Posts Tagged 'ELA'

English +Common Core +Mobile = Success (ISTE2014 Poster -details)

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.

SL.4 Tell about a mobile picture of a place far from your home by using space organization.

SL.6 Present mobile recorded news to two different groups (HS class and elementary class).

R.2 Create a one minute small group video to record the  theme of  the story.

R.5 Analyze the structure in downloaded literature by doing a key word search.

R.7 Integrate mobile content. Find online image to show the meaning of each poem stanza by identifying the key words in the stanza.

W.5 Revise a paragraph about non-fiction article using point of view and claims.  Orally dictate to voice to text on mobile, read, improve and re-record.

W.6 Publish school news as tweets; publish much info in few words.

W.7 Do map and image research for a novel like Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.

Use the 150+ different mobile activities in my ebook ,English Common Core Mobile Activities, to guide your students in learning and demonstrating the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Anchor Statements in Language, Speaking and Listening, Reading, and Writing. The activities, organized by Anchor Statements, actively engage your students. More than half the activities are non-fiction. Although the ebook is intended for grades 6-12, teachers at both the elementary and the college level can easily adapt the activities. Over 98% of the suggested apps are free and work on both Android and iPad. Many of these activities can be implemented immediately in the classroom. Each activity is described in detail; most students already can use the app in each activity. Students spend time in achieving the Anchor Statements, not in learning apps. Many of these mobile activities are done in pairs or small group so not all students need to have a mobile device.  $7.99

English Common Core Mobile Activities

English Common Core Mobile Activities

English + Common Core + Mobile = Success in Learning Poster Session at ISTE 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 tools with which to show their demonstration of the Anchor Statements.  Here are short descriptions of three activities:

L.2 Conventions Mobile Online Survey. Teachers can give their students quick conventions formative assessment QR codes that link to an online survey/quiz such as in Google Forms. Each week the teachers focus on a specific part of the conventions such as capitalization. For example, teachers give four statements and the students select the one with incorrect capitalization. As the teachers project the graph of that day’s online quiz and they discover that many students have made errors, they present a micro-lesson on that aspect of capitalization. Teachers can have QR codes for online videos so students can also review that specific convention at another time.

SL.4 Photo Description Organized by Space.
Teachers have their students describe a picture using space organized words. Teachers ask their students to take a mobile picture from their home of a far away location. In class, the teachers review how to use space or location words to organize the students speaking. The teachers share a list of space words such as “in front of,” “to the left,” and “two blocks.” The teachers ask their students to pair up. One student describes how to get from his/her house or apartment to the far away place. The other student listens for and writes down all the space words or phrases that the speaker uses. The listening partner tells the speaker how many space organization words he/she used and suggests other space organization words that would clarify the directions even more. Next, the other student describes his/her picture while the partner listens and gives feedback. The students audio record their revised speaking and post it in an online class management system such as Schoology.

R.5 Key Word Search in Downloadable Literature

As students determine the theme for a piece of literature, they focus on key words that help them explore that theme. In groups of two or three students, one student has downloaded to a mobile device the public domain version of the literature such as Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding. That group of students may search for the word “knife” in the play by using the Find feature in the e-publication. They create a paper chart with three columns: 1) Act and Scene 2) number of times the word appears; and 3) who says it or does something with it that reflects the theme of the play. When they finish with their chart, they take a picture and post it in an online class management system such as Schoology.

Use these 150+ different mobile activities in my ebook,English Common Core Mobile Activities, to guide your students in learning and demonstrating the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Anchor Statements in Language, Speaking and Listening, Reading, and Writing. The activities, organized by Anchor Statements, actively engage your students. More than half the activities are non-fiction. Although the ebook is intended for grades 6-12, teachers at both the elementary and the college level can easily adapt the activities. Over 98% of the suggested apps are free and work on both Android and iPad. Many of these activities can be implemented immediately in the classroom. Each activity is described in detail; most students already can use the app in each activity. Students spend time in achieving the Anchor Statements, not in learning apps. Many of these mobile activities are done in pairs or small group so not all students need to have a mobile device.

