Category Archives: formative assessment

Community Engagement Project – EDTC 6104

Increasing Family Engagement Through Digital Portfolios

This summer I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone.  In my own building, I worked as the Site Coordinator for summer school, my first time truly managing other staff and being in charge of a building.  With my Masters program through SPU, I’ve submitted my first proposal to a conference.  While this has been daunting, I have enjoyed both challenges.  Having taught ELL for seven years, I’ve taught summer school, both initiated and led before and after school programs, and attended workshops, but have never sought out a leadership role.  This summer has shifted my own perception of what I’m capable of and how I can contribute to others.

Trying New Strategies to Engage ELL Families

One of my greatest challenges as an educator and coach has been communication with families.  Working in schools where the majority of the parents are not native English speakers, communication is often limited, lost in translation, and we frequently rely on students to be the translator to get messages through to families. Based on my own experience in Title 1 schools in two different states, ELL families are less likely to initiate communication with teachers and less likely to use email as a frequent communication tool. Numerous studies agree that in general, low-income and/or ethnic/racial minority families are less likely to participate in school events and certain aspects of the children’s education. (Dong-shin Shin and Wendy Seger 2016). Many of these same families have limited access to technology and less exposure to 21st century skills.  Therefore, I feel it is important for teachers to not only introduce 21st century skills to students, but also help coach their families in how to use technology as a communication tool, professionally, and share their funds of knowledge.

What do we know about family involvement in Title 1 schools?

The most extensive research comes from the Hoover-Demspey and Sandler study known as the HDS Model.  Their findings claim parent involvement is based on these key factors:

The Parent Institute, 2012

This chart supports evidence that parents who do not speak English or were not educated in the American education system are more likely to find it difficult to participate at the school site. Furthermore, these families may have varying cultural views on what parent involvement entails based on their own cultural experiences. Particularly in low-income/immigrant families, parents may be limited in time by constraints related to their occupation, caring for other family members, or cultural commitments. So how can I connect families to what’s happening in the classroom when they are unable to attend our events? How do we support our illiterate parents?

This past year I’ve been searching for digital tools that help connect with families and offer translation.  Partially motivated by several great digital programs students have used for projects without a common way to share their work with families. I was fortunate enough to attend the International TESOL Convention to learn more about what other teachers are doing around the world and what I might be able to apply in my own building. These challenges inspired my quest for a better system to increase parent engagement, empower students, while still meeting performance standards.

My search led me to discovering digital portfolios.  With the intention of supporting students and increasing family engagement, the platform I am most eager to explore at this time is Seesaw.  

Digital Portfolios – Empower Students and Engage Families

My Proposal

Searching for conferences to submit proposals to was a foreign concept to me.  After looking at larger conferences, I decided to do some google searching of my own and happened upon the WAESOL (Washington Association for the Education of Speakers of Other Languages) website.  I was so excited to see that they were accepting proposals for their 2017 conference to be held this upcoming October.  My greatest challenge was the deadline to apply, in July.  I had anticipated having all summer to explore apps, compare, and learn.

The 2017 WAESOL Conference will take place in October in Des Moines, WA.  My proposal was for a Teacher Demonstration session which is 45 minutes.  Knowing the conference targets ELL teachers, I feel I have a fair understanding of the participants who attend these workshops. Also, knowing the state standards we all address, I felt I could really streamline how digital portfolios can support teachers, students, and families.

How can I encourage others to buy in to using digital portfolios?

When thinking about how to get others excited, I thought back to various workshops I attended at the TESOL convention.  How did speakers get and maintain my attention? Beyond teachers wanting to learn about the topic, I want them to understand I am like them.  I am currently teaching, at times overwhelmed feeling I can’t take on anything else, yet wanting to serve our population and advocate for the ELL families in our state.

With attendees coming from around the state, we share the same teaching standards, evaluation systems, language barriers, gaps in formal education, as well as successes and challenges.  Rather than simply digitizing portfolios, this platform allows us to record students speaking and reading which is critical in their language development.  Students can monitor their own progress as well as have some control over the work they choose to publish.  Parents will have the opportunity to become involved digitally without needing to come to the school.  

