Posts Tagged 'Class'

Smartphone -1 Computer -0 Speed of Getting to Material

I have been using Smartphone / Mobile Learning for the semester in my Spanish class.   The class does meet in a computer lab.  However, the other day, the power of mobile learning and QR codes  shone.  I offered students the opportunity to do an activity on the smartphone or on the computer. The students who used the Smartphone & QR code were on the site and most had completed the  short activity before  the computer students had even logged on the network.  The computer students had to turn on the Windows machine before doing the log in.  The more time we save on getting to material in the classroom , the more time there is for learning.

An additional speed benefit of Mobile Learning /Smartphone and QR codes is that students do not incorrectly  type in the URL (Http://…)  even when I have shortened the url.  When students mistype the url, they have to retype it. Again, wasted class time.

How do you use Smartphones/ Mobile Learning to Speed up getting to learning materials?

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.

Class increase of 12 points over last semester

I give a pre-test and a post test in my Spanish course.  From the pre-test I can measure the students incoming knowledge.  From the post-test I measure their departing knowledge.   More importantly, I analyze the results of each unit test by the various categories on the test. If many students do poorly on a certain section, I reteach it.  The next semester I start out that particular point with  the reteaching material.  I also do many formative assessments so that I can give students new strategies to do better.  This semester my students did an average of 12 points better than last semester’s students.  I have analyzed the final to see the area in which they lost the most points – writing mini-compositions and have begun to figure out ways to help them. We will do more writing in class and on our class wiki. I will focus on the verb forms to tell a story such  as what I did last weekend. I will have them write out their weekend in a chronological order and make sure that they use a different verb in each sentence. We will do mini-writings over several class periods. For the final they do not need complicated sentences; they just need simple sentences that communicate different ideas.  My goal is to increase this coming semester’s average by 10 points over last semester.

By how much will you increase your class average  this coming year?

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.

Using Modern Language (FL) Apps Even When …

I have written a blog about identifying and categorizing Spanish apps. As I’ve been thinking about the present state of modern language /foreign language apps, I’ve realized that the inadequacies of these language apps present great learning opportunities for our students.

Students can look at and do a vocabulary or phrase modern language app /foreign language app such as Learn Spanish ((Droid) or Hola (Droid)

Then

– Students can analyze what important vocabulary is missing from the topic and make a supplementary list. For example, the housing category may have tableware but not bed or chair.

– If the app only presents individual words, the students can create a meaningful target language sentence or question for each word. For example, for the word “lake”, the students may ask “What is your favorite lake?”

– Students can analyze what important phrases or questions are missing and can create those lists. They may see look at a “time”category but they find that the question “When?” is missing. They make up a question using that question word.

– They can analyze what important topics are missing from the app. Perhaps the app has housing and animals but does not have occupations and city places.

– They can see how many meaningful sentences they can create from the present vocabulary list.

– They can answer any questions given in the app. For example, they can answer “How much does this cost?” with the price of a shirt.

– They can rearrange the questions or statements to create a logical conversation about the topic.

– They can think of a typical language task for a topic such as having a dirty spoon on the restaurant table and use the existing sentences and add others to be able to get a clean spoon.

In this way, students go from consumers to producers. They analyze what they are doing to see what is missing. They think about critical vocabulary, phrases, and topics instead of simply doing a drill program. They do not just repeat but they answer or comment on. They build on. The students become language users!

How do your students deal with modern language apps that do not do everything  well?

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.

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.

Do we help students improve?

I recently talked with a student who had taken a college remedial writing course. Each week in the course she wrote an essay on a writing prompt such as “My weekend”.  Her instructor  plastered her paper with corrections such as “Tenses!” or “Watch your grammar”.  However, this student  did not understand what the exact  tense problem was or how to correct it.   Each week she repeated the same errors. Her instructor did not review whole class errors.   This student did not learn any new pattern or formula for writing  the essays. She only did one type of essay.  She learned how to write better by asking her  friends.

Do we really help our students to improve? Do we give them meaningful formative feedback that helps them improve? Or do we leave our students sinking in their own learning laps? Do we provide them with several strategies from which to select? For example, my formative assessment book on writing, Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, offers many different strategies for each phase of the writing process.  Formative assessment provides continual improvement and success for students.

