Effective Assessment Retaking Solutions for Mastery Learning

“Mistakes and failures are precisely your means of education. They tell you about your own inadequacies.” By Robert Greene

Retakes

My district has rolled out a new grading system that allows students to retake assessments and I am very excited about this. Some naysayers say this doesn’t teach students responsibility and is not ‘real world’ but I disagree. Not only does it teach responsibility but also strengthen students depositional thinking skills such as perseverance and resilience. There are many assessments that we are allowed to retake in the ‘real world’ such as driving tests, SATs and even the BAR exam. Allowing students to retake an assessment also show true mastery of learning; however if only done effectively.

What does effective assessment retake look like? Below I have shared some of the problems I see and how we can overcome them so we are being purposeful and meaningful when allowing our students to retake an assessment.

Problem #1 : Tests are on Friday because the pacing guide says so. Retakes are on Monday, you have the weekend to learn it.

Solution #1: Learning goals do not depend upon every student reaching the same level of proficiency on the same day. Learning goals DO depend upon every student mastering the goal. Allow students to take the assessment when they know the material, including the retake.

Problem #2: Teachers allow students to retake without any corrective actions in place.

Solution #2: Have students create action plans or steps on how they are going to master the material. This holds them accountable for their learning as well. We don’t learn from our mistakes, we learn from correcting our mistakes.

Problem #3: Teachers teach the material the same way when reteaching.

Solution #3: Albert Einstein definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We need to teach the material a different way in order to help our students.

Rick Wormeli’s Redo’s and Retakes Done Right is also a great read with practical strategies to use in the classroom. I would love to hear any effective tips and tricks you use in your classroom that allow for effective retakes, please share in the comments.

Using Kahoot! with Learners of Any Age and Subject

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” By Carl Rogers

Recently I was introduced to Kahoot! via Twitter (my favorite professional development) and asked to be a beta tester. I have been testing it out and love it. Kahoot! is a great new game-based response system that is FREE, works on all devices AND allows students to create as well! You can use Kahoot! with learners of any age and using any subject matter. Here are three ways to get started with Kahoot! in your classroom:

1. Quizzes: – Create your own quiz, have a student create one or find a public quiz! To start a quiz,  decide on a title and then drag and drop your content and add your questions. Your content can feature pictures or videos which makes it great for all grade levels.This is a great way to flip your classroom and use the data to drive your next days lessons or small groups.

2. Discussions:  Create discussion questions is easy. Decide on a title and then ask your probing question. You can also have your students pose questions to launch a discussion using their devices.

3. Surveys: Take a real-time poll of your students wants/needs? For example: what type of devices do we have in our classrooms from BYOT? This can also be used for an exit ticket to determine how a lesson went or gauge the students knowledge on a topic.

If you find a public quiz, discussion or survey you can also ‘favorite’ it by clicking on the heart.

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Students do NOT need to have a Kahoot! account to play the games, but you can sign up your class easily once you created an account. If you have students under 13, Kahoot! has an under 16 where their account doesn’t allow students to post their content publicly, or browse public content created by others. To create student accounts, download their template and send it to Kahoot! They’ll create their accounts for you, yes you don’t have to create them!

This infographic explains how Kahoot! works and the benefits to both educators and learners.

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Other Kahoot! Resources:

How to play a game of Kahoot! — 3 Minute Screencast

Kahoot – Create Quizzes and Surveys Your Students Can Answer on Any Device

The Whiteboard Blog Post

If you have used it in your classroom, let me know how!

Let the Games Begin…Ecosystem Competition Lesson Plan

“Provide an uncommon experience for your students and they will reward you with an uncommon effort and attitude.” By Dave Burgess

I was recently asked about a Science lesson plan that I had presented on in the past called, Competition and I realized that I have never blogged about this lesson before. So I revamped and updated it to meet NC Essential Standards, Common Core, 21st Century Skills and added some Pirate elements. (If you are not sure what Pirate Elements are you need to read, Teach Like a Pirate and follow #TLAP on Twitter) This lesson plan is over a few days if you only teach science 45 mins a day, but can also be taught in a day depending on your schedule and flexibility at your school.

My Class in 2009-10 After the Lesson

Title:  “Let the Games Begin…” (For my TLAP Fans….doesn’t that sound so much better, then Competition) I would have this written on the board to help hook them.