In lieu of adding to the work day, digital portfolios can create a classroom system where students become more actively involved in their published work with the awareness of an authentic audience. Attendees will be able to make connections between digital tools and what they are already doing in the classroom. How can I achieve this in just 45 minutes?

Below is a mini-version of my slide presentation.  Starting with questions to gauge the audience, I might modify the direction of the workshop.  My intent is to truly highlight strengths of Seesaw and how it aligns well to tools and standards already utilised in K-12 classrooms. Again, by addressing the standards met and how teachers can use digital portfolios as evidence of their own professional growth, it is simply modifying how teachers capture the work already taking place.

After sharing how Seesaw can work for students, teachers, and parents, attendees will have the opportunity to explore Seesaw or another platform on a personal or shared device. Attendees will log in to a mock class as a student and be asked to upload photos, record audio, and take notes.  The audio and note-taking questions will align with teacher background which in turn will give me a better understanding of the who’s in attendance. If teachers prefer another platform, I’d like to hear about it and why it works for them.

Why Seesaw?  

So Why Seesaw?  Yes, there are other great platforms out there, however at this time, I am choosing to implement and promote Seesaw.  As mentioned in previous posts, many of our ELL students come from high poverty families without internet access, consistent working phones, first generation to have formal education.  Seesaw does not require an app like some other platforms. At this time, Seesaw allows teachers to assess reading, writing, and speaking, which all ELL teachers do anyway, now they can simply store data in one location. Seesaw offers voice messaging, which most platforms do not.

For example, we’ll look at one of my students from Guatemala.  He speaks Spanish. Great! We have Spanish support in my building so easy solution is send home all information in Spanish.  However, neither of his parents had more than 4 years of school.  His mother struggles to read in Spanish and his dad works long hours.  Who will translate? His mom does however have a phone and they frequently go to a coffee shop where she can access free wi-fi to chat with family back home.  How can I utilize this knowledge to support the family?  His mother can use the QR code to access Seesaw and look up his published work while she’s at the coffee shop and leave him voice messages.  

How else can Seesaw help?  Parents can give access to other family members.  We have many students who go to outside agencies for after school tutoring.  Those agencies then contact us wanting progress reports.  To eliminate this step, we could simply give the access to Seesaw and they can log in on their own to see how the students are performing as well as give feedback.  It’s another way to show students we all work as a team to support their academic growth and language development.

How does Seesaw support teachers in the classroom?  In my limited experience (one month) Seesaw has great support for teachers using the platform.  Through frequent email updates, I’ve learned about free webinars, updates to the system, Facebook groups to join that are grade level or content specific, and have joined a new group of educators who vary in experience. This is one of the driving reasons why I feel I can recommend Seesaw to others.  I may not know the answer to a question, but I feel I now have a support network I can quickly turn to and be directed to the person who has the answer.


The Parent Institute (2012) Why is parent involvement important? Retrieved from

Park, S. S., & Holloway, S. D. (2012, November 30). No Parent Left Behind: Predicting Parental Involvement in Adolescents’ Education within a Sociodemographically Diverse Population. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from

Shin, D., & Seger, W. (2016, January 13). Web 2.0 Technologies and Parent Involvement of ELL Students: An Ecological Perspective. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from

Deeper Learning and Formative Assessment Module 2 EDTC 6103

Deeper Learning for All

This module asks how a teacher can best design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments from ISTE Standards for Teachers #2. I am becoming more and more passionate about the idea of making learning relevant for students through the use of digital tools. I’ve always had a desire to make learning relevant for students, (Why do I teach right?), but in my exploration of technology integration over the past 5 years or so and more acutely since I started my M.Ed. in Digital Education Leadership I’ve felt an urgency to make learning relevant through the use of technology.

Everyday I see the negative effects of students who are not totally engaged in learning. No matter how much I think that the learning matters to them, and in spite of my desire to communicate the authentic connection that many standards in fact do have to students lives, still they are unable to fully connect to their learning. I am convinced that technology can empower teachers to help students make authentic connections with their learning. Additionally, I am convinced that through careful planning, intentional integration, a refusal to settle and a focused desire to make learning meaningful teachers can make changes to the learning environment that will positively impact their students. I’ve seen too many videos and read too many articles related to personalized learning, challenge based learning, design thinking and project based learning to think that these approaches do not positively impact students. So today and during this module my desire was to find out how can I go about beginning the process of transforming my classroom or at the very least one subject into a more powerful and more authentic learning environment for students.