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.

Which Technology Will Save Education this Year?

I’ve been using computers in the classroom  since 1978.    Each year a new technology comes along that claims it will save education. Some evangelists of this technology, usually technology-based people,  tout its wonders. Teachers are trained on this newest and best technology. Whole curriculums are developed around the technology.  Some schools, often pilot schools who have had a huge influx of the technology with special help from the producing company, brag about the many  benefits of this technology. Yet, we do not hear about the long lasting effects on learning.

Some people consider the pen an improvement over the pencil.  Has the pen caused students to write better?  How teachers have students  use the pen improves  students’ writing.  The same is true for any new technology.   “Technology integration” workshops should focus on improving teaching, not on this newest technology.  When these workshops show teachers how to apply different learning strategies such as those from Silver, Strong and Perini in The Strategic Teacher Selecting the Right Research-Based Strategy for Every Lesson (from ASCD) using a technology, then  successful student learning will result. Likewise, a workshop on formative assessment that incorporates technology can lead to greater student achievement.

Another trend with the new technology is that often the producing company has already created the “learning” curriculum. Teachers have less of a role in designing and modifying the curriculum. Teachers become reduced to the observers of the curriculum. Classroom teachers know their own students and they know the best way to modify the curriculum so that their students can learn. Teachers should have available a wide variety of technology-rich resources to help them as they map out the curriculum for their students. These teachers should not be trapped by the technology.

What do the “technology integration” workshops in your district focus on?

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.

Formative Assessment Class Culture

Formative assessment requires a specific culture in the classroom.

For example, I tell my students that my job is to help them constantly improve.

I remind them that in this formative assessment class, I am a coach.  I will look for what they are doing well but, more importantly, I will look for how they can improve. An athletic coach constantly watches his/her players and constantly gives suggestions for improvement.

In addition, I will only ask then to improve when they can be given a  new strategy or approach that will enable them to overcome their learning gap.

I let them know that when I call on them, I will give them feedback.  If they want to become better in the class, they will offer their answer no matter how wrong  they think their answer is. Once I hear their answer, I can help them to become better.  If they keep quiet, I cannot help them. My feedback will focus not on what they did wrong but on how to do it correctly.

I remind them that they will be constantly assessed and be constantly  given strategies. For example, in the pre-writing phase of their essays, there will be seven assessments. Each formative assessment helps ensure they are on a success track.

I tell them that we build on successes.  We do something well, then we build on that successful learning  to reach the next learning goal.  Students feel very different in a class where they know that the teacher and their fellow students are there to help them improve in their learning.

Finally, I inform them that they are expected to do well in the course since we build on and reward successes.

What is your class culture?

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

Web 2.0 = Social Networking, Not Social Learning

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,710139,00.html

A study by the Hans Bredow Institute entitled “Growing Up With the Social Web” was particularly thorough in its approach. In addition to conducting a representative survey, the researchers conducted extensive individual interviews with 28 young people. Once again it became clear that young people primarily use the Internet to interact with friends.  Most of the respondents saw the Internet as merely a useful extension of the old world rather than as a completely new one.  More surprising yet, these supposedly gifted netizens are not even particularly adept at getting the most out of the Internet. “They can play around,” says Rolf Schulmeister, an educational researcher from Hamburg who specializes in the use of digital media in the classroom. “They know how to start up programs, and they know where to get music and films. But only a minority is really good at using it.  The second most popular use of the Internet is for entertainment. According to a survey conducted by Leipzig University in 2008, more young people now access their music via various online broadcasting services than listen to it on the radio.  A major study conducted by the British Library came to the sobering conclusion that the “net generation” hardly knows what to look for, quickly scans over results, and has a hard time assessing relevance. “The information literacy of young people has not improved with the widening access to technology,” the authors wrote. Tom and his friends just describe themselves as being “on” or “off,” using the English terms. What they mean is: contactable or not.

The article also urges teachers to help students to use the Internet for educational learning, not just social networking. It advocates that teachers “teach” students how t0 use the educational part of the web.

How do help your students to be Web 2.0 learners, instead of Web 2.0 socializers?

