2 Reasons Why Haiku Learning Rocks at Authentic Assessment

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Justin Goff is a Haiku Learning Community Specialist, and our in-house assessment expert here at Haiku Learning. Before joining the Haiku Learning team, Justin taught upper-school English at international schools in Korea and Japan. He’s a big fan of standards-based assessment practices and loves that Haiku Learning provides the right tools for teachers to use sophisticated approaches to grading and assessment.

If you’ve got a hammer, everything looks like a nail, right? It’s not surprising that technologists often focus on assessment practices, like multiple-choice tests, that lend themselves to technological solutions.

But at Haiku Learning, we put education first when we talk about educational technology. That’s why we’ve developed a flexible, easy-to-use platform that gives students and teachers plenty of room for a wide range of creative approaches to assessment.

We have our tests and quizzes, sure (we call them Assessments). But with features like WikiProjects and Standards-Based Grading, Haiku Learning is simply the best authentic assessment tool around.

First things first: Let's define authentic assessment

Broadly speaking, “authentic assessment” means designing meaningful assessments that require students to apply both knowledge and skills. It’s often used with practices like standards-based assessment (tracking student performance on learning goals across a range of tasks) and backward design (starting with the desired learning outcomes and planning curriculum “backwards” from there).

Authentic assessment isn’t a clear-cut category: some assessments are more “authentic” than others, and it all depends on your learning goals. If you’re teaching a standardized test prep course, then a multiple-choice test could be considered “authentic”: it measures both knowledge and test-taking skills.

But in most cases, authentic assessment involves more complex and open-ended tasks. For example, in a course aimed at teaching students how to code, an authentic assessment would most likely require students to build some actual software.

So why does Haiku Learning rock at authentic assessment?

Reason #1: WikiProjects turn the web into a sandbox for your students

WikiProjects are probably the single most powerful tool for authentic assessment in Haiku Learning. Each WikiProject gives students a space where they can use Haiku’s intuitive content management system to showcase their knowledge and their 21st-century communication skills.

Like a lot of what you see in Haiku Learning, WikiProjects are simple on the surface. Beginners can easily add video, audio, images, and text to their WikiProjects without writing a single line of code - what you see is what you get.

But WikiProjects are also incredibly flexible. With Embed the Web blocks, students can create content in a huge variety of web applications and embed their work directly into their projects. And with MiniSites, students can even build entire HTML websites, Java applets, or Flash applications and run them right in Haiku.

This makes WikiProjects great for authentic assessments. Where else can students combine research writing, videos, images, audio tracks, and even simple software applications in a single online space - let alone one that’s integrated with ePortfolios, Gradebooks, and everything else Haiku Learning has to offer?

Reason #2: Standards-based grading tracks performance in detail

One common complaint about authentic assessment is that it’s harder to quantify than a traditional test. With a well-designed test, you can get a good sense of what students know by looking at what kinds of questions they can and can’t answer.

But if you’re not careful, authentic assessment can obscure a student’s specific achievements behind one big overall grade. If an authentic assessment measures ten different learning goals, and the student gets a B, how do you know which learning goals the student needs to improve on? And if you have more than one assessment of the same learning goal, how do you measure the student’s progress towards that goal over time?

Standards-Based Grading in Haiku Learning, or SBG for short, is a gradebook designed from the ground up to address precisely these problems: It lets you assess students on multiple standards per task and then tracks student performance on each standard across multiple tasks.

And if you still want to give an overall grade for each task, you can use the Traditional Gradebook right alongside SBG.

Already a master of authentic assessment?

We’d love to hear from you! Let us know if you’d like to share some specific examples of authentic assessment in Haiku Learning for an upcoming blog post. We love showcasing the great things our teachers do with Haiku Learning! Please share in our Customer Forum.

And in case you missed it, Justin did a post on traditional grading vs. standards-based grading back in January.

