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Peoples ePath Assess: Caryn Rosen Science Dept Head

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P Reviewer: Caryn Rosen

Position: Science Department Head/Lead 8th grade Teacher

District/School: Garland ISD, TX/ Classical Center @ Brandenburg Middle School

Products:  ePath Assess Peoples Education



Goals:

I had 2 goals in mind when initially selecting ePath Assess:

1) I wanted review material that was well written, concise, and covered the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills)

2) I needed a test bank that allowed me to quickly select questions by TEKS and that I could trust to actually test the TEKS it claimed to cover.

Reviewer’s Note: A third goal that ePath Assess helped achieve was tracking student progress with their improved reporting capabilities.

Response: 

Everyone has been very impressed with the amount of information we have been able to gather from the ePath Assess program.  Administrators are pleased with the efficiency we have had due to knowing exactly what needs to be re-taught. My fellows Science Teachers have loved the ease of receiving grades for the quizzes. Other teachers in my building frankly are rather envious of the amount of data we have received from the program.  Students definitely enjoy having immediate feedback on their quiz performance; they are showing more confidence in their work and like showing off when they receive a good grade.

Learning Curve:

The Test-Maker portion of the program has always been very easy to use, as has the lesson printing. It took only a few tries to figure out which reports would be the best to use and how to print them for maximum effectiveness. The biggest hurdle was making certain we had computer access for the students to take each quiz so that data could be entered in a timely manner. We initially solved that problem by making computer stations with our laptop computers and having 2 teachers share one cart of 30 computers. Additionally, the customer care center really goes above and beyond to help make certain I have everything I want and need.

How We Use It:

Initially we had 2 teachers share a cart of 30 laptop computers. We made stations in each classroom, where students could go and enter their answers after taking the quiz on paper. Once we realized that the students were truly interested in looking at the TEKS breakdown of their score, we arranged for full class computer access for each quiz. This allowed each student to spend some time looking over their results, including checking out their wrong answers. It has also allowed each student the time to work in on-line tutorial programs to focus on the specific TEKS where they need help, according to the report from each quiz.

What’s Ahead?:

At this point, we are looking into using Peoples Education Practice Path, which is web-based student-driven skill building tool, as our tutorial for next year. I am hopeful that it will be as easy for the students to use, as it will be a format they are used to, since Practice Path and ePath Assess fall under the same umbrella. At first glance it also looks to be teacher-friendly in that we will have more control over how many questions a student must answer correctly before getting to 'play', making the student more accountable for their answers than other programs we have tried.

Qwizdom Answers with Qs: Teacher Carlos Fernandez

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Carlos Reviewer: Carlos Fernandez

Position: 8th Grade American History Teacher

School: Raa Middle School

Location: Tallahassee, FL

Number of Students in School: 900+

Products: Qwizdom Q2 & Q7s

Goals:

The Q2s and Q7s allowed me to bring a higher level of technology usage into the classroom. My goals in the beginning of the year consisted of mastering the technology that I currently had, and taking it to a level in which students would interact with technology and want more knowledge. The Q2s and Q7s did just that.

Response:

Administration loves the excitement in my classroom. They see higher student learning energy. Teachers have been very receptive to Qwizdom’s Q2s, because they get instant student feedback, and teachers are getting the mobility that the Q7s offer.

Learning Curve:

Qwizdom Q2s and Q7s were extremely easy to use and incorporate in the classroom. Just as no two students learn in the same way, staff teaching styles are different, too. Q2s and Q7s give us complete flexibility to personalize teaching styles. Technical support from Qwizdom is fast and efficient.

How We Use It:

Q2s and Q7s come with built in games, such as Fast Track, Mission to Mars, and Quandary. These games make learning content exciting. With the games, students get immediate feedback on right or wrong answers. Learning is fun regardless the topic. Students compete within their own classroom, as well as with all 8th graders in the school to see who has gotten the highest game scores. Students rush to class to use the Q2s, and get focused for lessons quickly.

Whats Ahead?:

I think the biggest step that needs to be taken is for teachers to just try out some of these new forms of technology. Teachers need to play with them, use them, and experiment. Incorporating them into daily lessons and learning is important.

e2020 Credit Recovery Alternatives: Assist. Supt. Elida Bera

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Elida_Bera042011 Name:  Elida Bera

Position: Assistant Superintendent of Schools

District:  Judson Independent School District,

Location: Live Oak, TX

Number of Students in District:  22,000

Products:  e2020 Virtual Classroom, and Virtual Tutor programs

Goals:

We needed to support our credit recovery program. The plan was to provide students an alternative to the traditional high school. The e2020 solution has given a lot of students hope, especially students who didn’t think they would graduating from high school.

Many students who had dropped out came back when we started using the e2020 program. Additionally, students at our large, comprehensive high school chose to go to evening high school due to smaller class sizes, and the use of technology.