NC Essential Standard: 5.L.2  Understand the interdependence of plants and animals with their ecosystem.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

Objectives:

–  Students will be able to give at least two examples of competition that takes place in a real world ecosystem through activity.

–  Students will be able to explain how and why competition takes place in ecosystems through activity.

– Students will  be able to explain ‘How can change in one part of an ecosystem affect change in other parts of the ecosystem?’

Materials:

Fruit Loops (or store brand)

Tape

Markers

Baggies (1 per student)

(Before activity the teacher will (TTW) need to spread fruit loops in a designated coned off area to represent an ecosystem outside area is ideal and more authentic)

Day 1: Engage/HOOK (#TLAP: I like to move it, move it”)

The students will review key vocab words such as food chain, food web, prey, herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, Predator, scavenger, procedures, consumers, decomposers by using ‘I have, who has game’ as TTW facilitate.

Exploration: ( I had this as a SmartNotebook File)

– TTW ask the students to choose an animal they want to be (deer, rabbit, fox, turkey buzzard, elk- without letting them know what the activity is) and write it on a piece of tape and put it on their shirt. [ Deer- Herbivore, Rabbit-Herbivore, Fox- Omnivore, Turkey Buzzard Carnivore]

– TTW explain they will be going outside in an area that is marked off as an ecosystem. There will be fruit loops on the ground.

– TS job is to collect fruit loops. When they are finished collecting fruit loops they need to leave the ecosystem. (Don’t time this, some students will collect a lot, while others will collect only a few and stop and some will only collect a certain color based on preference and that is okay)

– When the students are down, have them return to the coned off area of the ecosystem, they will need to sort their fruit loops in piles according to color. (Give them a few minutes to organize their fruit loops – I like doing this activity outside because it gets students in a different environment, moving and outside)

– The teacher will reveal what each color represents: (I usually bring out a chart paper and be Vanna White – Usually most don’t know how that is so it becomes a teachable moment 😉

Green: plants                                                  Blue: Water

Red: Predator Meat                                     Yellow: Shelter

Orange: Scavenger Meat                            Purple: Pollution

– TTW announce: Let the games begin….who will survive in this Ecosystems

– TTW explain if you are an elk, deer or rabbit you need to take away (put back in their baggies) the red and orange (meats) because you are a herbivore and these resource is not useful to you.

– TTW explain if you are a buzzard you need to take away green (plants). TTW also explain that if you are a buzzard you need to take away red as they are scavengers.

– At this point, “the game” really begins of who stays alive because now you make up situation such as the ones below.

– TTW say “For every purple (pollution) you have – it takes away one water or food source as it contaminates it. (Some may “die” at this point and they should go to the corner of the room.)

– TTW then say, “You need to have 5 waters, 5 food source, 5 shelters to survive the first round.” Those who “die” from not having enough resources go to one corner of the room. Everyone else puts the fruit loops they used in the baggies because those are used resources.

– TTW say to the ones alive, “You now need 4 water, 4 food source, 4 shelters.”  A few more will “die”.

– TTW then say, “The buzzards can take 5 food sources from someone next to them that is ‘dead’.” (This is because they would have more food sources if things die off because they are scavengers)

– TTW then say, “You know need 4 water, 4 food source, 4 shelters.”  A few more will “die”.

– This will go on until you have a few left or even just one. The process will show how competition between animals affects an ecosystem.

Day 2: Explanation:

Think-pair-share In their science notebooks, the students will “think” about what this activity represents and why. TTW explain that the students will work with their partner (pair) to determine how it works and be able to explain competition using the terms. Each group will select a spokesperson to explain their group’s explanation as to why this represents competition. (Share)

In groups, students will critically think about the essential question:  How can change in one part of an ecosystem affect change in other parts of the ecosystem?

The students will  research, collaborate and create a presentation of their choice to demonstrate the mastery of the essential question.

Teacher Notes:

– Competition between organisms exists in every ecosystem. Organisms are forced to compete against their own species and also different species in order to survive. The stronger and fit organisms have an advantage over those who are weaker, and they have a better chance of surviving.

– Competition between the same species is called intraspecific competition. Many birds of the same species compete for the best nesting grounds. In cases when food or water is scarce, members of the same species will compete for food in order to survive.

– Competition between different species is called interspecific competition. Different species often compete for space, food, or water. For example the lion and the hyena both compete for zebra.