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App of the Week: GeoGebra

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In this weekly blog, our own Emily Jeanes will be giving readers the lowdown on web apps that educators can use inside Haiku Learning. Emily is the very first Haiku Learning Sales Engineer. Edtech ninja, sci-fi writer, and proud transfer from our award-winning Client Services team, she brings with her a passion for researching, playing with and integrating awesome educational tools into Haiku Learning. Like Haiku Learning, she likes to think she plays well with others.

What is GeoGebra?

From their site: "GeoGebra is dynamic mathematics software for all levels of education that brings together geometry, algebra, spreadsheets, graphing, statistics and calculus in one easy-to-use package." From interactive diagrams, activities and worksheets, to complex (gorgeous!) mathematical simulations, GeoGebra brings math and science to life.

In Haiku Learning: GeoGebra offers a simple, yet fully interactive display of a simulation, worksheet, or graph of your choosing–along with a well-sized SSL embed for any resource you can get your hands on. Teachers can choose the size, enable zooming/dragging, and even choose their widget's border color.

Above is an example of a GeoGebra animation. You can select the play button in the bottom left to see the animations or use the sliders in the bottom left. Credit: "Ferris Wheel Carnival Slider" by elmadmongoose is licensed under CC-BY-SA.


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Here's what that same GeoGebra animation looks like embedded into Haiku Learning. Credit: "Ferris Wheel Carnival Slider" by elmadmongoose is licensed under CC-BY-SA.

How do I get the embed code?

Create or select any existing GeoGebra resource to find the view, embed, and download options. From there, just select the Embed option, and copy the default HTML embed code they offer. It's that quick and painless.

Why should I try it?

Sometimes math + technology = hard, but complex math was one of the original catalysts for building computers in the first place! GeoGebra carries on that tradition by giving mathematical simulations a strong, interactive, visual presence on the web.

I love GeoGebra's huge inventory of already-created simulations and activities that are both visually and intellectually engaging, their easy-to-find embed and upload options, and their community of teachers and students. You can surf through their inventory without even creating an account.

And you know what? It's really fun. I'd write more, but I got distracted looking through their awesome Featured Materials!

For Haiku Learning customers: Are you already using GeoGebra in your class? Share how you're using it in our Community Forum!

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Question of the Week: How Can I Differentiate Instruction Using Haiku Learning Assessments? Part 1

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Teachers often struggle with creating assessments for students with different learning needs and styles. However, Haiku Learning gives teachers options that make it easier to create multiple versions of assessments, so you can appeal to those different needs.

Today we’ll focus on the settings you have in Haiku Learning to vary your assessments. Next week in Part 2 of this blog post, we’ll focus on how to integrate audio and visual elements into assessments for further differentiation.

Get familiar with "Save As"

“Save As” will be your best friend when it comes to differentiating your assessments. Create the first version of an assessment, and then use “Save As” to create multiple copies of the same assessment. Then, make the necessary tweaks to those other copies, such as modifying questions, adjusting the number of allowed attempts, or extending the time limit based on a student's IEP.

Use passwords to create individualized assessments

When you create alternate versions of an assessment, you can make those versions restricted, requiring a password. Give just those students the password, so only they can see and access the modified assessment.

Adjust number of attempts and time limits

You can adjust the number of times that students can take an assessment, as well as the amount of time they have when they take it. Students who know the content can prove their mastery quickly. Students who need more time can go back and review the content they learned and then retake the assessment until they prove their mastery.

Vary by roster sections

Maybe you teach several sections of the same class, but one section is slightly ahead or behind the other, or one seems to be struggling more with certain concepts than the other. You can create different assessments for different sections of your class, or create different open/close dates on the same assessment for different sections of your class.

But there's more!

Now you know some of the settings available at your disposal to begin differentiating your assessments. You can read more about them in our Knowledgebase. Next week, we’ll discuss how to integrate audio and visual elements into assessments to make them more appealing and engaging to students.

For Haiku Learning customers: Do you have any unique examples of differentiating instruction using assessments in Haiku Learning? Please share your examples with us in our customer forum! With your permission, we'd love to feature them in our blog so others can learn from you.