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

Close but Not Really Formative Feedback

Example A:

At the end of each class, a teacher has her students  do a cumulative task on their whiteboards. She looks over the whiteboards and then gives the whole class the  feedback  of a repeating the rule she has already said.

Formative Assessment or Not:   She does diagnose each student’s answer in a formative manner.  However, she directs her feedback to the class and not an individual.  She does not give a new strategy but only gives the same general rule such as  “remember the order” that she has previously used in class. If the students do have the answer wrong, they probably do not understand the general rule so repeating that rule does not help the students.  Saying a rule  louder or more often does not help students who do not understand the rule.

Example B:

During the class, a teacher has her students do a task on their mini-whiteboards. She looks over their answers and quickly regroups students.  Each group has a specific task to do.  Some do enrichment, some have formative feedback for their overcoming a specific gap, and others meet with the teacher for more in-depth help in overcoming the gap.  Each student gets the appropriate feedback so he/she can overcome the learning gap and move forward.

Example B shows formative assessment in action.

My new 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

Build a real class learning community

Teachers can create a class community such as everyone knowing two things about everyone else in the class without having a learning community where students continually work together to better each other.   Likewise, teachers can have students work together (Student A does this/ student B does that….) without really collaborating (interacting and changing the individual or group’s ideas) .

I would propose using formative assessment to build a class learning community. When students continually help each other by peer-reviewing and offering new ideas to others, they  have a learning community.  For example, in pairs, the students have peer-reviewed each other’s brainstormed evidence for an English essay and the teacher has given the original authors time to make appropriate changes. Then they continue being formative by creating groups of three to four.  In turn, each author reads his/her thesis and his/her brainstormed evidence; the group has the responsibility of adding three to four new pieces of evidence to the original list. After they help the first person, they rotate through the group.  Each group has a single purpose: to help each author to have three to four new pieces of evidence.  Those groups are truly learning communities

What learning communities do you have in your class?

My new 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 Learning with Web 2.0: Podcast

Many teachers want to involve their students in podcasting yet they are unsure of how to evaluate such Web 2.0 digital age learning.  I offer this podcast rubric as a useful tool to focus on learning, not the technology.

Harry Tuttle Web 2.0 Podcast Rubric

Harry Tuttle Web 2.0 Podcast Rubric

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

Reponding to Your Students

Spoiling our Students Through Formative Assessment

My wife and I spent the week taking care of our 15 month old grandson, Rowan. We now understand what it means to spoil a grandchild.  Like other grandparents, we did not buy special toys or clothing; we did not keep him up past his bedtime; and we did not take him to special places.  We did spoil him by devoting our complete attention to him. We did not focus on working, taking care of the house, etc; we only focused on him.

Every teacher should spoil the students in their classroom.  The teachers should be so prepared for class that when class starts the teachers can focus their complete attention on the students. How are the students responding to the instruction? Which students are “getting it” and which are not?  What learning problems are emerging?  What instant strategy can be implemented right now to help the students overcome their learning gap? We need to change our perspective from what we teach to what the students are learning. We need to  become  attentive parents/guardians who constantly look for clues of learning strengths and learning gaps.  We need to be nurturing parents/guardians who can treat  any “illness” as soon as we see it.  We do not want any student to bleed out while they wait overnight for us to figure out a solution to their illness.

Let’s spoil our students so that they achieve more in-depth learning!

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

Break your class now!

For many years a favorite book of mine was If it is not broken, then break it by George Morrison. The author stresses that the time to improve something is when it is working, not when it is broken. If you fix something when it is broken, you usually only restore it to its original condition but not an improved one.

If you spend time in reflecting on the lesson or unit and breaking the present level, you improve it to a higher level. Your students learn better.

When do you stop and break your class? Do you consciously say “What can I improve the next time I do this?” Do you rewrite your lesson plans? Redo your PowerPoint? Find different websites? Think about wording things differently on your handouts? Do you ask your students what worked for them such as rating each part of the unit on a 4-very helpful for learning the goal 3- somewhat helpful 2- a little helpful 1- not helpful at all” scale and do you ask them “What would have helped me better learn this goal?” Do you honestly consider their suggestions?

Break your class to help your students better succeed!