I wondered, how can teachers begin to transition from dispensers of knowledge to co-constructors of knowledge with students while moving toward empowering students to discover their own knowledge through personalized learning, connected learning or other authentic learning experiences? What are some initial steps that can be taken by teachers to move toward a learning environment that engages students in investigating their own interests related to content standards? Really these questions are focused toward my own practice. How can I move toward breaking away from traditional teaching in order to harness the power of “deeper learning approaches [that] are more effective than traditional lecture-style models of teaching,” (Adams Becker, Freeman, Giesinger Hall, Cummings, & Yuhnke, 2016).

I knew this was a lofty question, but I decided to give it a try. After investigating for the limited amount of time that I had, I have a few ideas. My thinking is definitely still in process, but I’m starting to piece it together. Maybe the most exciting advancement is that the more co-workers I talk to about the prospect of starting a project related to deeper learning, the more I’m finding are interested in the same thing!

The Ostensible First Step for me

Changing the environment

The traditional classroom environment is boring. I’m no interior designer, but even I am not inspired when I step into a traditional classroom. I believe that a classroom probably shouldn’t look like it did when I went to elementary school close to 30 years ago. I know that not all of us can work in newly remodeled schools, but what can we do to change the environment nonetheless? I want to begin changing my classroom environment. I think that the video on Flexible Classrooms that I found from Edutopia offers some good insight and suggestions for teachers.

According to Lisa Molinaro, the principal of Woodbrook Elementary School, the first thing that needs to happen for Albemarle teachers to successfully create a flexible classroom is: “The teacher must have a vision for his or her room. The teacher must be willing to say, I’m going to throw out some of this stuff. I don’t need this traditional schooling equipment,” (Flexible Classrooms: Providing the learning environment that kids need, 2015). Some ideas that I have to try for my room are, increase the types of seating that I have, as well as add flexible book shelves that can be moved to create work spaces, nooks, or in order to open up the room.

“We’re really looking at how we support kids working collaboratively,” Fisher says. “And we can’t do it if we’re isolated in rows and every kid is an island,” (Flexible Classrooms: Providing the learning environment that kids need, 2015). With collaborative learning in mind, I will develop a vision for my own classroom. 

Possible Next Steps

As I change my learning environment, I can begin to focus on modifying my instruction as well. Of course I’m constantly changing my instruction, but a drastic change that would enable deeper learning seems daunting to me. Honestly, I couldn’t find a lot of information on what to do next. I do have some ideas based on the resources I found and investigated but it is simply my own interpretation of what would work best in my school, my classroom and for my students. From what I have read thus far on deeper learning, that is the best way to start.

I have slowly, over the past two years, often unknowingly, integrated concepts of personalized learning into my math instruction but I still struggle to make math meaningful for my students, especially those who feel that they are not good at math. I know a couple areas of focus persist that are seemingly unrelated to deeper learning. I want to continue to ensure that my students develop a growth mindset and model that for them. Also I want to encourage students to make real world connections to the math we are learning. Finally, I want to begin to design a project based learning assignment for the end of the year that will use the variety of math concepts we have studied during the year.

I read in many resources about the importance of knowing your student population when deciding about what technology will work for them or, which learning style is best for students. I think that age matters. What works for middle elementary students? That is something I will continue to investigate.

Also one definite next step came from sharing my ideas with other teachers. I found that many of the instructional coaches at my school are very excited to delve into deeper learning. That gives me some support in taking on this work in my school and in my classroom.

Integrating Assessment into Deeper Learning

During this module I was reminded that a plethora of formative assessment tools that are moderately easy to use do exists. I chose to focus on Socrative, but in my investigation and through talking to classmates I was reminded of a few other relatively easy to use resources. Some ideas I want to keep in mind for formative assessment are Plickers, Google Forms, Seesaw, Recap and a few more. I did find a video by Richard Byrne that most closely resembled my idea of a simple formative assessment. In the video from his blog Richard explains how to use a feature that was added to Socrative sometime around 2013. He suggests that you can take a quiz and add possible answers students would enter in order to create a self-grading quiz, (Byrne, 2013).

