Formative Assessment – keep assessing myself

Check out this article.  JOLT – Journal of Online Learning and Teaching-2g5k82d

As I incorporate more and more google classroom quizzes and other digital assessments into my teaching, I want to make sure that I learn to use the results and information provided, as well as the actual technical formats well.  Lorna Kearns closes the article with some valuable recommendations.

For myself, as I review the pre-post test format I have been using, I realize that I can still use these, however, that I MUST also chunk down the information into smaller segments and use these throughout the course, immediately as information is covered, to check understanding, and allow me to continuously adapt my teaching.  Otherwise, the pre-test informed what I initially did, but I never did a check-up in process – just a postmortem at the end.    Yes— I am still a learner myself– with the digital apps and new technologies continually changing it looks like I will continue to be a learner for a long time to come!  It’s exciting!


Are we empowering or building learned helplessness in our children?

This article, shared by a colleague of mine, is offered here with the intention to bring awareness to cultural trends of today.  Cultural and parenting practices have shifted and certainly have impact on our students.

It really bodes the question-  Are we empowering our children/students to be contributors and to take ownership and responsibility for their own actions?

After reading this article, I drove past an elementary school during dismissal time.  Every – and I mean EVERY – adult accompanying a student was carrying what appeared to be that particular student’s book bag.  I was shocked.  I am evaluating my own classroom practices to make sure I am empowering my students.

The Padagogy Wheel

Just saw the Padagogy Wheel developed by Allan Carrington at the University of Adelaide.  If you are a blended learning teacher, moving into that area by using more apps, or curious about how digital applications relate to Bloom’s taxonomy… Take a look!

Download the PDF here –

Blended Learning? Shared thoughts on Why, a Definition, and my experiments-

Why Blended learning?  I recently read two articles** which reviewed several rationales for designing instruction as a Blended Learning model- one from an elementary classroom perspective and the other from a higher education focus.   The KIPP elementary program in LA has set goals of increased test score achievement, and higher education enrollment increases for their students.  The student body demographic includes 88% free/reduced lunch, 34% English Learners, and 8% Special Education.   The first Case Study in Canada focused on institutional leadership where higher education faculty were motivated to redesign courses as Blended Learning experiences in order to ‘improve student learning and instructor satisfaction.’  Both articles describe the need to define Blended Learning, and provide instructional supports to the faculty for the re-design.

My own ‘why’ is to more fully engage students from within the ubiquitous digital space in which they are creating identity, gathering information, and communicating with others.   Basically – continuing to improve my teaching in this ever-changing world.

Define Blended Learning:  DEFINITION NEEDED!  Or perhaps not.  My own experience is one of confusion regarding the term Blended Learning as we talk about implementing it in our district.  Different people have different ideas.   Is this 1) half online and half face to face, or Is this 2) all on line with some synchronous meetings, or is this 3) accessing technology for reference and use of specific programs along with a variety of activities in class?  Jen Jonson describes in her video that the technology has to have a component of discussion and sharing and back-and-forth between students, between faculty and students, and perhaps even others.   I have taken a wide variety of online courses, and feel Jen Jonson’s YouTube definition is best met in classes where there is synchronous discussion – even then, however, they can fall short qualitatively.  A once a week meeting doesn’t necessarily create in-depth work or discussion.  My experience has been that smaller group meetings are more productive for pushing beyond questions and having deep dialog with less people to talk and perhaps a willingness to have flexible or extended time schedules.

I am reading Daniel Pink’s To Sell Is Human – The surprising truth about moving others.  He writes about mimicry, attunement and empathy as skills for communication.  Once we get into a digital text-only realm, we lose inflection, non-verbal cues such as facial expression and body language, and the physical space of silence for thinking, reframing questions, processing and gaining inspiration.  Even the stop/start of someone searching for the correct verbalization is lost, a process that often triggers other avenues of discussion.  In a text environment, the give and take is not necessarily fluid, but calculated and crafted to ‘read the best’.  We are losing valuable content in text-only spaces and I feel synchronous work is a necessary component for blended learning.

My trials in blended learning

As I work to move beyond technology as a tool to a truer integration of technology in my teaching I share two experiences so far.  These are technology uses added on to a face-to-face experience.

