Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Tech Tip: Using Schoology for Formative Assessment (Part 3)

Our previous two blog posts focused on the questions "Where am I going" and "Where am I now?"  Today's blog post focuses on the last question: "How do I close the gap?"  As teachers, we can help address this question by providing effective feedback and giving students the opportunity to continue their learning based on the feedback.

According to Chappius and Chappius, "Effective descriptive feedback focuses on the intended learning, identifies specific strengths, points to areas needing improvement, suggests a route of action students can take to close the gap between where they are now and where they need to be, takes into account the amount of corrective feedback the learner can act on at one time, and models the kind of thinking students will engage in when they self-assess." And, it must happen during the learning process, "while there is still time to take action."

Leveraging Rubrics for Learning
As mentioned in an earlier blog post, having assignments or assessment questions tied to specific learning outcomes helps students determine "Where am I going?"  And because those learning outcomes can be used to create rubrics in Schoology, rubrics can help "identify specific strengths" and "point to areas needing improvement."  However, for the rubric to be descriptive, it needs to have more information than default generic headings, like "Excellent" or "Not Proficient."
  1. Be sure to add detailed criteria to your rubric descriptors so that learners understand what "Excellent" means vs. "Good" as neither of these terms are particularly descriptive.  (If you are sharing rubrics with other teachers, remember that you can now share those in Resources.)
  2. You can provide individualized and specific feedback using the comment feature within rubrics (to provide focused feedback about a specific learning target or outcome).
Giving Feedback with Comments Assessments

In addition to giving comments within rubrics, teachers can also give feedback within assignment or assessment submissions.

Student View: Question Comments Available
When grading assessment questions (like in a test or quiz), teachers can see an "Add Comment" icon for each question.  This lets the teacher give feedback specific to the question itself.  On the student side, a comment icon appears next to their submission score, indicating that comments have been given for the questions.  Remember, if it's formative, students need the chance to make improvements.  That means the assessment needs to either be given a "zero" factor or set to allow for retakes.


Giving Feedback with Comments in Assignments
In an assignment, you have even more flexibility.  As the teacher, you can add text comments, record audio or webcam comments, and you can attach files (like models or exemplars to clarify the comment).   The student then add their own comment back to you. These comments are organized by "revision."  Since formative assessment happens before the end of the learning, let students can use your feedback and resubmit an assignment to help "close the gap."

If the student has submitted written work into the assignment, there are also options in the grading window to highight, annotate, draw, and strike-out on the submission.  This lets you give feedback on the writing itself, much like you would with pen & paper.


Finally, remember that "[t]he greatest value in formative assessment lies in teachers and students making use of results to improve real-time teaching and learning at every turn" (Chappius & Chappius).  Letting students know where they are going, where they are  now, and how to close the gap both empowers and gives ownership to students for their own learning.

References

Atkin, J. M., Black, P., & Coffey, J. (2001). Classroom assessment and the national science standards. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Black, Paul, and Dylan Wiliam. Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Granada Learning, 1998.

Chappius, Steven, and Chappius, Jan. "The Best Value in Formative Assessment - ASCD." 2010. 14 Apr. 2015 <http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec07/vol65/num04/The-Best-Value-in-Formative-Assessment.aspx>


Moss, Connie M., and Susan M. Brookhart. "Lay of the Land." Advancing Formative Assessment in Every Classroom a Guide for Instructional Leaders. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2009.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday Tech Tip: Using Schoology for Formative Assessment (Part 2)

Last week's blog post focused on the first critical learner question with formative assessments: where am I going?  Schoology's custom learning objectives and options for sharing exemplars are ways in which we can address that first question.  This week, we'll focus on the second critical question:  where am I now?

 According to Stephen & Jan Chappius, "[w]hen teachers assess student learning for purely formative purposes, there is no final mark on the paper and no summative grade in the grade book. Rather, assessment serves as practice for students . . ."  So how can you help students know (and reflect on) where they are without a potentially punitive "grade in the grade book"?

1.  Give assessments or assignments a zero factor.  
One way you can use Schoology to provide information without assigning a grade is to give the test/quiz or assignment a "zero" factor.  When selecting "Grading options" in an assessment or assignment, you have the option to give it a "0.00" factor.  That means that whatever is assigned has zero impact on the grade in the gradebook, but students will still see feedback and items that are correct and incorrect.

Tip: to help clarify what this means for both students and parents, name or title the assignment something that indicates its weight, like "Practice" or "Feedback Only."  If you are using weighted categories, you could also create a category in your Schoology gradebook that has a "0%" weight and put any formative work into that category so that it won't figure into the final grade.

