Making Rubrics Interactive

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Saw this post on Edutopia and found it a very intriguing idea. Still not sure how I feel about QR Codes (truly efficient? or gimmick that looks great to outsiders but that students will rarely actually utilize?) but I do like the idea of linking content directly to the rubric.

iNACOL 2014: Innovation in Teaching – Personalized Learning Risks, Rewards, and Challenges (Kerry Rice)

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Program Description:

Innovation in teaching is sometimes easier said than done. It takes a certain amount of risk-taking, often with extensive effort and no guarantee of success. This session will showcase an innovative approach using personalized and project-based instructional methods in an online course designed to instruct teachers in online teaching methods. Learn about the challenges and rewards of this approach and witness the results as teachers (as learners) share their experiences and their final projects.

  • Prof & Fulbright Scholar at Boise State
  • Three grad students with her to present
  • an online school in a brick and mortar setting / institution
  • focus on Rice’s Advanced Online Teaching
  • online learning should promote: learner autonomy, active participation, collaboration and community building, authentic assessments, acquisition of 21st c. skills
  • a move from constant targeted instruction + constant time = learning to variable targeted instruction + variable time = constant learning

iNACOL 2014: 30 in 60 – LMS Tips and Tricks (Tim Chase)

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Program Description:

It’s a LIGHTNING ROUND with Tim Chase and his crack-team of LMS-using compadres: 30 better ways to leverage our Learning Management Systems. The best practices we demo in this 60-minute blitz are NOT based on any one LMS, and we’ll show how we can use them in Canvas, Moodle, Edmodo, Schoology, and more. Hybrid learning and fully virtual classrooms will both benefit, and if we — breathlessly — get our 30 tips shown in time, we’ll open the mic for more quick tips from the floor.

  • elearning Design and Instruction for Baker Charter Schools (Web Academy)
  • Oregon Virtual School District Trainer
  • 1. Naming with Numbers: first number is week / unit; second is order of assignment for that unit (I think I do this).
  • 2. Naming with Points: include point values in assignment name (good call; I spend a good amount of time hunting down points, especially for non-traditional assignments).
  • 3. Keep a Backup. I mostly do this, but maybe not as much as I should. He uses a GoogleSite: each page is an assignment. Now he uses GoogleSlides. Each slide is an assignment. Sidebar navigation makes it easy(er).
  • 4. Common Cartridge. LMS’s can be Common Cartridge compliant, which seems to be a universal platform / language that will allow transfer between LMSs.
  • 5. Title at top of Text. Include title of page at top of textbox, so that you don’t have to rewrite / recompose title when copying and pasting.
  • 6. Use GoogleDrive for Videos. Download from YouTube, upload to GoogleDrive (or I use Vimeo). Align titles of videos with assignments.
  • 7. Use GoogleDrive for Docs.
  • 8. Syllabus. Using LMS to create a landing space for different courses and platforms. Use GoogleDocs to create syllabus and headings to create a table of contents that links to each unit.
  • 9. Resubmit. Allow resubmission along the lines of the mastery approach.
  • 10. Project Checklist. Provide it, and then copy checklist and include in submission (to ensure that they saw it). And if in the submission, it can be copied into the feedback.
  • 11. Control Click. Allows for batch opening of tabs / links (maybe platform specific?).
  • 12. Bookmarks / Folders. Bookmark everything you need to open (and only those), and then use the Bookmark All Tabs to create a folder.
  • 13. Grading Discussions. Make an assignment that asks students to copy and paste their participation in a discussion into a separate document.
  • 14. Chat Room. Creates camraderie (?)
  • 15. Peer Review (of portfolios). Portfolio ups work as does the peer review of those portfolios.
  • 16. Collecting Parent Info. (I do this already.)
  • 17. Rolling Point Totals. 100 pts per week for easy charting of grade.
  • 18. Status Checks. Have students review their own work in terms of their grade, missing work, work that should be resubmitted, current work, etc. [I like this idea.]
  • 19. Solicit Comments. As part of project checklist: how much time did this take? what did you think?
  • 20. Portfolio. Link-submit.
  • 21. Join Codes / URLs. An efficient way to facilitate joining online courses.
  • 22 & 23. Multi-Paste. Browser Clipboard is a Chrome plug-in? that allows multiple clipboards? I think I just like keeping them in Evernote.
  • 24 & 25. Screen Recording. Screen Record the grading process. He uses SOM / Screencast-o-matic and Screenr.
  • 26. Build rapport with tech support.
  • 27. Subscribe to Notifications from you Help Boards.
  • 28. ?
  • 29. Audience-generated tips are here.
  • 30. Feedback loop.


