Technology & Assessment Reflection

Since I recently graduated from Full Sail University, the Intro to Electricity course in Schoology was started back in October and now that I’m in a new online course getting my Online & Blended Teacher Certification, I’ve added to this course by creating examples of student work and a final summative assessment.

Here’s the reflection video that I made back in October after the first time creating this blended course:

For this assessment assignment I could have completely reinvented the wheel and created a new blended course full of different formative and summative assessments, but I truly believe that teaching is all about taking things that you already have and modifying them and perfecting them as you learn, grow, and discover your most efficient teaching style.

Life of a Cloud Comic

Watching that 1st reflection video, I think that it’s funny that I said that I didn’t think I would change a thing in my LMS. Now that I look back at it, almost 7 months later, I see a lot that I could and have changed. I like my new addition of a student sample in ComicLife. I also like the idea of having the students post their work along with a reflection about creating the comic. It will be interesting to watch students give feedback to one another after they post their comics on a class discussion board.

The other addition that I created for my Intro to Electricity course was the final summative assessment. When having my students take this final test, I would consider having all of the students take this test in class at the same time. I might think about giving students a time limit and would have to monitor that the class isn’t simply using our class webpage to find the answers to all of the vocabulary words.

Originally I thought that a final test would be the quickest and easiest way to get a final assessment, but now I think that it might be more meaningful if the students are given a project as their summative assessment. I could maybe have students work in groups to do a small news segment about an electricity topic of their choice. Students could come up with an electricity problem that’s occurring at home or at school and report about it along with possible solutions.

Reflection & revision is what teaching is all about! The use of technology opens the door to endless possibilities for meaningful student assessment.


Designing a Comprehensive Assessment Plan

I’ve been playing around with the LMS Schoology to help designing a blended course that could help me teach my 4th grade students about electricity and magnetism.

Lesson Overviews on Prezi

Here you can find:

  • vocabulary with definitions
  • videos
  • 4th Grade CA State Physical Science Standards

Chapter 8: Electricity Lessons

Chapter 9: Magnetism Lessons

Formative Assessment

Intro to Electricity Home Screen

In Schoology I have created my blended course and uploaded examples of  various assignments and discussions that I would have my students complete throughout the 8 week course. This is a screenshot of the main page for the course Intro to Electricity. On the righthand side are a list of the upcoming assignments and their due dates.

Static Electricity Comic Assignment

Assignments for formative assessment include:

  • Discussion comments & responses in Schoology
  • Creative assignments using programs like ComicLife
  • Interactive science simulations like this Building Circuits Module

Here is what it looks like if you open up the first assignment. Students are given directions, a link to the Static Electricity Prezi, and a link to the grading rubric.

Life of a Cloud Comic

The following is an example of work that could be turned in for this assignment:


Feedback can be given in 3 different ways:

  1. Students will be asked to create a blog post in Kidblog displaying their static electricity comment along with a reflection about creating the comic. Each student will be required to post feedback to at least 3 other students in the class. Students enjoy receiving peer feedback because it allows them to share their hard work with the class and it is fun to see what others come up with and the journey that they take to accomplish the task. Having them comment on a post of their work and a reflection allows them to find similarities and differences about their approach to the topic.
  2. Teacher can give feedback by posting comments about the assignment in SchoologySchoology Grade Example and/or in Kidblog.
  3. Teacher also posts grades and can give additional comments when grading assignments in Schoology.

Once students are given feedback, they are also given the option to redo and resubmit an assignment if the grade is not acceptable. Students will have 1 week to fix any assignment that they wish to resubmit. I like using the grade-book in Schoology because it is a nice organized way for the teacher to give grades and quick feedback to the students. Schoology gives updates to students when new grades are posted.

Summative Assessment

Summative Assessment part 1

After the students learn all of the lessons in a chapter, they will be asked to take a final chapter quiz. I’ve created a sample quiz in the app starQuiz. The questions that I created are 11 vocabulary matching items, 4 multiple choice questions, and 2 short answer questions.

Once a quiz is created, students are sent the link for the quiz and they will receive instant feedback on all of the questions except for the 2 short answer questions. It it is the teacher’s responsibility to grade the 2 short answers in a timely matter so that the students receive  quick feedback about the complete test results.

