Category Archives: technology

Using single-point rubrics & Checkmark to make your life easier & your kids smarter

We’ve all been there. You just finished putting together a great instructional lesson or unit. Kids are gonna love it. They’re working together. Doing research. Creating stuff, not just consuming it. The historical thinking will be off the charts.

Then you realize . . . you haven’t created the rubric yet.

You know that clear expectations and feedback are critically important to the learning process. You know that rubrics can help you in assessing what students know and are able to do. So you sit back down and eventually decide to use four scoring columns instead of five. Six rows of criteria instead of three. Clear descriptors. Nine point font all crammed into your matrix so that it fits on one page. Definitely tons of feedback gonna happen from this beauty.

But it’s worth it, right?

Mmm . . . using a great rubric can speed up the grading and assessment process but they can also create other issues besides the amount of time it takes to create them. A student shows creativity way beyond what the rubric asks for in a way that you hadn’t anticipated and your columns and rows aren’t able to reward that. Or a kid spells everything correctly but the grammar and punctuation is terrible. Maybe she nails the document analysis but fails to use evidence in her claims and your rubric has those two things together.

And is there any way – other than individual conferences – to really know whether students actually go deeper into your scored rubric than to look at the final grade circled in the bottom left hand corner?

Yes, analytic rubrics are useful. I’m not saying rubrics shouldn’t be part of your assessment toolkit. They can help you develop and create assignments that are aligned to your end in mind. They can provide clear expectations for students and a way to share feedback. But they can also be difficult to design correctly and may seem so overwhelming to students that the expected feedback we want never really sinks in.

And, sure, holistic versions are much quicker to create and use. So that’s nice. But they fail to provide specific and targeted feedback. You get a kid who wants to know why they got a two instead of a three or worse, he won’t ask at all. Missing the whole point of providing feedback in the first place.

So . . . why not look at a third way to the rubric game? And use some tech to make it even better? Continue reading Using single-point rubrics & Checkmark to make your life easier & your kids smarter

“You’re starting to make me cranky.”

Glenn Wiebe was digging around the vault over at History Tech looking for some resources centered around the Kansans Can school redesign and ran across this rant written just after the 2013 state standards went live. With those standards currently in the revision process and the state of Kansas deep into conversations about changing how we do school, it seems appropriate to re-post it here. Basically, it boils down to:

How much are we willing to change so that our kids are prepared for their future?

It’s been a fun couple of months since the holiday break. I’ve had the chance to spend time with a variety of folks doing all sorts of cool stuff. A group of us have been struggling to write questions for the social studies state assessment pilot due out this spring.

I’ve spent time with teachers discussing social studies best practices that are aligned to the state’s recently adopted state standards. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of teachers as we shared ideas and discussed ways to integrate technology into instruction.

It’s all part of what is perhaps the best job in the world. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy themselves spending time with dedicated, amazing people who are literally changing the world?

But . . . sometimes I walk away feeling a little uncomfortable after spending time with teachers. Once in a great while, I leave a group angry. And while I honestly think I do a good job of hiding my feelings, I’m starting to think those feelings need to be a bit more obvious.

Change is difficult. I understand that. And society already asks teachers to be superheroes. But it still bothers me when I hear teachers say things like: Continue reading “You’re starting to make me cranky.”

Summer Professional Development . . . on Instagram?

barefoot beach blur break

Teacher Perks: “You get summers off.”

How many times have you had someone outside the education profession say this to you? If you are reading this blog post, chances are you know that it’s really not true. You probably know that teachers use these precious summer months to recharge, refuel, and LEARN. We strive to find ways to perfect our craft and answer questions that came up over the past school year.

This is the first summer that I did not physically attend multiple professional development conferences or workshops in June and July. I say “physically” because looking back on the past few months, I do feel that I attended professional development in a new and different way. Over the past year, I have found a new community on Instagram.

access blur close up colorful

This community is filled with educators from all different content areas and age ranges. Educators are posting lesson plan ideas, classroom management strategies, classroom organization tips, and even personal stories and experiences. Many of them have stores on Teachers Pay Teachers, blogs, or vlogs and are sharing content / pedagogical strategies for the world to access at our finger tips.

How to Get Started

I first started by creating a separate account just for my education world. I tried to Continue reading Summer Professional Development . . . on Instagram?

(Pull It, Twist It, Bop It) Flip It: Blended Learning in the Social Studies Classroom

The tired stereotype of the history teacher at the front of the room lecturing from bell to bell, droning on about nothing but names, places, and dates, and never noticing the kids sleeping in the back row needs to be thrown out the window!  In its place, how about a teacher that never lectures but instead provides students time to work hands on with the content and apply their learning from bell to bell?

With Flipped Learning, this is possible in every social studies classroom!

 

flipped graphic_reinertcenter
https://www.slu.edu/cttl/resources/teaching-tips-and-resources/flipped-classroom-resources

Continue reading (Pull It, Twist It, Bop It) Flip It: Blended Learning in the Social Studies Classroom

And Rotate! Blended Learning in the Social Studies Classroom

gonzalez-inclassflip-stations
Image from Jennifer Gonzalez of Cult of Pedagogy

When I mention stations in the classroom, does your mind automatically jump to the organized chaos of a Kindergarten classroom? Could I convince you to jump to a social studies classroom instead?  Station Rotation is another Blended Learning model that promotes technology integration and differentiation, while enhancing learning in the classroom.

 

Stations are a great way to provide students with content through a variety of learning activities. Students can be working individually, with partners or small groups, with the teacher, and with or without technology all in the same class at the same time. Sound like organized chaos that could work in your classroom? Continue reading And Rotate! Blended Learning in the Social Studies Classroom