Very good. Very dynamic speaker.

iNACOL 2014: Mastery Next – The Future of AP and Blended Learning

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Program Description:

Davidson College is collaborating with multiple partners to create digital lesson modules to help students master difficult, AP-level work. This session will focus on the design of the partnership, managing expectations, teacher training, and the role of project management in a multi-partner environment. Attendees will participate in design challenges modeled after the partnership design, and be provided opportunities to engage in blended learning modules in table team environments.

2014-11-06 10.28.09

  • What is Davidson Next?
    • creating stand alone modules for the most challenging concepts within hs AP courses
    • make them available for free to students and teachers
    • modules hope to be rolled out summer 2015
  • How do we ensure that students are career and college ready?
  • TPAC [?] model: Venn diagram of technological knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, content knowledge
  • Partners include: College Board, edX, 2Revolutions, Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
  • Using edX’s platform and creating mini-MOOCs that focus on specific concepts
  • majority of pilot teachers are calc teachers
  • over 1200 students using the modules
  • September 2014: pilot kick-off; throughout the year = feedback; post-AP-exams = further refinement; summer 2015 = nationwide launch
  • starting with three subjects: AP Calc (AB & NC); Macro; Physics (1 & 2)
  • each unit will have 2-4 instructional videos
  • teachers are current AP teachers rather than college faculty
  • interactive learning tools are being developed (which currently don’t exist on edX), e.g. vector drawing tools for Physics
  • teacher support: AP Summer Institutes and Workshops as well as PD MOOCs

An interesting idea, especially the modular nature. I suspect AP teachers will find this useful, though the limited nature of the content is understandable but also tantalizing. (Sounds like some success needs to be identified to get more funding to expand the course / module offerings.)

iNACOL 2014: Blending the Unblended – An Unexpected Journey (Michael Bitton)

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Program Description:

How one private school took the giant step of bringing blended learning to their traditional classrooms. During the session, the speakers will discuss why they chose to blend, the challenges and successes they have encountered, as well as practical advise on how anyone can begin to incorporate a successful Blended learning program into their own school.