Here is an example of what it looks like when the test is corrected:

Sample Student Test 1

Sample Student Test 2

The Power of Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)

What is a PLN?

It’s my understanding that a PLN is an informal learning network that involves connecting with others who share similar interests. The way in which this happens is through social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, and RSS feeds.

Here’s a video that I found called Networked Student by Wendy Drexler. It explains how students can benefit from this type of networked learning:

LinkedInMy PLN Experience

As a teacher on a quest to continue learning about the growing, changing, and evolving topic of educational technology, I’ve made it a priority to stay connected to people and companies in this field on LinkedIn. I love how it allows me to showcase and link to projects that I’ve done. It also allows me to connect my blog page to my profile. Whenever I post on this PacadaVision WordPress page, I have it automatically set up to become a part of my activity in LinkedIn. Anyone in my network can link to my blog and, in turn, I can link to blogs of any of my connections. LinkedIn frequently sends emails of updates, so it’s easy to view changes and updates of people in my network. It’s amazing how I’ve learned all about new Web 2.0 tools and ed tech companies just by looking into information connected to my LinkedIn Network.

Introducing Social Media to the Classroom using KidBlog

Educator Studio KidBlog LessonPopularity of social media tells me that it is my responsibility as a teacher to get my students prepared to be a responsible participant by showing them a correct way to use it. KidBlog is my Website of choice in introducing social media to my students.

Last year was when I discovered this teacher moderated blog site. If you want ideas on how to get started using KidBlog, check out my EducatorStudio lesson plan.

I’m hoping to start KidBlog with this year’s class within the next couple of weeks. Last year I had students blogging about voice activated cars, saving the environment, dreams, the future, and many more interesting and though provoking topics. I’m curious to see what kind of topics this year’s class will come up with. If I can get my students excited and interested about popular topics, I can get my students to improve their writing while also giving them useful 21st century learning skills that will help them grow their own PLN in a positive way.

Storybird in the Classroom

Why use Storybird?

I started using Storybird in my 4th grade classroom in December and in our 4 months of use, it’s starting to become our new favorite Web 2.0 tool. I know that there are a numerous amount of Websites that encourage writers to submit their creative stories, so why in the world would I choose this one? Here are 5 reasons I love this site:

  1. Artwork is visually stunning and there is a good amount to choose from.
  2. The inspirational artwork makes it easy for my students to come up with interesting stories.
  3. After creating and publishing a story, the final product is very professional looking.
  4. Storybird allows you to embed stories. This has been a great motivation to my students because I have started creating class contests where the winners have their stories featured on our class Webpage
  5. Features for teachers make creating assignments, grading, giving feedback, and rewarding students very easy.

Grading Screenshot

Class Assignments:

Here are some sample assignments in Storybird that I’ve created to help meet the 4th grade California ELA content standards:

Create a holiday or winter story and have one of your characters experience some type of magic. Make sure your story has a well thought out beginning, middle, and ending. 

  • Writing Strategies 1.1 – Select a focus, and organizational structure, and a point of view based upon purpose, audience, length, and format requirements. 

Choose a story that you have already created in Storybird. Edit it and make changes by fixing any mistakes and improving at least 4 of your pages. Make sure that you include 1 simile and 1 metaphor somewhere in your story. 

  • Writing Strategies 1.10 – Edit and revise selected drafts to improve coherence and progression by adding, deleting, consolidating, and rearranging text.

Storybird & Bloom’s Taxonomy

Here’s my Google Presentation about how I’ve used my Storybird experience in the classroom to make a connection to the 2 highest levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy: creating & evaluating.

I’ve also found that analyzing plays an important role in the creation of new stories.  When a student chooses artwork from an artist, he/she is limited to creating a story only with the artwork submitted by that particular artist. In that situation, the student must analyze the pictures given and work within that set to create a story that is interesting and makes sense. Here’s an example of what the canvas looks like when you have chosen artwork:

If a student does not want to write a story using one artist’s artwork, they also have the option to use art that is tagged with the same word. For example, the very 1st Storybird assignment in my class was for my students to create a holiday/winter story. Searching for the tag winter will pull up all of the winter pictures. A student may then create a story with all of pictures that share that same tag. Some students like to search for artwork based on the tag, so it is a good 2nd option for choosing illustrations for a story.

