Archive for the 'Grade' Category

Digital Badges: Better Than Grades?

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 grade does not mean the same thing among grade level teachers. Does an “A” in Mrs. Brown’s 7th grade English class in Roxo Middle School equal an “A” in Mr. Cooper’s 7th grade English class in the same school? (tuttle, https://eduwithtechn.wordpress.com/2007/02/09/classroom-grades-dont-reflect-student-learning/)

The final grade in a course or even a ten week grade probably does not reflect the actual academic learning.These grades may not reflect the academic standards (Common Core, standards or proficiencies) for that course.

Badges allow teachers to focus specifically on student standards or proficiencies. A writing teacher may want badges to represent the various phases in the writing process. For example, a teacher might award an “idea generation” badge that indicates that the students can use at least two different brainstorming techniques to generate ideas for their writing. An “organizer” badge reflects that the students can use a graphic organizer or chart to plan out their writing. A “topic sentence” badge indicates that the student can consistently (three body paragraphs in the same essay) use topic sentences that introduce the purpose of the paragraph. An “Introductory paragraph” badge will demonstrate that the student can successfully write an introductory paragraph for two essays. A “revision” badge can show that the students can improve their writing by revising their own writing based on their own analysis and  incorporating the formative comments of teachers or peers.

These writing badges represent specific writing proficiencies. Most students in their writing career have probably just obtained a letter gade on their writing which does not identify their strengthens. They probably have not received an overall writing grade. Their teachers may not have indicated the students’ growth over time in writing. However, badges quickly identify the students’ writing proficiencies and to-be-developed proficiencies.

Do you use grades or badges to measure your students’ progress on the standards or proficiencies?

Three books of interest:

Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment
English Common Core Mobile Activities ebook
Formative Assessment: Responding to your Students

 

Online Grading For Communicating Students’ Learning Problems and Successes

Administrators want accountability for learning in schools.  One way to build greater accountability is for teachers to use online grading programs that give students and their parents access to the  grades.  For example, the teachers can use the free program of Engrade or a commercial program such as Blackboard.

As soon as the teachers enter  a grade for any assignment, the overall grade is updated. If students know their updated grades on a regular basis, they can decide how to improve.   Parents who have access to  their students’ online grades do not have to worry if their children are correctly relaying their grades; they can help direct their children in areas for improvement. For example, when students and parents see a grade of 40/100 for homework, the students and their parents become aware of a critical area for improvement.  When students and parents know grades on a daily/weekly basis, they feel on top of things; they do not complain that they did not know the grade until the five week period.  Administrators and guidance counselors get less complaint phone calls about grades when students and parents receive constant updates on class grading.  When students and parents see on-line grades as they are entered, they can nip any problem in the bud.  Students can do much better in school.

Likewise, administrator have greater accountability since the teachers become constantly aware of the overall progress of the students.  As the teachers enter the most recent quiz grade, they see the previous quiz grades  as well as the overall quiz grade. The teachers see the class average on each quiz so they can decide if they have to re-teach  the concept in a different manner.  Administrators realize that when teachers use online grading programs, these  teachers  have up-to-the-moment feedback on how well or poorly the students are doing.

How does your school communicate grades to students and parents so the students can be more successful?

I have 15+ Spanish spontaneous speaking activities at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

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

Why do students’ final grades not reflect their highest achievements?

Many teachers calculate the students’ final  grade by having a grading program or spreadsheet average the four quarters and the final.

However, this averaged grade does not represent the students’ highest learning.

For example, if a student had a 70, 75, 80, 85 for each of the four quarters and 90 on the final,  that average (with equal weighting) is 80. This grade does not represent the students’ achievement which was a 90.

Why do we not award students’ their highest grade as their final grade as in formative assessment?

A future lawyer can take the bar exam as many times as possible.  When the future lawyer  passes, the law association accepts that passing; it does not average in previous failures.

Think of the number of young people who take their drivers’ test several times.  When they pass, they pass. The Department of Motor Vehicles does not average in the past failures. If they did, many young people would never pass the drivers’ test.

A writer  submits a manuscript to a publishing house and  the publishing house rejects it (gives it an F).  Does the next publishing house refuse it since the manuscript had  already been rejected somewhere else?

When will educators not penalize students for previous efforts?   When will educators reward student achievement instead of minimizing the achievement?

How do you grade students for their final grade?

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.