  • Google Classroom Quizzes – the assessment can truly become an instructional tool. Quizzes allow me provide instructional content individually directed to students as content they see in response to their answers. “Yes. because”  or “No.. the answer is actually …. Because.”  The first time I used this, I didn’t understand why students were taking longer to do the assessment and when I asked one student – “Everything okay?”, she replied with a very disgusted tone “I’m reading.”  The teaching moment lined directly to the question – space, time and content appropriate.
  • Padlet – I am using Padlet to provide students a private class space to share images and information and even add comments for peers.  We are just beginning this and working through technical access issues.  (Using Google Classroom, students submit to ‘the teacher’ and cannot see each other’s work.  I do like this, however, because I have used a ning in the past where students spent more time scrolling through work done by others, than actually doing their own work.  )  Still, with Google Classroom, students become isolated without seeing other students’ work, and are no-longer reaching out to others who have done something successfully, or just asking questions of or offering congratulations to each other.


Focus for 2018


This book inspired me to work with goals in a new way…. Prioritizing, and then winnowing them down to the ONE – Choose between two and winnow the list down to the last two— those most important for right now… Then… PICK the ONE and do it !  Celebrate and redo the list..

I find that as I complete a goal, I am revising the priorities – because my situation has changed.  Definitely— am moving forward into 2018!




Keeping Authenticity – online

This week had a number of Eureka moments for me – digitally speaking.  I’ve learned to create two different online learning media- a tutorial of a hands-on technique for Crafts and a screen capture tutorial for using tools in Photoshop.  Who knew? AND, I now know I have a YouTube channel.. Guess what?  I can’t wait to post more!  Yes- certainly, I could make a demo video before, but the process of ‘uploading, editing, transferring, formatting, etc.’ . has become streamlined and incredibly easy to do.

The Photoshop tutorial – I’ve been surprised to suddenly hear my recorded voice in the classroom while I’m helping students.  I am not teaching in an online environment, but I am incorporating online components and access to materials for students in my class- and this tutorial was my first.  I can’t wait to do more.  It is helpful to have a hands-on tutorial available (recorded) for students to reference when needed.  It has freed me from having to continually repeat informational steps, and allowed students to work at their own pace…I am amazed at how they are using it… repeating segments, forwarding to what they need.  And, it’s me talking, making a joke, being authentic and owning an ‘oops’ mistake on screen.

So, with the recording handling the basic tech hands-on review needed, my physical role in the classroom has been more of a questioner, learning/exploring and taking advantage of the opportunities – those teachable moments – that can stretch the learning happening in the classroom.  I’m no longer being limited and pulled back into review of the basic hands-on techniques.  Many of the questions I am being asked are richer and more thoughtful than they were in the past – the basic skill questions are covered.

I can see how recordings of the instructor provide a presence on line – a valued one.  My students are more apt to go to my video than to another tutorial provided.  In fact, two have asked me to make more– and add a video to accompany the printed text instructions for another assignment.    I will keep you posted !

The learning of Online Learning

Challenging, enlightening, inspiring, full of possibilities –  Learning about OnLine Learning is making me review my own practices.  I must put a halt to the ‘down the rabbit hole’ syndrome where one link leads to another, to another.

What do I currently do to learn online in a more focused manner?   I’m an avid TED talk viewer, love the articles in This is Colossal  and sign up for a class in  Highbrow   when I can.

All three afford a variety of topics with arts and inspiration/improvement topics.




Video Tutorials

WOW!  I just learned how to use the Screen-Castomatic- Screen Recorder.   This is a tool that allows you to record your screen as you are working through a digital demonstration.

Requiring my students to provide documentation of their learning through digital portfolios and demonstrate their work through some process videos, I have found that these videos need better identification and documentation themselves.   We use HP’s at school, and were able to download the Windows Moviemaker app for editing videos.

Here’s my first tutorial (really it was ‘take 5’ trying to get the video down to 5 minutes) which walks through the process of adding a Title screen and Credits to a video using Windows Moviemaker.

Tutorial: How to add a Title and Credits in Windows Moviemaker

On Line – Entering the Dialog – an Optimist

January 7, 2017 – I just finished listening to Thomas Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late –  – an Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations.  I’m going to listen again – and look forward to my commute time.   I agree with Friedman that sometimes it is refreshing to have the gift of a few thoughtful moments while waiting for someone who is late.

Things are moving SO FAST.  I am seeing huge cultural changes and shifts in my students – these totally digital natives born after 2011- that are affecting the way that ‘classroom learning’ occurs.  I’m sure many of you are seeing this too.  Modifying teaching practices is a must.

This week I began a class at the University of Pennsylvania for a Virtual Online Teaching Certification (VOLT).  Will keep you posted as I grow and learn.

I think I’m in Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) when it comes to teaching in the digital age.

Where are you?