Archive for the 'online' Category

Academic Online Poll/Survey Guidelines to Improve Student Learning

Many teachers have begun to use online polling or survey tools in their classroom.  The clicker movement has become transformed into a multitude of  e-polling  tools such as those described in Web 2.0 Survey and Polling Tools.

Some general guidelines for a learning poll in a classroom.

1) Decide on the purpose of the poll.  Is it a pre-assessment, in-progress assessment, or a final assessment?

2) Focus the poll on a single  specific learning concept.  Do not do a poll on all Spanish foods  but on  the subcategory of  breakfast foods.  Avoid sampling polls that cover many different learning concepts.

3) Ask critical essential  material.  Go for the truly important learning , instead of the trivial learning.  It is more important to know what type poetry a poet wrote rather than how many husbands she had.

4) Ask higher level questions  Which of the following  sentences uses an analogy?  or

5) Keep the wording  simple. Avoid negative questions.  Avoid long  questions or statements. Avoid long multi-line possible answers.  Although open-ended questions often allow the students more flexible in how they answer the question, these open-ended answers are hard to analyze for overall class performance.

6) Keep the poll to 10 or fewer questions.  Make it a quick poll to take.

7)  Decide whether to give the poll as homework or in-class.  If done in-class, is it a review of yesterday (or the past few days)?  Is a poll given after  in-class instruction and some practice?  Decide when it  fits in the lesson to give you the best picture of students’ learning?

8) Decide if the poll is anonymous or whether the students identify themselves.  If students identify themselves, then you can keep track of their progress.   If students identify themselves, make sure your poll program can store the data.  Some poll programs have polls that disappear after a certain amount of time. Does the program allow you to manipulate the data such as sorting or ranking?

9) Decide if you will share the class results with the class or whether you will be the only one to look at the data.  If you share the results with the class, does the poll program produce an overall graph with no names or identification of individual students?  For example, the poll may show a graph of how many A,  B, C, and D answers there were for an individual question and  highlight the correct answer.

10)  If you are using the poll for class improvement, do you  provide new strategies for students to overcome the learning gaps shown in the poll? If  you explain the “wrong” answer in the same way that you have previously explained it, then students who are presently confused will still be confused.  Do you have a new different strategy for students to learn the material?  How soon after giving the poll will you give the new strategy? (Research says the sooner, the more effective.)  Do you have students practice the new approach?

11) If at least 20% of the students do poorly (below 80%) on the  poll,  do y0u re-poll students within a few days to see if they have overcome their learning gaps? Can they show that they are proficient?

12) Decide if your next online poll will be this subcategory of the learning goal at a higher learning level, another subcategory of this learning goal, or a new learning goal.  Hopefully, students will see the polls as a logical progression of their learning.

How do you use polls in your class?

My modern language blogs are  now at  http://bit.ly/imprml

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 at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

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

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

No Basic Differences in Textbooks in 50 Years: Go Virtual

I examined two textbooks that are fifty years apart, a Spanish textbook from 1960 and one from 2010

Both:
Teach the same grammar – present, present irregulars, preterite, preterite irregulars, imperfect, …..
Teach the same basic vocabulary- family, occupations, house, …. The 2010 textbook does have more modern words such as cell phone, computer…
Start each lesson with  written dialogue
Focus primarily on grammar- almost all the exercises are grammar focused
Have images – The 1960 has black and white illustrations and the 2010 has many colored photos.
Include cultural information
Have dictionaries

Some differences:
The  1960 textbook contains 200+ pages while the 2010 textbook has 500+ pages.
The 1960 has some testing/practice material while the 2010 textbook has  much online grammar practice.
The 1960 textbook has a story line of a family with a father who travels to Latin America.  The 2010 does not have a storyline.
The 1960 textbook teaches practical vocabulary essential to daily living and traveling while the 2010 teaches specialized vocabulary such as words to describe art in a museum.
The 1960 textbook follows the grammar translation methodology while the 2010 follows the grammar use methodology.

The 2010 textbook, once all the colored photos are removed, is essential the same as the 1960 textbook.
Do modern language teacher still want to focus primarily on grammar instead of communication?

For your subject area, how has the textbook, the staple of most classes, changed over the last 50 years?
Does it scaffold information to make it easier for students to learn?
Does it include strategies to help the students better learn the material?
Does it organize information in a way to help students see similarities and differences?
Does it build in self tests so students can measure their progress in a formative assessment manner? Does it provide formative feedback?
Has it gone to the “less is better” with more concentration on critical learning  or has it gone to “the bigger is better” way of thinking?

