Formative Assessments in PD

Formative assessments are an ongoing way to determine student knowledge and mastery of skills and standards.  A quality formative can allow a teacher to gather a large amount of information in a short amount of time.  The data collected allows the educator to hone in on gaps in student knowledge at both the class and individual levels.

As a trainer, it is important for me to ensure that my teachers are knowledgeable about a wide range of technology tools and practices.  However, this is often difficult to determine at the end of a 40 – 60 minute session.  For this reason, I often introduce topics to my staff in a face to face setting and then assign a formative to be completed within a given time frame.  This allows the staff to review the covered material at their own time and pace, and affords an opportunity for them to show what they know.  I use the results of these formatives to determine the need for future deep dives or flexible small group sessions in order to provide further support on the given topic.

Below is a sample of a formative assessment involving the use of OneNote.  In this example, participants viewed a video and responded in the OneNote Staff Notebook which was the focus of our face to face session.  By reviewing entries made in the staff notebook, I had an immediate sense of those who had mastered using OneNote Staff Notebooks and those who needed more assistance.  Additionally, there was a section in the notebook for questions and requests to get these notebooks in place in the classrooms.

http://cmsdigitallearningpd.weebly.com/onenote.html

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Using Technology Challenges to Encourage Tech Integration

As a technology coach, I’m always looking for a way to share the latest tech tools and fun integration ideas with my staff while at the same time, providing the required “how to” sessions on taking attendance, printing bubble sheets, entering electronic referrals…the tasks that are a necessary part of our day to day life. Time was (and is) never on my side when it comes to offering fun, engaging ways to get our students excited about learning.   After lots of research on blogs, Twitter, and other online resources, I stumbled upon The APPmazing Race and had a quintessential Aha! moment.  The collection of activities provided teachers and other participants to discover a wide range of technology tools that appeal to all sorts of learning styles in a very short amount of time. I immediately reached out via Twitter to Mr. Carl Hooker (@mrhooker), founder of iPadpalooza and the brains behind The Amazing App Race to ask if it would be ok to attempt such a task with my teachers.  He granted me his blessings and off I went.

With the week of preplanning quickly approaching, I decided to stretch the virtual race out over the school year and came up with a monthly Tech Challenge.  Each month, I select either a district software program, a fun new tech tool, or online resource and issue a challenge to our teachers to complete it.  At the end of the month, the names of those completing the challenge are displayed on our Faculty Site and those teachers become eligible to be nominated as our school’s Outstanding Technology Teacher of the Year.  These teachers are honored with a banquet and showered with prizes by our school district and corporate sponsors.  Examples of challenges include:

  • Adding a profile picture to their Office 365 account
  • Completing the orientation for our district’s online PD platform
  • Earning badges through pariticipation in online webinars sponsored by programs like SimpleK12
  • Creating a Twitter account and collaborating with other educators worldwide.

Each challenge has a verification process attached to it so that I can tell who has completed them.  These are totally voluntary, but the teachers have really begun to buy into the idea.  I’m really excited about the excitement that this will generate, and hope it helps teachers see tech integration as a way to engage students instead of “one more thing” they have to do.  Below is an example of a recent challenge.

Have you found ways to spice up your PD sessions?  I’d love to hear about them.

Happy Teching!

Experimenting with Flipped PD

The PD process has been a thorn in my side for many years. I am always thinking about ways to make the learning experience more interactive and meaningful for my teachers. I’ve read books and participated in webinars on how to energize PD. I’m currently going through a coaching program to gain even more insight on working with teachers. I’ve scoured the internet over the past few years on ways to take the “boring” out of PD. And like so many of the teachers I work with, I’ve become much smarter about what works and what doesn’t in PD – but my “students” remain disengaged and frustrated.

It’s not that I don’t want to change. But the process of training is a challenge, especially in a school building. I hear what others are saying about best practices and ways to improve, but my reality is a lot different. My sessions often get “bumped” for more pressing needs like state testing, schoolwide intitiatives, mixups with the PD calendar for the month…and while I recognize that things happen, it creates an atmosphere of only training on “need to know” info like posting grades, gathering test data, and the latest district software instead of doing and sharing the fun things I want to do like technology coaching, collaborating on projects, and co-teaching classes.