Grading for Success or Failure

A critical question is whether we, as teachers, focus on grading for success or failure.

I think most of us grade for failure.

Jaime has done four science labs. In the one in Oct., he got a 20, in Dec, a 40, in Feb., a 60 and in May, an 80. His last lab score was an 80. He improved from a low 20 to an 80. So what grade do we give him? Do we total his scores (20 +40 +60 +80 = 200) and divide by the number of labs (4) to get the average of 50? Or do we give him a grade of 80?

Also, Luisa was in the same science class. Her grades were 80, 80, 80 and 80.  Her last lab was an 80.   Her average is an 80.  She showed no improvement throughout the year.

Both Luisa and Jaime ended up with the same last lab grade.  Do we reward one  student more than the other?

What does your grading reveal about your focus on success or failure?

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

Reponding to Your Students

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

Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

Change to Assessment from Grading

Very often teachers use the terms grading and assessment interchangeable. However, they are very different.

When we grade, we give a “final” score to something such as a B and an 83. Usually when students receive a grade, they know that learning that material is over; they do not have to think about improving on materials in the unit. Also, they often receive one grade on their work during the unit.  Likewise, students will likely receive a holistic grade, one grade for all the various parts of the whole work. Grades stop the learning.

On the other hand, in assessment, particularly formative assessment, students do not receive a grade on their work; they do receive a few critical suggestions for improvement. Students know that they will use  this  formative feedback to improve. In addition, they know that they will receive many assessments on this topic.  Furthermore, if  teachers use a rubric, the teacher uses an analytic rubric where the students receive indicators for many major components for their strengths and specific comments on how to  bridge the learning gap.  Formative assessment moves the student forward in the learning.

Can a student receive just assessment up to the final grade? Yes.  I teach courses in which the students are assessed every class. They do not receive a grade each class. Do they know how they doing in their learning-both their strengths and their learning gaps. Yes! Do they constantly improve throughout the course? Yes.

Try assessing instead of grading to see how much more beneficial it is to the students and to you!

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.

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

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

Final Grades = Above Proficiency with many As

I’m going to be in trouble again with final grades and the school. Since my students can redo any assignment and even re-do the final, almost all my students end up with As. My students usually earn As or Fs (little or no work and little or no attendance). However, often administration thinks a teacher is an easy grader when almost all students in the class get As. In one class, students revised over 32 pieces of business writing. In another class, almost all students revised over 8 pieces of writing and their final research paper. I see the As as proof of students changing from being unproficient to being above proficient in their work. Even though students take the time to do the rewrites, they know what and how they have to improve their work; they based their improvement on formative feedback. I am more concerned about them learning to well than on the actual grade.

Do your grades resemble the traditional bell curve? Or do they show a proficiency/above proficiency curve with most grades in the Bs & As? Do your grades really reflect specific standards learning?

Non Graded Formative Assessment Rubric for Writing

I’ve been using a non-graded formative assessment rubric in my college English classes for numerous classes. One student had missed many classes and when he got his essays back, he looked at the rubric and said, “There’s no grade!” Another student explained, “He circles the score (4- above proficient, 3- proficient, 2-progressing 1- beginning ) for each individual part of the essay.” She added, “Look for circles in the threes and fours, that’s when you’re getting good at it.” She commented later to me that she can see her progress as her circles in many categories have moved from 1s to 2s and now to almost 3s. She said that she looks at the low scoring circled areas and tries to work on them for the next essay. Furthermore, she commented that I usually go over the low scoring circles the next class with additional hints for improvements. The young lady admitted that the smaller circled areas tells her more about what her strengths and problems are than a grade could.

How do you assess your students work?

Gradebook Grades or Standards-Based Grading

A teacher was showing me how well her students were doing. She showed me from her electronic gradebook their high grades in homework, class participation, and quizzes. However, when I asked her how well they were doing in the standards for her course, she gave me a puzzled look. She repeated that her students did well on homework and quizzes. I rephrased my question and asked her which particular standards did each homework and each quiz focus on. She said they assessed the book’s chapters.

I showed her how she could change her grading to reflect the standards. She could create new categories such as S1 (standard 1), S2 (standard 2), etc. Instead of focusing on all the homework, she could select which part of the homework focused on Standard 1 and then record that grade under Standard 1. Likewise, she could modify her quizzes so that each quiz focuses on one standard so instead of a quiz grade she could give a standard grade. Now her students could see how well they were progressing in the standard instead of how well they did on quizzes, participation, and homework. She could know how well they were progressing in the important standards rather than the textbook chapters.