Here are the answers I attempted to account for…

That is exactly the type of thing I was looking for! I wondered if that same quiz could integrate a reflection or short answer question. I found that it was possible to combine a self grading quiz with a reflection question, or so I thought until I saw the grading form. As you can see in my attached spreadsheet that shows the results, it didn’t work perfectly on my first try. According to Socrative, none of my students got any answers correct, but when I went back to check there were 12 out of 17 who had correct answers, about 71%. I know I must have done something wrong, but I was hoping it would be so easy that I’d get it right the first time. Still in spite of this setback, I do think that Socrative is a great formative assessment resource, and the self-correction tool is one I will learn how to use correctly. I also am really happy that I’m not limited to just multiple choice or questions that will not facilitate deeper learning. I’m glad that reflection can be demonstrated through the same tool.

This post is another of mine that doesn’t end with a “solution” that is as clear as I would like but there is evidence that the difficult work is worth beginning. One idea that keeps coming back to me and pushing my to change my thinking is this quote from the Horizon Report: “deeper learning occurs when students are provided with greater flexibility and choice so that their passions can guide them,” (Adams Becker et al., 2016). I will work to use my classroom environment, technology and formative assessment to enable and encourage deeper learning. 


Adams Becker, S., Freeman, A., Giesinger Hall, C., Cummings, M., & Yuhnke, B. (2016). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12 Edition. The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from

Basye, D. (2016 10–23). Personalized vs. differentiated vs. individualized learning. ISTE. Retrieved from

Byrne, R. (2013, April 19). Video – How to use the new features of socrative [Blog]. Retrieved from

Flexible classrooms: Providing the learning environment that kids need. (2015, August 4). [Video Blog]. Retrieved from

Free online resources engage elementary kids. (2012, June 13). [Video Blog]. Retrieved from

Roc, M. (2014). Connected Learning Harnessing the Information Age to Make Learning More Powerful (pp. 1–11). Alliance for Excellent Education. Retrieved from

Peer Instruction-like resources for math (Module 2, ISTE-TS 2 experiences and assessments)

One of my most memorable college experiences as a student involved the use of clicker questions, but used in a little bit of a non-traditional way. The class was “baby quantum” as we called it. It was a prerequisite for the intro quantum mechanics sequence.

Typically, in my experience as a student, a multiple-choice question is presented on the projector, the students talk about it for 2ish minutes, we each submit our answer by pressing a button on our own clicker device, the final results are displayed as a histogram, and then we wrap up by talking about the answer options as a class.

On this day, however, we were not allowed to consult one another. Instead, we silently answered the question, we were not shown the final histogram, and we did not follow up by talking about the question/answer. We then switched gears and worked together on related a UW Tutorial. After we completed the tutorial, we were presented with the same clicker question again, giving us the opportunity to change our answer (I don’t remember if we were allowed to talk to each other this time – I would guess not). And again, we were not yet shown the results. But we could tell by the instructor’s reaction that something interesting had happened. She then revealed the histograms…

First she showed us the histogram from round one – I don’t remember the distribution off the top of my head, but it was more or less all over the place. Then she showed us the histogram from round two. The gasp was audible and there was a mild uproar – over 90% of us now chose the same answer! The right answer.

It’s hard to describe how exciting it was, and the story is also a success story about the tutorial we were working on (see here for a journal article on the tutorial, which includes the actual clicker question stats from this day). But we were elated. There was such a stark contrast between the histograms. The use of clicker questions really showcased the power of the tutorial. From an instructor’s perspective, the tutorial is probably main point of interest, but for me, the final reveal of the clicker question results is really what that made that day so memorable. Our jaws dropped to the floor.

For Module 2 we are looking at ISTE-TS 2: Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments – “teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessments incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the Standards•S.”

In particular, two indicators stood out to me as related to the use of clicker questions/classroom voting systems (CVS): Indicator 2a – “design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity,” and Indicator 2d – “provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards, and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching.”

To go through the points in those indicators: Research has shown positive results on student learning with the use of CVS (Cline and Zullo, 2011; Crouch and Mazur, 2001). You can, but don’t have to, use digital tools to implement the questions. There is room to increase relevance by choosing questions that you feel your particular class needs to discuss. Discussing their answers with each other gives them more opportunity to think and reflect, and thus develop their own way of imaging the math (i.e., being mathematically creative). One of the main ideas behind CVS is to use the activity as a formative assessment. Additionally, students report that CVS are engaging, and from experience, I would agree.