One way to break your class is through formative assessment.

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

Reponding to Your Students

Teach or Observe Students

I am the photographer for my church. I am supposed to record the events of the church. However, I often get involved in the events so I forget to take pictures such as last week when we baked 200 pies to raise money.

I realize that the same thing happens in the classroom. I am so busy “teaching” that I forget to observe the students. I do not do frequent check-ins so see where they are in the process. I do not build into my lesson plan student-self or peer assessments. I need to lessen my presenting and increase my student learning focus.

How do you change your focus to become the photographer of your students’ learning instead of th event main participant? Once you have a picture of their present learning, what formative actions do you take?

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.

Two Observations, Two Different Approaches

I was talking to two teachers from the same school. Both teachers were going to be observed. One supervisor not only did a pre-conference a week before the observation but also gave the teacher the evaluation rubric. This supervisor asked about any special conditions in the class or if the classroom teacher wanted the supervisor to look for anything in particular. As soon as the class observation was over, the supervisor gave some positives and some suggestions for change. Then within a week, the supervisor sent out the formal evaluation.

The other supervisor showed up two minutes before the class for the pre-conference. He looked over the lesson plan. After about two weeks after the class, the teacher received the formal evaluation.

I’m wondering which technique we use when we observe our 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.

Organic Learning With Technology or Inorganic Learning?

I drove past a farmer’s stand that proudly proclaimed itself as organic. I laughed. When I was growing up on a farm, everything was organic. Cows produced the fertilizer for the fields.

I wonder if we have made changes to make the learning process less organic. Have we gone to using technologies in which that might reduce learning? Do our PowerPoints truly energize the learners into deeper learning or do the PowerPoints put them to sleep? Does the time we have the students spend on creating a podcast really reflect in-depth learning about the course’s standard or does the time reflect surface only learning over multiple days? Do our students spend time in responding to others in a blog when the other people do not read their comments? Do our students spend time in creating fancy projects that include many visuals when the visuals do not add more meaning to the project? Do we have students create the same information on a wiki that is presently available in another location? Do we have students virtually visit a location (like a zoo) without having them learn critical standards information?

Have we used technology to interfere with students’ learning instead of helping them to grow in-depth and comprehensively in the standards? How organic is your classroom or have you covered it with harmful fertilizers?

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

Embedded Testing or Random Testing

A colleague was sharing a humorous story about assessment. The students in his college have to take a post-writing test to show their improvement from their first writing at the college. They have to write an essay based on the same five topics.

However, the irony is that the students who are in his business writing course which is the final English course for the students are the ones being asked to write the post-writing. In the business course, they write business letters according to very strict formats.

Having them write an essay in the business class is like assessing a pizza maker on how well he writes checks. The pizza maker certainly writes checks but those checks are a very small percent of his/her time. The pizza maker spends most of the time in making pizza. Maybe the pizza maker can be observed as he/she makes pizzas just as our students can be assessed doing regular classroom writing in their essay class, not in their business class.

How and when do you assess students? Are they doing things that they would normally do as part of your class or is the assessment a random event outside of their normal tasks?

Final Portfolio Still Formative Feedback

Last week I went over my students’ portfolios before they handed them in. The portfolio served as the final in the course. The review gave me one last chance to give them formative feedback. As we went over each section, I asked the students what they did well and what they can do to improve. Their most common learning gap was that some students forget to relate what they had done back to the standard. For some students I had to give them the phrase “I showed (this part of the standard) by ……” or “When I wrote ……, I demonstrated the essential characteristics of …..”.

For several students, it was hard making the leap from what we did in class to the standard (even though for each part of the standard, I had labeled the essential characteristics as we had done them in the class. Students tend to get caught up in the activity without thinking about its real purpose.

How do you constantly remind your students of the bigger purpose for each activity they do? How do you keep your students focused on the standards?

Planning the Next Semester – Focusing on Learning Gaps

As I’ve mentioned, I’m planning my next semester. Or rather I’m getting in a state of readiness. Once I meet with the students and administer the many short pre-assessments, I will start to understand their present position in terms of the learning standards and to know what learning gaps exist. Then I can modify my lessons and materials to better help them in their learning journey.