2.  Have students self-assess using a test/quiz in Schoology.
From Lucy Calkins Writing Pathways Student Checklists
If you have a rubric or a checklist that you want students to use for self-assessment, you can create a quiz with the rubric or checklist descriptors as separate questions (either  multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank).  As students decide where they are in relation to the checklist or rubric, the information is tracked for you in the "results" tab.  And, if students are allowed to resubmit, you can see their answers for each revision.

Tip: make all options in the multiple choice questions "correct" so that students aren't "wrong" for whatever they choose or use the word bank option for fill in the blank. For multiple choice, set each answer to be worth 0 points to avoid point penalities.  You can either give this a completion grade with a bulk override or use the "zero" factor to keep this from affecting the overall grade.

3.  Use Mastery to help students see their progress on specific learning targets or outcomes.
If you tie assignments or assessments to your learning objectives or standards, the mastery view will provide the learner with information about whether or not they are meeting the objective.  One of the best things about mastery in Schoology is that it helps students see multiple assignments that are tied to the same target.  If you are using several pieces of work to support standards, students (and you) can see a cumulative achievement for that standard as well as achievement for each item assessed.

4. Use Backchannel Chat or a Discussion Board for student reflection.
If you would like students to reflect on where they are, you can use something like Backchannel Chat (an app you can add to your course in Schoology) and do a quick poll.  Or, use a Discussion Board to have students reflect on their learning.  Want it to be private?  Use an assignment instead of a Discussion Board -- this gives you "journal-like" options for reflection.  Either way, the student has space to reflect on where they are with learning goals.

5.  Embed or link other tools for self-paced quizzes or checks for understanding.
You can always create a zero factor quiz or exit ticket assignment in Schoology, but if you want to use something else, there are quite a few web-based options for letting students know where they are with learning.  The following can all be linked or embedded in Schoology.
  • Using video?  Think about embedding EduCanon, EdPuzzle, or Zaption.  All of these tools allow you to insert questions in a video to help students track their own understanding.  
  • Using polling?  Use Schoology's poll feature in an update, use the Backchannel Chat app to poll students, or use something like PollEverywhere.  
  • Focusing on vocabulary?  Embed Quizlet's test or game mode to help students recognize where they are with understanding terms and definitions.  
  • Want to give quizzes or collect exit tickets that aren't in Schoology?  Try linking to Socrative quizzes, Kahoot, or ExitTicket.
As students are engaging in the learning process, knowing where they are without fear of a wrong answer or a bad grade helps keep them focused on where they are going -- and ultimately, helps lead to the next question: how can I close the gap?  We'll take a look at that question in next week's blog post.

References

"5 Fantastic, Fast, Formative Assessment Tools." Edutopia. Edutopia.org, 15 Jan. 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. <http://www.edutopia.org/blog/5-fast-formative-assessment-tools-vicki-davis>.

Atkin, J. M., Black, P., & Coffey, J. (2001). Classroom assessment and the national science standards. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Black, Paul, and Dylan Wiliam. Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Granada Learning, 1998.

Chappius, Steven, and Chappius, Jan. "The Best Value in Formative Assessment - ASCD." 2010. 14 Apr. 2015 <http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec07/vol65/num04/The-Best-Value-in-Formative-Assessment.aspx>

Moss, Connie M., and Susan M. Brookhart. "Lay of the Land." Advancing Formative Assessment in Every Classroom a Guide for Instructional Leaders. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2009.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday Tech Tip: Using Schoology for Formative Assessment (Part 1)

We're hearing quite a bit of assessment talk these days, and with PARCC and SBAC happening across the nation, almost all of that talk surrounds summative assessment.  While summative assessment has its place (especially in the area of school, district, or state accountability), formative assessment is one of the most powerful tools teachers have when it comes to impacting student learning (Black, Paul, and Dylan Wiliam. Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Granada Learning, 1998).

Much of what we do in the classroom can be used either formatively or summatively, but according to Atkin, Black, & Coffey (2001), formative assessments specifically help address 3 questions for learners:
  1. Where am I going? 
  2. Where am I now? 
  3. How can I close the gap?  
In today's blog post, we're going to look at how Schoology can help us with that first question (subsequent blog posts will focus on the other two questions).

Where Am I Going?  Using Custom Learning Objectives

Critical to the formative assessment process is a clear understanding of learning targets -- and "clear" means in student-friendly language. Your best bet for student-friendly objectives or targets is to create your own in Schoology. (See Schoology's help article on how to create custom learning outcomes).

