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Smarter Balanced Practice Tests

30 Apr

Click Here: Smarter Balanced Practice Tests

I just received this email from the ETNews Listserv from the Office of Educational Technology at the NH Department of Education.  It is a SBAC in New Hampshire update written by Stan Freeda.  I encourage everyone to experience this assessment.  It will provide a clearer understanding of what our children will experience in a year when they take this assessment for the first time.

Click Here: Smarter Balanced Practice Tests

SMARTER BALANCED PRACTICE TESTS HAVE NEW FEATURES

The Smarter Balanced Practice Tests were released in the spring of 2013 to help students and teachers understand the format of the Smarter Balanced test as well as the tools and resources that are available to make the test more accessible. The refreshed Practice Test scheduled for release in May 2014 includes new questions and performance tasks. Enhancements also include additional embedded universal tools, designated supports and accommodations. The practice tests in English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics for grades 3 through 8 and 11 each include approximately 30 questions as well as a new performance task in ELA.

The updated Practice Tests more closely mirror the operational assessment and includes the following features:

NEW MATHEMATICS FEATURES

  • Questions that include the range of item types expected to appear on the operational assessment, including a new question type that allows students to enter information directly into the cells of a table
  • Questions that span a range of difficulty for the grade level from “very easy” to “very difficult” and performance tasks that utilize more open-ended response types to allow students to explain their thinking on complex, real world problems
  • Improvements to question wording, format and directions based on input from experts in content and accessibility and accommodations experts

NEW ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS FEATURES

  • New or revised reading and listening passages
  • Improvements to question wording, format and directions based on input from experts in content and accessibility and accommodations experts
  • Questions that include the range of item types expected to appear on the operational assessment, including matching tables and short-text questions
  • Revised scoring rubrics for teacher use

USABILITY, ACCESSIBILITY AND ACCOMMODATION FEATURES

  • For the math assessment in every grade, glossaries are available in 10 languages and several dialects
  • Full stacked Spanish translation available for the math assessment in every grade

Accessing the Practice and Training Tests

The Practice and Training Tests are not compatible with all operating system versions and web browsers.  See Operating System and Browsers Compatible with the Practice and Training Tests for detailed information on compatible operating systems and browsers.

Take the Practice Test

 

Important Limitations: The Practice and Training Tests provide a preview of the Smarter Balanced assessments, but they do not encompass the full range of content that students will encounter on the spring 2014 Field Test or on the operational assessments, and should not be used to guide instructional decisions. In addition, students and teachers will not receive reports or scores from the Practice or Training Tests. Although the operational assessment system will be computer adaptive, the Practice and Training Tests follow a fixed-form model.

What CCSS means for Teachers

4 Mar

20130304-215849.jpg

Read this excellent post below. It is a brief overview of one educator’s thoughts and advice to teachers to tackle the Common Core. There is a lot of meat in this relatively short article.

Enjoy!

What CCSS means for Teachers – By Caitlin Dooley
January 26, 2013
This is the third in a series of blogs about the Common Core Standards. This post contains advice for teachers.

What CCSS Means for Teachers

I’m sure teachers are already sick of hearing about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). By now, you’ve been told that you will switch over to these new Standards if you work in any of the 45 states that have already adopted them (see a map here of the states that have/have not adopted http://www.corestandards.org/in-the-states ). So what’s a teacher to do?

1. Give Yourself Time

These Standards took more than a decade to be developed. Putting them fully into practice will take a while too. Give yourself time to learn. Find out more about the Standards, their pros and their cons (I’ve written about this in my previous blog entries.) Take time to reflect as you adjust your teaching.

2. Learn with/from Others

Seek a group of like-minded, dedicated, inquisitive teachers to learn with. Take small bits of the Standards and consider them together. Which elements do you think will be most challenging? Work together through these hard parts, share resources, identify helpful technologies, and create new units and lessons. Carve out regular time to talk—whether in the workroom at school or a nearby restaurant, really anywhere you think you’ll do it regularly.

3. Think Through the Hard Parts

I have no crystal ball, but in looking at the standards, I foresee that there will be some parts that will be a struggle for some teachers:

Teaching “complex” texts.

Text complexity is all the rage in CCSS. It’s how the developers came up with that crazy-long list of “exemplar texts” that sits at the end of the K-12 English Language Arts (ELA) Standards. Text complexity is not simply a quantitative readability score (like the Lexile scores that the CCSS use). Text complexity involves qualitative information like text genre, format and structure, vocabulary, levels of meaning (literal, figurative, etc.), and knowledge demands. While the CCSS lists text exemplars in order of increasing text complexity, your job will be to thoughtfully look beyond their list to match texts and children. While you want to push students to challenge themselves to read more complex texts, your job will be to scaffold their learning as they approach each new text. If you find that one child struggles with new vocabulary or another child struggles with a new text format, then you will know which texts to offer next as you teach about these text features.