As this semester’s students have revealed more learning gaps, I have been writing the gaps down and have been developing activities to help the students. A major grammatical problem is the “‘s” that many students use for the noun plural such as “the boy’s are running.” I have developed other help materials for writing such as coming up with topic sentences for a thesis. I realize that most of my outside of classroom time this semester has been in identifying students’ learning gaps and developing materials/techniques to overcome those gaps as part of the feedback process. My teaching has been more focused on helping students overcome their gaps or trying to help them avoid possible learning gaps. I have learned that some of my techniques were not helpful to the students since the techniques did not help the students move forward in their learning. I felt that I have learned so much about helping students to learn.

What changes are you making to help next year’s students overcome probable learning gaps?

Template Writing/ Scaffolded Writing

Even with all the step by step instructions that I gave my students, many became confused when it came time to write. I realize that I have to build in even more structure or scaffolding for my struggling writers. This coming semester I will offer a writing template to my students that is a first step fill-in-the-blank type of writing. For example, for contrast writing:

_____________________ (first item) and ________________________(second item) differ (or some other words showing a difference). They are different in ______________________(first category). __________________________________(the first item) (pick a contrast word such as however, on the other hand, meanwhile) ____________________________________(the second item-make sure to show the difference between the first and second item for this category). ………

I hope that they will use this for the in class practice writing and then they will modify it as they write their homework. The template provides a structure so that they focus on the content.

I have found it challenging trying to create a simple template so they can think about the content for the provided writing structure. To be able to create the template, I have to understand the essence of the writing pattern.

Occam’s Razor and education

I’ve been looking over my handouts for writing and realize that I need to pare them down to the essential.  As Occam’ razor states “All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.”  It is hard to teach someone to run when they cannot even crawl.  I realize that textbooks and myself add so much stuff  to an explanation of writing that the students get lost in what they have to do.

What is the type of writing?

What are its critical characteristics?

What steps would lead to success in this type of writing?

How will I model it for them?

Situational Groupings and a Spreadsheet

I’ve switched from standard grouping to situational groupings. In situational group, the students are regrouped based on the frequent formative assessments done in the classroom. Therefore, the students in each group and the purpose of each small group differs. These groupings change frequently. This week’s “lack of transitions”group disappears based on the next formative assessment but a new grouping of “run on sentence” students appears based on the assessment of their papers and may last several classes.

The situational grouping is facilitated by the use of a spreadsheet in which I score/rate student’s performance and specific skills so that I can have the computer sort for those who scored in the low 2 and 1 range in the 4 point scale (4 = above proficient). A quick sort and I know the students in my next grouping. The harder part is to find focused instructional materials that help those students overcome that learning gap.

Graphic Organizer and Student Writing

This semester has reaffirmed that students who complete a graphic organizer are better essay writers. They have pre-organized their ideas and many even do a quick check to verify that everything fits where it should and there are no duplicates of the same idea. They are not “winging” it. When students write down random ideas and call it an outline, their writing gets very random.
Next semester, I am going to go even heavier on the graphic organizer. I will only accept their essays if they have completed their thesis statement, three pieces of evidence and the supporting details on their graphic organizer. For some writing assignments, I have elongated a graphic organizer to cover two pages so that they do not run out of writing space. Most of the students who had learning gaps this semester had thinking learning gaps; they did not have enough evidence or they did not have details to support their thesis. Some students had grammar learning gaps but even then I could understand their ideas or lack of ideas.

I want to reduce their revisions or rather make their revisions to change from being proficient to above proficient instead of going from below proficient to barely proficient. I hope to raise the bar for them.

Making a Think-Aloud: A Challenging Task

I’ve spend several hours this morning working on a think-aloud about writing a contrast paper that I will, hopefully, record tomorrow and post to YouTube. I have found that as I went to create charts to represent my thinking about how to write a contrast paper, I had to insert more details. I would have to stop myself and say, “What am I thinking now?” I had to add details one by one to represent how a student would think. What are three main differences? The first is … The second is… Also, as a teacher, I had to think of where the students were likely to make mistakes and to emphasize those points. For example, often writing students write down evidence without thinking of how it provides a contrast to the evidence already existing for a certain category.

