ISTE 2011 Day 1 Post 1

Dean helps a participant

Dean helps a participant

Ken helps a participant

Ken helps a participant

Ok, so I’ve decided that I probably need to post as I go along during ISTE this time.  When I don’t, everything just gets jammed up and then I have nothing to go back to and haven’t shared.  This morning I went to a pre-conference workshop on creating photos and digital storytelling.  The premice was simple: Learn to take good pictures so you don’t have to fix them up too much and then you’ll have great visuals for digital storytelling. After Ken went over some picture taking basics,  we took a walk around the neighborhhood and took some pictures.  Photography has always been frustrating for me.  I never really was able to take very interesting pictures and basically walked around with a camera for no reason.  I had always heard that I should always walk with a camera, so I just left it in my purse.  Ken helped me to understand a bit of what I’d been missing.  I was waiting for things to take pictures of rather than taking pictures of things I saw.    So today I took some of the most interesting pictures that I have ever taken.  Really.  And after talking to Ken a bit, I think I’ve decided to use cameras a little more in the classroom.  Typically I’ll do 2-3 camera “things” a year.  Ms. Bass and I do simple machines, I’ll do a shape hunt with first grade, and an alphabet book with grade K.  I think I’ve decided that digital photos and voicethreads are the combo of the year.  Anywhere I see “identify” in the SOL, I can probably throw in a camera project.  I’m going to work on it.    I would like to do one camera project a year in every content area at each grade level.  Yes, I realize that means I’ll need to do around 28 projects.  That would be about 1 per teacher.  So that’s an idea…we’ll see if it’s still at the top of the list in 4 days.

Playing with QR codes

Everybody seems to have a QR code for their conferences nowadays, so I decided to get one for TEACH Academy.  If you’ve not used one before, it’s kind of easy.  First you need to downlaod a barcode scanner app for your phone.  I use this free one that I found in the Android Market.      You just click on the app and then use your phone’s camera to scan the QR code.  Then the link or text message that you need will come up.  Want to give it a try?  Scan the QR code below:


VSRA session #3

I first became aware of Dr. Don Leu’s work at the VSRA conference about 4 years ago.  Someone dragged me to the General Session and said they thought that I would enjoy the speaker.  I was skeptical, but pleasantly surprised.  So when I saw that he was featured for this conference, I was determined to go to one of his sessions.  During this session, Dr. Leu gave 15 ideas on how to work on online reading comprehension.  This was a great reminder, as some of the ideas were too forward thinking for many of us the last time that he came.  I certainly wasn’t ready to go back and help teachers integrate some of them the last time…too many of the teachers weren’t ready.  Many still are not ready, but some of the ideas are part of our everyday practice at this point. You can find his handout herein electronic format so that you can use the links… LeuKeynoteHandout

Some ideas that I would like to try: 

  • Using Internet workshop as an instructional model – I think 6th grade social studies would be perfect for this – Ms. Hamill,  Mrs. Mitchell, and Ms. Underwood – I would be happy to help you try this out.  I think given a structured problem and a simple worksheet would make the idea appealing to the kids and it wouldn’t take too long.
  • Using search engine results to teach students to read to locate information – this would be great in both all of the intermediate grades.  Mrs. Hunter-Lowe, Mrs. Mitchell and Mrs. Wesley – I would specifically like to work on this lesson with you.
  • Internet Project – Send/Receive and international morning message of the day – I think fr 2nd and 3rd grade, this would be great if we set it up in the begining of the year and worked with schools that represented the countries that you study.  Mrs. Heil, Mrs. Bass, Ms. K. Brown; Mrs. Rowson, Ms. Bailey, Ms. Sheppard, Mr. T…we should all work get together and plan on doing this for next year.  I’m going to tag Luann Smith while I’m at it – this would be perfect for foreign language as well.

VSRA conference day #1

The Virgina State Reading Association conference began today.  I’ve been burning the midnight oil getting ready given everything else that seemed to get dropped on my plate in the last month…As the VSRA Technology & Reading chairperson, I have been charged with getting additional technology based sessions added to the conference lineup.  My co-chair, Melissa Warren, along with Deloris Eure-Nutt and I have provided hands-on sessions for the last 3 years.  Set-up and break down have always been a little problematic because of scheduling. This year the conference committee allowed us to present all three of our sessions on the same day and in the same room, so that we did not have to break down the lab and then set it up again in another area. 