Do you give grades or do you give standards-based grades through your electronic gradebook?

Word Process all Assignments For Easier Improvements

I ask all of my students to word process all of their assignments.  I have one simple reason- so they can revise their work more easily. In my class students receive a  plus (+)  for above proficient work, a check mark for proficient work, or comments for less than proficient work.  I tell them they can  redo any less than proficient or even proficient work  to improve it. I will take the higher “grade”.  In one  of my college class the students have six assignments per session; I rate each and give comments to explain how to improve the work.  Most students modify their already word processed work in just a few minutes. Almost everyone gets the higher grade.  If anyone does not show improve, then I have a one-on-one with that person. If they had handwritten their work, they would not willingly make changes.

Free or Inexpensive Grading Books

I’m looking for a free or inexpensive online grading book since my institution does not have any class management system.

Engrade is a free online grade book (gradebook and notifies parents/students). Likewise, HotChalk is also free; it is a grade book and notifies parents/students.

There are a few inexpensive  grading book programs such as Class Builder $39.99 (grade book, quiz maker, and class web page) and Quia $49.00 (has grade book, quizzes, and learning activities like cloze activity).  Even if  I were to pay $49.00 a year, it is a cheap price to pay to have quizzes  graded, have grades calculated, and give students access to their grades.

What free or inexpensive grade book type program do you use?

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?

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?

Changing the student grade paradigm

I taught an English honors class in high school where the constant question was “What is my grade?” The students were much more focused on their grades than on their learning.

How do we help students to focus on their learning and not their grades?  Even if we give them their grades for each homework, test, and project as soon as possible though an online program such as Blackboard, they still are focused on the grade.  To change the paradigm, we can use standards or goals checklists with the “grades” of AP -advanced,  P-proficient, B-basic, and S-starting. We  word process the checklist and give them a copy either physically or digitally.  Students can check off their goals as they achieve them. They can see their progression. We can conference with them about their progress and what they need to close the learning gap. These students know their “grades”.

How do help students to see their progress in learning goals?

Alternative Grading To Reflect Student Growth (Formative View)

I mentioned in a previous blog how I felt that my grading did not represent the true height of student learning but it did penalize the students for their early low scores.

Here are two possibilities:

1. Assign different grades different weight. Grades from the beginning of the project get 10% weight, middle get 30% and the ending ones get 60%. That way a grade of 60 (beginning), 70 (middle), and 100 (ending) results in a 90, rather than the average of 76. This can also work for lower-level thinking getting 10%, Application-Analysis getting 30%,and Synthesis-Evaluation getting 60%

2. Do not assign grades until the ending of the learning. Only give comments. If you use the same checklist/rubric, scale to assess the students, they can see their progress from time to time.

Grades with Little Meaning (Formative vs Traditional)

I’m looking at the grades for my students in our speech class. They did very poorly on the first few speeches as I assessed them against the speech rubric. For each speech we’ve self-assessed, peer-assessed and I’ve given them suggestions for improvements. Their speeches have been getting progressively (and drastically) better. But their grades are quite low- think of the average of low scores, middle scores and now high scores. Should I give them a grade based on their average (all scores divided by the number of scores) or do I grade them based on their now high achievement? Traditional grading goes for the average while a standards-based formative focus would go for their final height of learning.

How do yougrade to represent student growth in their standards-based learning?

Online Grading Program Misses Being Formative

F

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?

Formative or Gradebook Teacher Mentality and Technology Use

LSB

The Living SchoolBook of Syracuse University has developed a goal/standard-based aware tool that can link students’ class assignments to specific standards so that educators can see the progress of the students in those standards. It has a data-point tool that allows educators to do observations and record those observations for each standard. These tools focus on formative assessment or assessment for learning where the goal is the constant improvement of student learning.

These are great tools but are these tools mentally where teachers are in terms of assessment? Or are most teachers into the gradebook mentality (give the students grades on assignments and the program will determine their 10 week grade)?

If teachers and administrators do not have the formative assessment mentality, then they will reject technology that can play a critical role in improving student learning. What is your mind set?

