Archive for the 'Education' Category

Compare Institutional MLearning to Your School’s Mlearning

Many institutions use QR codes. At the Cornell Plantations at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY),  they have put QR codes next to many wild flowers.  When a person uses his/her smartphone to scan  the wild flower QR code, the person hears a poem that mentions that wild flower.  Even though the person is outside in the “wild” area, he/she can appreciate both the flower and the poetry.   At the Etioje Museum in Indianapolis, they have a guitar exhibit; many of the musicians pictures or  actual guitars have a poster with a picture, words and a number next to them. The person borrows a smartphone from the museum and clicks on a specific  number to watch a video about a musician or hear a specific guitar being played.

Some things that happen during this institutional  mlearning:

– At both places, the visitor becomes involved in his/her personal mlearning.
– Each person decides what he/she wants to learn within the specific category. At the Plantations, the visitor selects which flowers he/she will scan.  The person may skip the QR code for any given flower.
– The visitor can listen/ watch any video as much as he/she wants.  A person may only view a few seconds of the video or the person may re-watch the video many times.
– Each person selects the order of his/her mlearning; at the guitar exhibit, a person may focus on the musicians in a specific time order or a person can randomly sample any musician.
– Each person does his/her own comparisons/contrasts with previous musicians or guitars; when couples or group of people travel together through the exhibit, they often share their comparisons/contrasts.
– Each new learning object broadens the learning or provides more in-depth details.  For example, the guitar exhibit covers many different types of guitar music while it also explains in-depth the development of the electric guitar.
– A visitor experiences variety and diversity such as the many different flowers at the Plantation Wildlife area while, at the same time, he/she encounters a  wholistic view of the category of wild flowers.
– Each place has a visual, print words and spoken words/videos  so the visitor employs different modalities of learning.
– Each person learns at his/ her own pace. A person may linger over a certain flower while his/ her partner goes ahead.
– Each person learns, not with a frown on his/her face, but with a smile.

How does this mlearning compare to mlearning in your school?

My ebook, 90 M0bile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.

My modern language blogs are  now at  http://bit.ly/imprml.  I have developed 27  Spanish activities and 4 Modern Language Visual activities in which students begin to express themselves in the modern language and to  move toward spontaneous speaking Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My three formative assessment books, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, are available at   http://is.gd/tbook

What is the Role of Technology in the Teaching-Learning process?

A very creative elementary teacher will retire in June because she no longer feels she can teach due to her district’s technology push.  Her district purchased a math online program in which the computer program presents the math concept and  the program has students do stations for a designated amount of time each day. Her job is to make sure that the students rotate through the stations.

Another teacher no longer has time to relate his subject area to the real world because he has to push through his textbook so students can do the  designated  and scheduled online drill and practice for each unit. The district looks at the student data from the online activities as an assessment measure.

A science teacher has to have her students do a specified number of app activities for each unit.  Although this teacher used to do many student inquiry labs, she has had to eliminate those labs in order to provide students time to  complete all the apps.

Finally, students in Carpe Diem schools spend half to  two thirds  of their day doing computer work. These students score well on state tests. (http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2011/04/22/carpe-diem-charter-school-seizes-tomorrows-innovations-today)

What is your view of the role of technology in the  teaching learning process?  Do teachers or technology determine how students spend their learning time? Who/What  makes decisions about what learning gap  students have and supplies a new strategy to overcome the gap?

I have developed many  Spanish activities that allow students to begin to express themselves and to begin to move toward spontaneous speaking as in a natural conversation.  My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (20+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask  a question from a card-whole class), Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate in pairs),  Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawing from 2-4 people) and Speaking Mats (Can talk using a wide variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives to express their ideas- pairs or small group),  Spontaneous Speaking (based on visuals or topics in pairs),  and Grammar speaking games (pairs or small group). Available for a nominal fee at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My three formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook

Use any Web 2.0 tool at any Level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, Don’t be Limited by Listings

I have been teaching for many years.  In fact, one of my earliest presentations was on “Using Print Shop at All Levels of Bloom” (the original Print Shop).  Therefore, whenever I see the listings that supposedly say what Web 2.0 tools works at what level of Bloom’s taxonomy, I become very confused. A few of the many such listings are http://www.usi.edu/distance/bloom%20pyramid.jpg, http://tsheko.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/visualblooms1.jpg?w=500&h=359, http://www.bcps.org/offices/lis/Reference/images/web_2_Bloom.jpg, and http://edtech2.boisestate.edu/candacemcenespy/Images/vectormap.gif There is only a very slight overlap among the listing, each usually puts the same Web 2.0 tools at different thinking levels.

