Teachers & TikTok, I Have Questions

My principal loves Twitter, and frequently lauds it as one of the best places to access professional development. This endorsement led me to approach social media as a professional development tool with an open mind, and I find that I return most frequently to TikTok. But social media app like

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Incorporating Active Learning into Professional Learning Experiences

I have always been a fan of any professional learning experiences in which I return with something practical that enabled me to immediately implement something to improve student learning and achievement in my classroom. On the flip side, my least favorite professional learning experiences have been ones that were not relatable and left me wondering… “now what”. So here we go, let’s talk about active learning and end off with some extras that can be used directly in a professional learning experience! (or classroom if you so please).   But first, the WHY:  This quarter I have been focusing on learning more about ISTE Coaching Standard 5: Professional Learning Facilitator. This module we were asked to specifically focus on performance indicator “B”. Here it is:  This indicator is focusing on two key components of successful PD… active learning and meaningful feedback. While I believe both are incredibly vital to the success of PD, I felt that active learning was the horse before the cart. Hopefully, if we get staff to be engaged in an experience through active learning, we can then focus on the aftermath with meaningful feedback. This brought me to my question for the week:  “What are some active learning activities professional learning facilitators can implement in professional learning experiences?”  What is active learning?  While some may have not heard the term “active learning” before, educators have been putting this method into practice for ages. Essentially, active learning is getting students (or in our case, educators) actively engaged in their learning through not only thinking about what they are learning, but also why they are learning it.   Active learning in the classroom  For a long time educators have known that if we do not have student engagement in class, that we are not going to have our students retain as much of the information we are teaching them. Active learning is a wonderful way to get those kiddos engaged, and help to increase in lesson success. There are many different approaches to active learning in the classroom, however, the one I am going to focus on here is broken into three primary cognitive processes.   Mayer suggests that these three processes are:  1. Selecting relevant materials to attend to 2. Mentally organizing attended material into meaningful representations 3. Integrating these representations with prior knowledge  Some student based activities that incorporate these primary cognitive processes include:   Active learning using body movement HERE  Active learning activities with technology HERE  (this also is an awesome read on active learning if you have some extra time! Keep in mind it is written by a company selling a program that helps aid educators in increasing active learning in their classroom)  Active learning with adults  “Active learning methods ask students to fully participate in their learning by thinking, discussing, investigating, and creating.”  Cornell University has a short read on active learning that can be found here. They give a great list of research proven pros of active learning in a classroom setting. But active learning is not only applicable with children in a classroom! Adults can also participate in active learning and reap its benefits. Here are some of the most relatable pros to adult learning and professional learning experiences that I found:   “Creates personal connections to the material for students, which increases their motivation to learn” While many professional learning experiences are mandatory, there are still ways to make educators motivated to use the strategies and information that they gain from them. By creating a connection from the concepts to the educators, we can increase the likelihood that they retain, and implement their newfound knowledge.   “Build self-esteem through conversations with other students” There have definitely been times that I have been unwilling or nervous to implement a new strategy or standard in my classroom if I wasn’t confident in my ability to work with students on it. By working together with colleagues on new strategies, we can increase self-esteem and assure educators that they can try new things with their students!  “Creates a sense of community in the classroom through increased student-student and instructor-student interaction” This may seem only applicable to a classroom setting, but let’s broaden our thinking here. I have been to multiple professional development sessions that during the experience, I was able to interact actively with the facilitators along with my peers. This helped me to not only understand what I was supposed to be learning about, but it also gave me the community feeling that we were all in it together. There are still facilitators that I feel comfortable reaching out to in order to ask questions and deepen my knowledge on the content they presented. Wouldn’t it be great to feel you were always in a community with experts on what you were trying to implement?   Why does it matter?  Edgar Dale coined the idea of the “Cone of Learning” in the 1960s. He spoke to the process of knowledge retention and the different ways in which knowledge can be taught. Take a peek at the graphic below to see his thoughts represented visually.  On the left, we see percentages of knowledge retained based on the type of learning (on the right). The learning activity is placed in the triangle that correlates to the type of learning. We can see that the least effective learning activity is verbal receiving: reading and hearing words. The next category is visual receiving: watching a movie, looking at an exhibit, watching a demonstration, seeing it done on location. Next, we jump to 70% retention with receiving/participating: participating in a discussion, and giving a talk. And finally, the most effective strategy is doing: doing a dramatic presentation, simulating the real experience, and doing the real thing. We can see through this graphic that we must be moving away from the more traditional teaching methods of hearing and seeing, and focus on having students talking and doing.   Active learning focuses on the receiving/participating and doing “nature of involvements”. But let’s get into the “doing” ourselves, and see some examples!   Extras  Ready for some ideas for your next professional learning experience?   Here are two variations on a similar activity that you may already be familiar with:  Think/Pair/Share – An oldie but a goodie! Participants are given a topic and they think to themselves any information related to the topic. They can write this down, or keep the info in their heads. They then pair up and compare thinking.  Tell/Help/Check – Participants are in partners and are given a question or topic. The first participant gives all information that they have knowledge on surrounding that topic. The second participant then adds any information that they think is related, but not shared by the first participant. Finally, the participants share to a large group and continue the pattern of only sharing new information.  Here is an amazing graphic with short “brain blasts” that encourage active learning independently. (Okay, there are a few that peers can participate in)  And if you still haven’t found any that you are interested in trying, here is another resource that is geared towards increasing active learning with adults! Some fun ones include; The One-Minute Paper, Chain Notes, Mystery Quotations, Idea Speedating, Quescussion, and Empathy Mapping. Check it out!  What other activities have you done that were crowd-pleasers? Comment below!  Resources  Active Learning. (n.d.). Center for Teaching Innovation. Retrieved February 10, 2021, from https://teaching.cornell.edu/teaching-resources/engaging-students/active-learning  Active Learning. (2020, October 14). Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning. https://stearnscenter.gmu.edu/knowledge-center/student-engagement-classroom-managment/active-learning/  Dunnick Karge, B., Phillips, K. M., Jessee, T., & McCabe, M. (2011). Effective Strategies For Engaging Adult Learners. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 8(12), 53–56. https://doi.org/10.19030/tlc.v8i12.6621  Kosturko, L. (2015, October 14). Professional Development: Technology’s Key to Success. Getting Smart. https://www.gettingsmart.com/2015/10/professional-development-technologys-key-to-success/  Lynch, J. (2017, June 22). What does research say about active learning? Pearson. https://www.pearsoned.com/research-active-learning-students/  Mayer, Richard E. Applying the Science of Learning. Pearson/Allyn & Bacon, 2011.  What is Active Learning? (n.d.). Smart Sparrow. Retrieved February 10, 2021, from https://www.smartsparrow.com/what-is-active-learning/  Whenham, T. (2020, April 2). 15 active learning activities to energize your next college class. Nureva. https://www.nureva.com/blog/education/15-active-learning-activities-to-energize-your-next-college-class 