English Common Core Mobile Activities

English Common Core Mobile Activities

Students vote to improve -Formative Assessment

I teach a freshmen college  English course. I’ve been using formative assessment throughout the course.  We do at least five very structured formative assessment peer reviews before we even write a draft (Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment).  During today’s class, we  peer reviewed a draft of their contrast essay.  I asked the class to vote whether they wanted 1)  to hand in their essays the next class which was just before  the vacation or 2) to do another  peer review  and have the essays due after Spring Break. I told them I would do whichever they wanted.  90% voted to have their essays peer-reviewed again. They wanted more formative feedback so that their writing could improve!  One student even boasted as he showed me  his peer-reviewed draft, “Look at all the ways I can do better!”

How do you use formative assessment to constantly assess students and to “instantly” help them to improve?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

21st Century Skills Critical Thinking- Fact? Inference? Judgment?

Many students need help in developing critical thinking skills as part of  the 21st century skills.  A technique that I have used both when I taught Critical Thinking courses at the college level and when I have taught higher level thinking  in my own Spanish or English  classes is Fact-Inference- Judgment.

Look at this picture taken by me  in Costa Rica:

Fact – something that is obviously (physically)  in the picture, text, movie, etc.  Everyone will agree to this fact.  For example, there are four people in the picture.  There are pigeons.

Inference- based on noticing  things in the picture, text, movie, etc., a person  makes an assumption. This assumption is only a short logical  step from the observation.   A person can state what he/she observed and what inference this lead to.  Others can easily understand the logic of going  directly from the observation to the inference.  Inference making people use statements like “Based on observing… I notice … I see and therefore …).  For example, I notice that they have on short sleeves so I infer it is warm.   It looks like there are young children, a young adult and an older adult, I assume that this is a grandmother, a daughter and her children.

A judgment is a value statement or emotional statement. Although something in the picture or text may be a springboard, there is no logical leap.  Judgments take a strong value or emotional stand on the media.  Judgments usually express their viewpoint through  opinion-based adjectives (“handsome”,  “unsafe”) , adverbs  (“dangerously”,   “peacefully”), verbs (“kill”, “love”) and nouns (“murderer”, “saint” ).  A judgment can be easily challenged by others.  Some judgments for this picture are “The family is happy”  (Not really, the little boy began to cry as the mother moved the pigeon closer to her son.” A fact is that the two older women are smiling. ) and  “Costa Rica is overrun by pigeons.” (Fact: Pigeons are in some city parks.)

As we help students to give only  facts and inferences about media, we develop their critical thinking.  As we help students to see that some statements are judgments (pure opinion not based on  facts  or inferences), we develop more critical thinkers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Let’s Show, Not Tell

In a few weeks I’m off to Costa Rica to take pictures to supplement the Costa Rican  cultural information and to show the  Spanish vocabulary in the Spanish textbook  that I use. Although I can tell students about Costa Rican life, they learn so much more from seeing it.  I have found the same to be true for most of education.  Telling is an abstraction. We  tell students something and they  can imagine anything or nothing. A good visual or metaphor focuses their thinking.   For example, we tell students that a paragraph has a topic sentence, three sentences of supporting ideas and a conclusion and their eyes gloss over since these words do not have meaning to them.  However, when we have them use their hand (thumb-introduction, three fingers for three supporting, and little finger for conclusion), they have a definite image of what we mean. In fact, they can always check their paragraphs against their hand to make sure they have all the parts.   Likewise, when we show the students a sign of a fruit store with the word “Fruteria” over it and a  perfume store with a “perfumeria” sign; they quickly learn that -eria is the ending for a speciality store in Spanish.   When we show them a picture or an illustration, they can see what we are trying to tell them. Many students need to go from the abstract to the concrete in order to learn information.