  • Jewish day school in Brooklyn, K-12, about 2,000 students
  • became involved with flipped / blended a few years ago and got a grant to implement
  • focusing on the nitty gritty of implementing a blended approach
  • prepare to fail: year 1 will lead to lots of failure and big failures
  • fail forward
  • definition: a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace + at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home
  • types of blended learning
    • lab rotation
      • a regular face to face instructional time
      • students rotate to a lab location and learn online
      • example: Rocketship Education (what is this?)
    • flex model
      • majority of time students are on computers in a large space
      • with breakout sessions: teachers rotate and pull students out for help as necessary
      • Carpe Diem in AZ an example
    • station rotation
      • classroom divided into three stations: teacher-led instruction, online instruction, collaboratve activities and stations
      • KIPP Empower LA an example
  • what are the possible pedagogical outcomes?
    • not all outcomes might happen each year
    • data-driven instruction
    • differentiated instruction
    • individualized or personalized instruction
    • deeper learning (i.e. up Bloom)
    • creation of independent, self-directed learners
    • more engaging learning atmosphere
  • designing a program
  • what is the goal of the school?
  • blended learning is the tool rather than the end / goal
  • make sure that blended learning is aligned with school goal / vision
  • this school’s goal is to prepare students for college and work
  • which grade levels and subjects?
  • specific target areas / academic goals? students reading better? achieving better in math? etc.
  • getting people on board
  • who will lead the blended learning program?
  • the leadership area (admin & dhs) and teachers
  • in this school, admin was on board but dhs were never told that blended was happening and so there was some push back from them; they weren’t on board in the way they should be
  • teachers should be open-minded and innovative; ok to fail
  • PD should not be one and done
  • the week over the summer, consultant comes in, presents, etc. but then no follow up
  • ongoing support and training are necessary
  • without that ongoing support and training, teachers will revert to the old approach
  • have teachers visit schools that are farther along / doing this
  • identify teachers at other schools who overcame similar problems that your teachers are facing
  • PLNs
  • support teachers; without support, there is no motivation or incentive to continue; have administrators come in in a positive way to increase the feeling of support
  • peer to peer observations
  • in year 2, master teachers who did it the previous year can help the rookie / year 1 teachers
  • collaborative planning time
  • you must let your teachers vent
  • technology infrastructure
  • the right device: this school decided that they just needed a device that will go on the web so they went with ChromeBooks, and they are not 1:1, i.e. students do not bring them home but rather the school uses carts
  • IT Staff Support that focuses on the blended environment, i.e. triaging the blended classrooms first
  • finding the right content provider
  • you will fail, fail, fail while looking for digital content providers
  • most schools will overhaul dcp after year 1
  • ask around / research: what are other schools using?
  • to buy, to create, or to do both / mix? this school does both; they have a dcp but supplement that with teacher-created material
  • available dcps now number in the 100s
  • include teachers in any demos that dcps provide
  • things to consider with dcps / demos:
    • instruction vs. practice; instruction = content delivery while practice = drilling; Khan Academy has both, videos for instruction and coaching for practice; companies have different weightings in these two areas
    • grade levels: make sure that the dcp grade level is commensurate with yours, i.e. one 9th grade algebra course might be more advanced than what your students are doing in 9th grade algebra
    • content and curriculum alignment
    • user interface: fun, engaging, easy?
    • length of lesson: in a 90 minute block of station rotation, that’s about 25 / 30 mins of online instruction; the first dcp lessons were 50 mins, which meant that students had to do the rest at home, which made it a disaster
    • adaptive vs. set vs. playlist
      • adaptive: assessment adapts content to student’s skills based on formative assessment
      • set: module 1 must be completed before module 2 is completed
      • playlist: teacher chooses which modules and in which order students receive content
      • this school uses playlist
    • types of assessment
    • data availability: how easy is it to pull data
    • available professional development
  • dcps tend to still be focused on elementary content; high school content is more limited; their first dcp for hs was essentially an online textbook with assessments (rather than a more holistic, integrated approach to content, like the elementary programs have)
  • backlash: lots of it, from teachers, students, school
  • teacher
    • role change
    • used to a set way of teaching: sage on the stage
    • connecting the different stations
    • help teachers develop a system within which they create meaningful stations
    • data collection didn’t happen year 1; not the focus; focused instead on getting the program going
    • meeting curriculum standards and getting students ready for tests
    • this school had to suspend blended learning for a week to prep for Regents
  • student
    • student mindset: huge paradigm shift
      • students begging teachers to teach them directly; felt like they weren’t learning
      • a new system whereby they had to think on their own
      • they were doing well on assessments but still felt like they weren’t learning
    • time management
      • pacing themselves / managing their own work and time, especially if they didn’t get through what they needed to in class
      • teachers made a checklist of work for the week to help students manage time and work
  • school
    • teacher backlash
    • parent backlash (similar to students); made a mistake with both parents and students of not giving enough intro / lead in to the blended approach
    • internet issues
    • class schedule

They noticed that while grad rate was high, so too was college dropout rate because students were having difficulty managing time and accessing help ahead of time. [Would be interesting to look at this at WHS.]
Interesting. I like especially the idea of committing to failure and using that to improve and move forward. I like that the complaints / backlash didn’t lead to a scrapping of the approach.