I’ve written several blogs about textbooks Smartphone (Mobil Learning Apps as Alternative Textbooks)  and Why a Physical Textbook?

Think of creating your own virtual textbook that truly matches the state goals and your district’s goals.

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.

10 Reasons to Use Online Practice Quizzes (Formative Assessment)

Students benefit greatly from being able to take online practice quizzes. These quizzes focus on the critical lower-level thinking learning for the students. The students can practice these activities on online quizzes, therefore, freeing up class time for higher-level thinking activities. Here are some reasons based on my use of Quia.

1) Students do not have to wonder if their answer is correct or not as they answer a question, the quiz programs tells the student.  Students get immediate reaction to their answer; they do not have to wait until the next class which may be 24 hours, 48 hours or more away.

2)  The online quiz program focuses on parts of the learning goal details that students might have overlooked.  Spanish students soon realize that they need an accent on a the preterite tense  such as hablé.  English students see that difference between “metaphor” and  “analogy”.

3) Students can read the teacher-provided strategy for improvement for each wrong answer.  The students do not just know that they are incorrect but they see an explanation of how to improve. They learn how to do it right;  they improve through formative assessment.

4)  Students can begin to use their new strategy  as they encounter a problem using the same concept that they just missed. They can verify if they are applying the strategy correctly.

5)  Students can answer without  feeling badly about having a wrong answer as can happen in a class. No other student knows.

6)  Students can retake a practice  quiz as often as they want to improve their score. The program can be set to keep the highest score.  If the practice quizzes are truly formative, then no grade will be taken.  Students will demonstrate their learning in classd and on  summative tests.

7)  Teachers can quickly analyze in what areas students are successful and in what areas they have demonstrated  learning gaps. They can select an appropriate learning strategy for each student for class.  The teachers can use the online quiz’s graphing analysis to see if any learning gaps are class wide. Such real time data improves the formative assessment process.

8)  Teachers do not lose time in going around the  classroom physically checking in homework. I figure that I save 10 minutes for my college class. 10 x 30 classes = 300 minutes, 5 additional hours of class time, or 3.7 additional class periods. Therefore, teachers have more time in class to help students improve and to work on higher level skills.

9)  Likewise, if teachers do go around the room checking in homework, they do not have the time to check each individual answer of each student. If students do twenty five questions, the teachers can only glance over the homework. The teachers probably do not have time to explain individually to each student which answers are incorrect and what strategy will work for each incorrect answer.

10)  Both  students and teachers can see the students’  progress over time as they see the online quiz scores.  In addition, teachers may notice patterns such as Tom does well on vocabulary quizzes but has trouble on grammar quizzes; teachers can then determine how to help Tom with his general learning problem of grammar.

How do you use online quizzes as part of your formative assessment?

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.

Oprah’s OnlineBook Club and Your Use of Technology

I joined Oprah’s online book club not just for the great book but to see how she does a book club online. I was intrigued by whom she had skype in, call in, or email in. I’m sure that she received thousands of online requests. I think that one criteria was location – she selected a person from China and another from Germany to show the world wide nature of the show. Each speaker was easy to understand, no heavy accents, only native English speaking people. She would wait to bring the outsider in until when they were at a particular point in the discussion. Each person amplified the topic that was being discussed at that moment. Since this online book club was live, I am sure that her staff was screening calls, synthesizing what book point each person was making, and deciding where that book point fit into where the discussion was in the show. Then someone made decisions as to which people best expanded or probed deeper into the book and forwarded that information to Oprah. She then waited to introduce the person at the appropriate moment. Did it work? Definitely. Powerfully.

How do we as teachers bring in appropriate resources at the “right” time to amplify what we are teaching? Do we have these electronic resources ready to bring into the classroom? Do the resources show a wide range of thinking to allow our students to explore the topic in-depth?

Online Writing Programs- Not Formative Feedback

I’ve begun to look at online writing assessment programs. The one thing that I have noticed is that the feedback is very general such as “May have organization in parts, but lacks organization in other parts”. How helpful is that feedback to a struggling writer? Does it tell him/her what specific parts are organized or what parts are not organized? Does it tell the student what to do to organize the part? Does it provide scaffolding to help the student organize the part? The bottom line is “How likely is it that the student will improve based on the feedback?”

So far the online writing program that I have seen do not give formative  feedback. I’m afraid the students using these online writing programs now  somewhat know  something about what they did without being given the tools to move forward in their writing.

Reading Speed and Comprehension Online Test

Have you every wondering about the reading comprehension of your students?