Do we use technology to tell or show?  PowerPoints full of text only “tell”. Blogs, wikis, tweets are often  text based; they can “show” by including links to pictures of movies of the content. Do  you use Web 2.0 tools to tell or to show?  Do your images or metaphors clearly show the concept you want the students to learn?

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

Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

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

Reponding to Your Students

Using Writing Formative Assessments for At-Risk students

Recently I received an email from someone who had purchased my Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment.  She said that she was, at first, shocked by how I had objectified English by breaking each part of the writing process down.  She said that she had assumed that her students “knew” all the basic things about writing. However, when she began to use the book’s formative assessments for each part of the pre-writing process, she quickly found out that they did not. She  realized that they became stuck very early in the writing process and, therefore, did not move forward.  She told me that she never thought about giving students different strategies to overcome their writing gaps; she just assumed their present writing strategy was effective.  She used some of the book’s  various strategy to help them.    She commented that she could see success in her students as they used the strategy.  She ended up by saying that she was now aware of how much structure students need to be successful and how these formative assessments provided that structure.

Obviously, I felt good about her comments.  The writing formative assessments  that I included in the book were ones that I have used  in a college writing course that I teach. Some of the students in the class dropped out of school in six grade and am now working on their GED as they are taking college courses. My job is help these “at-risk” students  to go from six grade writing to college level writing in one semester.  Through the use of constant formative assessments I can guide them from where they are to where they need to be so they can  write college-level academic essays. The writing  formative assessments build in student success and  build in student confidence in their writing.

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

Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

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

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

Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, my book

My book, Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available at

http://tinyurl.com/writingtuttle.

The book provides a systematic approach of observing students’ written work, diagnosing ( strengths and gaps and identify strategies to overcome the gaps),  giving feedback, allowing time for growth and reporting the growth within your classroom.  This formative assessment book breaks down the writing process into specific steps so that you can help the students be successful at each step.  The students build on their successes, not their failures. This book contains numerous strategies to help the students overcome each learning gap in the steps of the writing process. Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment applies theory to the classroom in a practical easy-to-do approach.  Formative assessment creates a truly student-centered class where the goal is for each student to be success in a very interactive manner of self, peer and teacher reviews.

I developed the book by using the techniques in my writing classes.  My this year’s writing students are at the same level of writing after their first essay as past students were at the end of the course!

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

Revisions and Formative Assessment

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

How do you help your students to improve?

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

Reponding to Your Students

How Lost Are Your Students?

I heard from a college student who happened to read parts of my next manuscript (Formative Assessment Improves Writing) after his mother told him that she was reviewing the book. He mentioned that the smart kids “get it” but the other kids often struggle. They get lost in one part and then they get more lost  in the next and more lost in the next until they cannot find their way out. Unfortunately, their teachers usually do not help them.

He was interested in how I made sure no student could get lost since I assess each student on each minor part of his/her writing  journey.

I wonder how often teachers assess their students and then give formative feedback immediately?  How many minutes go by before the students are assessed and formative feedback is used to help students get back on the learning path if they have wondered off? How many days? How many weeks? The more time between formative assessments, they more time to get lost, to get so lost that there is almost no hope of ever finding the path again.

learninggoalfaffmap1

How lost are your students? How do you know? What do you do to help them when they get lost?

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

Reponding to Your Students

Messy papers are best: Continual Improvement through Formative Assessment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reponding to Your Students

What is your target? Don’t confuse context and content

Unless we are focused, our students will never hit their academic target. We have to identify exactly what they are to learn.  Some sometimes we focus on the context, the learning vehicle, instead of the content, the learning purpose.  An example is an English teacher who focuses on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the context, without considering the real purpose of the content such as analyzing themes which is part of NYS ELA Standard 3 Critical Analysis. Is A Midsummer Night’s Dream the most appropriate context for the learning goal?

Once we do decide on our specific learning goal, then we have to decide how we will help students develop that skill.  Just reading  A Midsummer’s Night Dream will not accomplish the task. We have to develop specific activities to help students grow in analyzing themes.