iNACOL 2014: Sal Khan Lunch Keynote

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  • 190+ countries
  • 500,000+ registered educators
  • 12,000,000+ unique monthly users
  • 2,5000,000,000+ problems answered
  • “If information delivery could happen at the student’s time and pace, couldn’t the physical classroom transform itself?”
  • real education involves real people / face to face interaction; interactivity with material (assessment tools); and community / project-based-learning that integrates school with outside world
  • current model is we batch students together, usually by age, and we move them forward at a set pace (independent of their abilities or knowledge or understanding / content acquisition)
  • imagine if we did other things in our life that way
    • home building: we have 3 weeks to build the foundation; inspector comes in, gives it a C, and we move on to the next step; this continues with each step until the house collapses; contractor, inspector, etc. are blamed but ultimately the problem is the artificial constraints on the acquisition / completion
  • create a system that allows students to progress at the A / mastery level at their own pace
  • other things do this: martial arts focuses on mastery and doesn’t allow progression until mastery is achieved
  • [This approach allows not only remediation / focus on those struggling but also acceleration. Imagine a curriculum in which a student works at a mastery pace, so that if one masters what would traditionally be offered at the high school level, that student can then move beyond the constraints of the traditional high school curriculum as time allows.
  • [A degree / report card would be awarded / given based on the level of mastery, so it would no longer look like an A in math but rather a level achieved; the higher level achieved distinguishes one student from another.]
  • [How would the mastery approach look for the humanities?]
  • the metacognitive skill is arguably more important than any content
  • the shift from a fixed to a growth mindset
  • a fixed mindset says that one’s abilities / ‘smarts’ are fixed and cannot be changed, i.e. one is good at one subject and bad at another
  • a growth mindset says that all students can learn and improve
  • KA releasing sites in other languages: Spanish now, others on the way?
  • all aspects of site, from content / videos to navigation are in the language (i.e. it’s not just a translation of the existing English site into another language)
  • I asked about the mastery approach as it applies to more open-ended subjects, like writing.
  • The answer was interesting. He focused on peer-to-peer work (which I’m somewhat dubious about) with the aid of a rubric.
  • He also talked about the importance of a portfolio as a representation of what a student can do, which I thought was a much more viable answer / approach.
  • I’ve thought about portfolios in the past and have not yet found a good vehicle for them, but I wonder if I should revisit that and see what I can come up with.
  • I imagine that, in a mastery context, having a student produce something open-ended (say, an analytical paper) a set number of times at a given level might be possible, but I wonder still what that would look like.

An excellent speaker and an inspiring talk. I kind of want to home school my kids now…. Or at least get them doing some enrichment work (but I also don’t want to become one of those crazy parents).

iNACOL 2014: Observing and Supporting Online Teachers (Michele Gill & Christopher Harrington)

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Program Description:

How do you observe online teachers? What do you look for, and how do you manage the process? Join us as we share sample observation tools, alignments between the iNACOL standards and Danielson’s Framework, and discuss the ways the observation process can be valuable to teachers and administrators beyond the basic need for accountability. We’ll share the strategies and structure we’ve developed through research and trial and error over the past 10 years of supervising over 100 online instructors.; @MicheleOnline

  • “If I know that no one’s watching what I’m doing, that’s going to change what I do.”
  • “The reality is knowing that [an administrator] could pop in, changes things.”
  • But observations are not about accountability. Focusing exclusively on accountability turns school / observation process into a factory.
  • If not accountability, though, what else to look for / why else observe? student engagement; support teachers
  • Think about observation as coaching in an environment in which teachers want to improve.
  • “When you start this type of thing, start with your best people.”
  • If you start at the top, it becomes easier to pull in other teachers, while if you start at the bottom, so to speak, it makes it a more defensive process.
  • Build that cadre of qualified master teaches.
  • Good supportive coaching observations take over an hour per course / observation. I [she] when she started didn’t get them done because she put them off because they were too long and no one was checking up on her (i.e. observing the observer).
  • As master instructors became visible / identified, they were paid to do peer observations from start to finish.
  • Salaried observers triage: they take care of the things that need immediate attention and the things that other people are checking up on. ‘Contractors’, so to speak, are incentivized to observe.
  • Observe what?
    • Compliance / policies: FERPA, response time, availability
    • Standards / competencies: you align to something, but you (district) have to decide what that is
    • Skills
      • e.g. feedback skills (this takes a long time to identify and assess but instructors can be asked to provide to expedite the process)
      • neutral feedback, i.e. feedback that is helpful but does not create a defensive response
      • approach to teaching, e.g. being collegial, not being a ‘boss’ of the classroom
    • Content: creating engagement and personalizing it to students
  • Danielson’s Framework for Teaching (?) not designed for online, though they are being used to observe / evaluate online teachers; this becomes complicated further if administrators are not versed in online or blended teaching
  • (takes a while to load) a chart of competencies and standards and how they align with each other
  • How extensive?
    • check-ins
      • relatively easy: the week before a course begins, a check in to make sure that things are in place and moving in the direction they should be
    • extended analysis: this comes later, and this takes (a lot of) time
      • when does it happen?
        • end shows everything but doesn’t allow any growth
        • early doesn’t show much
        • week 3 – 4 is the big observation: still time to make a difference but enough material to get a sense of what’s happening
    • combination
  • Finding teachers to do this and compensating them / ensuring that they do it well is tricky. Master teachers can have a reduced student load as compensation (if there is no financial). But master teachers need to be trained to ensure that they are following similar standards / practices in their evaluations.
  • Who observes? Colleague – Coach – Mentor – Supervisor
  • A peer coach that reports to a supervisor / administrator is not a peer coach, i.e. the prospect of observations going elsewhere changes the dynamic
  • Do you observe all of your people, every year, every course? Some do. That’s the way it should be. Everyone should be seen at least once.
  • Tools for the job:
    • Rubric
    • Checklist: easiest to do it in a Word .doc (GoogleForm, apps, etc. more trouble than they’re worth); checklist is designed to be ‘chronological’, i.e. is meant to be checked in order as the evaluator goes through the course; there is also lots of room for comments / expansion
    • Alignments
    • Feedback

iNACOL 2014: Best Practice for Flipping your PBL Classroom (Andrew Miller)

