The Lessons We Learned from Teachers: Teacher Appreciation 2015

"Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops.”

Henry Brooks Adams


In honor of all the great teachers out there, we at Haiku Learning wanted to share some of the great lessons we’ve learned from our own teachers over the years and the impact they’ve had on us.

So, here's a great big thank you from Haiku Learning to ALL teachers – the teachers we've had, the teachers we've worked with, and the teachers we don't know. You're doing one of the hardest jobs out there. Words alone cannot express our gratitude, but here's our best shot.

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EdTech Weekly News Roundup - May 01, 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.

"Empowering Student Relationships With Media" – Edutopia

The author presents a new taxonomy to help students analyze the media they engage with every day and why they’re engaging with it. The goals are to make students skilled critical media consumers and creators.

"WiFi on Wheels Puts Two Districts on the Fast Track to 24/7 Access” – THE Journal

Two schools are profiled for their use of WiFi on school buses. But it’s probably not applied in the way that you think. They are trying to get more students connected in neighborhoods where wifi is not a given in every home. The end result? Connected busses as mobile hotspots and pop-up classrooms. It's interesting to see how these districts are thinking outside the box to extend technology to all students in their districts.

"Take the Terror out of Teaching with Tablets" – Edudemic

The author, who became known as “iPad Man” at his school because he wasn’t afraid of the new devices, shares three lessons he learned about teaching with tablets, lessons which helped raise his school's satisfaction rate with technology classes from 60% to 85%. He came to these conclusions after spending a year doing focus groups with students, sitting in on classes, and a summer spent working with staff.

"iPhotography in the Classroom: Some Snappy Tips for Putting It Into Practice" – Edudemic

Especially helpful for those teaching writing or art, this article provides a series of tips to combine photography and technology to stimulate writing and critical thinking. Some helpful sites are included, such as those that offer blogging with images or authentic assessment-type projects like creating portfolios to sell one's skills in an interview.

"Which Personalized Learning Framework is Best For You and Your School?" – edSurge

Consider this a primer on several different personalized learning frameworks. Personalized learning is thrown around a lot and everyone probably defines it differently. Reading about specific frameworks may help you and your colleagues get on the same page before moving forward.

For Haiku Learning customers: Do you have any tips for getting over the "terror" of teaching with tablets? Share it with other Haiku Learning teachers in our Community Forum!

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App of the Week: explore

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In this weekly blog, our own Emily Jeanes gives 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 explore?

From their site: Explore "is a multimedia organization that documents leaders around the world who have devoted their lives to extraordinary causes. Both educational and inspirational, explore creates a portal into the soul of humanity by championing the selfless acts of others. explore features a wide range of topics—from animal rights, health and human services, and poverty to the environment, education, and spirituality. Delivered in short, digestible bites, explore films appeal to viewers of all ages, from children learning about other cultures for the first time to adults looking for a fresh perspective on the world around them." Puppies. Cayman Island streams. Snowfalls. Sharks. And all for a wonderful cause.

In Haiku Learning: Students will marvel at the real-time view into another place. Whether you use the Youtube block to embed the streams directly from Youtube, or Embed the Web to "Share", explore fits well into a Haiku Learning content block.

Quick Facts

How do I get the embed code?

Find the video or Live Stream you'd like to embed, then select the Share button, and the <> Embed option. From there, use the Copy to Clipboard button to copy your embed code. Some videos may link to a Youtube stream instead. If that's the case, be sure to grab the url of the YouTube video to use in our Youtube content block. Or, from the YouTube video, click the Share button, copy the embed code, and paste into an Embed the Web content block.

See why they call this video of a Panda Den "Scratch the Itch". credit: explore.org

Why should I try it?

I adore explore's mission to promote inspirational, beautiful, and educational videos. Their live streams are easily embedded, bring a page instantly to life, and represent some of the most beautiful places in the world. Want to see Pandas in their den? How about the Cayman reef?

Exciting, motivational things are happening right now all around the world, and explore offers a window in real-time to broaden the horizons of your classroom. For exceptional educational content that changes not just each day, but each second, I think explore is one of my favorite places on the web to visit.

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EdTech Weekly News Roundup - April 24, 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.

"Digital Natives, Yet Strangers to the Web" – The Atlantic

Are some schools emphasizing the wrong objectives when it comes to teaching students about technology? The author explores different perspectives on what students are actually learning about technology in today's world versus what they should be. Included is an interview with Rueben Loewy, a teacher who created a curriculum called Living Online, which covers topics he thinks students should be learning, such as Digital Activism and Cyberpsychology.