I am familiar with physics related CVS resources. Peer Instruction (PI) by Eric Mazur (1997) details a particular methodology around the use of clicker questions and provides a set of physics clicker questions. In Henderson and Dancy’s (2009) study, they found that PI was the most commonly used research-based instructional strategies in college physics. So my question was (and has been for some time):

What are some PI-like resources for the college math class? Is there a bank of PI-like clicker questions for math?

To my surprise (although maybe I shouldn’t be surprised), I found exactly what I was looking for. The links below come from a Phoenix College page, Clicker Questions and Math, or from one of the pages it links.

What Are Clicker Questions?

For a more elaborate, yet still quick, overview of the process and benefits of using clickers, I will refer you to Derek Bruff’s guest blog post (2009), Teaching Math with Clickers, on busynessgirl’s blog. On his own site, Bruff’s posts (2009), Flexible Clicker Questions, details a particular time he asked a clicker question. The way Bruff describes using student-submitted “bucket questions” as clicker questions makes his clicker questions particularly relevant to his class. He also says that this gives him a better sense for how prevalent the confusion is, rather than just answering student-submitted questions at the start of class (i.e., it works as a relevant formative assessment).

For a lot of elaboration about CVS in math, check out editors Kelly Cline and Holly Zullo’s (2011) book, Teaching Mathematics with Classroom Voting: With and Without Clickers.

“This collection includes papers from faculty at institutions across the country, teaching a broad range of courses with classroom voting, including college algebra, precalculus, calculus, statistics, linear algebra, differential equations, and beyond. These faculty share their experiences and explain how they have used classroom voting to engage students, to provoke discussions, and to improve how they teach mathematics.

This volume should be of interest to anyone who wants to begin using classroom voting as well as people who are already using it but would like to know what others are doing. While the authors are primarily college-level faculty, many of the papers could also be of interest to high school mathematics teachers.” (Mathematical Association of America, 2017)

I haven’t read all of the book, but it seems valuable and I will likely purchase it. I thought chapter 2 offered an insightful breakdown of implementation options, addressing: clickers or non-electronic voting, one- or two-cycle voting, and to grade or not to grade the responses.

This book is generally geared toward college instruction, but I want to point out chapter 8, Using Clickers in Courses for Future K–8 Teachers, for my K-8 teacher friends.

Resources for Math Clicker Questions

So what about the CVS questions themselves? These two resources offer pages and pages of ready-to-use CVS questions for a variety of college math topics/courses. (Both projects were NSF funded.)

I worked through one of the Math QUEST question sets (The Fundamental Theorem and Interpretations set in the Integral Calculus question library) and I really liked it. I felt that the questions did a good job setting the stage for subsequent questions. Multiple times the next question touched on something I had just been thinking about. For example during question 7 I thought, “Well (a) would be right if it were |v(x)| instead of v(x),” and then question 8 asked about |v(x)|. So I was happy with the progression of the questions.

Last Thoughts

These resources are really exciting to me. Clickers are something that I really want to incorporate into my future teaching and it’s nice to finally tap into that vein of research. As easy to find as these resources were, I’m not quite sure why I haven’t found them already!


Cline, K. S., & Zullo, H. (Eds.). (2011). Teaching mathematics with classroom voting: With and without clickers (No. 79). Mathematical Association of America (available here). Retrieved from

Crouch, C. H., & Mazur, E. (2001). Peer Instruction: Ten years of experience and results. American Journal of Physics, 69, 970-977.

Henderson, C., & Dancy, M. H. (2009). Impact of physics education research on the teaching of introductory quantitative physics in the United States. Physical Review ST Physics Education Research, 5(2), 1-9.

ISTE: International Society for Technology in Education. (2017). ISTE standards for teachers (2008). Retrieved from

Mathematical Association of America. (2017). Teaching mathematics with classroom voting: With and without clickers. Retrieved from

Mazur, E. (1997). Peer instruction: A user’s manual. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc.

