Tag Archives: WapatoHS

Technology Investigations / Applications / Tools [2012-2013]

This is a reprise/extension of a prior blog post where I discussed some things I had learned during the 2011-2012 school year when it comes to technology, applications and tools.  So here goes, what I have learned from another year (so far).

Description Student Learning Impact Teacher / Practice Impact
Dropbox A more prepared teacher is a more confident teacher.  A more confident teacher is a teacher that projects an air of organization and control.  Students can sense that. Absolutely nothing beats being able to create a student homework assignment, worksheet or powerpoint at home save it to a Dropbox folder and know that it will be on your computer at school when you need to look for it.
Microsoft OneNote I can grade student assignments quicker and more reliably when I have electronic access to my answer keys. I store all of my Algebra assignment answer keys in OneNote.  It replicates over Dropbox since domain live.com is blocked by my school.
Edline.com (now Blackboard Engage) Students who miss school and who have access to Edline can now go to the class they missed, click on the calendar for that day and download homework or view pictures of the whiteboard that was created during that class. This has helped my practice in being able to know that if one class is slightly different from the other I have a record of what was different and why.  This frees me up to improve classes that are repeating each day, but exempts me from the fear that I will be inconsistent or tell students the wrong thing.
KUTA Software Students freak out when they don’t know something.  They scramble to get answers and will copy homework and collaborate inappropriately on quizzes without qualm or thought to the damage they are doing to the learning process. Using KUTA Infinite Algebra 1, I can create homework assignments and quizzes quickly and easily.  However, most importantly, I can create 30 *different* versions of a quiz on the same material and thus remove cheating from the equation altogether.  Quiz retakes are not an issue, I just regenerate a new version of the quiz.
DataDirector from Riverside (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Students can take quizzes or tests on bubble sheets that are familiar to them from other standardized tests.

Question banks can also be used to help prepare students for the style or content of some questions.

Teacher can grade quizzes and tests quickly using a scanner or using other bubble sheet manual grading tricks.

I have found occasionally that there are problems with the questions in the question bank, but that there is also a way to submit your feedback on a question.  And, someone will read and act on that feedback!

Gradecam plugin for DataDirector from Riverside (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Students can do short formative assessment in class, and get results quickly.

This should revolutionize student motivation and ability to get formative feedback on their classroom work.

Teachers can set up bubble sheets that are graded quickly merely by holding them under the document camera.

Frees up the teacher from having to grade in real-time, and allows for discussion around what is not understood.

Holt McDougal Online (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Students can access the book and other educational resources over the internet. Teachers have exercises, quizzes, powerpoints, and other resources that help them differentiate their teaching quite easily.  Good stuff!
OfficeMax IMPRESS Print Center Students get homework that is well organized and printed in time to be useful for their learning. When a teacher needs copies and can’t get them in time from the district print shop, OfficeMax has a great service where you can upload PDF files and have them printed and ready to be picked up the night before.
Tyler Technologies Schoolmaster Web Classroom Students benefit from quicker and more accurate feedback on their grades. Allows teachers to access Schoolmaster from home, so that grades can be immediately entered, even when teacher is not at school.
Whiteboards and markers    
A laser pointer and clicker.    
RedOxygen as a provider for Outlook Mobile SMS “Johnnie, if you don’t get to work, I’m going to text your parent/guardian right now and ask them to have a talk with you when they see you tonight.”  Can you please focus? Ability to communicate quickly and directly with parents via mobile SMS from my desktop computer at school has been invaluable.
Teacher Created Materials   Another source of great content for instructional drill and homework.
DataScanner from DataDirector Quick turnaround on formative assessment has been shown to have positive effect on student learning. Having a page-fed scanner of my own that is compatible with ScanDirector has helped me provide quick turnaround to quizzes and tests that I have administered in classrooms.

Two Days of Professional Development

I spent the past two days in PD at my school.  The topic was formative assessment and the task was to build 5 formative assessments that can be used this semester in our classes.  We were broken out into our subject matter groups, which will also be our Professional Learning Communities for the year.

Our pacing guide for Algebra 1 [need link] seems reasonable, so we started with the 9 standards that we intend to cover before our first benchmark exam.  The general approach we are taking is that our formative assessments will be shared questions that we all ask for each standard.  We will record the results of these formative assessments and then discuss (in our PLCs) how our delivery of the content or the assessments for understanding could be improved based on the results.

Just how much process here should be shared was a topic of discussion.  Some people will do pre-test vs post-test comparisons, or exit tickets, or red-yellow-green paddles.

Naturally, if we are staying close to the standards, the question also comes up if we shouldn’t just do standards-based grading as well.  I have to say it makes a lot of sense to me, but overall the team is relatively new already to formative assessment, so adding another layer of complexity to the year—which starts very soon—was deemed to *not* be ideal.  There was also some hesitation since administration will need to be informed of what we are thinking.

GREAT WORK:  results from the EOC tests are back and it looks like overall Wapato students improved math scores from 20% to 51% [outstanding!]

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