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  • Description from Conference Program:

    Flipping the Classroom is the just start. Combine PBL with the flipped classroom to engage students and differentiate and personalize learning for all students. Learn best flipping practices aligned to the essential elements of Project Based Learning, and examine sample PBL Flipped Projects.

  • “teach through the project”, i.e. don’t teach and then assign the project; the project should be the teaching
  • student voice and choice
  • asking questions: use a Twitter hashtag and have students tweet questions; lino it? (beta? what is this? Googled it and found it here; seems similar to Wallwisher / Padlet at first glance? but haven’t investigated further)
  • flipping should not be used as a way to add more time to class to learn content, i.e. I’ve run out of time in class, so go watch this video to finish it off
  • flipped videos / content should not be mandatory; students should have access to them as they need them
  • hardest thing about PBL is teacher stepping off the stage, letting students choose and go
  • Goals of homework:
    • fluency building
    • application
    • spiral review
    • extension
  • flipped videos are too often assigned too early in the learning process, i.e. students should have some familiarity with material before the videos (and I do hear this from students, that they don’t understand and then get turned off)
  • “the sudden release of responsibility” = the teacher lets the students go too quickly to instructional videos / flipped content
  • “DIY School” = when teacher absolves themselves of responsibility and lets students go entirely on their own
  • projects should have an individual component and a group component
  • “It’s all about formative assessment”: teachers often ask how they know if students watched the videos
  • “Feed up” = establishing purpose, using formative assessment to inform next steps; check for understanding, feed back, feed forward (using student performance for “next steps”)
  • Checking for understanding: oral language, questioning, written language, projects and performance, tests, common assessments and consensus scoring
  • formative assessments shouldn’t be graded; the averaging process harms student improvement, i.e. the movement from a C to an A should rewarded with an A (ish) rather than punished with an average; averaging punishes students for making mistakes
  • instruction and formative assessment must be linked
  • error vs. mistake: mistakes can be corrected; error is a fundamental conceptual gap that needs addressing
  • the flipped / formative cycle: formative assessment illustrates gaps that flipped content then addresses, which is individualized for students / groups based on what the formative assessment reveals
  • “If we dive too quickly into flipped, it just becomes putting videos online.”
  • Projects are summative assessments, a measure of competency
  • “A summative isn’t a summative until you decide it’s a summative. A formative isn’t a formative until you decide it’s a formative.” If you give a formative and students do well, it becomes a summative because goals have been met. Similarly, if students consistently miss a part of the summative, then perhaps it becomes a formative until that deficit is addressed.
  • “I will only reward you at your best.”
  • –> sample projects, searchable, etc.
  • “It’s not going to go well if you’re not formatively assessing. That’s where I first messed up. Every time something is learned or reviewed, there has to be a formative assessment because you won’t know where your kids are and you won’t know what to do next. If you do a good job of formatively assessing, you won’t know where to flip.”
  • finding audiences for the projects: just ask; survey parents at beginning of year about what they do and what they love to do (i.e. do outside of their job)
  • a bit more on PBL itself than online learning / flipping but still a good presentation
  • he does a nice job integrating himself and his presentation; a charismatic and entertaining speaker

iNACOL 2014

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I’m here at iNACOL 2014 (in Palm Sprins, CA), so I’ll be updating regularly about various workshops, etc. throughout the conference today and tomorrow.

Here’s what iNACOL is (from their website, linked above):

The mission of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) is to ensure all students have access to a world-class education and quality blended and online learning opportunities that prepare them for a lifetime of success. iNACOL is a non-profit organization focused on research; developing policy for student-centered education to ensure equity and access; developing quality standards for emerging learning models using online, blended, and competency-based education; and supporting the ongoing professional development of classroom, school, district and state leaders for new learning models.

I’ll also be using the time to catch up on some things that I’ve been meaning to write about.