Novak, G. (2006). What is Just-in-Time Teaching? Retrieved from


EDTC 6103 Designing Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments

This week’s assignment excited me, looking at formative assessment tools.  This year I am part of a team from my school, that is participating in a district wide training on how to strengthen formative assessments in our building.  I’ve been feeling the progress is slow, and although it’s a two year project, I feel I haven’t really gained any new insight this year.  However, with this task of looking closely at ISTE Teacher Standard 2, I felt compelled to find tools that will help my team. This led to my quest:

How can I support a grade level team with formative assessment tools?  What tools are user friendly, allow teachers to collaborate, share resources, and provide direction for reteaching?  Better yet, which of these are free?

Initially I perused several articles, and noticed 3 resources in particular that were mentioned: Kahoots, Socrative, and Plickers. Inspired by an article from Edutopia, .  The article, 5 Fantastic, Fast, Formative Assessment Tools, mentions Socrative, Kahoots, Plickers, and Zaption (which can now be replaced by EdPuzzle, another resource I’ve been wanting to test out). In the audio, Richard Byrne, a teacher from Maine, discusses strengths found in the various resources.

Another resource that had a wealth of information comes from a NWEA blogpost. This post shares 55 digital tools and apps recommended for Formative Assessments.  Again, mentioning the tools above, but also introducing GoFormative, which I’d love to try when I have access to devices again.

So how do these resources compare?  Looking closely at ISTE Standard 2.a and 2.d, I want to adapt our current practices to incorporate digital tools for assessment and help inform student learning and our teaching. I’m also looking for tools that do not require student email logins and are free to educators. 


I’ll begin with Plickers.  Plickers stood out to me for three reasons. First,  it uses a code, in place of English words, which I think is beneficial for ELL students and anonymity in general. Second, a teacher in my building recently started using Plickers and I know I can see it in action.  And lastly, since are computers are all tied up with testing for the next 6 weeks, Plickers seems like a great non-device formative assessment tool! Plickers is great for schools who do not have easy access to devices (like my school).  With the simplicity of my cell phone, a document camera, and one computer, I can pose questions on the screen and students hold up their individual card to share their response.  My phone then scans their cards giving me instant feedback.  This is great for teachers who want a quick response. Within a minute, I can have all students answers and the ability to keep their data for later.  Students do not need to write, are not able to read their peers responses, and these responses can immediately inform teachers on where to go next.  Data is stored in reports that can be downloaded into an Excel document.  Two drawbacks are that the program only allows multiple choice or true false options and there is not a shared databank of content for teachers to pull from.


Moving on to Kahoot, this is a fun way to excite students about quick checks.  Similar to Plickers, it only allows multiple choice or true false options.  It also exports data into Excel in a user friendly format. Where Plickers lacks shared resources, Kahoot lets you access a large databank of resources.  In order to use Kahoot teachers will need a document camera to display the questions and multiple devices for student access.  Students input their own name which requires teacher monitoring to enable teachers to use data later on.  It gamifies formative assessment by rewarding points based on correct response and response time.  Having tested this with my students, they absolutely loved it!  This is a great tool for quick checks, review before a test, or even pre-assessment.

Go Formative

Having just touched the surface on how to use Go Formative, this tool seems to most versatile for a free platform. Teachers can upload content in a variety of ways, and also allow students to answer using multiple choice, short answer, true/false, or draw their response.  Their reports are comparable to Plickers and Kahoot.  

Wishful Thinking

The one resource I’d love to push for my grade level team however is MasteryConnect. Sadly, this program has limited free access, but has the tools I am looking for in regards to team planning, collaboration, and reteaching. Looking at the review on EdSurge, I felt this is something my school lacks and is similar to a successful tool we used at my previous school several years ago.  I also like how Socrative can be linked to MasteryConnect, but again, Socrative is not free for teachers either.

In conclusion, I feel I have several resources I’d like to take to my team and discuss how we can simplify our teaching by utilizing tools that allow instant grading and excel to compare data.  My goal is to not reinvent the wheel, but find ways to work smarter, not harder.