Here are some problems I’ve run into in the past 4 months:

  • Students can choose art by tag or artist, but we haven’t found a way to combine artwork from 2 artists to create a story. 
  • Sometimes the site runs slow and I’ve had problems with computers freezing up as my students were in the process of saving their work. (I will say that the speed has been getting better.)
  • When creating a class the comments and discussions are automatically set to “on/open.” I learned this the hard way by finding my class chatting with each one another when they discovered how to create a discussion. It ended up being a teachable moment when I changed the settings to moderate and had a discussion about appropriate feedback and discussions online.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I am very happy with Storybird in my classroom! Publishing stories for students to have access to at home gives them a huge sense of pride in their creations. It is so great to see such a huge excitement about creative writing as our school prepares for our Young Author’s Fair that is coming up in May. I just decided that I would let the top 3 author’s of the month read their stories as I screencast them and upload their stories to YouTube. I will leave you with an example by my student Julia.

Week 4 Leadership: My Role Models

photo by acaben on Flickr

To be honest, I’ve never really thought too much about leadership role models until this month as I’ve been trying to compose my thoughts for my Leadership Project. In my Week 2 Reading post, I wrote about the videos Steve Jobs: Secrets of Life and Steve Jobs on Failure. He’s obviously a leader that I respect and admire. I love that he was never afraid to be different and that he embraced failure as an opportunity to thrive and grow. For him to get pushed out of Apple, only to come back more than 10 years later to not only save it from failing, but completely turn it around, truly takes a great innovator and leader. Even though he’s passed, he made such a huge impact on this world that his legacy will live on forever.

I’ve learned about the leadership style of Steve Jobs through my husband Shaun’s experience working at Apple.  Before he worked for Apple, Shaun was the kind of person who liked to do exactly what he needed to get by, then leave work at the exact time that his hours were over. I can tell that my husband’s work ethic and outlook on life has changed ever since he was fortunate enough to work under Steve Job’s leadership. Shaun tells me that he’s been taught to complete his tasks and do his job to the best of his ability, rather than spread himself too thin by getting caught up in extra tasks and projects. It’s better to do one thing really well, rather than do a mediocre job at many.

When he told me that, it made me understand why teachers get burnt out so quickly and don’t always have a positive attitude about the profession. What if teachers had one important job to focus on and there was money to hire others to help out with the many other tasks in a school? Teachers could educate students by focusing all of their time and energy into creating the most successful and engaging lessons while others could grade papers, plan school events, schedule assemblies and field trips, and help with prep work. That would definitely lighten the workload for teachers, but would it motivate them to work to the best of their ability? It may help for some teachers, but if they are not self motivated, then it might take some extra incentive for professional development to encourage teachers and give them the proper tools for improving student engagement.

Even though teachers at my school are overwhelmed with too many tasks, I do appreciate the leadership of my current principal who seeks out the different skills and talents of each individual teacher and finds ways to put them to use. She doesn’t rely on one teacher to do all of the extra work and she give opportunities for each staff member to shine. She also shows her appreciation through recognition at staff meetings and is always willing to cook and bake goodies that she leaves for us in the staff lounge several times throughout the school year.

I’m the type of leader who likes to lead by example. In my classroom, I find that my students produce better work when I take the time to show them examples of good, quality work. When I did my LiveBInder training, I not only made quality examples, but I also found several examples from other teachers to show what others have created. As I try and take on more leadership positions, I should keep my leadership role models in mind, searching for the best qualities in others and putting their talents to use by empowering them to step up and become leaders in their expertise.

Week 4 Reading: Being the Board

As this class is coming to an end and we have reached the end of the book The Art of Possibilities, I see how this month was strategically planned to get us to start to think about our own possibilities. I just completed my discussion post video about my dream job. How convenient is it that this Dream Job assignment & the thought provoking book full of inspiring stories by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander came one month before we graduate?After finishing the last few chapters of the book, I now feel like I need to focus on keeping a  positive outlook for my future, whether I decide that I should search for a new career, or decide to make the absolute most out of my current job as an elementary school teacher. Sometimes I let the negative attitudes of others drag me down. And while there seem to be more and more reasons to get down about our education system, sometimes it’s easy to use those reasons as excuses that can get in the way of me doing my job to the best of my ability.

