Leadership – Education – Technology – Other Interesting Stuff

Archive for May, 2013

Tech Tools

With the recent announcement of the new Google Maps, Google is offering a free, self-paced online course in June.

David Kapuler recently shared some (40) of his favorite tools for creating presentations and slideshows. #7 – eMaze really intrigues me. Let us know which are favorites of yours.

And those ever-expanding Apps…

  • Have you seen Explain Everything? The tagline for this app is “an iPad app to explain anything and everything.” Desing, screencasting and an interactive whiteboard tool that is not expensive at $2.99.
  • Turn your iPad into classroom clicker – free for 1 teacher and 36 students you can turn your iPads into clickers – an all student response system with those iPads you’ve used this year. Go Interactive (The Answer Pad) works with TAPit.
  • Have images you’d like to make interactive? Try thinglink and create a new infographic…with links to other media. There are some great examples upload here to view.

 

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Testing

Just a couple of perspectives on testing…

This post by David Patten calls for an end to high-stakes standardized tests by taking us through the evolution of his career and his thinking.

Another recent post by John Tierney leads us into the “Coming Revolution in Public Education.” This is being shared more as it relates to the tipping point piece shared recently. What does it take to make a revolution and how do you know when it has really started?

Sites, VARC, Finland and The Heart of Leadership

For a team project this year, I started a list of blogs and social media sites. Feel free to add to both of these GoogleDocs with great places you have found to learn, gather and share.

Great portrayal of the challenge of determining what impacts student achievement – do we ever do one thing in isolation?

The concept of Value-Added is not new to education. We hear the term a lot these days in connection with teacher evaluation. This visual (~10 minutes) from VARC is a nice explanation of the concept.

The Finland phenomenon – Finland is often mentioned as an exemplar in educational systems (not to mention scores on international assessments). Recently there have been several pieces in the news. The Daily Riff actually curates stories about Finland’s educational system. There is a good documentary on YouTube – The Finland Phenomenon (4 parts). Larry Ferlazzo’s blog has a post on “best resources” for learning about Finland’s educational system. At Boston’s 90.9 NPR station you’ll hear a piece (~45 min) on lessons from both Finland and South Korea. Each country has different philosophies and practices.

The title of this post says it all – The heart of leadership – Having had a daughter who sang the Star Spangled Banner at high school sporting events, I have watched the stumble and heard the pitch change. Never have I seen a coach step towards her at that moment. As Diego Rodriguez says, “At the heart of leadership is a deceptively simple question: “Am I willing to risk my personal reputation, status, and safety for the good of others?” Fortunately, I work with leaders who are.

Tipping Point for Adopting New Practices in Schools

Recently on the LinkedIn group page for the American Educational Research Association a question came up that caught my attention.

What is the “tipping point” for adopting new practices in schools?

The author of the question shared “The One-Third Hypothesis posits that when a third of a group adopts an innovation, the rest of the group would follow.” My wondering was about other people’s experiences with this. What percentage of teachers needs to change their practice before the rest of the teachers in the same school adopt the new practice? How does participating in a teacher learning community help build the incentive or desire to change? Where do the early adopters fit in and what effect do they have on these changes in practice?

What have YOUR experiences been with teachers changing practice? What could you identify as tipping points? Please chime in here and share your experience!

Testing in the Movies and on Television

This blog is primarily for content curation. Sharing what I find with others is important to me. That said, every once in a while something strikes me and I have a need to do more than curate. In light of the climate today regarding testing, teacher evaluation, Common Core Standards and other emotion-filled topics it feels like I may be commenting a little more in the future. Having just read John Tierney’s recent piece – The Coming Revolution in Public Education – in The Atlantic, it does feel like we need to be thoughtful and share our thinking about what is happening in education, and that includes assessment.

Brett Foley and team shared a documentary this week – Testing in the Movies and on Television – at the NCME (National Council of Measurement in Education) meeting in San Francisco. Having worked with assessments for years and having both taken and given a few in my lifetime, I was curious. I watched it all – almost 50 minutes. The trailer (~1 min) provides a clue as to the major topics of the documentary, which include testing consequences, criticisms of testing, test anxiety, studying and test prep, psychometricians and cheating. This documentary covers 40 years of movie and TV clips regarding tests and testing. It conveys the negativity about testing conveyed via the media and where and how public opinion sits with this topic of assessment in general.

Being the advocate of formative assessment that I am, many of these perspectives or concerns about testing disappear in the classrooms and schools where teachers and students are actively collecting evidence of learning on a minute-to-minute basis and using it to adapt both learning and teaching. The day-by-day use of formative assessment strategies integrated into the instructional process help establish a classroom culture where “test” is no longer viewed as a 4-letter word, but rather an opportunity to “show what I know. “

In classrooms where formative assessment is fully integrated, Leslie Lambert tells us it is difficult to tell when instruction stops and assessment begins. This is a far cry from clips in the documentary. And yet, how many of us had an experience or two just like those depicted in the film? What does it take to change public opinion and offer new opportunities and perspectives to the public?

The segment on cheating caught my attention because establishing a culture in classrooms where making mistakes is a part of learning – expected and OK, certainly helps eliminate the need to cheat, along with the pressure to remember. Wasn’t “phone-a-friend” really created for use in the classroom? (smile). And I do have to say that some of the psychometricians I have met are really nice folks, who can speak English and translate statics is such a way that a layperson can understand.

Purpose and use of assessment is always important to consider, along with what educators value and believe as compared to their current reality. There are times when the negativity in the documentary really gives faces to the disconnect between purpose of the assessment and how the data are used. How often are educators put in the situation of using the results of an assessment for a purpose other than was intended by the test developers?

The goal of the documentary is to start public dialogue about the appropriate use of tests. That goal is important for all of us. The dialogue has started on many fronts and it is time for additional voices to be added. Be part of the cacophony about assessment. What are your take-aways from this video? Come back here and let us know.

The blog for my day job focuses on formative assessment, if that is an area of interest for you.

You may also want to check out Raymond Yeagley’s comments on this topic.

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