What assessments will I use in my UBD Unit, and what is the purpose of these assessments?

I am planning on giving my students a pre-test to assess how much prior knowledge students have retained so I can get a clear grasp on their current knowledge of prepositions and prepositional phrases. It will help me assess the class as a whole as well as individual students. I am going to use Google Forms to give the pre-assessment and the post-assessment (formative assessment). If you are not familiar with Google Forms here is information on it from Curts (n.d.),“Google Forms is a free tool from Google that allows you to do the following: create forms, surveys, quizzes, and such, share the forms with others, allow others to complete the forms online, collect all the responses in a spreadsheet, provide you with helpful summaries of the collected data with charts and graphs.”

The assessment will have mainly multiple choice with a couple short answer questions. Based on their initial scores, students will self-direct their learning to further their knowledge of prepositions and prepositional phrases and take a short reflection survey twice a week (Wednesday and Friday) to reflect on their learning and progress. My purpose of giving a multiple choice/short answer assessment is to be able to give all my students individual feedback of what they know and need to learn. As Burns (2015) wrote, “Multiple choice questions (MCQs) are a common form of assessment as they are objective (if well written) and can be marked automatically and, therefore, reliably and quickly. As there are a large number of short questions, they can also cover a greater proportion of the syllabus than is possible with many other assessment methods.”

The reason I want students to be able to self-direct their learning is because I have a few students who are very high and need to extend their learning and I have quite a few students who are ELL (including a student who does not speak English because she just moved to the U.S. from Cuba a couple month ago) and will need support from me for their learning. I agree with Shores and Chester (2009) that, “Data should be used to form flexible instructional groups based on readiness and needs.”

Once I have the initial data, students will be able chose activities to further their knowledge. Some of the activities include making an anchor chart using Google Drawings, creating a Google Slide presentation to teach other students, or working in a small group to create a Kahoot or Quizlet Live review of prepositions and prepositional phrases. “Kahoot lets us build fun quizzes. Students use computers, cell phones, or other devices to join in the game. You can create flashcards for review. You can also embed videos and use Kahoot as part of the teaching process, or students can create review games to share” (Davis, 2015).

My students all have prior knowledge of these options and I know using the technology to create their own work will engage and motivate them. As Wheatley (2015) writes, “However, having taught children of all ages in a variety of settings, and without using rewards or punishments, I have experienced a very different self-fulfilling prophecy, one that reveals that children have enormous motivation to learn—motivation that can be a driving force for education. Nevertheless, to tap into this powerful force, educators must first take a leap of faith and design and implement education based on the assumption that this underlying wellspring of healthy student motivation exists just beneath the surface.”

The main issue I am having is that my school district has spring break from April 10th through April 14th, but I don’t think it will take a full two weeks to cover this standard. My grade level is meeting tomorrow (Saturday) morning to discuss changing our language standards. Depending on what is decided, I may be switching from a language standard to a math standard.

References:

Burns, V. (2015). 53 Interesting Ways to Assess Your Students. [N.p.]: Frontinus Ltd.

Curts, E. (n.d.). Online Assessments with Google Forms. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from Online Assessments with Google Forms: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1R284Rr2v-tl4Uu8e8_6z1MN9TLSdhVp2zRWAChviNf0/edit

Davis, V. (2015, January 15). 5 Fantastic, Fast, Formative Assessment Tools. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from Edutopia: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/5-fast-formative-assessment-tools-vicki-davis

Shores, C., & Chester, K. (2009). Using RTI for School Improvement: Raising Every Student’s Achievement Scores. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin.

Wheatley, K. F. (2015, February). Factors that Perpetuate Test-Driven, Factory-Style Schooling: Implications for Policy and Practice. Retrieved March 21, 2017, from International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research: http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter/article/view/261/102

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Week 8 Reflection

This week Heather and I hosted the Twitter chat. I enjoyed working with her on the questions. The Twitter chat went well and I believe that we were able to further our classmates knowledge about brain-based learning. I posted our chat to Storify for my classmates to review. Heather also commented on my blog about low-income students and their ability to learn. She told me to read about what Ruby Payne has to say about poverty and education, which I did. I wrote on Shauna’s blog about how I agreed with her that brain-based learning is not a one size fits all approach. The most exciting contact this week was with Kendra. After finishing her Master’s Degree, she is going to start a book club, starting with the book, Making Classrooms Better: 50 Practical applications of mind, brain and education science by Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa. I asked if I could be apart of her book club and she said I could. I think it will be really fun and educational for me. I’m very excited about it!