Resources –

Edutopia. (2014). Tech2Learn: Success Stories of Technology Integration in the Classroom. Retrieved from (includes…

Johnson, K. (2016). Resources to Help You Choose the Digital Tools Your Classroom Needs. Retrieved from

Davis, V.(2015, January 15). 5 Fantastic, Fast, Formative Assessment Tools. Retrieved April 23, 2017, from

Take Three! 55 Digital Tools and Apps for Formative Assessment Success. (2016, June 07). Retrieved April 23, 2017, from

Zdonek, P. (2016, September 26). Putting the FORM in Formative Assessment. Retrieved April 23, 2017, from

MasteryConnect (Product Reviews on EdSurge). (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2017, from

EDTC 6103 Module 2 – ISTE Teaching Standard 2 Design & Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences & Assessments


In my exploration of ISTE Teaching Standard 2 this week, I am looking to explore the different digital tools that are out there for formative and summative assessments.  It is important to find something that will not take more time for grading and allow for real-time feedback for the students. The article from Edutopia’s Teaching for Meaningful Learning about how assessments matter is summarized well with this one line “for assessments to serve the critical functions, they must be grounded in a conception of learning as developmental and in a belief that all students will learn from experience and feedback, rather than being constrained by innate ability. It is also important to Module_2_-_ISTE_Teaching_Standard_2_Design__Dev_Digital_Learning_Exp__Assessments.pngremember that the most effective performance assessments are part of a related set of practices that include the integration of assessment and instruction, systematic use of iterative cycles of reflection and action, and ongoing opportunity for students to improve their work” (Barron & Darling Hammond, 2007). Establishing that assessments matter is not really the argument but sometimes I require a reminder why we spend so much time on them.  Then I took a look at a recent online piece which was done by McGraw-Hill Education the giant textbook and curriculum publisher. It is one part of a series about assessment implementation and in this section “Assessment Optimization #4: Analyze Results and Use them to Inform” McGraw-Hill staff writes that the “insights gleaned from assessments can be used at three levels: by the digital assessment program itself, by the instructor, and by the administrator. With each use, the adjustments made will address the needs of a wider student population — from the individual learner to the class, to the entire school or district” (2017). Purposeful and insightful assessments can help personalize learning and adapt exams for each student’s abilities and needs.  It also informs teachers and administrators.  McGraw-Hill is pushing their assessment solution tool Engrade but I thought instead I would explore a tool that my district is pushing to its staff to use, Formative.  Formative is a digital web-based machine that allows teachers/instructors to create assessments be it formative or summative.  I think it can be a lot like Kahoot but a bit more official and useful for teachers.

Click to view slideshow.

Formative lets teachers create assessments, deliver them to students, receive results, and provide individualized feedback in real-time. Teachers can use the platform to create new assessments for their students from scratch, or they can upload pre-existing documents and transform them into paperless assignments. Accounts are free for teachers and students.  Teachers can set up new accounts through a link on the company website. Then they can enroll students in one of two ways: 1) Give students a class code and asking them to self-enroll through the company website or 2) Fill out a spreadsheet with student roster information and email the spreadsheet to a company representative. Students can use any Internet-connected device to complete their assignments, and their responses are immediately sent to the teacher. Teachers can grade assignments manually or automatically and then send students individualized feedback. The Teacher Dashboard also provides real-time analytics that teachers can use to track student growth across standards.

Lastly, my favorite tool to use for ELA summative writing assessments is  This tool use has helped me truly prepare my students for the next step in education.  I  cannot think of a legitimate higher education institution that does not implement a machine like this to help ward off plagiarism.  If we do not start the students using it early on then we are doing them a disservice.  So It prevents plagiarism and engages students with its ease of use and instant feedback.   Originality Check like everything else in today’s digital culture, plagiarism is moving online. Turnitin’s Originality Check helps instructors check students’ work for improper citation or potential plagiarism by comparing it against the world’s most accurate text comparison database. GradeMark allows for paperless grading.  GradeMark saves instructors time and provides richer feedback to students by enabling editorial highlights, custom comments, and QuickMark editing marks directly on the student papers.  In the image below you can see a couple of screens that I use to grade my students work.  It also keeps all my student’s work from the past year in one place.  I do not lug around large piles of paper every break I just pack my laptop and that is all I need.  Plus, when I finish a paper I can instantly email that student and let them know that they can take a look at their grade.  This gives them real-time feedback and more time to consider redoing the assignment for a better grade.  I love the fact that I can create my own rubrics with the district’s curriculum but then use’s Rubric Manager and put it into the system.  It is saved so I can update it and then use it later.  