This all started to make sense to me after I read chapter 10: Being the Board. Zander describes a scenario of a car at a traffic light getting hit by a drunk driver. At first it was a ridiculous thought for me to think that the drunk driver wasn’t 100% at fault in that situation. After reading on and thinking about it more, I totally understand the concept about being the board. Life it totally unpredictable and there will always be times when we can be at the wrong place at the wrong time, but that is a risk that we take. If we live our lives blaming others and making excuses, all we’re doing is limiting our possibilities and opportunities for growth.

We go to Mexico every summer because my parents believe in making the most of every moment!

Now that I think about it, my parents are the greatest example of being the board. They never let bad situations get them down and it’s always amazing to me that they can come out of any situation with a smile and a positive outlook on life. Four or five years ago my parents were in a head on collision, hit by a driver and they were both going 45+ mph around a blind curve. Their car was totaled and they were rushed to the hospital. When my dad called to tell me what happened, I was terrified and I dropped what I was doing to go meet them there. When I arrived, my dad was smiling and laughing as he told me the story of what happened. He was so happy to be alive, but he never blamed the driver of the other car or got angry that the accident happened to them. It was a miracle that both my parents were able to walk away from that accident with only minor injuries. I know that I’ve picked up a lot of great qualities from my parents, I just hope that I can always keep that same positive outlook on life.

Week 2 Comment #1: Ben Witter

Week 2 Reading

Posted in Week 2 on October 31, 2012 by benwitter

I am very exited to read this book. I watched the TED talk Benjamin Zander gave and was blown away. I was immediately drawn in with his affinity for music and how he wove that into the point he was trying to make. I’m glad this isn’t a regular textbook. I think this will really propel me into whatever it is that awaits me after this program.

Chapter 1: It’s All Invented

I have always fancied myself as a rather free thinker, someone who is so far outside the box that the box ceases to exist. I totally get the undertones that are being played throughout this chapter. The constraints that we place on ourselves are just that, self-inflicted. I understand that some people are dealt unfair things from life, but it all boils down to perceptions. I am a firm believer that perceptions are what determine our life, our reality. The world itself is real to us because of how we perceive it. Along with perception includes perspective and relativity. If more people could understand that the perceptions they have are invented from society and their surroundings, as well as innate personal qualities, there would be less concern for how others perceive us and more focus on living our lives as our lives and not someone else’s. People just need to invent new perceptions. Actually, people just need to invent new realities.

Read more on Ben’s blog page

My Response to Ben

I love your views on life and I have such a huge respect for you! Ever since your first bio video in month one of this program, I knew that you were the creative, out of the box thinker, and the one that I could look up to and draw inspiration from. Sometimes I find myself getting caught up with the rules and what’s right and what’s wrong. When I catch myself doing that, I’m finding that it really limits my possibilities. If I was just completing assignments to meet the requirements of a rubric that will get me an A, then I know that I would come up with good work, but it would be boring work. That’s exactly how I made my way through college. Did I learn much in my quest for a liberal studies degree? I can’t think of one memorable project or assignment that I did in those 4 years.

I have to say that getting my master’s degree in a subject area that I’m truly passionate about, being surrounded by amazingly talented teaching professionals, and getting words of wisdom from online professors who are paving the way for an educational technology movement has been the most rewarding experience of my life! Even though I’m working so hard that most days I feel like I want to break down in tears, this online education experience through Full Sail University has made me look at education in a brand new way. We might as well not be getting grades because I’m never worried about getting a bad grade on a project. Completing projects, while not easy, has been so rewarding, giving me practical and useful knowledge that I will take with me in my next quest for a new job. I’m finding myself not really looking at the rubrics, but instead pushing myself to rise to my own high standard to try and come up with new and incredible things. Ben, I’m so thankful to have you there to share your perspective that shows us that it is so cool to do things your own way.