 

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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Systemic Student Assessment -Probably Not in Your District

Not student’s standard growth

Most schools do not have systemic assessment of students during the course of a year or over years. Most schools keep track of grades but not of students’ standards progress. Grades do not represent students’ standards based learning. For most schools, the only record of progress on subject area standards such as English Language Arts is the the scores on state assessments given every three to four years in that specific subject area. Very few schools actually look at a student’s growth on all of that student’s state ELA assessments.

If your school district does not have any other way to measure the students’ growth in the standards, then you basically have a school district that is not accountability for students’ standards growth. They just pretend they do!
In your course, how do you assess students’ growth in the standards through technology? How can you prove that your instruction/learning experiences have caused an improvement in the students’ progress toward the standards?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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Classroom Grades Don’t Reflect Student Learning

Grading ? or Standard

Notes from Douglas Reeves‘ The Learning Leader (2006)

A letter grade does not mean the same thing among grade level teachers. Does an “A” in Mrs. Brown’s 7th grade English class in Roxo Middle School equal an “A” in Mr. Cooper’s 7th grade English class in Roxo Middle School? Does a middle school “A” mean the student is prepared for the rigors of high school?

A 100 point scale uses a ten point range such as 90-100 is A, 80-89 is B, 70- 79 is C, and 60-69 is a D, therefore an F is really 50-59. If an F is put in as a O, then the students are penalized 50 points which is not proportional to the rest of their ten point range grades. An F paper of 0 has “a penalty that is six times greater than work that is done wretchedly and worthy of a grade of D”. (p. 121)

Teachers can use a 0-4 grading scale in which each interval is equal.

Classroom letter grades are poor indicators of the students’ scores on high school state graduation tests since the classroom grades are not standards-based. “A” and “B” students do fail the state graduation tests.

Classes and schools should switch from the bell curve to a mountain (mastery) curve where all students succeed.

Most public school grading systems do not reflect standards. An “A” is a summative statement since no areas are indicated for improvement (formative statement).

Whether you do your grades in a spreadsheet or in an online grading program, how do your classroom grades reflect the students’ progress toward the standards?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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Formative Assessments For Students Growth: Four Techniques

Formative Assessment Variety

There are several ways to give students feedback on their progress in specific crticial parts of a standard:

1. Grade all applicable assignments on the state rubric for that standard. For example, grade all ELA writing with the state writing rubric. When you record the score in your grade program using the ELA score, you can see the students progress.

2. When you return the assignment, write this standards-based score and the previous score on it. Students can see if they are growing in the standard and remaining stagnant.

3. Have students keep a record of their assignments and their grades. Ask them to write down one thing they can do to improve in that standard. Some teachers have a daily reflection time for learning and this would be an excellent way for students to crystalize their thoughts for improvements. They submit these cumulative learning logs so that they can see which of their strategies were effective for a specific critical apsect of the standard.

4. Convert all grading to be standards based and use the subcategories under each standard to represent the critical aspects of a standard. Do not enter anything as a test but enter it under the appropriate critical aspect. Therefore, a persuasive essay based on a graph, would not be entered not as an ELA test but as part of Standard 1. You can use your grading program to print out the students’ standard based progress.

How else do you give formative assessment to students? How do you use technology to facilitate the process?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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Formative Assessment: Change Grading Categories to be Standards Based

Standards Based Grading

One of the biggest changes a teacher can make in using formative assessment is to convert the course grading to be standards-based. When I taught I had grading categories such as homework, tests, quizzes, and projects. My total grade for a student was a combination of these individual categories. However, after reading Marzano’s Transforming Classroom Grading, I changed my grading to be standards based.

I simply put the standard in as the major category in the grading program. So instead of the categories of homework, tests, quizzes, and projects, I had S1 (Standard 1), S2 (Standard 2), S3 (Standard 3), and S4 (Standard 4). I had to think about the real standards purpose for each homework, test, quiz, or project and then label it with that category. So I might have S1 as the category and then “graph reading quiz” as the description.

When parents came in and asked about their students’ grade, I no longer said, “He does poorly on quizzes” or “She does not do well on the project.” I said, “He has a low score on Standard 1” or “She is doing well on Standard 4.” The parents understood those comments as measuring their children’s progress toward a standard. The students understood that they were working on standards and that each homework, test, quiz, and project contributed to a standard.

So are you standards-based in your classroom? Does your grading reflect it? Do your students know how well they are progressing toward the standards by looking at their class grades?

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RSS Education with Technology

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    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 […]
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  • 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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