do you teach your course?  Do you strictly follow the textbook (fixed) or do you modify the learning in a flexible manner based on your students’ needs?

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students, is available through Eye-on-Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Student or Teacher Duty: Improving Time for Feedback

On Sunday, the church congregation was surprised to see a young ten year boy be the liturgist. He said the prayers, introduced the hymns, and read the scripture.  The boy had listened to the adults who usually do this and thought he could do it.  He did a good job!

It made me think of what duties are only teacher duties in the classroom and what are student only duties. Students can pass out materials, collect material, take attendance, do class review, prepare classroom materials such as handouts or PowerPoints, make quizzes, and assess other students’ work. Students often present information in a way that their classmates can easily understand the information.

If we have students do more in the classroom, we can spend more time on giving small group or one-on-one with students. We have more time for formative feedback.  We spend out time not in many managerial things but in helping students to learn.

Let’s give our students more duties so that we can help them more!

Teacher Portfolios- Real Student Success or Faked Success?

Individually, I talked  to two teachers who had to present teacher portfolios and had received back  comments on their portfolio.  One teacher had glowing feedback.  He told me how he had only put student material in the portfolio that demonstrated above proficient work. He explained that usually only one or two students in all of his classes had reached that level for each standard and so he included that  work.

The other teacher had put in student work at all levels of proficiency.  Her feedback focused on how she had to help students to be successful. She had included the percent of  students  at each level of proficiency; she had even included a graph for the proficiency rates on  the four major standards. She indicated some strategies she had tried and whether each strategy succeed or did not succeed with these students.

The administrators were looking for measures of the teachers’ success in helping students to learn. They did not discern the difference between  a staged or fake representation of success for a teacher and a teacher’s  full disclosure about classroom learning.

How can your teacher portfolio show your growing success in reaching more and more students?

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students, is available through Eye-on-Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Activating Prior Knowledge and Formative Assessment

As I work with my students to develop their writing skills, I want to know what they already know about writing. I want to activate their prior knowledge and experiences. However, there is a down side to activating prior knowledge. A science teacher friend says that his students have many more misconceptions about science, then conceptions. He is careful to find out their misconceptions about a topic at the very beginning of the unit so that he can spend time in helping them to understand that their misconception is not valid science thinking. If they continue with this misconception, they will never grasp the real conception. I find that the same thing happens in writing. Students have misconceptions about writing such as “if I write it, it has to be good”,  “A very long story at the beginning of a very short essay is a great introduction.” or “One small piece of evidence is enough to convince my reader”.

I think we have to be aware that activating prior knowledge means activating whatever the student s may  think they “know” about the topic. Such activation does not assume that all prior “knowledge” is really positive knowledge. Activating prior knowledge provides a great formative assessment tool since we can “see” the students’ previous learning.  Therefore, we can guide the student forward instead letting student being stuck in his/her misconceptions.

Do you activate and diagnose students’ prior knowledge and  figure out strategies to  help the students improve in their learning?

Apply the Heat to Learning

Another thought about putting plastic on windows to insulate the window. After putting the tape on the window and putting the plastic over the tape, the last step is to apply heat. The heat forces the plastic to attach itself more firmly and tightly to the tape. It changes the loosely fitting plastic to very tight and firm plastic.

How often do we apply heat to our student’s learning after they have had some basic instruction and practice? Do we present them with a challenging task that causes them to apply their learning to a high degree? Do we have them think at the analysis, synthesis or evaluation levels? Do we have them take their “book” learning and apply it to real life? Do we have them evaluate present conditions based on past ones? Do we apply heat to their learning?

How do you apply the heat to your students’ learning?

For any one who is interested in implementing formative assessment in the classroom, my book,
Formative Assessment: Responding to Students is available through Eye-on-Education.

Making the learning stick

When I was putting the insulation on my windows, I had two different products. One had the instruction of waiting fifteen minutes before I removed the backing to the two sided tape. The other did not have that instruction. The fifteen minute wait tape was far superior to the other.

I wonder how much time we give our students to stick to their new learning before we ask them to use it. Fisher and Fry suggest in Better Learning Through Structured Teaching that when we give our initial modeling of the new learning, we do not ask students to actively participate but, instead they are to think about this new learning. If they do not firmly understand the modeling before we ask them to practice it, then there is a high likely hood that they will do it incorrectly. Their first steps of doing it wrong will be cemented into their brains. Instead, we can model the learning for them and go over an exemplar of it. We can let them think about the new learning and then scaffold them through it.

Let’s organizing our teaching so that we allow students plenty of time to think about the new learning before they are asked to do it. Let’s let them get firmly stuck to the new learning before they use it.

For any one who is interested in implementing formative assessment in the classroom, my book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students is available through Eye-on-Education.

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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