"Winning in the Classroom with Your Personalized Learning Playbook" – edSurge

This compilation of articles and other resources aims to help schools better understand and implement personalized learning. It includes twelve resources to get started plus covers these topics: Writing the Playbook: Personalized Learning Frameworks; Carrying Out the Plays: Implementing Strategies School or Districtwide; and Team Huddle: Communicating a Personalized Learning Vision.

"4 Tools and Resources to Help Autistic Students Navigate K-12" – Education Dive

These tools include social robots that help develop social skills; lesson-planning software that helps track and address behavior challenges; a teacher-created tool that helps students develop digital literacy skills; and a curated list of top apps that help students on the autism spectrum.

"10 Ways to Use the YouTube Creative Studio with Your Students" – Teachercast

We know a lot of Haiku Learning teachers use video in our platform to either help differentiate their instruction or as part of projects they assign to students. Check out this video podcast, to learn about some cool features of the YouTube Creative Studio that you probably didn't know existed but have a variety of uses for school projects. It's especially helpful to learn about these tools if you're not using computers that have iMovie or other video editing software.

"How One School Supports BYOT with a Parent University" – THE Journal

Most schools use emails and website posts to keep parents up to date on technology tools and software being used in the school. However, one school is going a bit further. They want to not only keep parents updated, but also help them "become 21st century learning advocates". The school holds monthly, hour-long sessions on topics such as Current Technology Trends in Schools and Internet Safety, and they call the program Parent University.

"Calculating Mastery: When Has a Student Mastered a Standard?" – Haiku Learning

This is one from our own blog this week on standards-based grading. It seeks to answer the question "How do you define when a student has met a particular learning goal?"

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Calculating Mastery: When Has a Student Mastered a Standard?

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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.


In Standards-Based Grading, it’s important to define how a teacher knows when a student has met a particular learning goal. In other words, you need to know when a student has demonstrated mastery.

This is especially important when you’re trying to get a quick sense of how a student is doing on a particular standard. How do you take that entire history of a student’s performance and compress it into one fact? And when you look at that fact, what is it actually telling you about the student’s level of mastery?

Of course, you can’t include all the historical information in your overall score, or else you’d just end up with the same list of scores you started out with. Instead, you have to choose which information is important enough that you want to include it in the overall score for the standard.

This decision is the key to choosing a Mastery Level Calculation method in Haiku Learning.

3 Approaches to Defining Mastery

Generally speaking, there are three different aspects of student performance you could choose to focus on.

  • You could emphasize recency: “How is the student doing now?” Mastery means the student is currently meeting the standard.

  • You could emphasize peak performance: “How does the student do at her best?” Mastery means the student has met the standard at any time.

  • You could emphasize consistency: “How well has the student done over time?” Mastery means the student meets the standard all most of the time.

These three approaches match the three basic Mastery Level Calculation methods available in Haiku Learning - Most Recent, Maximum, and Median, respectively.

The Pros and Cons of Each Approach

Many would argue that recency is the best fit for true standards-based assessment: by telling you how a student is doing right now, it gives you the clearest picture of what the student needs to do next in order to progress towards the learning goal. Measuring peak performance may also be appropriate in certain situations.

But you may have noticed a potential problem with these two approaches: they both base the student’s overall score for a standard on a single assessment score. In many cases, though, it’s hard to be certain that a particular score is accurate. This is where a hybrid approach can help by adding an element of consistency.

Most of the Mastery Level Calculation methods available in Haiku Learning are hybrids. Some, like Decaying Average and Average of the Most Recent Three, put the emphasis on recent work while also requiring a bit of consistency. Average of the Three Highest, on the other hand, requires a student to perform well a couple extra times before you consider them to have mastered the standard.

For a number of reasons, focusing on consistency alone isn’t usually a great fit for standards-based assessment. (Our Standards-Based Grading FAQ looks at why this is - and why we still provide some consistency options anyway.)

In a sense, expecting consistency means you’re expecting the student to demonstrate mastery from day one of the class - at least most of the time. If that’s a reasonable expectation for the students in a particular class, then what are the students actually learning? And if it’s not a reasonable expectation, then what does focusing on consistency tell you besides the obvious - that the students hadn’t already mastered the standard before starting the class?

In the end, there may be some situations where this actually is the right fit, but it usually isn’t.

Final Thoughts

Whichever you choose, it’s important to understand your choice and the implications it will have for Standards-Based Grading.

Remember, it’s all about defining and measuring mastery. If mastery means the student can do it now, go with recency; if it means the student can do it at least once, go with peak performance; if it means the student can do it every time, go with consistency.

For Haiku Learning customers: How do you define mastery? Let us know in the Community Forum.

If you're still learning about standards-based grading, Justin did a post on traditional grading vs. standards-based grading back in January. He also wrote Assessing Mastery: The Perils of Averages in Standards-Based Grading last month.

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