After lots of experimentation and a few epic fails, I think I’ve stumbled upon a possible win for next year. I plan to “flip” our technology staff development by providing our staff with an online platformtrampoline-trick-jumping-boy-salto-bounce-flip

I have built a Digital Learning PD website using Weebly. (I’ll talk more about why I chose that in a later post). It’s still a work in progress, but I think it will allow for the flexibility we need to get the “meat” of our topics ahead of time so that we can use PD time for “dessert”.

After creating the frame for my site, I began with our first lesson called OneNote 101. I created a simple lesson online – an intro, an online tutorial, and 3 tasks – and required the teachers to respond in our OneNote Staff Notebook (read more about that in this post). Here’s what I’ve learned so far –

  • Provide clear instructions. The first time I sent out the info in a generalized email, I was so excited to see their progress. I checked that staff notebook every hour, eager to see the waves of genius and inspiration that my PD had inspired. Day One – nothing. Day Two – nothing. I realized later that since the OneNote link was first, most teachers stopped reading there and once they opened it, were confused about what to do next. My instructions made perfect sense to me, but they were written from the instructor’s point of view – not the participants.
  • Teachers need a “why”. The most common feedback I received went something like this: “I know a little about OneNote. I’ve always thought of it as something you use to plan vacations, or do stuff at home. I’m trying to understand how this fits with my classes.” To help with this, I added a Why? Section to each tutorial along with estimated times and the general overview. I’m hoping that this will help with the big picture so that they can move forward with actually completing the assignment.
  • Spell out the expectations.   If there’s no reason to do it, it won’t get done. This is true for kids, and as I found out, for teachers as well. I had to explain they wouldn’t get credit for attending that week’s PD session until they finished the task. I’m hoping this will encourage them to get it done.

I’m sure I’ll have more lessons as we complete this experiment. Have you tried “flipping” your professional development? How’s it working for ya?

OneNote Staff Notebook – Lessons Learned, Part 1

In this post, I shared my attempt at using the OneNote Staff Notebook for technology professional development.  The experience was an eye opener for me, mostly because there were a few logistical issues that I hadn’t thought about.  As I reviewed last week’s experiences, I made notes on a few ways to tweak the process going forward.  Here’s what I found – use what you can and toss the rest!

    • Start with a face to face session.  Instead of simply sending out an email that pointed teachers to the task in their OneNote Staff Notebook,  I should have had a whole group session showing teachers what to do, then allow those who are independent learners to complete the tasks at their own pace.  Teachers didn’t know how to get to their notebooks any other way except from my email and once they deleted it, they were lost.  So funny how many teachers responded with “What’s due?!”  when I sent out deadline reminder.
    • Modify tabs before you share.  When you open the notebook, the sections you see are Welcome, the Collaboration Space, and Content Library.  Each of those have generic info created by Microsoft, and it’s not obvious where teachers should look for their own content.  I streamlined the info so it was a little less confusing.
    • Add explanation of tabs and sections.  I went in and modified tab names and created a page in Welcome section that explained each item they saw across the top, as well as the tabs in their own notebooks.  (See my example below) I also put tip on how to see sections that were not showing up.

onenote sample

    • Create a few generic comments and modify as needed.  It was easy to personalize when only handful had completed session, but became harder to do when 50 – 60 had completed assignments!  I was able to copy and paste my generic comment and make changes, which saved me a tone of time.  I also found these really cute QR Codes by Heather Kaiser on Teachers Pay Teachers to use.
    • History feature is even more awesome than I thought!  I panicked for a second when I started thinking about how to monitor the completion of multi-level tasks by the 50+ teachers whom I had made users of the notebook.  Thank goodness for History!  Not only does it allow me to decide the timeframe in which I need to review changes, but it places the name of all users who have made modifications in bold text.  It even bolds the section of their individual notebook they worked on!Well, there you have it.  I’m sure there are many other things I haven’t even come across yet, but I’ll gladly share as I go.  What lessons have you learned using OneNote Staff Notebooks?Happy Tech-ing!

OneNote Staff Notebook

staff dev word cloud Recently, I created my first OneNote Staff Notebook. I’ve been a personaluser of OneNote for years, but this tool allows the facilitator to create a master notebook with pre-determined sections for users as a powerful collaboration tool. Once I learned about the Staff Notebook, I decided to use it as a tool to deliver our technology professional development for the upcoming school year. After creating the notebook, I was able to add each staff member and a co-owner of the notebook (my lovely media specialist!) and share via a link in OneDrive.  You can practice using OneNote Staff Notebooks with this interactive guide.