Day 3: Elaboration/Reflection:

The groups will present their knowledge to the class.

Evaluation: For the exit slip I have students communicate their mastery individually to see what they have retained themselves. I do exit slip questions many ways see this blog post.

Exit Slip Questions: How does competition affect an ecosystem? Explain.

Answer: Competition is when two or more organisms seek the same resource at the same time and they fight for the food/living space/and other resources they need to survive. It affects the ecosystem because of how the resources and organisms interact.

I hope you can use this lesson in your classroom, or a modification of it.

Using ThingLink in the Classroom

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” by Edwin Land

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Thinglink was introduced to me when I was at the NC Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) Conference during a presentation by Richard Byrne (@rmbryne). I thought it was a really great FREE web tool but was disappointed it didn’t also have an app. A few weeks ago, Thinglink launched their FREE app, which I love!

What is Thinglink? Thinglink makes pictures interactive with text, video, images and links. When you click on a Thinglink image, you’ll see symbols such as red video circles and dots where it is interactive. Thinglink has endless possibilities in education. My top 3 ways of using it in education are below:

1. Student Portfolios: Teachers can use a picture of a student and through-out the year, students can add images of their work or video to show mastery of content. By doing this each quarter the teachers, students and parents can see the progress over the year. Each corner of the picture could represent each quarter/semester.

2. Assessment, Projects and Presentation: Students can create Thinglinks to show their understanding for any Common Core or Essential Standard. Teachers can have a rubric setting the expectation for what they want in the Thinglink. For example you could require, two text boxes, a link and  a video. Or you can set the expectation that the student must show mastery of a standard, and the student has a little more freedom to determine what that looks like. Having the students creating Thinglinks lets them use all their 21st century skills of critical thinking, creating, communicating and collaborating (if they work with a partner).

Ex of Assessment: The student can draw out any topic, for example the water cycle or a math problem, using the free Skitch app. The student can save it to their camera roll and then create a Thinglink demonstrating their knowledge by adding recordings, text and links explaining their thinking.

Ex of a project: The students can make book reports by taking a picture of the book cover and embedding a movie trailer that they have created for the book. Or for non-fiction the student could find a picture of the person like Steve Jobs, and they can show their understanding of the book. Click here for my example, I chose to do a favorite quote and speech.

A fabulous teacher, Lisa Maples, embedded her class Thinglink into her wiki, as an end of year project. There are  links to various digital projects that the students have created. http://maples.cmswiki.wikispaces.net/Thinglink+2012-2013

3. Lesson Plans and Homework: Teachers can create Thinglinks to help differentiate lessons and homework. Using any image, the teacher can add the content they want the students to know. You can even spice up graphic organizers and info-graphics.

Ex of  a Lesson Plan: The teacher can take a picture of an ecosystem and add all the vocabulary words and/or videos that can help the students learn the topic.

Ex of Homework: This is a great way to flip the classroom. You can embed videos and practice problems on a  topic and have the students complete for homework. Click here for an example using comparing fractions.

Thinglinks are easy to create on both the website and in the app. First create an account at thinglink.com (it is free). If you want to create a Thinglink on the app, download it, and then sign in. Using the pictures in your camera roll, chose one and then tap anywhere on the picture. Here you add the content you want such as video or text, add a title and you are done. You can share it by emailing the link from the app but it also automatically syncs; when you log into your account through the website, you can share it many more ways. If you are creating a Thinglink on the website, click on create in the top right corner and chose an image that is on your computer or for a website (make sure it is a creative commons imagine) and add your content. That is it, I love free and simple!

Any of these Thinglinks can be made into a QR code as well. You can have these posted around the room as helping aids or to inform the students. Just copy the url and paste into any QR code creator such as qrstuff or follow my directions on my blog post about making  QR code in google drive.

I would love to hear how you have used Thinglink or want to use it in your classroom, please share in the comments or on this open Thinglink I created by clicking edit and adding your idea. (To make a Thinglink where anyone can add info, click on the edit tab and set your settings to anyone.) Another great way to have students collaborate in the classroom.

Follow me on Thinglink:  Edu_Thompson. Here are some more great Thinglinks done by other educators! Click on the links to view.

Flexible Learning Paths

Web Tools and Literacy

Let’s Teach Kids to Code

Digital Portfolios and Student Lead Conferences

“Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.” By Margaret Peters

Digital portfolios (or sometimes known as e-portfolios) allows opportunity for students to showcase mastery of content through a variety of methods other than paper and pencil. It allows students to show evidence that they are working toward a goal and improving skills based on objectives. Students gain confidence, learn to reflect on their multimedia work, track and demonstrate growth based on their level of learning and most importantly improve self reflection and build learning independence.

Why are we hearing more about digital portfolios lately? Because more colleges and Universities are not just excepting SAT scores but portfolios. There are many applications you can use for digital portfolio such as blogging, 3 Ring, wikispacesGoogle Drive, Livebinders, Gaggle/Edmodo, or Evernote. Evernote is my favorite for many reason but mostly because it’s free, works on all devices and you don’t need internet except for syncing.

In Evernote you can make folders for each students, where they can upload their projects or documents to show mastery. I prefer portfolios because it takes the pressure off of grades and focuses on growth. It also helps set the tone in the classroom environment that we are all different and we will make mistakes but we can learn from them.

I set up my conferences so that I was conferencing with my students in every subject, at least once a week. During this time (because I only had one iPad) I would write the conference notes in their digital portfolio. Over time we could see their progress and growth.

During the conferences, I would discuss with the students individually about what they did well, what they needed to work on and a plan on how they were going to improve. This allowed ownership and also held the students more accountable through reflection. I became the facilitator making sure they made goals that were best for them and that were based on their needs.

Inside the portfolios the students would take pictures of projects they had created, such as the thermal solar house they built or they would upload their best writing piece. Sometimes we recorded our reading fluency so they could hear themselves and make improves. Setting up my portfolios this way allowed the students and I to build a relationship and helped me easily differentiate based on needs and their interests.

Naturally came student lead conferences, where the student walked their parents through their digital portfolio. The students knew their strength and weaknesses and didn’t need ‘prepping’ because they did this naturally every week. It showed the parents the students understood their strength and weakness and allowed the parents to ask their students questions. Because the parents realized that their children understood their learning so well, I found that more parents engaged with their child’s education because they didn’t feel the pressure of figuring out what the student needed to work on. It also naturally helped me, get the parents to see that there is more to education then just grades, taking pressure off some students by default. I also noticed that students had more confidence in themselves because they weren’t comparing themselves against anyone but themselves.

When I left the classroom, I was able to help other teachers set up these portfolios. One teacher @missbrinnsclass, started them. The students are in first grade and it is amazing to see them take control of their learning. Here is a sample of a students writing and her reflection on her work.

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This is a video of Madison leading her conference in front of her parents and teacher.

I would love to hear how you are using digital portfolios in your classroom or tools that you are using.

Transforming the Classroom with ‘Touting’

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” By Theodore Roosevelt

There is a new social media called Tout. To Tout you capture 15 second status updates and publish them online. The recordings can be about news, gossip, places etc. When reading about Tout a month ago it got me thinking; we can use this concept in the classroom. This would allow students to be 21st century learners by communicating, collaborating, critically thinking and creating.

I decided I wanted to try this concept of creating 15 second videos first with having students act out vocabulary terms. I shared my idea with a 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Mehta (@megan_mehta) and we used her class as our ‘guinea pigs’.

We explained to the students that they were going to act out the fraction vocabulary terms (3.NF). The rules were that they couldn’t say the word and the clip had to be under 15 sec. This allowed the students to use all their 21st century skills. The students had to collaborate together and decide how they wanted to act out their vocabulary word, they had to critically think about what was most important about the vocabulary word in under 15 sec, they had to communicate this effectively so the other students could figure out what the vocabulary word was and then create the video.

Ms. Mehta model what acting out a vocabulary word looked like by acting out the ‘life cycle of a plant’ in under 15 secs. We then gave the students about 10 minutes to brainstorm in their groups while, Ms Mehta and I facilitated and asked guiding questions.

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While I took the students out into the hallway to help record, Ms. Mehta continued with her math workshop and we rotated the groups until all the students recorded their vocabulary words. The students then uploaded them to their Gaggle digital lockers and added them to the class social wall. (This could also be done on an Edmodo or Schoology account) The students then reviewed each others videos and guessed what word the other groups did. They now can review these vocabulary words visually at anytime by logging onto their Gaggle accounts. Here is an example: Can you guess what their math vocabulary word is?