What is brain-based learning and how can it inform differentiation?

“Brain-based learning refers to teaching methods, lesson designs, and school programs that are based on the latest scientific research about how the brain learns, including such factors as cognitive development—how students learn differently as they age, grow, and mature socially, emotionally, and cognitively” (Great Schools Partnership, 2013). As a teacher, I try to create lessons that engage my students on both and emotional and cognitive level. I have to admit that it not a quick or easy endeavor and sometimes I fail miserably. I think that all teachers struggle to make their lessons engaging and I am definitely struggling with keeping my fourth-grade students engaged. As Jensen (2005) writes, “To the student’s brain, biologically relevant school stimuli include opportunities to make friends (or find mates), quench thirst or hunger, notice a change in the weather, or interact with classroom visitors. All the while, the student’s brain is concerned with avoiding the dangers of embarrassment, failure, or harm.” Added to these distractions, is the fact that many of my students come from low-income families. They have added worries like having enough food to eat and a stable home life. I agree with Jensen when he writes, “we do know for certain that the following extremes will not work:

  • Focusing only on the basics (drill and kill).
  • Maintaining order through a show of force.
  • Eliminating or reducing time for arts, sports, and physical education.
  • Increasing and intensifying classroom discipline.
  • Decreasing interaction among students.
  • Installing metal detectors.
  • Delivering more heavy-handed top-down lectures.

Nor does it work to pity kids raised in poverty and assume that their background dooms them to failure” (Jensen, 2009). I have heard other teacher’s say at my school that because the students are low income, they can’t learn. It frustrates me when I hear that because I feel the opposite and I’m happy to say that my principal feels the same way. At my school, we do not give homework or have our students complete worksheets. Instead, we develop hands-on group and individual activities. I try to give my students choice in activities to allow for differentiation. I just started literature circles where table groups have each picked a book to read and discuss their book with each other both on their own and with me. As Dunn (2010) wrote, “All students come from different backgrounds, and will be able to share different ideas with the group.  This gives students a chance to make many different connections at one time, and makes the information very meaningful.  Socratic seminars are a different way to teach, leaving the discussion up to the students, instead of having the teacher ask questions in front of the room and students raise their hand if they’re daring enough to share an answer.” When they are finished with the book, they will come up with a project (either as a group, with a partner, or individually) about the book. I will give them ideas if they need assistance, but for the most part, I want them to design and create the project themselves. This is my first time having students complete a book reading in this way and I’m excited to see how my students do with it.

References:

Dunn, B. (2010, May 27). 3 Techniques for Brain Based Differentiation. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from We Teach We Learn: http://www.weteachwelearn.org/2010/05/3-techniques-for-brain-based-differentiation/

Great Schools Partnership. (2013, August 29). Brain-Based Learning. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from The Glossary of Education Reform: http://edglossary.org/brain-based-learning/

Jensen, E. (2009). Teaching with Poverty in Mind: What Being Poor Does to Kids’ Brains and What Schools Can Do About It. Alexandria, Va: ASCD.

Jensen, E. (2005). Teaching with the Brain in Mind. Alexandria, Va: Assoc. for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
 

Week Seven Reflection

I enjoyed trying something new this week and learning about what others thought about what everyone tried. I learned about DuoLingo on Chelsea’s blog and I think I might be able to find a way to use it in my classroom or for myself since so many of my students and parents speak Spanish and I don’t speak any Spanish. It is definitely something worth looking into. In Rachelle’s blog, I connected with her about using Google Forms for assessments. I have experience with Google Forms, which was why I decided to try SurveyMonkey. It was nice to be able to compare my experience as a new SurveyMonkey experience to her new experience using Google Forms. Jim evaluated Dragon Dictation, which I have used before for myself, but never with students. It is another program that I need to look into because I believe it could help some students in my classroom. Especially, my ELL students. I didn’t make it to our Twitter chat this week because I had a migraine and couldn’t see, but I did read it the next day.

Essential Question: What is the appropriateness of (the software you choose) to your students, your classroom and your unit?

I chose SurveyMonkey because I have heard of it, but never really used it. I usually make my quizzes in Google Forms. I found SurveyMonkey to be similar to Google Forms. I liked the options and the ease in making a five point capitalization and quotation quiz for my students. I also liked that I could assign points to each question. I made three questions multiple choice and two questions were short answers. I took the quiz myself. I was surprised when a screen popped up after I finished and said that I scored 100% because I knew that there were two questions that I (as the teacher) would still need to grade. I thought that it could get confusing for students because they could think that they got all the questions correct, but then get a lower score after the last two questions were graded at a later time. I think either I would not assign point values or I would make the entire quiz multiple choice or drop down questions/answers.