It is a challenging exercise to do a think-aloud in which I, as a teacher, have to think through each mental step a student needs to make. I now realize that, in the past, I made some mental leaps in my instruction and I now understand why  numerous students did not leap with me.

Have you created a think-aloud?

Portfolio Requirements-Teacher Does It and Improves Standard Demonstration

In my business writing course I’ve assigned a portfolio as the final. The students are to show that they can write each type of business letter. They are to show the changes in their business letters from their first attempts to their arriving at proficiency.

I wrote up the outline of their portfolio. I decided to give them a checklist to guide them through the portfolio process. I made sure that each portfolio requirement had all of its parts listed.

Then I decided to do a model portfolio for them. I deliberately selected a business communication that they had not done. I went through and began doing each part required in the portfolio. As I did, I realized that my wording was vague or did not allow them to focus on the aspects of each business letter. I realized that some parts needed to be moved around. I omitted some aspects that now seem non-productive rather than demonstrating the type of writing. It was not until I did the portfolio that I learned how to make it a better demonstration of the students’ learning. I am sure that when I assess their portfolios, I will look at them different than if I had not done the portfolio myself! I will have to change my rubric to reflect those changes.

Have you actually done your own portfolio? Your own final?

Giving Students’ learning Choices Through Technology

I like to rent Redbox movies, those red kiosco in grocery stores and McDonalds. I can preview the available titles from the comfort of my home; I can take my time to decide which movie I want. I can even rent the movie online so that it is ready for me when I get to the store. I can return it to any Redbox.

I wonder what school would be like if we could have more options and choices available to students. Sure all students have to learn the same basic standards. How much choice do we give the students in how they go about doing it? Do we provide lectures, demonstrations, guided instructions, interactive activities, group activities, and self-tests in various digital formats for them? By using technology we can have many different forms of learning the standard available to the students. What, if instead of lock stepping the class in terms of the students’ learning, we freed up the class to make their own choices? They can select in what order or format to see/hear/experience the learning.

We can start small with podcasts, emovies, and interactive Power Points as we build up our library. Imagine if a department (all English teachers in 9th grade) worked together to create these resources. Then we as teachers could really be guides on the side instead of the sage on the stage. We can spend time in providing formative feedback to students in one-on-one and small groups instead of being infront of the room “teaching”. When students experience a learning gap, we can refer them to a specific technology application that focuses on that learning gap. We can give more help to those who need one-on-one feedback.

Let’s use technology to help us better guide students in their learning.

Restructuring handouts to be more formative

Originally, I had taken the sections of a writing chapter and reduced them down to their essence for my handouts. However, I found out from my students that they only looked at one section, the actual writing examples. When I asked the students about the rest of the handout, they explained that those sections were not helpful.  I had used the book’s terms and “fancy” language which did not explain “how to” do the writing process in terms concrete enough for my students to use.

I’m in the process of redoing the handouts to be the actual steps (and hopefully, the actual order) in doing each type of writing. I would like students to have steps to follow when they need the structure. When students are struggling writers, they need all the scaffolding possible to help them figure out what to do at each step. In order to create the steps, I had to mentally go through what I do in writing each type of writing. That process gave me greater insight into possible learning problems that students might encounter.

Formative Assessment Camps

There are two camps in the formative assessment field. One focuses on what the teacher does. The teacher camp concentrates on all the teacher does- how he/she observes, gather data and plans the lesson. It focuses on future changes for the next year in the curriculum or manner of presenting it. The other camp focuses on the students receiving information for their improvement in the standard for the present lesson.   This other camp simply asks how does what the teacher does help the students to better learn the standard in this unit.

What formative assessment camp are you in? How do you use technology to help you in your camp?

Spring, Student Learning, Formative Assesment and Technology

In the northeast spring is in the minds of people even if it is only 28 degrees. Ice cream stands are interviewing applicants; miniature golfing ranges are getting spruced up, and chicken Bbqs have begun.

I wonder how we prepare for our students’ spring? Do we throw out old non-productive lesson plans? Do we figure out ways to discern the learning gaps (weeds) in our students’ gardens and then to help them remove those gaps? Do we celebrate their learning successes? Do we review the strategies we have used with various students and make sure those strategies have made a positive difference? Do we help them to see what learning succcesses they have had? Do we help them to see the goal that they are growing in?