That is right – Fraction! We felt this was successful because this allowed students to review vocabulary words for the state test without ‘drill and kill’. The students loved the activity as well. We did decide not to tell the students about the ‘Tout’ site as we didn’t want them to go home and look it up as it does have some inappropriate videos for young students. (FYI-Tout: You should make an education version for students that is safe for them)

This activity can easily be differentiated but giving ‘harder’ vocabulary words to the higher level students and the easier vocabulary words to the lower students. This way they are all doing the same activity and it is not apparent that they are on different levels.

My next idea for this tout concept is with middle and high schoolers; I want them to ‘tout’ status updates about what they are learning and then share with friends. This will allow the students to reflect on what they are learning like a twitter status update but visually. They will also put these on the classrooms Gaggle social wall so they can view each others.

I also think you can use this concept as a way to informally assess what the students understand. I would love to hear other ideas to make these idea even better. I hope you try it out in your classroom.

Using Bitsboard App for Assessment

“Every thought we think is creating our future.” by Louise L. Hay

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Bitsboard is a FREE App I learned about recently. It is a great app to use with any grade level, with any curriculum for informal assessments. This App is available for IOS devices and Androids. Once you download Bitsboard they give you some boards that are already created. You can also look through their catalog and download any Bitsboard you like. With Bitsboard you can learn almost anything from site words, to time, to foreign languages. Bitsboard has several assessments you can choose from which allows you to switch up the assessment but still concentrate on the same content. There are assessments such as flashcards, matching, spelling and true or false to name just a few.

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Two of my favorite features I like about Bitsboard is, one that you as the teacher can tell the student which assessment they need to work on or you can allow them to choose. Each assessment also progress monitors the content so you can track your students learning. My second favorite feature is that you can create your own boards or students can. It is easy to create a board, all you need to do is tap new board and decide on the content you want the assessment to be.

When I was working with some fourth grade students, they made their own Bitsboard on the topic Rocks and Minerals (4.P.2). Not only could the others students use it to learn but the students who made the board showed their mastery of their knowledge as well. I also worked with some students with disabilities using this app as well. We used it to teach the students emotions, social skills and vocabulary.

In the top right there is a gear that you can tap and it will allow you to follow a quick guide or a getting started manual.This is also where you can edit your boards and share them. I hope you enjoy Bitsboard in the classroom as much as I do and I would love to hear how you use it in the classroom as well.

Tips and Resources for a Paperless Classroom

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” By Paul J. Meyer

paperless-greenYou can go paperless, or at least reduce the use of paper in your classroom many different ways. It is easier if you are a school that has Bring Your Own Technology/Device (BYOT or BYOD) implemented but not impossible to do without devices. Below are a few tips/ideas to help you get started along with some other Paperless resources.

1. Decide on a workflow. Have students submit assignments and homework via online. Use sites such as Gaggle, Edmodo, Moodle  etc

2. Use web tools for productivity! Have student’s….

– create ebooks using flipsnack or scribble press

– present material using PowerPoint, Slide Rocket or Prezi

– keep a digital portfolio via Evernote, WikiSpaces or Mahara

– collaborate in real time using Google Docs, Zoho Documents or Mur.ly

– represent their knowledge (informal or formal assessment) through Todays Meet, Edu Glogster, Show Me or Poll Everywhere

3. Have your students blog instead of writing stories, reading responses or essays.

4. Use individual whiteboards to work out problems or brainstorm.

5. Use a doc camera or interactive whiteboard instead of showing examples on paper

6. Have more class discussions and debates!

7. Have students collaborate using 1 piece of paper verse 4. It also allows them to practice 21st century skills of collaboration, communication and critical thinking.

8. Keep a grade book online or by using a spreadsheet

9. Create eNewsletters, use email or vodcast to share out what is happening in your classroom.

10. Use a wiki or website to display hotlists, webquests and resources so students are active in their learning instead of passive.

This year in my personal life I have been trying to go paperless as well, to practice what I preach. Some of the things I have started changing is having all my bills as online payments, grocery lists are now in my Evernote or Notes App and I am having stores email me my receipts.

Paperless Resources

Paperless Coalition

Prezi- The Paperless Classroom

Paperless Classroom Blog

Paperless Classroom Website

5 Applications to Help go Paperless

Please share any tips or resources you have for making your classroom or personal life paperless!