I selected a few teachers to pilot the notebook first so that we could get a sense of the interaction on both the facilitator’s side and the user side. I was impressed, to say the least. My initial concern was how to know which teachers had actually completed the task.   I found that I was able to go in and use the History feature to see the edits to any pages within the notebook. This is especially handy when you have created and are managing notebooks for over 50 people. Viewing the History allowed me to go directly to the pages that had been edited within recent days. I was also able to view edits by author, so I would know exactly who had completed their task and who had not. Brilliant!

Providing feedback was a breeze. I clicked on the page, provided audio feedback, and able to redirect them to other portions of the task that had not yet been completed. Now that the pilot group has tried it out, I will be sharing it with the entire staff next week to complete our PD session on, fittingly, OneNote!

Excited to see how this turns out. Do you use OneNote with your staff? What has been your experience?

Data Driven Dialogue

no judgementMath was never my thing. In fact, I had a real phobia of all things math all during high school. Eventually numbers and I developed a sort of mutual indifference toward each other – they didn’t bother me, and I didn’t bother them.
Fast forward many, many years later. What started out as a career in education has now evolved into the role of both technology and data specialist. (Data specialist? Really? God definitely has a since of humor! ) So I’ve had to work really hard to overcome my fear of numbers in order to meet the monthly deadlines that arrive with the administering of various classroom, district, and state assessments.

I recently did a session with teachers in my building on analyzing data from our most recent benchmark tests. I shared my perception of data – a huge monster made of tidbits of information, with no clear beginning or ending in sight. One lifeline that I have found particularly helpful is the Data Driven Dialogue protocol, developed by Nancy Love and the Teacher Development Group with the Harmony Education Center. This is a step by step, practical guideline to analyzing data and taking the scariness away by approaching it in 3 phases. A copy of the protocol can be found here.

Phase 1 – Predictions
In this phase, dialogue takes place before you even look at the data. During this time, teachers were asked to activate prior knowledge, look at their assumptions, and make predictions in order to create readiness to examine and discuss the data. The teachers reflected quietly on thought starters such as “I assume…”, “I predict…” “I wonder…”, then share their thoughts with the group. It’s was a great way to look at the overall mindset and attitudes towards both the test and the students.

Phase 2 – Observations
Next, teachers silently reviewed their data and notated their observations about the data – trends, surprises, etc. It’s important that teachers not make any assumptions during this phase, although that is easier said than done. It was funny to see the wheels turning in the heads of our teachers as we looked over the data! We again shared our notes and resisted the urge to draw conclusions just yet.

Phase 3 – Inferences
This was the easiest portion of the Data Driven Dialogue, I believe in part because it’s typically our first reaction when we see data. We honored the rule of No Judgement during this session, and teachers were able to gain some valuable insights both from their own observations and those of their colleagues. By ensuring that we were in a “safe” place to share, teachers were able to see more clearly and objectively some of the root causes of the data, as well as instances where they needed to know more. We were even able to evaluate some of our teaching practices, and come up with action plans for the next benchmark period.

Our plan is to use this protocol during our bi-weekly grade level meetings and after school-wide benchmark tests for the remainder of the year. My expectation is that we will begin to have rich, meaningful conversations that will evolve into strategic plans to drive student success.

Happy Teaching!

One of Those Days…

Image     Today I did (another)  one of those things that makes me question my abilities as a Tech Specialist.  Typically, it’s small stuff, like mentioning an item in an email and then forgetting to attach the item, or drawing a total blank when asked how to fix a problem that occurs on a daily basis and that I’ve fixed at least a hundred times.

But today’s blunder took the cake.  While making modifications to a list I created for teachers on our portal using Sharepoint 2010 – my favorite program (read I HATE this program!!!),  – I forgot that the Alert feature was enabled.  So, as I worked with a colleague to modify the existing list, I inadvertently sent out emails to all those receiving the alerts for every single item on the list – a whopping 170+ emails!  I probably wouldn’t have even noticed this until tomorrow since I wasn’t really checking emails today, except when I picked up my iPhone, I had 170 new messages!  Imagine my chagrin when, after muttering not so nice words about the culprit of these emails, I realized it was me!  I hastily sent out an apology email to all my coworkers – again, nice work Tech Specialist!  Many of them bounced back because the recipient’s mailboxes were full.

Oops!

Happy Teaching!