I could see using SurveyMonkey in my classroom and for my unit as a way for my students to take a pretest and post test. I would also use it as a way for my students to answer daily surveys on what they learned and their engagement levels. I could also use it to survey where students are on projects or writing. It would be a very quick and easy way to gauge who is struggling and needs support and who needs me to give them ways to extend their learning so they don’t finish too quickly.

SurveyMonkey was very easy to use, but I found finding help to my questions difficult. I had to go to the sitemap before I could find their help center. Once I found their help center, there were many different categories that I could use to make SurveyMonkey easier for me to use.

Week 6 Reflection

This week was very interesting. I enjoyed learning about everyone’s ideas for using gaming to differentiate in their classroom. I learned more about Aurasma this week from Kendra and Heather’s blogs. I am hoping that Kendra will keep updating us on how Aurasma is working in her classroom since it is something I would like to use next year in my own classroom. On my blog, I was able to introduce code.org to some of my classmates. I love it and hopefully they will use it. Chelsea wanted to know more about how to use it with younger students and Mariah thought it would work for her older math students. That’s what is so great about code.org, it works for young students all the way to adults.

How are games providing new opportunities for differentiation in the classroom?

To check out the video about code.org, click here.

Games have opened up many opportunities for differentiation in the classroom. I taught coding to my first graders last year, even though I was worried that it would be too difficult for them. I tried to take a coding class over ten years ago, but I quit after a few weeks. I struggled every day and I found it more confusing than fun. I did learn enough from those few weeks to be able to decipher some code. I wish I had stuck with it and I think about how much easier it would have been if I had started learning to code while I was in elementary school. I’m so excited that students are able to learn it through game playing. I first learned about code.org when I read Stiff’s article. I immediately thought of the girls in my classroom when I read, “To teach computer coding, Hamley uses fun Internet programs and applications like code.org and crunchzilla. Code.org entices girls to learn coding by offering a coding program featuring popular “Frozen” characters Anna and Elsa” (Stiff, 2015). I checked out code.org to see if it is something I could teach to my first grade students. I was excited to learn how “code.org has developed an elementary school curriculum that allows even the youngest students to explore the limitless world of computing – at no cost for schools. The courses blend online, self-guided and self-paced tutorials with “unplugged” activities that require no computer at all. Each course consists of about twenty lessons that may be implemented as one unit or over the course of a semester. Even kindergarten-aged pre-readers can participate” (Code.org, n.d.). The best thing about code.org is that students can work at their current academic level, meaning it is differentiated to each student’s ability.

I have thought a great deal about using MinecraftEdu in my teaching, but in Fairbanks, my administration is not supportive of the idea. I have the same issue now that I am in Las Vegas. However, I am not giving up. My principal is very open to hearing ideas and seemed like she was intrigued with the idea. I think she just needs more data on how it will help students. I was excited to read about a teacher who used Minecraft with his second grade class. As Granata (2015) wrote, “The segment that involved Minecraft was intended to last a week, but Levin used the game for the rest of the semester, teaching students to type by allowing them to communicate with each other in the game and showing them how to do online research by trawling the vast Minecraft forums for specific information.” By setting up the game myself, I could plan and program for differentiation. My students would get to work at their level while playing a fun and engaging educational game. I can’t see the downside in that. I believe that the future holds more opportunities for teachers and students to incorporate gaming into classrooms and schools for learning purposes. As Herold (2005) wrote, “Ultimately, though, observers from the gaming and education sectors predict continued growth inside schools, both of Minecraft itself and of other games that seek to harness its open-ended approach.”

References

Code.org. (n.d.). Computer Science Fundamentals for Elementary School. Retrieved February 25, 2016, from Code.org: https://code.org/educate/curriculum/elementary-school

Granata, K. (2015, February). Teachers Take Advantage of Minecraft in the Classroom. Retrieved February 25, 2016, from Education World: http://www.educationworld.com/a_news/teachers-take-advantage-minecraft-classroom-60294258

Herold, B. (2015, August 18). Minecraft Fueling Creative Ideas, Analytical Thinking in K-12 Classrooms. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from Education Week: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/08/19/minecraft-fueling-creative-ideas-analytical-thinking-in.html

Stiff, H. (2015, February 16). Monforton Teacher Instructs Coding to Kids. Retrieved February 26, 2016, from Belgrade News: http://www.belgrade-news.com/news/article_6716d926-ae2a-11e4-959b-13ebce844c1c.html