Let’s look at Google docs which a few sites place at the lowest level of Bloom, Remember/Knowledge. Google docs can be used to help students recall information. However, it can just as easily be used to paraphrase the information (from the original Shakespeare to modern day texting messages), to apply/use information (How does Pareto’s 20/80 rule apply to this story? ), to analyzing/contrasting (How are these two poems the same? Different?), to evaluating (Which literature that we have read this year best expresses man’s inhumanity to man? Why?), and synthesize/creating (Write a short story in which you mock some modern day thinking or organization.)

Teachers determine how any Web 2.0 tool is used. They determine at what Bloom’s level they will use the Web 2.0 tool. If they want their students to be bigger thinkers, they will use the higher levels of Bloom. If the teachers want their students to remain in small thinking, they will use the lower levels.

The choice of what level to use any Web 2.0 is up to the teacher. At what level do you use each Web 2.0 tools? Do you consciously build up Bloom’s taxonomy with each different technology you use during a unit?

Tuttle’s formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook

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.

Meaningful Web 2.0 Tools Listings, Please

In searching for a good free web 2.0 program for making stories, I’ve found some common disturbing trends.  Often people simply list the tool’s name without even explaining what that program does.  Unfortunately, most Web 2.0 names do not reveal what type of program it is.  For example, Animoto is a presentation tool.  Some people even present an alphabetical listing of tools which does not help to find specific types of programs.

At least listers should include the category of the tool.  If people do categorize web 2.0 tools, then they usually do not tell what makes each unique.  For example, I recently opened a page that had  a listing of  15+storyboard programs. I had no way to tell how each program worked until I opened each.  Even a description such as ” create a story through selecting various characters and selecting scenes and typing the text”  tells me that students cannot record their own voices.

I would prefer that the educators list the “best” program in each category  and tell why it is the best.  I really do not care to see a  random list of 15+ programs of the same category.  Bigger is not better to a person searching for a specific type of program. Bigger is not better to someone who wants to know what a program really does.

Many times I wonder if the tool  listers have even used the program.  Rarely do I read anything practical about the program such as “The avatar voice of ….produces the  clearest  modern language voices.”  Why do listers  include programs that they have only heard about but not used?

Please, listers of Web 2.0 tools  be practical to really help other educators.  Do not try to overwhelm us!

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.

Check Lower Level Learning Immediately (Formative Assessment)

We all want our students to be learning at the higher levels of thinking.  However, they first have to learn  lower level information.  For example, Spanish students want to converse in the language but until they learn basic vocabulary and grammar such as the present tense; they cannot converse.  We can change the format of class so that after we have introduced the lower level learning and have them practice it enough to know whether they understand the concept, then we can have them practice the lower level learning at home.

If we have them use an online program that “drills” them, shows them the right answer, and shows them  how to get the right answer,  they can immediately know how well they are doing and be given the opportunity to improve.  They do not have to wait until the next day (or in terms of a college course five days or week) to find out if they can do this lower level thinking.  Since the teacher has put in the program   a full explanation of how to get the right answer, the students can overcome their learning gap (formative feedback aspect of formative assessment).  They can redo the program to verify that they can do this lower level activity well.  They feel successful.  They have practiced this learning in the safety of their homes.

Then, in class, the teacher  can move the students to higher levels from the lower level.  For example, the Spanish students can tell what activities they do that day, can describe the various activities of their family members, and ask others what they things they do during a day.

So how do you practice lower level learning so that students know immediately if they are right or wrong and if they wrong,  do they learn how to change their thinking to get right answers? How do you  use formative assessment to move your students forward in their 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.

Advocating for a program

In this time of tight money, we might want to rethink how we advocate for our programs.  The old show-them- the-wonderful projects has to give way to more academic proof.  We have to go beyond just test scores or state tests.

Let’s look at Foreign Language as an example.

Traditionally, teachers have  invited principals and other administrators in for special culture events such as a “Cinco de Mayo” celebration.

However, here are some more convincing ways of advocating.

– Have a principal or other administrator time as students talk for two minutes in the language about a picture.

– Print out a list of all the language skills that the students in your classroom presently have achieved such as “can ask and answer questions about major businesses in town” and “can elaborate when asked questions”.  Word them as “Can do” statements instead of the official syllabus descriptions. Do not list the chapters covered in the textbook!

– At a Board of Education meeting, have your students talk in the target language with someone who speaks that language natively either in a face-to-face conversation or a videoconference conversation.

– In cooperation with the local Chamber of Commerce, have your language students produce signs in the target language for local businesses. Have part of the sign say something like, “Produced by Foreign Language Students at ……”

Each of these moves from the advocacy of talking about the benefits of language study to the advocacy of the students performing in the second language.

How do you plan to advocate for your program?

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.

21st Century Skills: Making a Difference

We can have our students develop many 21st century skills but they may not use any of these skills for anything other than their own academic improvement.  We can help them to use their skills to make a difference in our community, state, nation, or world.

For example, students examine a traffic problem at their local school,  come up with a viable solution, and present  that solution to the Board of Education.

Students create a video documentary  that shows a  historical perspective on a current problem.  They explore similar problems. They analyze what past solutions seemed to work and why  and which ones did not work and why.   They send their short documentary to their state legislators as these officials consider new legislation.

Students select a national problem such as literacy.  They then figure out how they can begin to work on the problem locally. For example, they may write and illustrate their own books,  digitally record the reading of the books, and create CDs to be passed out at the local food banks.

Students, collectively, select an area of the world and then read the various profiles of people requesting microloans on Kiva. The students decide which person/group they will fund after they decide on a criteria for selection.  Each student contributes one dollar so the class can loan a $25.  They looked at the map of where the other funders come from to see the international dimension of this project.  They monitor the repayment and then reloan the money.

To what local, state, national or world problem do your students apply their 21st century skills to make a difference?

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.

Open Source Free Educational Software

The following list of  free open source educational software comes from OpenDisc

Art and Graphics

GIMPEdit digital photos and create graphics
GIMP animationCreate animations
InkscapeMake professional looking vector graphics
Pencil – Animate your own cartoons
Blender3D graphic modeling, animation, rendering and playback
TuxpaintDrawing program for children ages 3 to 12

Multimedia

VLCPlay music, videos and DVDs
AudacityRecord, edit and mix music
TuxGuitar – Compose your own music
Piano Booster – Teach yourself the piano
AvidemuxEdit movies and add special effects
Infra RecorderBurn your own CDs and DVDs
CamStudioRecord your actions on a computer
Really Slick ScreensaversGreat looking screensavers

Science and Mathematics

Nasa Worldwind Discover the earth and other planets~
Greenfoot – Teach yourself how to program
GraphCalcA graphical calculator
Guido Van RobotLearn how computer programs work
CarMetalCool mathematical modelling tool
Maxima – University standard computer algebra system
CelestiaExplore the universe in three dimensions
StellariumA planetarium on your PC

Games

FreeCiv Control the world through diplomacy and conquest
FreeColDiscover the ‘New World’ and build an empire
Numpty Physics – Solve puzzles using physics
TuxTyping 2Learn to type like a pro
Tux of Math Command – Test your mathematical skills
Winboard ChessThe classic game of chess

My addition to the above list:
Openoffice
– word processing, spreadsheet, “PowerPoint like” presentation, drawing, database program

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.

Importance of Education

I recently returned from Costa Rica.  The government  has believed that its people are its most valuable resource.  Therefore, this Central American country has eliminated the military and put that money toward the education of its people. They have mandatory education.  Costa Rica has a 97% literacy rate.   Many people will share that they have their present  job because of the government supported education.  Costa Rica has many universities; the public ones have a tuition program based on parents’ income. People ranging from senior citizens to young people can speak English.

One of the first news items I heard upon my return to the USA was that schools were letting go of teachers due to finances. I do wish our country felt that people were the most important resource and  therefore would fully fund quality education for all youth.

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

Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

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

Reponding to Your Students

Assessing Web 2.0 Projects Through Bloom And Time

I offer the following mini-assessment of any Web 2.0 project as a way to refocus our attention on student learning rather than the Web 2.0 tool.

Take the highest level of Bloom achieved during the project

1- Knowledge                                  2. Comprehension

3 – Application                               4. Analysis

5.5 Synthesis                                   5.5 Evaluation

and multiple it by the number of days in the project.

So, if Susan produces a Social Studies podcast that simply restates (Comprehension) information about George Washington after five days, her score is 2 (Comprehension) x 5 (days) or 10.

If Pablo produces a Social Studies podcast in which he goes through the problem solving steps that George Washington went through and evaluates his final solution (5.5) in two days, his score would be Evaluation (5.5) x 2 = 11

Based on this analysis, a two day project of higher level thinking rates a higher score than a longer project. Let’s focus on student learning!

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

Formative Assessment and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment by Harry Grover TuttleFormative Assessment and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment by Harry Grover Tuttle

My book. Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment will be available from Eye-on-Education in the Fall.

Assessing Learning with Web 2.0: Movie Producing/YouTube

As teachers begin to have their students produce videos and share them about learning topics, teachers can benefit from having a digital age rubric that assesses the learning and not the mechanics of producing a video. Here is a Web 2.0 rubric on producing a video that focuses on 21st century skills.

Harry G. Tuttle Web 2.0 Movie/YouTube Rubric

Harry G. Tuttle Web 2.0 Movie/YouTube Rubric

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

Reponding to Your Students

Web 2.0 Learning Only Works With Critical Learning

Web 2.o  allows students to have more access to information through the social interactions. Collecting information is not creating knowledge.  Some  of my writing students have a ton of information about a topic through Web 2.0 tools but they cannot put the information together in a coherent fashion. The problem is not access to information; the problem is thinking.  As we get more into Web 2.0, we need to get more into Critical Thinking.  Students need to be able to analyze, synthesis, and evaluate information (Bloom) . They need to be able to see information from various perspectives (Chaffee) and to think through various aspects of the issue  such as purpose and  consequences  (Noisch). If we want to “teach” how to use Web 2.o tools, then we need to teach Critical Thinking.  Instead of  Web 2.o courses/”new literacies” courses, we need “Critical Thinking with Web 2.0” courses. The thinking skills will be transferable as new tech tools quickly evolve.

Let’s focus on critical 21st century thinking skills so we can use Web 2.0 tools wisely!

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

Reponding to Your Students

Baby Walking and Improving Student Learning

My grandson is beginning to walk. He takes about ten steps and then falls down. He crawls over to the nearest table/chair and gets up again. He does not get discouraged about failing to walk many steps. He walks some more and falls down again.

How do we help our students to not get discouraged about their failures?  Do we use the “fail forward” mentality that a failure is simply an indication that we tried something that did not work and now we can try something that can work?  A mistake is an opportunity to learn. When students see their answers and work  as work in progress, they are more willing to take chances and move forward. When we do not criticize them but help them to see how to improve, we encourage them to see failures as stepping stones as opposed to stop signs.

How do you show your students  that learning from  mistakes is a sign of growth?

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

Reponding to Your Students

Revisions and Formative Assessment

I find that if I ask students to revise their work based on my formative feedback, some of them do make the changes  and others do not.  However, if the students have to create a Change sheet, they do make the changes.  In the Change sheet, they list the original learning problem, tell what they did to improve, and include an example from their most recent work.  As I look at their revisions, I first look at the original rubric, then their Change sheet, then put their previous work and their revised work side by side. I look for the changes in their revision. I look to see if they have changed all of the items for each formative feedback. For example, if I asked a student to improve his/her topic sentences, I look to see if all the original poorly done topic sentences have changed. If students have made the revisions for the three major areas of feedback and, therefore, reached the level of proficiency or above proficiency, they receive a new higher grade.

How do you help your students to improve?

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

Reponding to Your Students

Having Students Go from Proficient to Above Proficient Through Improvements

In my Oral presentations (speech) class, I’m grading their final speeches on how much they have improved from when they originally gave the speech. They have to show me their original speech, the rubric in which I indicated their strengths and gaps, and a sheet which explains how they are overcoming their gaps. Their final (two speeches that they select from those they have done) are graded on improvement.  If they show the three  improvements, they get an A. For each learning gap that is not changed into a strength, they loose ten points.  So far students have shown drastic improvements, their speeches have gone from being below proficient or being proficient to being above proficient. They have learned to support their speeches with image-based PowerPoints that drive home their messages. When we raise the bar and prove ways for students to improve, they go over the bar!

How do you have your students improve and become above proficient?

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

Reponding to Your Students

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!

Providing Classroom Variation

My wife and I like to go to productions of  the musical Godspell to see how the director will vary the setting, costumes, and dialogue and yet keep the central message of the play. Godspell is a musical that encourages variation.

I wonder how much most classroom teacher encourage variations on the central learning. One English teacher has all of his students write on the same topic for a contrast essay. Another English teacher lets her students select their own topic from a very long list or come up with their own topic for a contrast essay. One   social studies teacher has his students answer the questions from the text book chapter. Another teacher has her students find news articles about the topic and react to the news articles. One science teacher hands out a description of “the” project.  Another teacher provides a tic-tac-toe board with various projects  arranged by learning style.

When we allow students choice, they are more invested in their learning. They have more opportunity to engage themselves through their own interests in their  central learning. They think more and they learn more.

How do you encourage variation?

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

Reponding to Your Students

Pre-checking for Student Engagement Through PowerPoint

Like many teachers, I use PowerPoint to guide the lesson. I like that I can have all the images, videos, quotes, essential questions, class activities, etc. in one place for the lesson.  Lately, I have been thinking more about student engagement during class. I’ve come up with a simple way to verify that students will be engaged.  I use a distinct color such as dark blue  in the PowerPoint to indicate  all the  student activities  such as questions to be answered, small group discussions, and  comparison charts to be done. Before I teach a lesson, Iscan my PowerPoint slides to see how often I am engaging the students- I simply look for the dark blue text.  Since I’ve begun doing this, I find myself  wondering how I could be talking/showing for so long without students being asked to think through the topic.  I find myself adding more opportunities for students to  become engaged with the material.

Go dark blue and see what happens in your class.

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

Reponding to Your Students

Messy papers are best: Continual Improvement through Formative Assessment

I like messy papers. I like papers with all sorts of colors over them and all sorts of comments. My students enjoy them too.

The messy papers are my students’ peer reviewed papers .  The pupils color code the writer’s paper with the thesis and topic sentences in red, evidence in yellow and details in green.  They draw triangles for transition words. They put in many other marks to indicate various aspects of writing that they found.

The more colors and the more marks, the better the student has written the paper. When students get back their papers, their faces light up when they see all the colors and all the positive comments. When they are missing a color in a paragraph, they can instantly notice the lack of color. They know we are a “green” classroom; we want to have plenty of “green” in their writing.

After a quick verbal peer conferencing, they revise their papers as soon as they are made aware of their learning gaps.They want more “color” in their life!

How do you help your students to give formative feedback to other students? How do add “color” to their work?

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

Reponding to Your Students

High Expectations For Our Students: Our Responsibility

Robyn Jackson in Never Worker Harder than Your Students differentiates between standards and expectations.

The standards specify what high level content or process learning we want of the students. Expectations refer to our belief that we can help the students  to get there. If we have high expectations, then we believe that we can help the pupils to be successful. If we have low expectations, then we do not feel that we can help them learn. If we truly have high expectations, then we will figure out what we can do to help the students to  grow in the standard to the point of achievement. We do not focus on what they cannot do, we focus on what we can help them be able to do. We do not focus on what they do not know, we focus on how to help them obtain the prerequisite knowledge or skills in the context of the course. If we have high expectations, we do not ask students to learn the missing material or skills on their own, we build knowledge or skill development into our class into mini-lessons targeted to help them. If we have high expectations, we take responsibility for their growth; we work on the solution, not cursing the problem. If we have high expectations for our students, we promise ourselves that they will be successful in our class due to our efforts.

Do you have high expectations for your students? How do your students know?

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

Reponding to Your Students

Responding to students: Our Real Emotional Message

In a previous post, I emphasized that students need an abundance of positive comments before they really believe that what they have done is good.

Likewise, when we examine our comments to students in the margins and at the end of their papers, we may discover that  the messages that we think are positive or neutral appear to the students as negative ones.     For example, in “Good topic sentence. Follow it up with more evidence”   the message seems to us to be a positive; however, the second sentence deflats the praise. The previous examples strikes students as a “set up and slap down” comment.

Students may see our statements or questions as direct commands rather than suggestions. “Can you think of other possibilities?” can easily be translated as “You dummy, why can’t you get a good answer?”

When we write on students’ papers, we have to promote a positive tone since many students will read any non-positive statement as a negative one.

If you are interested in implementing  formative assessment in the classroom, my book,
Formative Assessment: Responding to Students is available through Eye-on-Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Be more positive than negative

Do you use a positive or negative mentality in your class? Do you focus on pointing out the positives of students’ learning or do you concentrate more on the negatives?

Tom Connellan, “Inside the Magic Kingdom”, pgs 91-95 asserts that

If students see…………………………….they perceive it as

1 compliment, 1 negative………………negative

2 compliments, 1 negative…………….neutral

3 compliments, 1 negative……………positive

I almost agree.  I think that students need an abundance of compliments before they really believe the comments are positive. I think that 3 to 1 is borderline positive. I would argue that a 5:1 ratio is needed for students to feel that they are doing positive work. If they feel that positive about their work, then they are willing to make formative changes.  If they do not feel very positive, they will not attempt the changes.

Try the 5:1 rule and see the change in your students.

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.

Reponding to Your Students

School Awards For Teachers

I recently  attended a college’s award ceremony for faculty and staff.  I was impressed with all the categories of awards.

I’ve made up some awards that I would like schools to give. These awards will not be given to just one teacher but to any teacher who does any of the following:

Focus their students’ learning on the standards

Spend more working with students than lecturing

Diagnose students’  learning problems instead of just giving grades

Give specific feedback that actually help the students to move forward in their learning

Keep cumulative records of students’ strengths and learning gaps in a specific learning goal

Celebrate their students’ standards-based learning successes

Transform academic learning  into real world learning

Invite parents and other experts in the classroom (physically or virtually)  to share their wisdom about a learning goal

Involve the students in meaningful community or global projects that truly make a difference in other students’ lives.

Empower students to feel that they are capable of being successful

Share the learning goal, assessments, and success strategies with other teachers

What other awards would you like to schools to give?

How valuable is Peer Review?

When my students hand in their final English essay, they also hand in their peer reviewed draft. I’ve noticed that usually they do not incorporate the changes that peers suggest.

I gave them a survey on peer review to help me better understand their use of peer’s comments. They admitted that they use very little of peer review.

Some of their reasons:

The reviewer isn’t as smart as I am.

I don’t care what they “feel” about my paper. What is good/bad according to the rubric?

They don’t understand the rubric.

It does not help me when a reviewer finds a mistake if he cannot tell me how to fix it.

They don’t understand my thinking/how I wrote the paper.

The reviewer found some spelling mistakes but missed the big things like my first body paragraph having two topics.

They don’t try/ they do not  take it seriously.

How well do your students peer review each other? How valuable is the peer review to the author?

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.

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?

In Medias Res (in the Middle) or From the Beginning

My wife and I went to a movie. It took me a long time to figure out what was happening until they did some flashbacks. I felt very lost just jumping into the middle of the movie.  Where do you begin your unit planning? Do you start in deciding on the standard, the particular aspect and then the learning goal? Or do you jump right into the activities you will do in the unit?

Understanding by Design advocates starting with the standard, the assessment, and then the activity so that “the end is always in mind”. Without a firm view of your “end” you will not be able to measure student learning against the standard. f you plan “in medias res”, you cannot be sure if you activities truly help the student reach the learning goal. Also, you may not be focusing on the essential ideas for the standard but, instead, on some very minor learning. Likewise, with a firm view of the “end” learning, you may focus on students’ minor errors that are not the most serious errors.

The preplanning (standard and assessment) for the lesson gives a foundation for all you do in the unit. Start from the beginning so your students can arrive at the end.

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 a Difference Through the One Laptop Per Child Program

One Laptop Per Child XO laptop

One Laptop Per Child XO laptop

Students get excited about helping out other students, especially if they feel that they are making a real difference. By assisting the One laptop per child (OLPC) program, they can completely change the life of a child in a third world nation.

The OLPC program has a a powerful mission “To create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.” The One Laptop per Child is “an education project, not a laptop project. Their goal is to provide children with access to libraries of knowledge, ideas, experiments, and art — to provide a window into the world, with examples and references on which to build.”

For children in these third world nations, the laptop program is their way to a very different world than the one in which they live. With these laptops, they can learn not just from their local teachers (if there are any) but from people all around the world. They and their parents can learn to read. They can collaborate on activities with other students so they can learn from each other. They can share resources so that children in the village have books to read. Their world expands and so does their future possibilities.

These laptops are designed for children. In addition to educational logic activities (OLPC’s name for applications), students can express themselves through a paint activity and various music activities. They can communicate with others through a chat activity and a record (pictures and video) activity; in addition, they can share any activity with any other child. These young students have learning tools such as a calculator activity, a word processing activity, and a say- the-typed-text activity. These third world students have a web browser and screen shots of many wikipedia entries. These learners can switch from the three views of neighborhood (all those who are connected or nearby with an XO laptop), the circle of friends (those who are connected and share applications), and the home view (all of the child’s favorite activities.

The OLPC has created a powerful laptop with many exceptional features. The screens can be read in direct sunlight. Likewise, due to their mesh capabilities, the laptops instantly create peer-to-peer networks so that students can collaborate with each other. The laptop batteries are very long lasting. The case is extremely rugged. The OLPC works in many languages from Spanish to the small minority language of Quechua.

Students can help out in many different ways. A wonderful class project is to raise enough money to buy a computer for a student in a third world nation. Also, the students can create videos, podcasts, posters, and “ads” about this great project that they share within the school and the community. They can get media coverage to tell the wider community about the importance of the OLPC program. They can host an OLPC event in which they show videos illustrating the difference that the OX laptop is making in students’ lives. They can help any regional OLPC support group in designing activities for children and in testing these activities.

Help students to make a difference in the lives of other students. You can make a difference by using Amazon’s Give a Lap Get a Laptop program now through Christmas.

Improving How We Use Wikis for Better Student Learning

Here are some handout notes for the session:

Harry Grover Tuttle, Ed. D.
Instructor, writer, consultant
harry.g.tuttle   at   gmail.com

Blog: https://eduwithtechn.wordpress.com

Purpose: To improve students’ learning through changing how we use wikis in our classroom.

Formative Assessment Focus

Improvements:

    1. Teach the mechanics

    2. Identify the learning goal/purpose

    3. Explain the quality of responses

    4. Use students’ notes

    5. Organize the class

    6. Provide in-class and out-of-class resources by learning style

    7. Avoid common web topics

    8. Make learning “collective wisdom” instead of  “collective stupidity”

    9. Have exemplary work and reactions to the exemplars

    10. Build in real and varied interaction

    11. Build on the past

    12. Make group work transparent

    13. Have a student-help-student section

    14. Carefully use outside experts and other classes

    15. Co-create with students

A wiki has been created for you to add to  http://wikiforbetterlearning.pbwiki.com/

A mini version of the presentation is available at slideshare

Reponding to Your Students


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