Teaching Naked

What a title right?  I’ve seen about 3 references to this recently…I was slightly intrigued each time.  Today, trying to “get into” doing my homework for a PD class I am taking, I ran across Al Rowell aka locotech – a fellow learner in the class.  I decided that as a technology director who seemed interested in edtech training he might be a great source to add to my PLN. Looking at what Al’s been tweeting lately, I saw yet another mention of teaching naked and I had to bite.

 The Chronicle of Higher Ed published an article on teaching naked last month.  The article is about a Dean at a college who is removing computers from “smart” classrooms.  His premise – powerpointing students to death is not best practice.  Students come to class to interact with the teacher and each other and the crutch that PowerPoint has become is getting in the way.  Think about it – the most boring thing that you can have in a class is an instructor who reads to you from a PowerPoint presentation.  This Dean thinks a good professor will put the PowerPoint online along with a podcast to accompany it.  Students can take a short quiz online or in class that verifies that they have read the material.  Then they can take student knowledge to a higher level on Blooms taxonomy with the time they have in class through group work and discussion. 

 What if we did that for our elementary students?  We can’t make them read PowerPoint presentations and listen to podcasts at home, but we could at school. 

 What if we covered the recall and understanding portions of Bloom’s taxonomy using centers?  Students could watch video clips or listen to podcasts in centers.  We already have the equipment.  A teacher could use Discovery Education Streaming quizzes or lesson builders to deliver video and podcasts that would cover the basics.  RECALL could be tested, remediated, and the quiz could be scored automatically using a well constructed DE Streaming quiz.  Would you rather use a podcast?  You can create one yourself using a voice recorder or find a ready made one (there are tons out there).  Put together a quiz or worksheet for the student to fill in as s/he listens.  Moving up to UNDERSTANDING – ask your student to summarize.  Use a DE Streaming writing prompt, use a few questions on your blog: either can be easily done as a group in the school computer lab or on a COW or at the computer center in the back of your room. 

 When you are ready for whole group instruction you can break out the FUN!  Starting at APPLICATION now that the boring part is done – do that science experiment, practice as a whole group using your whiteboard/slate/wireless keyboard, work on an application assignment together at the document camera. Group discussion becomes ANALYSIS using your similarities and differences Marzano strategy – In what ways is this like or different from what we’ve studied before? Or make a connection – when I think about (insert your content here) I am reminded about…

 EVALUATING and CREATING can be a part of every class project.  Where your students can create a representation of your concept (create their own podcast, photostory, wiki page, animoto, voicethread, museum_box etc.) evaluating resources from DE Streaming or Freeplay music or some other source to decide what types of content is appropriate to add to their project.

Changing your style of teaching won’t be easy, but wouldn’t it be a great thing for our kids to operate at higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy?  We don’t have to throw out our technology, just use it in better, more powerful and more appropriate ways.

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.

  • http://www.k12.wa.us/Research/pubdocs/NineCharacteristicsOverviewKeyPoints.ppt
  • 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…

EdTech 2008

 Overall I thought the conference was great.  I found out about it through a colleague who I met while working on my ISTE NETS-T certification.  I actually got to meet Anita at the conference!! It was nice to actually meet someone who I had spent 18 months studying with online. 

I went to eight sessions while at the conference.  I took notes, but summary is a great strategy…