Reviewer’s Notes:

The e2020 program has really helped a lot of students that had given up. They, again, began to picture themselves walking the graduation stage, and their excitement was contagious. The program is also used at the early college school for students who are accelerating.

Response:
Parents love the e2020 program, and are advocates for keeping the evening high school, even in these difficult budgetary times, due to student success. The program is also used at the early college school for students who are accelerating.

Learning Curve:

The e2020 program was very easy to use, and our contact person is helpful.  We have all the support we need from the company, either in person, by email or phone.

How We Use It:

The programs are used for credit recovery, evening high school, and for acceleration.  They help provide alternative curriculum options for students that we might have lost otherwise. 

What’s Ahead?:

We are fortunate in that we bought the program for five years.  As the new state assessment requirements are phased in, we will make sure that we are on top and aligning our curriculum, and that of e2020 with the new student expectations.

Geometer's Sketchpad: Math Curriculum Tech Amber Smith

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KeyCurriculumPress_AmberSmith Reviewer: Amber M. Smith

Position: High School Math Curriculum Technology Coach (I support the 10+ high schools in our district)

District/School: Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, Instructional Support Center
 Number of Students in District: 100,000+ K-12 students

Products: The Geometer’s Sketchpad 5 & Sketchpad LessonLink from Key Curriculum Press

Goals:

We needed to increase student understanding and comprehension through exploration, and to support teachers in the development of lessons that implement discovery learning.

Reviewer’s Notes:

The Geometer’s Sketchpad 5 is math software allows students to explore mathematic concepts of all types – not just Geometry. In Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, The Geometer’s Sketchpad 5 runs over the network and can be accessed by Secondary Math teachers and students. The software can be projected in the classroom or accessed on laptop carts and in computer labs. Fifty percent of classrooms have SMART Boards or SMART Slates.

Response:

Students get excited to see The Geometer’s Sketchpad 5 used in the classroom. We have overheard students asking teachers if they get to do the same activity in their class, too. Rather than seeing a static image where they are told a geometric or algebraic property, students are able to discover through exploration in a dynamic and interactive environment.

Learning Curve:

In our first year, we have started with pre-made sketches that are ready for the novice user. As students and teachers become more comfortable with The Geometer’s Sketchpad 5, students will be able to create sketches to test conjectures and demonstrate mathematical understanding. Teachers find that as they use The Geometer’s Sketchpad 5 in the classroom, they transition from the role of instructor to facilitator. Training has focused more on teaching strategies than on learning the software. The majority of support and training has occurred through model teaching and team teaching.

How We Use It:

Students have used The Geometer’s Sketchpad 5 to learn about Geometry concepts (e.g. basic vocabulary, congruence, transformations, quadrilaterals, etc.) and Algebra concepts (e.g. transformations of functions, quadratic functions, linear systems, laws of exponents, etc.).

Sketchpad LessonLink provides pre-made lessons that are ready for classroom implementation. In addition, district support staff and teachers have collaborated to create lessons to meet the specific needs of our classes and curriculum. I have found Sketchpad LessonLink and the new Sketchpad SketchExchange, a free online community for math educators to share ideas and connect with peers, to be valuable tools for lessons and support in learning The Geometer’s Sketchpad 5.

What’s Ahead?:

The next step in The Geometer’s Sketchpad 5 journey is two-fold:
1) to support teachers as students transition from the role of using The Geometer’s Sketchpad 5 to creating in The Geometer’s Sketchpad 5,
2) for The Geometer’s Sketchpad 5 to become infused into daily instruction.

MyLearningPlan: Director of PD Andrew Szczepaniak

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Andrew Szczepaniak Reviewer:
Andrew Szczepaniak

Position: Director of Professional Development

District: Gilbert Public Schools, AZ

Number of Students in District: 38,785 

Products: MyLearningPlan (Professional Development Management System)

OASYS (Observation and Appraisal Management System)

 

Goals:

We were looking for an online system that would enable us to manage professional development for all staff to empower our employees to move their professional practice forward through effective job-specific learning experiences. We were hoping to find a web-based PD management system that was user-friendly to not only eliminate paper associated with tracking salary movement, certification hours, and compliance requirements, but to align our strategic goals to PD and to encourage our staff to think deeply about why they are engaged in professional learning. We chose MyLearningPlan, and it has fulfilled all of these goals and much more.

Response:

It was important to us to involve all employees, including support staff, in our roll-out of MyLearningPlan, and our formative efforts to gain the commitment of all stakeholders really paid off.  Across the system, personnel appreciate the visual layout of the system, and they value the easy end user access to viewing, sorting, and printing  records of their professional development endeavors, including all internal and external learning opportunities. I’ve heard many comments that adopting MyLearningPlan is one of the best decisions the district has made.

MyLearningPlan reports allow me and other district leaders to see the big picture, while our building administrators have the data they need to facilitate relevant instructional leadership conversations with their teams. Through evaluations and surveys, instructors have ready feedback to help them tailor their facilitation to meet participants’ needs, and teachers have a way to demonstrate how their learning is changing their practice and influencing student achievement.

Learning Curve:

When we first deployed MyLearningPlan, my team conducted training sessions and provided support to all buildings.  The system is very intuitive, so after people got over the hurdle of switching from paper to a web-based approach, we were off and running.  The ease of use and customer support provided by MyLearningPlan has been phenomenal from the beginning. 

How We Use It:

We list all of the district, school, and team-based PD offerings in the online catalog where employees view and enroll in activities. The system workflow routes the forms to the appropriate people for approval, financial tracking, and certification management. The calendar feature helps avoid no-shows, and each activity is aligned to one or more district goals to ensure coherence and focus.  We utilize the Team Rooms to engage groups in online discussion and collaboration about what they are learning, and we use specific MLP forms to gather impact data, in order to gauge the effectiveness of what we’re providing.

What’s Ahead?:

We have been expanding our use of the Application/Impact forms, which allow us to collect data about how teachers are applying what they are learning through PD into their classrooms, and to record evidence of changes in student outcomes. It’s become more and more important for us to show how our expenditures are impacting student learning, and MyLearningPlan allows us to do easily do that.

This year, we adopted OASYS, the new Observation & Appraisal Management System, which is fully integrated with MyLearningPlan. Administrators have been able to complete classroom walk-throughs, formal observations, and the final teacher evaluation summary smoothly and efficiently.  The incorporation of the professional development portfolio through MyLearningPlan allows administrators and teachers to have conversations about the correlation between professional learning and evaluation.  

In addition to overseeing MyLearningPlan, as the District Administrator of OASYS, I have found it easy to manage the necessary forms, rubrics and processes. Certified personnel have commented on the ease of acknowledging and viewing their completed evaluations. The ability to see their electronic evaluation portfolio, integrated with their complete professional development portfolio, has been fully embraced as we transitioned into this online environment to manage educator evaluation. 

Livescribe Echo Smartpen: Principal Lauren Ormsby

Reviewer: Lauren J. Ormsby 

Position: PreK-12 Principal

District/School: Ripley Central School District/ Ripley Central School

Number of Students in School:  341

Product Used: Livescribe Echo Smartpen


Goals:

One school wide goal we have is to increase student independence and awareness of their learning goals. Technology is one of the ways we hope to accomplish this goal. We use several assistive/instructional technologies at our district to work towards this goal. The Livescribe is one of the technologies used.  The Livescribe not only gives students the ability to control the pace of their learning, but it allows them to replay, critique and participate in their learning.

Response:

When I first demonstrated the Livescribe Echo Smartpen to teachers, they were amazed.  It seems like simple technology but it has such great potential.  It only takes a few minutes for them to start brainstorming the possibilities.  The Livescribe has also been well received by the students. We often hear, "Are we going to use the pens today?"

Learning Curve:

The pen is very easy to use.  It comes charged right out of the box, and the software is in the pen. All a teacher has to do is plug in the USB cable and the software downloads onto the desktop. The website is very helpful and has many great examples of how the pen can be used, as well as video tutorials.

How We Use It:

We have used the pen in all grade levels from 1st grade to 12th. Here are some examples of how we are currently using the pen at various grade levels

1st and 4th grade, English Language Arts:

Students are using the pen to improve their reading fluency skills. Students are given several reading passages. They are required to read and record each passage with the pen three times. After completing the first reading, they listen to it and reflect on their performance by answering questions such as, "Did I read with expression," and "How many errors did I make?" Then, the students read the passage a second and third time and reflect a second time using the recording. The students use the notes they gathered in their reflection at their daily conferences with the teacher and in setting their instructional goals.

6th grade, English Language Arts:

The pen is used in this class during literature circles. Students have guided questions that are printed on the Livescribe "dot paper". Students pass the pen around during their discussion of the questions and write their initials on the paper before they speak. The teacher uses this to assess students for participation and content.

6th grade, English Language Arts and 12th grade, Chemistry:

Teachers have created homework help tutorials and posted them on their teacher websites, for students to access at home.

Middle School/High School Learning Center:

Teaching assistants are recording tests for students using the Livescribe. This makes providing testing accommodations less intrusive and students who have their tests read can take the test at their own pace, instead of waiting for each student in the group to finish each question before moving on. Students can also have the questions repeated as many times as necessary.

What’s Ahead?:

The possibilities for the use of the Livescribe for educational purposes are endless. The areas we have begun exploring involve the use of the pen in the hands of the teachers.  We have really just begun to scratch the surface. To get the pen in the hands of the students would open up more doors for its use.

Ways we envision using the pen in the future include using the pen:

Record teacher notes and post them to the website for students who are absent, or may need the program modification of "Teacher Provided Notes".

  • Provide audio feedback to students on long written assignments.
  • Annotate teacher substitute lesson plans, and
  • Create audio flash cards to be used during RtI Tier II and Tier III interventions.

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