Do you focus on content or context?

Formative Feedback & Focused Handouts

So far this year I have created numerous “handouts” to help students overcome learning gaps.  I create each handout as I see the learning gap in one student.  Then I have the handout for when I see the same learning gap in other students.  In my writing course, I’ve created handouts for such topics as topic sentences, thesis statements,  plurals, run-ons, and fragments. I had to go down to the “ground zero” in writing the handouts- providing many examples, providing simple practice (with answers on the other side), etc. to guide the student through the learning gap.  I only give out the handouts to those students who display the specific learning gap.  I’m glad that I’m building up a library so that next semester I will be able to help more students.

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?

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?

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.

Scaffolding Writing Handouts For Students’ Success

I’ve been revising my writing handouts for my next semester classes. I’ve tried to create a step-by-step approach  in the order that they would actually do the steps and then in the checklist I repeat the steps such as for a contrast paper:
“Do I include two items in my thesis?”
“Do I directly state that I am contrasting them?”
|…..
“Do I include a detail for the first item, a contrast transition word and then a detail for the second item?”

Hopefully, if the students have followed the step-by-step approach then they will just confirm those items in their actual writing as they do the checklist on their draft. If they have missed a step then, they can catch it in the checklist and revise it before handing it in.

My students have wonderful and dramatic stories to tell; they need a structure in which to tell them well. Hopefully, the revised step-by-step process will give them the scaffold they need.

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?

Greater Learning Through Same Model and Technology

I talked to a student who had been in the same English classes with several friends from 9th through 12 grade. Each year they had a different teacher and each year that teacher taught them “their” way of writing. When the students got to 12th grade, they just said to the teacher, “Tell us how you want us to write.” She taught them her “official” way of writing. These students are living proof that constantly changing what we expect of students results in less than proficient writers.

How can we expect students to improve in their writing if we constantly change how they should write? They will only improve when we build on one consistent model. They same is true for all subjects.

Do you get together with your department (K-12) to talk over what you expect of students and what model the students will follow? Do various teachers produce Power Points, emovies or podcasts to demonstrate that consistent model? Do other teachers help develop scaffolded handouts or Power Points that guide students through the model?

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.

Revisions and Formative Feedback: Getting Better

As my students have been handing in their essay revisions, I have come to the realization that I am improving in giving formative feedback. When I notice that students have not made critical changes in their revisions, I discover that my earlier statements feedback statements are not specific enough such as for descriptive essay comments like “Refocus this to be descriptive. Describe things in detail”. These comments are still too vague for the students to know how to improve.

I am learning to be more precise and to include examples. A much better formative feedback would have been “How can you make this more descriptive? You might consider showing many of the senses (sight, sounds, smells, tastes, texture) so that the reader can experience being there. For example, you may use expressions like “a blistering hot day”, “my heart beating like a drum solo” and “her eyes danced with the deep blue color of the ocean” so that the scene comes alive for the reader. What senses will you include? (The examples were modified from the student’s own writing.)

In my more recent formative feedback for writing, I limit my feedback to two to three critical issues and provide very specific examples. Then when I get back the students’ revisions, I can see that they have integrated those critical changes into their papers. The changes in the students’ papers depend on my formative feedback. If I am vague, then they make vague changes.

What type formative feedback do you give?

 

Student Checkpoints: Great for Diagnosis and Feedback

My college students are starting the research paper phase of the writing course. I have built in many checkpoints for the first few classes. They are to show me their thesis that they could select from a page and a half listing or make up their own. I helped about 25% complete or modify their thesis. Many selected the questions such as “Should the government provide child day care centers for working parents?” but they did not put in their position such as “The government should provide child day care centers for working parents”.