  1. Sara Armstrong talked about assessing 21st century skills.  It was very interesting that she brought together three models of teaching 21st century skills that overlapped.  While I have studied all three models: The partnership for 21st century skills, ISTE’s NETS, and the enGauge model; I had never actually looked at them side by side before. I found the overlap surprising since I had never considered them in the same light and yet not surprising as they are all models for teaching 21st century skills.  I was dumbfounded when I realized that I failed to make that connection before.  Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees…Sara also posited that the digital native/digital immigrant dichotomy might not be the best way to conceptualize our relationships with technology.
  2. My second session was a panel aimed at helping administrators think about use of technology in education.  Goochland schools talked about blogs and online learning.  They have an elementary principal that blogs about goings on in the school.  He has a strategy that he uses where he takes his IPOD and microphone out through the school and interviews students after different events.  He records student reactions and uploads them to the blog.  He uses these podcasts to drive traffic to the blog and find that while there parents, students and other stakeholders read and comment about various events, situations, and policies and it helps the school climate.  Henrico talked about blogging and while I have a handle on educational uses of the technology, I found they had some strategies that I had not run across before and/or had misunderstood.  They have teachers who simply moderate their blogs, assigning the major portion of posting to the students who all have various user status for the blog.  Some very interesting ideas were thrown out which were timely for me because I was preparing for my own inservice on blogging.  Powhatan discussed their strategy for raising the bar in terms of tech integration with their teachers.  Their teachers are required to turn in a technology portfolio every three years – kinda like recertifying for TSIP.  TRTs are assigned to the teachers with the lowest tech skills.  Teachers who want “additional stuff” have to spend time troubleshooting and helping other teachers integrate technology.  Ten percent of the teachers in Powhatan are tech leads.
  3. I was not impressed with Larry Anderson’s presentation, and quite frankly didn’t understand what point he was trying to make.  He talked around a lot of the issues in the air but I don’t think he ever really made a point.
  4. Karen Richardson talked about the need to change how we perceive assessment.  She challenged participants to not only consider the purpose of assessment but to look at it in the context of the skills that Sara Armstrong discussed in the morning.  She asked us to rate our schools in terms of what they are measuring well (after she removed straight content area knowledge out of the focal point).  It was a great exercise.  Of course I new that my schools weren’t doing a whole lot of anything that wasn’t content area related.  So of course I need to ask the question ‘what are we preparing kids for at my schools”?  Obviously we are not preparing them to be successful in the 21st century…
  5. I sat through Spotsylvania’s presentation on data mining. I totally misunderstood the thrust of their presentation from the conference program.  I was glad that I was sitting at a table with my laptop…I got caught up on my school email.  I do have to say that I liked their explanation on how to use data: formative assessment informs instruction and is data that can make a difference in this year’s students while summative data is data that shows instructional trends.  I couldn’t help thinking that their take on the SOL was so much healthier than what I am usually exposed to.   Wondered if we are even able to establish and look at trends in data here in Portsmouth given the rate of teacher turnover, constant changes in placement and instructional strategies and materials.  Since they all effect our data, how good can our data be?
  6. The next session I went to was about professional learning communities.  A school in Henrico had used PLC models for teacher professional development about technology.  I would LOVE to facilitate something similar in one of my schools. It’s always better when teachers drive their professional development – they get more out of it.
  7. After lunch I got caught up with Anita discussing the keynote and comparing war stories.  I caught the tail end of a presentation on adult learners.  At least I know where to get the notes.
  8. The last session I went to was done by a professor at VCU who talked about using Web 2.0 communications technology to help beginning teachers establish networks.  I found her thoughts on digital natives and immigrants to be interesting.  She said the primary difference was that digital natives lead connected lives whiel digital immigrants tend to stand alone.

Getting all of that down on paper and synthesized feels good – like a weight has been lifted.  Wait ’till I tell you about David Warlick’s keynote!!

Integrating Technology from Day 1

The countdown has begun!  14 days ‘till pre-service week.  I know you might not want to think about school yet, however now might be the perfect time to.  So many times folks come to my office and want to try something using technology, but because they didn’t have enough time to prepare, they were unable to.  If you want to use technology as a regular part of your instruction, there are 5 things you can do between now and September 4th that will make the whole process easier for you:

  • Create a management plan – usually we think of management plans for just room arrangement, rules, procedures, and behavior management.  Student use of the computer should fall into this category as well.  Think about how you want the students to use the computers during their transitional times.  Will students be assigned to use a computer at a certain time of day?  Remember that posting login in codes poses a serious network security issue and is not allowed as per the school division’s Acceptable Use Policy.  You’ll need to be prepared to teach students to log in on the computer independently.  Also determine how and where you would like students to save their work.  Do you have a folder for your class on the student shared drive?  Do you want to have a certain naming convention for your student’s documents?
  • Take a look at the school Portaportal.  I have set up accounts for both Brighton Elementary and Victory Elementary at www.portaportal.com.  Students can access bookmarked websites by logging in as a guest using the school login code (BrightonES or VictoryES).  The bookmarked sights have educational games that are aligned with the VA SOLs.  
  • Think of easy ways to integrate technology everyday.  If you establish a routine that includes technology, your students will benefit from these additional learning experiences that will extend your lessons. For a list of quick and easy ideas take a look at http://www.education-world.com/a_tech/tech/tech146.shtml  
  • Identify Podcasts that might be helpful to use in instruction.  Podcasts are easy ways to include technology.  Students can listen to information that supports your SOLs, but is  not presented by you.  Not only does this provide them with varied learning experiences, but provides differentiated instruction for your auditory learners.
  • Email your TRT.  TRTs are available to help you with books and other resources that have ready-made lessons and templates that integrate technology into the curriculum.  TRTs are available to help you with lesson planning as well, if you need help figuring out how to incorporate these strategies into your instruction.