The following are some sites designed for high school or above to test both reading speed and comprehension. Most of these have about ten paragraphs to read

http://www.readingsoft.com/ – a reading of about 8 paragraphs. Times and then has comprehension questions

Rocket Reader of http://www.rocketreader.com/cgi-bin/portal/fun_tests/perception has a reading test that includes specific vocabulary

ExecuRead of http://www.execuread.com/speedtest.htm has reading test timed and comprehension

Unless we give the students diagnostic reading tests such as these, we may never know their entry level of  reading. Is it really far to assign ten pages of reading to a student who reads less than 100 reads more minute (If a  textbook page has 400 words, it will that that student four minutes per page or a total of 40 minutes to read ten textbook pages.)?

What other reading diagnostics do you give your students?

Free Testing Websites

There are numerous free website that can help you to prepare tests if you do no have an online classroom management program that can produce tests.

I would suggest word processing your test questions first and then cutting and pasting so you do not loose it if something happens online. Also, carefully look at all the buttons before continuing to the next page of any program.

Easytestmaker allows you to create a test online and format it. You print it out for the students. The program produces an answer key to facilitate manual correction.

ProProfs.com allows you to create and administer the test online. You can have public or private tests. Your students see the correct answer for each question and your comment about the answer, if you included one. In the options, make sure to make it private if it is just for your class. You can have the students print out their pre-assessment total score and correct/incorrect response for each answer.

SchoolCandy allows you to create a test and administer it online. Students can see their results on individual questions only if the teacher enables this feature. Students receive their score as soon as they finish. There is a small statistical matrix to show questions with unusually high correct or incorrect answers. Tests are stored for one year plus 2 months. If teachers do not see the orange test screen, then students have left the site.
Zoomerang is an online survey site. However, you can also administer tests. You see the results of the class per question and can see how individuals responded to the test. Students cannot see their results. After 10 days you do not have access to the information unless you pay for the next level.

What other free test services do you use? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Online Discussion: More Than Responding to Others

 Online discussion

Unfortunately, one of the most common discussion teacher instructions is “Respond to 3 people.” Usually, a student has done something (answered a question, summarized a reading, given an example), and others are asked to respond. Unless the students know how to respond, they will simply make a brief comment back to the person, “Good job, Mike” and even an elaboration “Good job, Mike, on your use of science websites in your class.” does not provide helpful formative feedback. Even when they say, “Mike, your websites are very interactive and they show students the variables that impact any experiment,” they are not growing from reading the other student’s responses unless they also are a science teacher.

I think the learning that takes place is more important than the  actual number of response.  Have all students contribute to a common project is much more participatory such as researching how two different occupations use oral communication and share with each other so that the class can determine the types of work speaking they  will learn.  Have students brainstorm a topic such as different types of letter for a business class allows all students to share ideas. Have students peer-correct another student’s project or suggest improvements.  Having each student find a different YouTube videos or podcasts that explains a science concept and be prepared to explain the science concept becomes exciting for students. When students know that doing the conversation with help them to learn, they become motivated.  They do not see it as just an exercise.

What do you do to make your online discussions valuable learning experiences for your students instead of just counting (react to three people) activities?

Online Discussion/Conversation Groups: How do we group learners?

Globe

How do we organize professional development online discussion groups with educators who are from different disciplines?

Mechanically, the groups could be organized alphabetically such as the last names of A-E, F-I, etc.
Mechanically, the groups be organized by the order in which the educators sign up for the class.

Content wise, the groups could be organized by their disciplines.
Content wise, the groups could be organized from the mixed disciplines when they all have a common problem that each can contribute to and grow from each other.
Content wise, the groups could be organized by the educator’s common interest or chosen area for improvement (structuring online classes, responding to students, etc.)

How we group the learners helps to determine how much they will learn in the online discussion. How do you group people (students or instructors) in online discussion groups to maximize learning?

Online Course Material: Helpful or Confusing?

Online

A friend shared with me the experience he is having with an online course he is taking. During the first week he downloaded a 34 page welcome and instruction booklet. He was shocked when he noticed that each section was in a different font, font size, and style. There were no divisions between the sections just a change in formatting. It seemed that different people wrote each section and these sections were just put together. There was no table of contents so that he could not find anything easily. He could not determine any logical flow to the materials. When he went to read one set of instructions for an assignment, he found that all the text was centered and bolded. In that section he could not determine what were the critical parts nor what he was to do. He was new to the online program but there were no screenshots showing him what was where. There were no visual illustrations or concept maps showing how various things went together. Only one of the initial practice activities was critical to the topic of the online course. He said he would give it one more week before he gave up.