Next I asked them to complete a graphic organizer of what they think the possible supporting topics are and to show it to me. About 20% have put down topics that do not support the thesis but are a variation on the topic. In fact, they modify their thesis after re-examining their topics. One student has “Gays should be admitted into the military” but for his topics he has “distinguished military record”, “daily duties”, “friendships”, and “advancement”. He modifies his thesis to “Gays deserve equal treatment in the military”

The more times we build in checkpoints, the more we can diagnose and give formative feedback to our students.

How many checkpoints do you have in the unit you are presently teaching?

Pre-assessment: Open Eyes or Blinded

This semester I have given many pre-assessments to my students. Last semester, I made many mistakes in instruction because I did not know enough about my students before the beginning of the semester. I taught material that they knew and did not delve into material that they did not know. I assumed that they could read the textbook when their reading rate and comprehension which I tested once I saw a problem revealed an average class reading rate in the low 100s and a comprehension rate of 60% or lower. I thought that since they were college students they could organize their own writing.

So this semester, I have given them writing diagnostic, writing patterns past knowledge diagnostic, grammar diagnostic, vocabulary diagnostic, and reading diagnostic. I can hear the moans about wasting all the time on diagnostic. My students spend 45 minutes on the combined writing and grammatic diagnostic, three minutes on the vocabulary one, four minutes on the past writing patterns and about 15 on the reading one. So in just about one hour and ten minutes I have done six diagnostic tests that have transformed how I teach writing to the students.

What pre-assessments do you give and how do you change your instruction to better improve your students’ learning?

Writing Types Quick Diagnostic – Quick yet meaningful information

I do not want to teach my writing classes with blinders on.  I want to know the students’ entering perceptions about writing and their actual writing skills. I made up a quick online survey on  Zoomerang. The survey asks the students

To identify if they have done this type of writing
If they have done it how many times 1-6
How well they think they do it 4 (very good)-3-2-1(beginning level )

Narrative (Telling a story)
Definition (What something means)
Classification (Categories of something)
Process (How to do something)
Illustration (Explaining something)
Description (What something looks like? Mood?)
Cause and Effect (What caused something? What was the result?)
Comparison (How similar or different are two items?)
Argument/Persuasion (Convince/Persuade about something)
Research Paper

For them to identify their favorite type of writing and why
For them to identify their least favorite type of writing and why

What they do well in their writing?
What they would like help with in their writing.

As soon as they have completed the survey, I have the compiled results.  I now have meaningful information to help me plan the course.  I will change it to help them move forward in their writing.

Writing Pretest- Students Top Three Responses to Writing a Paragraph.

At the start of the semester, I asked my 40+ college students to write down what they think of when they think of writing a paragraph. Then they formed small groups and combined their answers. What do you think were the top three answers?

Scroll down to find out.

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Spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Every group came up with these three answers. These deal with the mechanics of writing, but not the content.

Only half of the groups came up with main idea.

No group listed pre-write or brainstorming. Nothing for revising . So much for the famous writing process.

The more we know about what our students think about a process, the more we can help them.

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?

Handwritten Essay assessment by Computer!

The University of Buffalo (my alma mater) is taking a bold new step in writing assessment. They are attempting to computer score the eight grade English Language Arts assessments which students hand write. So far they are within one point of human evaluators and their program assesses the student’s writing in seconds. If this program can quickly score students’ writing, then the teacher can work with students to improve their writing. Students could take mini-ELA assessments during the year to assess their progress and work toward scoring a 5 or 6/6on the state assessment. At present, teachers can only assess so many writing assessments during a year due to the time it takes to assess each writing. Now they can focus on improving students’ writing instead of focusing on correcting their papers.

Learning goals curriculum or textbook illogic

I’ve been examining a writing/grammar textbook and I’ve noticed that there seems to be no logical learning flow in the writing patterns that students do.   When we show students that one type of writing is similar to another type, they can more easily make the transition.  For example, if students have done a narrative writing, they can easily transition to process writing.  Both types require a time line or sequence of events. Both types usually have the events in a chronological order.

How do you arrange your learning goals so that students transition from one type of learning to a similar type of learning?


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

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