How do we use technology in this garden of learning? Do we allow students to see their standards-based progress through online “grading” programs? Do we provide many different formats for learning activities to overcome learning gaps such as emovies?


RSS Education with Technology

  • Tech Integration Teacher, What time is it? August 23, 2016
    When someone asks what time it is, that person wants to know the time, not the history of the clock, not how a clock works, and not what other types of clocks there are. Classroom teachers want to help their students improve their academic learning through technology. Sometimes they need help with technology so they go […]
    hgtuttle
  • Curriculum Focus, Not Technology Focus July 28, 2016
    In my public school career I have been a classroom teacher, a technology integration specialist and a technology administrator. In my technology role, I served under the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction. She had a simple mission: Improve students’ academic learning. My mission was equally simple: Improve students’ academic learning through technology […]
    hgtuttle
  • Students React to Digital Badges: Pros, Cons and Interesting June 22, 2016
      ISTE 2016 By Harry Grover Tuttle, Ed. D. College World Language Students’ Preferences Digital Badges – 52%        Paper Certificates – 48% World Language: Can-Do Digital Badges Digital Badges Pro- – Breaks down proficiency more – Shows all badges at once – Is more attractive – Is more appropriate since we use […]
    hgtuttle
  • Digital Badges: Naming the Badge October 29, 2015
    Once teachers have selected what learning and what digital badges (individual or category badges; see previous blog), the teachers encounter another decision. What will they name each badge? Will they use the full name of the Common Core Standard or the national proficiency? For English, under “Speaking and Listening,”will they write out SL.2 “Integrate and […]
    hgtuttle
  • Digital Badges: Better Than Grades? October 19, 2015
    Teachers understand that the grade in a course consists of many different factors such as homework, participation , projects, tests, etc. Blodget observes that sometimes grades reflect attitude, effort, ability and behavior (http://www.academia.edu/9074119/Grading_and_Whether_or_not_Grades_Accurately_Reflect_Student_Achievement). Equally important, a letter […]
    hgtuttle
  • World Language Students Use of Mobile Devices in the Classroom October 5, 2015
    Do world language students use technology n the classroom? Do their  teachers go beyond having their students use technology simply for the drill and practice in vocabulary and grammar? Students can use laptops and mobile devices to hear authentic language, read authentic texts, read tweets about famous performers, see up-to-the-moment culture,  watch video […]
    hgtuttle
  • Digital Badges: Individual or Categorized Learning Badges? September 12, 2015
    The idea of digital badges sounds appealing for the digital children in classes. As teachers start thinking about digital badges, they have to figure out what badges will be awarded. The teachers can award social or academic badges. If teachers decide to use academic badges, then the teachers may base their badges on the Common […]
    hgtuttle
  • English +Common Core +Mobile = Success (ISTE2014 Poster -details) June 30, 2014
    Here are the ten examples I showed at my English + Common Core  + Mobile ISTE 2014 Poster Session: Based on CCSS Anchor Statements: L.2 Take a Conventions Mobile Online Quiz  to pick the  incorrect sentence from four choices (capitalization) SL.2  Evaluate audio recording of a  book chapter on mobile and predict for next chapter. […]
    hgtuttle
  • Global Cultural Learning Using Mobile Devices (ISTE Mobile MegaShare Presentation) June 28, 2014
    Based on my presentation at ISTE 2014 Mobile Megashare Why teach about other countries? Location: Large view to small on maps. Culture or culture. Find six similarities in a  mobile picture from another culture (“Wars are caused by differences, not similarities.”-Tuttle.) Tell one piece of information from each different Internet visual from a place in that […]
    hgtuttle
  • English + Common Core + Mobile = Success in Learning Poster Session at ISTE 2014 June 25, 2014
    In my ISTE Sunday 8-10 am poster session, I demonstrate many diverse mobile activities to help students achieve the English Language Arts Common Core Anchor Statements through mobile devices. The mobile activities focus on free common tool apps that are available on both the Android and the iPad. The students use the apps as a seamless […]
    hgtuttle

Blog Stats

  • 786,930 hits