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EdTech Weekly News Roundup - Feb. 27, 2015

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Being an educator means you probably have very little time to read the news during the week. Here are some interesting edtech articles from this past week that you might find useful.

"Should Students Have a Role in Professional Development?" – Edutopia

Several examples of students playing a role in teacher PD are presented here. It runs the gamut from including students in discussions on driving student engagement to learning how students use technology outside the classroom and bringing that inside the classroom.

"Steps to Create the Conditions for Deep, Rigorous, Applied Learning" – Mindshift

A group of schools that calls itself the Deeper Learning Network has systemized what it believes are the core qualities of "deep learning". They are captured in an interesting infographic at the link above. In addition, they’ve created a planning guide to help educators implement and run this model.

"How AltSchool Blends Old-Fashioned Learning with New Technology" – edSurge

If you’re not already familiar with AltSchool, it’s a $20,000/year K-12 school with millions in venture funding from Silicon Valley. The author of the article visited one of AltSchool’s four micro-schools. She found that some of their success is attributed to factors other than expensive equipment and software and that other districts could learn from some of what AltSchool is doing: a combination of small learning communities, project-based learning, and personalized learning for teachers and students.

"How Teachers Will Change the Future of Tech" – Edudemic

This article offers teachers three different ways they can take control of technology in the classroom and the effects that can have on their students and beyond. It’s divided into three parts: Teacher Tech Enthusiasm Can Change the Course of Tech Development; Getting Started: Tools for Technophobic Teachers; and Taking Technology Outside the Computer Lab.

"10 Things Students Should Know About Tech by Fifth Grade" – THE Journal

This is written by an instructional technologist in a K-12 district and it's intended for the parents at her school. Some of the “things” include digital citizenship, troubleshooting technology, and collaborating using technology.

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App of the Week: Coggle

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In this weekly blog, our own Emily Jeanes will be giving readers the lowdown on web apps that educators can use inside Haiku Learning. Emily is the very first Haiku Learning Sales Engineer. Edtech ninja, sci-fi writer, and proud transfer from our award-winning Client Services team, she brings with her a passion for researching, playing with and integrating awesome educational tools into Haiku Learning. Like Haiku Learning, she likes to think she plays well with others.

What is Coggle?

From their site: "Coggle is about redefining the way documents work: the way we share and store knowledge. It's a space for thoughts that works the way that people do — not in the rigid ways of computers." It's a web-based freeware program for mind-mapping, time-lining, and structuring documents organically, like a beautiful tree.

In Haiku: Coggle embeds into Haiku Learning like a pro, defaulting to SSL embeds. Yay! You can right-click and zoom in and out, or just click and drag to move your way across the Coggle easily. They look beautiful, and simple, and fit into the Haiku Learning design aesthetic, too. And hey, you can even store your Coggles in Google Drive!

  • Website: https://coggle.it
  • Price: Free
  • HTTPS Option? Yes, by default
  • Account Required? Yes

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Here's one example of mapping relationships using Coggle.

How do I get the embed code?

Coggle has created a great how-to article on embedding your rad Coggles, but finding the code is intuitive and simple. Click on the "Share this Coggle Publicly" icon, then copy the iframe provided. Their links allow your co-conspirators to see an embedded Coggle without needing an account, but you can also create organizations, share with individuals, and other great options.

Why should I try it?

Coggle doesn't just represent your flow of information. It gives you a way to manipulate it, build it, create and move things around. It fosters new ideas, not just displays them. I used Coggle to build a rough organizational chart for Client Services here at Haiku Learning, and the drag-and-drop beauty of it helped break down hierarchical barriers and open things up to the what-if.

Plus, Coggle is organic, simple, and beautiful. Adding branches is as easy as clicking anywhere on your Coggle and choosing your color. Then just hold Alt and click to delete a branch. Love those hot keys!

Overall, Coggle is a mind-mapper's dream: pleasing colors, the satisfying ability to drag branches to move or reshape them into any curve or sway you need, and more advanced options like robust version history, markdown text support, and image uploads.

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