Click to view slideshow.


Barron, Dr. Brigid, and Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond. “Teaching for Meaningful Learning: A Review of Research on Inquiry-Based and Cooperative Learning.” TeachING for Meaningful Learning A Review of Research. Edutopia, 2007. Web. 12 Apr. 2017. Retrieved From

Education, McGraw-Hill. “[Series] Assessment Optimization #4: Analyze Results and Use Them to Inform.” Medium. Inspired Ideas, 29 Mar. 2017. Web. 14 Apr. 2017.

Module 5 – Encouraging Creative Communicators



This week we looked at ISTE standard 6, students as Creative Communicators.  Looking at Standards 6a and 6c, this led me to question, how can I create opportunities for my students to strive to meet state standards while incorporating a variety of digital tools as methods of differentiation?

Evidence of Learning Beyond Paper and Pencil

I need evidence of where my students are performing with state standards, yet I don’t think our system of paper/pencil or computer testing truly shows me what they know. Recently I had three meetings with multiple staff members and parents regarding students who might need special education services.  At each meeting, I felt compelled to share strengths of the children and moments their child did something unique, creative, or intellectual. I want more evidence of what my students are capable of, not just how they perform on standardized testing.

As an ELL teacher, who pulls out students reading below grade level, it is a struggle to teach grade level content and meet district expectations.  My hope is to introduce a variety of digital tools to my students and give them some choice in which way they choose to express their understanding.  Working with such a variety of needs, I want students to find strategies and tools that work for them.  However, we still have a ton of standardized assessments where they are expected to show growth.

Blended Learning

So how can I support their development?  Inspired by Beth Holland’s article, Are We Innovating, or Just Digitizing Traditional Teaching?  She advocates for blended learning as a way to give students agency over their learning.  For example, allowing students access to learning through screencasting, video, digital text, ebooks, oral collaboration, online or in person research.

Once teachers offer more than one way to access content, we still need to provide multiple opportunities and ways for students to express their understanding. This means we need to move beyond allowing students to type using Word or Google Docs and considering this digital differentiation.

Personalized Learning as Formative Assessment

This year I’ve been exploring various sites in search of tools that will allow my students to express themselves. So far I’ve been very happy with Recap as a great way to assess speaking, grammar, and comprehension.  For my struggling writers, this allows a quick check to see where they are at without the struggle of writing or a blank paper turned in. Digital Storytelling has truly allowed my students to open up and I find it to be a valuable tool where students can express themselves in their primary language or English, which allows all students to participate.

Searching for other formative assessment tools, I found an article on ISTE’s site that truly resonates with me. Robyn Howton’s journey encourages me to keep looking into what’s out there, despite having limited devices to work with. This lead to my discovery of Kahoot! In my limited time exploring the site, I liked how a novel from my next unit already has premade quizzes on there that I can sift through and choose for my own class as a fun formative assessment tool.  

In conclusion, I have a variety of tools now that I can introduce to my students, to allow some freedom in how they choose to demonstrate their understanding. For example, writing a narrative may involve using digital storytelling, creating a PowerPoint, using speech-to-text, create a graphic novel, Microsoft Word or Google Docs.  We need to allow students to take the skills we are trying to assess, and give them a chance to demonstrate their understanding in a way that makes sense to them. As I continue this journey of discovery, my next step is to reach out to others in ELL, Special Education, or Technology roles to see what works or doesn’t work for them.


Holland, B. (2017, February 22). Are We Innovating, or Just Digitizing Traditional Teaching? Retrieved March 11, 2017, from

Howton, R. (2015, May 19). Turn Your Classroom Into A Personalized Learning Environment. Retrieved March 11, 2017, from

ISTE Standards FOR STUDENTS. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2017, from

EDTC 6105: ISTE Coaching Standards 2f: Visionary Leadership & 6 b&c: Content Knowledge and Professional Growth

ISTE Coaching Standard 2 provides eight benchmarks for technology coaches to assist teachers in using technology effectively for assessing student learning, differentiating instruction, and providing rigorous, relevant and engaging learning experiences for all students. My focus is on benchmark f: Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional