EdTech Weekly News Roundup - Jan. 23, 2015

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Being an educator means you probably have very little time to read the news during the week. Here’s what piqued our interest at Haiku Learning, and we thought you might be interested in it, too!

"Guest Post: Wisdom from David Bowie: Technology and Change" - Education Week

This is a guest post written by Gregg Russell, an Idaho Education Association Outstanding Principal of the Year. Russell explains how he applies of McREL’s Four Phases of Change to educational technology implementation in schools.

One of the phases is “creating demand” something we’ve seen with many of our own customers at Haiku Learning. We offer free pilots to schools of our School Edition, and oftentimes, the school will have a select a group of teachers use the platform and leverage their success to “create demand” amongst the rest of the staff.

"How To Win Corporate and Foundation Grants for Your Tech Project" - THE Journal

If you’re a technology director looking for help to fund your projects, you may want to read this. The article outlines five steps to help you win grants for technology initiatives, including the common mistakes people tend to make at each step and how to prevent those mistakes. The article is based on advice from Stan Levenson, who has raised $50 million for schools he’s worked with and he has authored several books on the topic.

"'Soon We'll All Be Gamers’" - THE Journal

FETC 2015 was held in Orlando this week, bringing together over eight thousand education leaders and technology experts. This article discusses the keynote address, presented by Jane McGonigal, the first person to earn a Ph.D. in the study of the effects of gaming. McGonigal presents why educators and parents shouldn’t fear gaming and in fact should embrace it.

"5 Ways to Keep Creativity Alive in Your Common Core English Class" - Edudemic

English has always been one of the tougher subjects to integrate technology with in a meaningful way. This article presents 5 examples that combine technology with common core standards.

For those using Haiku Learning, many of these can be easily done within our platform. Students can use our WikiProjects to create blog posts, use our Dropbox to post their podcasts, do Socratic Seminars via our Discussion Forum, and for mind mapping, we have a number of widgets in our Embed the Web library that you can embed including Coggle. As for using non-traditional authentic texts, YouTube has a great library full of newscasts that can be embedded or you can upload videos and other documents as well.

"PARCC Sample Test Questions Now Ready for Computer Practice" - PARCC

You can now get access to free sample test questions for grades 3-12 on the platform that the students will be using. PARCC also released online tutorials and described how the test will be accessible for special ed and ELL students.

If you’re using Haiku Learning, another way to get additional help for your students is to set up online practice exams using our Assessment feature. Many of our own customers have already told us they’re doing this to ensure that students feel comfortable taking online assessments. You can restrict the time limit (or not), randomize questions and answers, and allow students multiple attempts if you want to give them continuous practice with the same exam.

"Upgrading America’s Skills: Highlights from 2015 State of the Union" - edSurge

Here’s a concise overview for anyone who missed President Obama’s State of the Union and how he addressed education.

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Traditional Gradebook vs. Standards-Based Gradebook: Which One is for You?

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Justin Goff is a Haiku Learning Community Specialist, and this post is the first in a series he will be writing on the topic of assessment. 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.

Traditional gradebooks and standards-based gradebooks are each good at doing what they’re designed to do. The trick is to understand what each is designed to do and to choose the appropriate gradebook for your classroom.

When to use a traditional gradebook

Traditional gradebooks are better for questions like:

  • How well do my students perform on different types of tasks?
  • Which assessments have my students completed?
  • Have my students completed enough assessments in order to pass my class?

Traditional gradebooks can be useful for record-keeping. Because they track scores by assessment, it’s easy to identify which assessments haven’t been completed. In addition, many colleges and universities assume that schools are using traditional gradebooks, so it’s often easier to convert traditional grades into report cards and transcripts.

Where traditional gradebooks sometimes fall short

Traditional gradebooks can oversimplify a student’s performance. It’s harder to pinpoint the skills a student needs to work on if they’re all lumped together into one grade per assessment.

How you set up your gradebook categories has a huge effect on the kind of information you can get from a traditional grade book. If you use a gradebook category like “Tests", then you can quickly tell how well a student takes tests on a variety of subjects, but it’s a lot harder to tell what specific things a student needs to study in order to perform better on her tests in the future. In some cases, this can be discouraging for the student: she sees her low test grades, but doesn’t know how to respond to them beyond thinking that she’s bad at taking tests.

When to use a standards-based gradebook

In the end, if you aren’t able to create gradebook categories in a traditional gradebook that completely capture the learning goals for your class, then you should probably consider using a standards-based gradebook. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time getting a clear picture of how well the students in your class are progressing towards their learning goals.

Standards-based gradebooks are better for questions like:

  • What particular topics or skills are my students struggling with?
  • Why is a particular student having trouble in my class?
  • Have my students met the basic learning goals I’ve set for the class?
  • Which learning goals should I spend the most time on going forward?

Simply put, standards-based gradebooks are much better at identifying what students have and haven’t learned. For example, instead of just telling students that they’ve scored poorly on essays, teachers using standards-based grading can tell students that their ideas and organization are very strong, but that they need to work on spelling and grammar. This helps teachers use their time more efficiently, and it helps students understand better what they need to do in order to succeed.

Grading an assessment in a standards-based gradebook is obviously a little different from grading an assessment in a traditional gradebook. First, the teacher needs to define which standards (learning goals) are being measured by a particular assessment. Then, students will earn a grade for each of those standards. As scores are entered, the standards-based gradebook will aggregate students’ performance on each standard over time and across all assessments.

Final thoughts on making the decision

As you can see, standards-based grading takes a little extra thought and planning. However, the time invested often pays off because standards-based grading gives a clearer picture of how your class is progressing towards its learning goals.

Can’t decide which one to use? No problem! This is pretty common, especially at schools just getting started with standards-based assessment practices. Haiku Learning lets you use both gradebooks in the same class, so if you find you need to answer all of the questions listed above—you can have your cake and eat it, too.

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App of the Week: Office Sway (Preview)

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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 Office Sway (Preview)?

From the Microsoft site: "Sway is an app for expressing your ideas in an entirely new way, across your devices." A new, in-preview web application from Microsoft, Sway is an app for creating and sharing a polished, interactive canvas of your ideas with friends, teachers and students.

In Haiku Learning: Sways are interactive, beautiful, and pretty responsive in Haiku Learning. With an SSL embed by default, the option to add multimedia and helpful links to more content that can open in new tabs, and the ability to scroll using your mouse, mobile swipes or the interface arrows, Sway really has a sense of fluidity and potential.

  • Website: https://sway.com/
  • Price: Free
  • HTTPS Option? Yes, by default!
  • Account Required? Yes

Why you should try it

With a public Preview, Sway has opened itself up for the world to try and for feedback, an openness I can't help but love. When creating your Sway, the interface allows for creativity without telling you exactly what to do next: add images, upload files, add blocks of text and links, and search Bing, Youtube, Facebook, and OneDrive for more content.

Or, hit my favorite button: Remix! to RNG your Mood, Layout, and other design aspects of your Sway. Shake off that has-to-be-perfect design you are creating, and let Sway mix it up for you. For professional-looking presentations that feel modern, drag-n-drop simple, and fluid, I'm excited to see what Sway can do with some fine-tuning after it's Preview.

How you get the embed code

When viewing any published Sway (and head's up, anyone with the link can currently view your Sway), just select the Embed button, then copy the iframe code that is presented. And that's it!

Where you can learn more

You can watch a video that Microsoft released about Sway. You can also signup for free using any Microsoft account and create your own Sway today!

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Question of the Week:
Do You Offer a Standards-Based Gradebook?

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With Common Core State Standards and state-specific standards, it’s no surprise that we get asked about this a lot. A Standards-Based Gradebook (SBG) allows you to score students based on their mastery of learning goals or learning targets.

The answer is yes: Haiku Learning does offer a standards-based gradebook. In fact, both standards-based and traditional gradebooks are included in our platform.

First, are you looking to learn more about standards-based assessment in general before making the transition? On Wednesday, we’ll publish a blog post discussing the merits of a traditional gradebook vs. a standards-based grade book. Subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss it!

Before you get started with SBG in Haiku Learning

In order to effectively use SBG, you will need to identify the key learning goals that students will be working toward in your class. See our article on adding standards to your class.

Also, SBG is only available for our School Edition customers. Your domain administrator must enable it for your domain. Here’s an article on how to enable standards-based grading for your domain.

However, if you’re using our Teacher Edition, don’t fret. We offer free pilots of our School Edition, and they’re a great way to introduce your colleagues to Haiku Learning. Go to our contact page and click the button "Learn More about Haiku Learning" or send an email to hello@haikulearning.com.

How to Add a Standards-Based Gradebook in Haiku Learning

  1. Click on the Assess tab
  2. Select Grades from the options listed
  3. Then choose Add Gradebook. (If SBG has not been enabled for your domain, or you are using an Teacher Edition account, you will not see this option.)
  4. Then select Use Standards-Based Grading.

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You can see steps 1-3 here.

You’re ready to go! The gradebook will automatically be populated with the students in your Roster, and once you create standards for this class, they will automatically be populated as well.

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EdTech Weekly News Roundup - Jan. 16, 2015

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Being an educator means you probably have very little time to read the news during the week. Here’s what piqued our interest at Haiku Learning, and we thought you might be interested in it, too!

"These 6 Questions Determine if You’re Technology Rich, Innovation Poor" - eSchool News

Do you think you’re leading an innovative school due to the technology you’ve implemented? Are you sure? When the author of this article started a recent webinar by asking school leaders that same question, over 90% said yes. By the end of the webinar, only one person said yes. The 6 questions mentioned in this article may be worth checking out to take a deeper look into your school’s use of educational technology.

"With Common Core, More States Sharing Test Questions" - Education Week

Time and money. Two things school district leaders love to save (who doesn’t?). Since more states will be sharing the same academic standards due to common core, district leaders within those states are starting to share test items with each other. Why reinvent the wheel, after all? Apparently that type of sharing always existed, but it was harder in the past because states didn’t have the same standards. Common core has changed that. They only mention a few states in this article, but would be interesting to see if there are more out there.

At Haiku Learning, we see this type of collaboration all the time with our customers. Some of the most interesting uses of our platform have been when teachers within a school share their best lessons and activities inside of Haiku Learning using just a few mouse clicks. Some schools even create a “dump” class where all the teachers "dump" their best content and other teachers in the school “shop” for useful lessons. Any teacher that’s ever read Harry Wong’s “The First Days of School” remembers this sage advice that speaks to this practice: beg, borrow, and steal!

"Challenges and Successes in Online Communities of Practice" - EdTech: Focus on K-12

Want some guidance in managing your online Community of Practice (CoP)? For those who don’t know, CoP's offer an effective way for educators to work together virtually on common problems and share strategies. They enable educators to get access to resources they may not have locally. It’s also a great way to practice the same 21st century collaborative skills that educators are trying to teach their students. In order to master the challenges and achieve success with CoP's, this article provides some tips to engage your members and measure your progress.

Again, this is a very similar practice we've seen with some of our customers at Haiku Learning. A user is a member of a professional group, and they'll set up a Haiku Learning class to update, communicate, and share information with the other members.

"What Good Technology Use Looks Like in the Early Years" - Education Week

Education Week wanted to answer the question “What constitutes good use of educational technology in the early years?” So, they visited Belmont Hills Elementary School in Pennsylvania to get a first-hand look into how they use technology in PreK-3 classrooms. Here you'll find each grade broken down into 4 categories: what the school does; what the research says; what to look for; watch a video. The video takes place in the classroom with the students using the technology. If you’re a teacher or administrator in the lower grades, you should definitely check this out.

"Edtech Tools Get Creative With Formative Assessments" - edSurge

“Have you ever wondered if there were other ways your students can creatively show their learning, in a timely, and efficient manner?” This question is posed by the the author of this article. She’s professional development specialist and educator and provides some of her favorite apps for formative assessments. By the way, one of them listed is a favorite amount Haiku Learning educators: Quizlet. It can be embedded into any Haiku class. We see lots of usage with that one!

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