We presented three sessions today: web 2.0 playground, Build your own PLN, and Technology Integration Made Easy with MSWORD.  Session info and handouts can be found at We divided the labor equally with each of us leading one of the sessions.  Melissa was first, which of course meant that we had to work out the tech difficulties durign her session.  Despite the fact that the conference center couldn’t get the wireless up and running until her session was half over, Melissa did a great job.  She  introduced blogging with Edublogs, podcasting via Vocaroo, and was even able to touch on Voki.  I did a the PLN session, and Deloris led the MSWord session. 

It’s been a long day, and we are exhausted.  But our sessions were full (20+ people each) so we’re hoping that the work we’ve done will help change what’s going on in a few classrooms across the state.


We went to the Promethean ActivVA conference today.  WOW what an experience.  There were lots of ideas and flipcharts to share with everyone.  I had four teachers (Davis, Bass, Hamill, and Pitts) from Victory as well athe principal, Mrs. Horne, attend.  From Brighton I had 6 teachers (Taxson, Perty, Sheppard, Gibson, V. Williams and F. Williams) attend.  KUDOS to Kristy Taxson who presented a session on using the Whiteboard in the primary classroom.  Her session was well received.  Other highlights of the day included learning the “Calibration” song and learning about the e video contest.

Here is a video that was entered into the contest by one of the teachers in attendance at the ActivVirginia conference

Digital Voice Recorders in Foreign Language

This is a VETC09 session. Live Blogging…

Sharon McGlone, TRT at Booker T in Norfolk, is presenting.

Things that help:

  • TRT gives overview to students
  • TRT creates samples when planning with the teacher
  • TRT co-teaches
  • students practiced in diads
  • Rubrics given to students before they were assessed
  • Teacher training is key
  • refer to podcasts as “audio files” to increase teacher comfort
  • Students in groups worked best
  • be careful about identifying students when putting their projects on the web
  • sometimes you may need to use a file converter depending on your intended application

Using recordings to improve student oral language – Oral assessments every 4 weeks

Students were able to listen to themselves and classmates while creating their projects once files were posted on the web.  Students self selected conversational topics.

Students work is posted on the web as part of a student portfolio and for comparison of student fluency.  After students learned to record themselves – they did extensions.  Research a topic and then record themselves talking about it.  Students got excited.  Shy students were more apt to participate.  Additional project extensions include creating a slideshow (PPT, moviemaker, photo story) and using the student audio files with pictures.  Students can make wordles out of their speeches out of their topics.  Students wanted to reread or recreate their readings to help with the timing when using the file for projects.

Teachers were able to create files for students to listen to and practice and put them on the web.  Files are posted on their websites (linked from NPS site  Teachers can show students how to download the files to MP3 players (PPS kids could practice this in class if the teacher has borrowed the class set of MP3 players from OITMS).

Students could peer review each others work…

Marzano Keynote

This session with Marzano is entitled: Developing Standards-Based Schools One Teacher at a Time

There is a growing movement to change the way we allow students to show what they have learned.  So many things are beginning to come together sometimes the terminologies get confused, but we’ll get that sored out.  New book coming out about formative assessment…formative assessment is at the crest of the wave of change that we are beginning to see. 

We need to make a distinction beween forms of assessment and uses of assessment.  Forms of assessment: obtrusive, unobtrusive, and student generated. Obtrusive: instruction stops and assessment begins – the traditional paper-pencil test, student presentations.  There are a lot of ways to get information about what students know.  Unobtrusive – instruction doesn’t stop – Phys ed teacher shows kids to throw and then watches and makes observations.  Student Geenerated is the most powerful.  Student says “let me show you what I know”.  It allows students to guide there learnign.

Uses of assessment: Formative scores, summative scores and instructional feedback.  Formative scores can be derived from any one of the previous forms of assessment, are scored in some fashion and recorded and can/should be used to track student progress over time.  Summative are pretty much the same except the represent a student’s final status after some interval – this can be derived or informed by a series of formative scores.  When students track theri own progress there is a 36% gain.  instructional Feedback – derived from obtrusive and unobtrusive, can be scored but usually not, not recorded, but used to provide students and teachers with information that should change their behavior.  These can use these to inform summative scores.

Students can usually accurately tell you what score they should receive.  If they give you a score that you can’t justify you should ask them to demonstrate their knowledge.  Students need rubrics and multiple assessments in order to get the correct feedback for this. Tests aren’t necessarily accurate nor do they show you student learning over time. Teachers need to take scores and use their judgment of how the student has progressed over time to determine what the grade should be.

Eventually a district or school has to address the issue of report cards with rigor and courage.  Perhaps the sacred cow that is the report card needs to be changed. Changing your report cards to standards based instruments will be a bumpy road.  Scores with letter grades are arbritary.  There is no logic associated with this type of grading.  Students and their parents need to know where the student started at a certain point of time and the knowledge that they gained over the period of time that is being reported.  Then they can look and see the student’s rate of growth over that period and identify if there is a problem with the student’s rate of learning.  If a student comes into the time period with a certain level of knowledge in a subject area and leaves without gaining any additional knowledge (if it has been presented) there is a problem.

Performance based VS Time based educational systems: Performance based does not require students to figure out teacher rules from year to year. Requires student to take control of their learning.

Individual teachers can operate a standards based classroom.

  • Map out the curriculum (District should give this to you)
  • Teacher the required topice for first quarter and report scores
  • Allow students to work in small groups or individually a few times during the week during second quarter to increase their learning on quarter 1 topic while introducing Quarter 2 topics.
  • Quarter 3 introduce new topics while giving students the opportunity to go back to the previous 2 quarters information in small groups and individually.
  • Continue the same for fourth quarter.

This will change the paradigm of instruction.  Changes:

  • Students understand what the overall structure of the course will be and the info they will be required to demonstrate.
  • Student will be able to demonstrate increased understanding at any time in the school year.  They have the option of going back at any time. 
  • Topics are organized into measurement topics
  • students can demonstrate competency any time they think they can
  • Students have the responsibility for their progress.

Another look at Marzano

In preparation for the Pinnacle Gradebook rollout to the remaining elementary schools, I am taking some professional development.  I went to 2 sessions today led by Rebecca, a very passionate educational consultant for the company.  These sessions will lay the foundation I need to understand the sessions I will go to tomorrow.  The first session was a little slow going.  Rebecca walked us through a really detailed approach to curriculum writing.  She also talked about the characteristics of High Performing schools.  This is some research that I have heard about, but had not taken the time to actually read. This is it in a nutshell:

 Nine characteristics of high performing schools.

  • they focus on what they can do not what they can’t
  • they don’t leave anything about teaching and learning to chance
  • o They use rubrics and frequent assessments
  • o They inform parents about standards and student performance
  • o Teacher rubric for scoring & “student speak” version of rubric – allows students to understand what the goal is.
  • Set high goals
  • High performing secondary schools put all kids – not just some – in a demanding high school core curriculum

 My most important “take-away” was this afternoon – Rebecca’s discussion of Marzano’s work.  I was aware that Marzano has begun to do additional research (beyond the 9 strategies that we all know and love), but I haven’t really read a lot of his new stuff.  I definitely need to take a look at The New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives and Classroom Assessment and Grading that Work.  I here they may have copies for sale later on this week and I might just pick them up if they do.

Most of us a familiar with the 9 instructional strategies that Marzano found most helpful in his research.  I have encouraged teachers to use them whenever I can.  Today I learned something about them though…The power in using the strategies is not just in incorporating them in our lessons.  The power comes when you teach the actual strategy.  Once students learn the actual strategy – learn to identify similarities and differences for example – they can then transfer that skill to any content area and that is when you see the tremendous gains in achievement.  See, by teaching the strategy, we are helping the students to build schema and once that schema is laid we can help students see the same pattern in any content area.  “Remember when we talked about how plant and animal cells were alike and different?  We are going to do the same thing only today we are going to talk about how the First Americans were alike and different…”  Definitely not the way that I have taught with these strategies before, but I’ll do better and will coach my teachers along the same lines.


I have only been here one day, and I’ve already learned something that will inform and change my practice…There are some concepts that Rebecca talked about I will try to get clarification for while I’m here as well – grading on a learning trend, leveling test questions, and the way she talks about using rubrics…This is going to be some week…