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Designing Learning Experiences Through Surveys

As a teacher in a district that is working diligently on improving student achievement, I attend A LOT of professional developments. Some are absolutely fantastic; engaging, helpful, and I actually can see myself practicing… but more times than no…

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Reimagining A “Classroom” – A Global Collaborative Project

What is a Global Collaborative Project?

A global collaborative project is a project that students work together on, either during the process, or share between different communities to come up with a final product. 

In “5 Ways to Inspire St…

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Tools for Analyzing Formative Assessments

Have you ever considered the amount of time it takes to hand out, collect, grade, and analyze formative assessments and then use results to meaningfully plan for daily math lessons? I know this is one of those pieces of teaching that I don’t exactly look forward to. It is exhausting to plan time for exit tickets and then grade them DAILY in order to have information to help guide your next day of instruction. I have been pondering this task for a while now, and it has led me to questioning my methods of formative assessment surrounding math.  Using ISTE Educator Standard 5: Design, and ISTE Educator Standard 7: Analyst, I came up with a guiding question to help lead me on my quest for a digital tool that can help me design, and analyze my students’ formative assessments in a meaningful way, with a quicker pace.  “What digital tools can I use to quickly assess math understanding while also allowing for self-assessment?” Let’s lead with the standards: While searching, I found 3 great tools that all serve slightly different purposes.  Edulastic  Edulastic is a great tool that helps give a more formal formative (or summative) assessment. My favorite part of this tool is that it has an abundance of pre-made assessments that are matched to curriculum and standards. My district uses Eureka for math curriculum, and there are pre-loaded tests for every topic, mid-module assessments, and end of module assessments for every grade and every module. Also, the majority of assessments are graded by themselves (the more extended problems have a small piece that need to be graded by the teacher). This tool is wonderful! It even creates color-coded pie charts representing the students who were below standard, near standard, and met standard.  While Edulastic is amazing for more formal assessing matters, it wasn’t necessarily what I was looking for when searching for a tool to help with the day-to-day exit ticket matter… my search continues! Flubaroo  The next tool I wanted to learn more about was Flubaroo. This is a free extension that you add to Chrome. You can create self graded tests made on Google Forms and help formatting for assessments as well. I have had great success with Flubaroo on creating templates for my students, along with creating student info sheets that have been taken by parents on Google Forms and then reformatted to a Google Doc in a more user-friendly model. Flubaroo is a fantastic tool, and I know that the practical uses for education are abundant.  To use Flubaroo, you must have all students (or whomever your users are) complete their Google Form prior to submitting a template and using the Google Sheet data. Looking for more great info on Flubaroo? Here is a how-to link for all things Flubaroo: here. While this may not be a con for your usage, I am looking for a tool that immediately gives me feedback.  I continued to search for a tool that could give me immediate formative assessment data and it led me next to Socrative.  Socrative Socrative has a free version and a pro-version. I focused on the free version. On the non-paid version there are 4 main features: Quiz, Space Race, Exit Ticket, and Quick Question.  Using “Quiz” you can either create a new quiz or import a quiz using a shared code that another user has created. These can be organized by folder, and can be as long as you please.  On “Space Race” you can use a quiz, with altered settings, to use on space race. Here is a great video that shows you the steps to launch a space race and then also shows you the student display. Here’s the video: Next, “Exit Ticket”, which to my knowledge is a pre-formatted set of 3 questions. The first asking how well you understood the material in that day’s lesson. The second asking what you learned, and enabling a short answer response ability. And the last question, “Please answer the teacher’s question”.  The last option, “Quick Question”. Here you can set up a multiple choice, true/false, or short answer response for students. For the free version, it shows you results immediately, however you cannot change the options on the tool (you would have to display it for the students using a different tool, or writing the question and answer on the board).  I am most interested in Socrative for my daily formative assessment tool. I can see myself using the quick question tool throughout the lesson (even outside of a math lesson) to gauge a quick understanding, while using the exit ticket function for students to self assess. I would use that last question opportunity to add a problem to the board for students to solve and respond using Socrative. This would help me to immediately have them give me a rating of understanding for the lesson, a short answer for them to explain in words what they felt they learned about that day, and also an immediate response to a problem.  While Socrative may not be useful for teachers who would like a more in-depth, self grading quiz, or an assessment that has been pre-loaded and matched to standards, it is perfect for a quick check-in with students.  I would love to hear what you use for your formative assessments and quick student assessments! Comment below! References AMLE – Association for Middle Level Education. (n.d.). 8 Digital Formative Assessment Tools to Improve Motivation. Retrieved from https://www.amle.org/BrowsebyTopic/WhatsNew/WNDet/TabId/270/ArtMID/888/ArticleID/675/8-Digital-Formative-Assessment-Tools-to-Improve-Motivation.aspx Davis, V. (2017, May 8). Fantastic, Fast Formative Assessment Tools. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/5-fast-formative-assessment-tools-vicki-davis Flubaroo Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2020, from http://www.flubaroo.com/flubaroo-user-guide Free Formative Assessment Tools for Teachers. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2020, from https://edulastic.com/teachers/ K-12. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2020, from https://socrative.com/k-12/ Top Tech Tools for Formative Assessment. (2020, January 30). Retrieved from https://www.commonsense.org/education/top-picks/top-tech-tools-for-formative-assessment

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Autumn Ottenad’s Mission Statement & Guiding Principles My role as a teacher is to both ready students with the skills and knowledge for a time of hyper-learning and connectedness and engage them to take ownership of their learning. And by hyper-learning, I am referring to the fast-paced educational time we are currently in spurred by … Continue reading MISSION STATEMENT & GUIDING PRINCIPLES

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