How do your online course materials support your students’ success in your course? Do your materials gently guide the student through the necessary background/skill set so that they can handle the mechanics of the course and focus on the content? Do your online materials help the students to grow in the content in an in-depth manner?

Historical Digital Storytelling With Primary Sources

Digital Storyteller site

Digital Storyteller was created by Ben Ferster of the University of Virginia. According to the website, “A digital story combines text and images with narration in the student’s own voice to form a short digital movie. Digital Storyteller is a web-based tool that offers teachers and students frictionless access to digital images and materials that enable them to construct compelling personal narratives. Digital Storyteller was developed as an initiative of Primary Access. The primaryAccess Initiative offers students and teachers the opportunity to use primary source documents to create digital movies (historical narratives) that provide a compelling and meaningful learning experience.” He has designed the program to look like an ipod with handy tabs for the various features such as storyboarding. The teacher sets up this completely online program for his/her class; the students create their stories; and all stories reside on the website.

An example of a story done with this tool is European Exploration.

You can search through the digital movies You can just type in a topic on the left or you can indicate the NCSS time era and then type in the specific topic on the left.

With such an easy interface, your students can create their digital history reports. Imagine if your students created ones of your local unique history to share with others.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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Online or Class Discussions (Conversations) are not Learning Assessments

dqcrazyquote.jpg

I believe that almost all online and class discussions are not assessments. Why?

– Teachers do not generally assess each student.

-Teachers do not generally assess a student against a content rubric or a specific standard.

-Teachers do not give specific content feedback to each student.

Therefore students do not grow academically.

I think that in most discussions:

-Teachers count how many responses a student makes.

-Teachers respond to a student’s emotion or lenth of statement.

I do not think that most teachers teach discussion skills.

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Online Conversations: Good Pedagogy or New Technology:

I recently heard a person describe a new conversation tool that the person is helping to develop. The more I heard about the tool, the more I realized that what was needed was not a new technology tool but good pedagogy.


As teachers, we create the online learning environment. We orchestrate how students will respond to questions or prompts. We set our high expectations for how students will respond. We assess them on thoughtful well-documented responses, not on the number of responses. We expect them to read and understand what other students have written and to respond by adding new information or exploring different aspects of the topic. We, the educators, make online conversations to be effective learning experiences, not the technology we are using.

Top 10 reasons not to use professional collaboration program

 

10 I don’t have time to check the online site since I’m too buy creating materials.

9 My stuff is not good enough to share.

8 I don’t want anyone else using my great writing technique.

7 I’ve heard that blogs and other collaborative programs like that have porn so I’m staying away from them.

6 Othere subject area teachers don’t teach like I do so their materials or ideas won’t help me.

5 I’ve used the same materials for the last 20 years and I won’t change now.

4 I have all the transparencies I need.

3 Once I close the door, it is my private world.

2 I am an expert in my subject area.

1 My students like to listen to me lecture each period.

 

School Communication and Collaboration: A simple solution






Recently I had an emergency trip to the hospital. I was infuriated when I was asked the same medical background question by five different people. There seemed to be a lack of communication.

 

I visited with a high school teacher who was bemoaning the lack of communication in his school. I thought back to being in a very small department and in a large department; both had a lack of communication.

 

Why do schools not use an online collaboration tool to communicate within the school? All announcements can be sent out and archived for future reference. All forms can be accessed at anytime. Surveys can be given out and the results instantaneously produced for everyone to see. Department meeting notes can be posted so that future meetings do not cover the same ground. Progress or lack of it on long term curriculum projects can seen easily. Teams can keep track of “at-risk” individuals more closely.

 

It is time to change the present school culture to be an information sharing and growing one.

Online Collaboration Tools: Theory and Reality

A university developed an online collaboration tool based on a constructivist framework. Instructors have used this tool for more than ten years. Recently an analysis of its use was done. The reality was that most instructors used it for students to submit their homeworks and some used it for online discussions. Most instructors did not grade the discussions and many of those that did grade tended to grade the number of entries in the discussion. Students did have a virutal shared work space in which to work on prescribed assignments. These uses do not reflect a constructivist envionment

 

 

A public school librarian told me about the blogs in his school. Again, they used an online collaborative tool mainly for students to post their thoughts on topics but with no interaction among the students. Each student got to put in one thought about the topic. The contents of the blog were not studied in class and the students were not tested on the content of the blog.

The question becomes “How can we promote in-depth learning through online collaborative tools?

 


RSS Education with Technology

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