Once you have created your own (or used existing standards), you can tie those to rubrics, assignments, discussion board responses, and assessment questions,   You can also create criteria on the fly in rubrics, but those won't be tracked for student progress.  

Additionally, if you have an existing document with learning objectives in something like a Google Doc, a PDF in Google Drive, or a Word document, you can always embed the document or upload the file for students to access.

Where Am I Going?  Providing Exemplars

In addition to providing students with clear learning targets, providing examples of high level work also helps students understand where they are going.  Schoology is very flexible in terms of what you can upload and embed, and remember that something doesn't have to exist digitally to be shared digitally.  If you have something 3 dimensional or in hard copy, use a mobile device to capture it.  Anything captured can then be shared for students to access.

Here are just a few suggestions for sharing exemplars:
  • Create a Collection in Personal resources to save student exemplars from year to year (and share that Collection with your PLC or grade level team if you are all contributing examples or use a folder in a Group).  You can then add those to any course or course folder to show students.
  • Create a Media Album in your course or group for sharing student exemplars (this is especially effective for images or video content).  Add notes or captions about each exemplar to give more detail (or ask students to add their own comments about the examples).
  • Create a page in a course or group to embed multiple web-based projects or examples (e.g. Prezi, ThingLink, WeVideo, etc.).  This allows you to put several examples on a single page with space for commentary, if needed.
  • Grab a snippet or a paragraph via screen cap of submitted assignments in Schoology's Document Viewer.  You can either take a screen cap with annotations included or turn them off.  Either way, taking a screen cap means that you can grab the part you want without also revealing a student name.
  • Create a Discussion Board for exemplars (which can contain embedded content or uploaded files) and encourage student reflection on what makes something an exemplar.
When using formative assessments with students, regardless of the medium, be sure to start with that first question: where are they going?  Schoology can help both you and your students address that question for learning.

References

Atkin, J. M., Black, P., & Coffey, J. (2001). Classroom assessment and the national science standards. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Black, Paul, and Dylan Wiliam. Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Granada Learning, 1998.

Chappius, Steven, and Chappius, Jan. "The Best Value in Formative Assessment - ASCD." 2010. 14 Apr. 2015 <http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec07/vol65/num04/The-Best-Value-in-Formative-Assessment.aspx>

Moss, Connie M., and Susan M. Brookhart. "Lay of the Land." Advancing Formative Assessment in Every Classroom a Guide for Instructional Leaders. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2009.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Cherry Creek Bright Spot: Technology at Liberty Middle School



As a district Technology and Learning Coach, I often have teachers ask me how technology fits in with math instruction, beyond just allowing kids to play math games on the Internet during free time. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely a variety of good websites for math instruction and reinforcement, but how do you make technology an integral and seamless part of your math classroom?  

Jasmine Solano, a math teacher at Liberty Middle School, recently invited me to observe her math classes. In doing so, I was able to see how easy and effective it could be to make technology a regular part of her classes, and how much the students are learning and growing from this practice. Check out the Bright Spot video below to hear from Mrs. Solano and some of her students...


If you would like to learn more about integrating math with technology at your school, please contact your Technology and Learning Coaches by filling out our form

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tuesday Tech Tip: Joining the #SchoologyChat on Twitter

Our team has posted previously about using social media to extend learning (Personalized Professional Learning, What Works for Me on Twitter, and Professional Learning, Anytime and Anywhere).  and in that vein, we wanted to let everyone know about #SchoologyChat.

For those folks who are on Twitter, there will be several Twitter chats specifically about Schoology coming up, and the first one is tonight at 7 p.m. (MDT).  If you are joining live or would like to see the conversation later, use the hashtag #SchoologyChat.  And if you use something like TweetDeck, it might be worth a column to keep track of the tweets.

The topic of tonight's chat will be how Schoology enhances learning in your classroom or school.  If you want an advance peek at the questions, they are embedded below:



In addition, there is a #SchoologyChat group in Schoology that you are welcome to join (use code: GCWBC-BDBMV).  This would be a great place to network with other folks and contribute to possible questions and topics for the future.

Thanks @robert_schuetz and @MrKlinge for organizing this and putting it together!

CCSD Bright Spot: 5th Graders Create YouTube Style How-To Videos Using WeVideo

When Technology Teacher Jen Sevy from Fox Hollow Elementary kept hearing her 5th grade students explain how they learned to do things they...