Increasing the focus on informational texts.

As grade level increases, the CCSSs focus on informational texts increases. And the fact is, P-12 educators have a history of teaching more about narrative texts, especially in the early grades. So this might be a shift.

You will want to be sure to offer informational texts in your classroom. You will want to teach children how to approach these texts as information gatherers, synthesizers, and inquirers. You can ask your students to take these approaches by asking them to summarize, identify key points, synthesize across texts, and ask new questions. If you’re wondering how to do this, look into books offered by the International Reading Association, the National Council of Teachers of Educators—they’ll have some great ideas.

Teaching vocabulary.

This does not mean “look it up in the dictionary”! This means that we teachers need to teach about new words through explicit instruction. Vocabulary shouldn’t focus on high frequency words that the kids already know. The words that need to be taught are the kinds that represent abstract ideas that go across content areas (words like “justice” or “apprentice”). You’ll get the most bang for your buck when you teach these kinds of words. Also teach words that are specialized and focus on one content area (like science words), but these should only be taught in conjunction with science and social studies class (NOTE: This falls apart when you’re working with English learners because they also need that first level—the frequent words that are common to everyday language).

Getting kids to explain their thinking and nurture analytical thinking.

Discuss, discuss, discuss learning. Start each lesson by asking kids what they know and how they know. End each lesson by asking kids what they’ve learned and how they learned. Ask them routinely to consider their process for thinking and learning. Use questions like, “How do you know that?” “What makes you think that?” “Where did you get information that helped your learning?” “What questions did you have that lead you to learn more?” “What questions do you still have?” “What are you wondering?” Follow these discussions up with opportunities for kids to write about their thinking, draw about it, and create “audit trails” that trace their learning journeys. (I’ll write a blog entry about audit trails soon!)

Supporting research and writing reports.

The CCSS emphasize research and inquiry. In many classrooms, research papers are sent home as projects, but they shouldn’t be. That leaves the hard work up to the student and tilts the advantage to only those students with parents with the time and background to scaffold the process. This is a role for teachers! As you work to incorporate opportunities for inquiry into your units of study, consider finding ways to engage students in inquiry. They can create their own textbook chapters, make videos, and other products that demonstrate their learning. Your job here is to scaffold the inquiry process. Help them to hone their questions, seek information from multiple sources, synthesize that information, and create a product. Think about how you might claim this role to ensure that all students in your class have the opportunity for scaffolded help throughout the inquiry process.

Integrating meaningful technologies.

While the CCSS don’t particularly shout “TECH,” the fact is that we need to use technology to teach the CCSS well. The internet, apps, and multimodal composition tools (video, audio, print, photo, etc.) are all helpful for children as they achieve new levels of thinking and understanding. They’re not going away. And kids will have to be able to master these tools (and some yet to be invented) if they are to truly be “college and career ready.”

Assessing.

Your role as “assessor” has just gotten harder. Teachers can master this role by closely attending to kids talk, writing, and thinking. But they will also need to pay close attention to the kinds of assessments that are being developed for the CCSS. New tests with constructed response items will require students not only to get the right answer, but also to tell why it’s right. It’s likely that more and more tests and test-like tools will become available in the next 2-5 years. Your job will be to analyze that data to best match instruction to each learner’s needs.

4. Know the Limits of the CCSS

With all this hoopla about these new Standards, it’s easy to be misled. The CCSS threaten to over-promise, but underdeliver on academic success. No nation has ever improved learning and erased achievement “gaps” by creating national standards. The CCSS are not a panacea. They’re a framework. Your job will be to thoughtfully adapt these Standards to the needs of your students while supporting them to reach new levels of understanding.
Caitlin Dooley/ Comment 1 Like

Social Thinking and Common Core Standards

19 Feb

Social Thinking and Common Core Standards

Social Thinking and Common Core Standards

My last few posts have focused on communication and the explicit instruction necessary in teaching young children how to communicate and collaborate.  Click the link above to read how Michelle Garcia Winner (one of the developers of Social Thinking) has linked the speaking and listening anchor standards from the Common Core with social learning.  If you are unfamiliar with Social Thinking, peruse her site to learn more.

 

Part 8 – 15 Ways to Become a Smarter Teacher

5 Dec

How often do we use the phrase, “Work smarter, not harder?” As we are in the midst of an educational revolution, it is clear that this phrase encapsulates our careers. While we straddle the blurred line between past, present and future pedagogy and methodology, we as educators must do a little bit of everything. It is hard work!

In Ian Jukes‘s most recent post, he highlights 16 strategies teachers can use to guide themselves towards workplace efficiency. I will post one strategy each day for the next 16 days.

Enjoy!

Click Here for the Ian Jukes article – Part 8

Part 6 – 15 Ways to Become a Smarter Teacher

3 Dec

How often do we use the phrase, “Work smarter, not harder?” As we are in the midst of an educational revolution, it is clear that this phrase encapsulates our careers. While we straddle the blurred line between past, present and future pedagogy and methodology, we as educators must do a little bit of everything. It is hard work!

In Ian Jukes‘s most recent post, he highlights 16 strategies teachers can use to guide themselves towards workplace efficiency. I will post one strategy each day for the next 16 days.

Enjoy!

Click Here for the Ian Jukes article – Part 6

Part 5 – 15 Ways to Become a Smarter Teacher

1 Dec

How often do we use the phrase, “Work smarter, not harder?” As we are in the midst of an educational revolution, it is clear that this phrase encapsulates our careers. While we straddle the blurred line between past, present and future pedagogy and methodology, we as educators must do a little bit of everything. It is hard work!

In Ian Jukes‘s most recent post, he highlights 16 strategies teachers can use to guide themselves towards workplace efficiency. I will post one strategy each day for the next 16 days.

Enjoy!

Click Here for the Ian Jukes article – Part 5

 

 

Competency Based Report Cards – Rochester, NH Leading the Way

11 Jun

New Hampshire Schools Leading the Way in Shift to “Competency” | New Hampshire Public Radio.

New Hampshire Schools Leading the Way in Shift to

Just this morning, NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown highlighted Spaulding High School, located in Rochester, NH, and its shift to competency Based grading. The article does a great job explaining the concept for those unfamiliar with it.  Bravo to Rochester and its hard work.  Next year will be their year for really heavy lifting as the rest of their school system makes the shift as the high school did this year.

March Faculty Meeting

8 Mar

Today’s faculty meeting topic is the result of an amalgamation of events.  As you know, Ralene and I have conducted walkthroughs throughout the year.  We have been working on our teacher evaluation process (observations and summatives), Amelia Van-Name Larson has visited and provided feedback, Checker, Becky and Marge have conducted walkthroughs as well.

We have gathered data and observations and have reached a crossroad.  We know what we need to do.

We have a series of videos to view today that helps explain, exceedingly well, where our focus as a staff needs to be.

Universal Design for Learning

http://www.cast.org

UDL at a Glance

UDL: Principles and Practices

UDL: Guidelines

UDL: Guidelines in Practice 5th Grade

UDL: Guidelines in Practice 1st Grade

Assignment

(Augmented 21st Century Learning Requirement)

Between now and the end of the school year, you will video an entire lesson of you instructing your class of students.    You will then watch and critique your lesson with a partner.  The videos above (UDL: Guidelines in Practice 1st and 5th Grades) should be a model of the discussion that should occur between you and your partner.  You will use the Guidelines Checklist 2.0 document to help guide your discussion.

A representative committee of teachers will meet to create reflection questions to answer for submission to Drew and Ralene.  You will submit your reflection along with your video to a secure website.  Drew will email you the directions for security.

Sample Lesson Plans from Cast:

http://lessonbuilder.cast.org/explore.php?op=static&pid=butterflies_1

http://lessonbuilder.cast.org/explore.php?op=static&pid=butterflies_2

Book Distribution

Better Learning Through Structured Teaching by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey

Corresponds directly with UDL and our intentions with the Video Reflection assignment.  Please read the first two chapters prior to our next faculty meeting.


Guidelines Checklist 2.0

Click above for the guidelines checklist.  We will use these criterion to evaluate your recorded lesson.

The Future of EdTech: Signs from Investments

9 Dec

There are exciting developments in educational technology.  The combination of social media, the Common Core State Standards (and the national consistency they provide), and computerized assessments have made the stars align for entrepreneurs.  The social media technology allows for personalization, sharing and communication.  The Common Core allows for a huge market for businesses, and the computerized assessments provide timely feedback for students and teachers.

Read below for more details.  Questions to consider:

1. How would any of these resources look at UH?

2. How do these resources compare to NWEA/MAP?

3. How does this compare to the technology and philosophy used at The School of One?

http://www.fastcoexist.com/1678951/what-three-big-edtech-investments-say-about-the-future-of-education

 

What Three Big EdTech Investments Say About The Future Of Education

That the media has recently run a spate of grumpy articles about the role of technology in education does not surprise veteran entrepreneur Jessie Woolley-Wilson, chief executive of Dreambox Learning. “Frankly, there’s been a very long history of investment in edtech that has fallen short of expectations,” she says.

So true—and yet, so true of so many other technologies, too. Remember Apple’s original Newton? The trio of failed e-books from around 2000?

“Tools that make it easier, faster, more effective—more personalized for kids—are what we’re most excited about.”

This past week saw venture and private investors grabbing a pen to write checks to support three significant edtech trends: the move toward supporting Common Core standards, the use of “adaptive” learning technologies, and an increase in social media in education.

The underlying theme, says Gloria Lee, chief operating officer of NewSchools Venture Fund, is about making education truly personalized for learners. “Tech tools that make it easier, faster, more effective—more personalized for kids—these are exactly the kinds of things that we’re most excited about.”

Expect to see these trends become even bigger in 2012:
Common Core

 

MasteryConnect, a Salt Lake City startup, is on the front of the wave of educators adopting the Common Core curriculum. To date, 46 U.S. states have okayed this math and English language arts curriculum. The Common Core has a lot of fans: When every state writes its own curriculum, the only organizations that can afford to create, say, textbooks or products for schools, are very large companies that have sales forces big enough to visit the more than 14,000 districts in the country. Many states are making adaptations of the Common Core—but having at least a common base should mean that students—from Maine to California—can expect to learn the same fundamentals.

That said, switching curriculum is never easy. “We get really worried about the speed with which Common Core standards are being adopted,” said Anne LaTarte, executive director, assessment portfolio, New York City Department of Education, at a recent conference—largely because getting the proper alignment of curriculum and assessments is hard.

MasteryConnect has built a tool that should help educators find and share assessments linked to the Common Core standards. “This serves a huge need for teachers,” says Lee, who is joining the MasteryConnect board.

Investment: $1.1 million

Investors: NewSchools Venture Fund, Learn Capital, Imagine K12.
Adaptive Learning

 

Dreambox Learning, located about halfway between Microsoft and Amazon in Bellevue, Washington, is at the forefront of creating “adaptive” learning programs for teaching math. Dreambox currently offers a program aimed at early math learners, grades K through 3.

Adaptive has become one of the great industry buzzwords in education: Broadly speaking, an “adaptive” program changes a bit in response to what a user does. Some programs claim to be “adaptive” when they offer easier problems to a student who has flunked a quiz.

By contrast, the Dreambox program captures every mouse click a student makes and can adjust for 60 different parameters of student behavior: how quickly he or she answers questions, how many “hints” they use to get an answer, and so on. The program amasses data based on thousands of students’ answers and then identifies hot-spot problem areas. As a result, Dreambox shifts the pacing and material presented within a lesson as the student is working on it, as well as adapts the sequence of subsequent lessons.

“Intelligent adaptive learning means that there are a million individualized pathways.”

“Intelligent adaptive learning means that there are a million individualized pathways” along which a student might progress, says Woolley-Wilson. “We have a class of technology that’s going beyond just measuring what a student knows to assessing the strategies they are using to solve problems,” she says. Much like getting “recommendations” from Netflix or Amazon, Dreambox effective “recommends” a learning strategy that should help the student more easily master the material.

In August 2011, SRI International published an independent study that showed students’ test scores improved by 5.5% after using DreamBox for 16 weeks.

Investment: $11 million

Investors: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings (through the Charter School Growth Fund), a private investment from venture capitalist John Doerr, GSV Capital Corp., and current investor, Deborah Quazzo.
Social Networking

 

Although Edmodo—based in San Mateo, California—had its roots in the Illinois heartland, it is fast becoming a sort of “LinkedIn” for teachers and students. Edmodo is a fast-growing social networking tool that enables teachers to communicate with each other and with their students in a safe environment. Some 4.5 million teachers and students now have Edmodo accounts, up from 500,000 in September 2010. Edmodo gives teachers a way to share materials, too. Not so surprising, then, that the new investors should include people with ample experience in building social networks: Reid Hoffman, founder and chairman of LinkedIn and a managing partner at Greylock Partners, and Matt Cohler, formerly vice president of product management at Facebook and now a general partner with Benchmark Capital. Both Hoffman and Cohler are also joining the Edmodo board.

“Just as LinkedIn is the professional graph for workand Facebook is the social graph for your friends, Edmodo is the educational graph for learning,” Hoffman said.

Investment: $15 million series B.

Investors: Greylock Partners and Benchmark Capital.

Reading Interventions and Resources

21 Nov

Click here to visit Shari Galgano’s Website for DIBELS Interventions Electrified!

Above is a link to an assortment of DIBELS Interventions catalogued by Shari Galgano Technology Resource Teacher of the Caesar Rodney School District.  The site is organized in categories:

  • Letter Recognition
  • Rhyme
  • Letter Sounds
  • Putting Words Together
  • Templates

There are a plethora of resources in each category.  The templates section includes documents (worksheet-like) intended for students to complete on a computer.  Some are for reading and some for mathematics at varying grade levels.

I envision this being used in the classroom at stations.  Students would work on a computer based on his/her need, i.e. rhyming, sound segmentation, etc… during workshop time.

This site is worth investigation.

Enjoy!

 

via Reading Interventions.