Jan 212015

Would you like to be able to send home reminders, information and notes to students and parents that they’ll actually READ? 1 out of 5 US teachers use Remind (formerly Remind101) to instantly connect with students and parents on a regular basis. It is free to setup and use, however if your student’s don’t have a bulk texting plan it may cost them to receive your updates. The company has committed to always keep at least some portion of this service free for teachers – they understand education. And, it integrates with Twitter!

Sign up for a free Remind account, and make sure to get the iOS or Android app for your phone or device.

If you’d like to see how it works, sign up for my Technology Training group by texting @techtr to 81010:


Dec 112014

With Utah’s new SAGE Assessments and the SAGE Formative system, formative assessment has been on my mind quite a bit this year. Since it’s not always easy (or even possible some days) to get your students into a computer lab, you can’t always use these online tools to gauge your student’s learning and comprehension.

Thanks to Kim Rathke for sharing this great checklist/document (PDF) for formative assessment, you now have a wealth of ideas for getting that feedback in the classroom. This goes hand in hand with my presentation on Classroom Assessment Techniques that I’ve shared earlier.

Yea low-tech solutions!

Utah Compose

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Dec 032014

Access at http://utahcompose.com/

Default Logins for teachers: TCactusID
Default PW’s for teachers: Birthday mmddyyyy

Student Login: State Student ID# (7 digits)
Student PW’s: SSID (same as login): Students will be prompted to pick a new password on their first login

Utah Compose is a tool. It’s not a replacement for good teaching and writing instruction. It’s a Formative process.

Goals for Utah Compose Writing:

  • Increase the amount of writing in all classrooms by all students
  • Improve the quality of writing in all classrooms by all students
  • Increase the Career and College Readiness level among students graduating from high school

Purpose of Utah Compose:

  • Allow educators across all content areas to administer writing assessments using pre-built prompts and educator-created prompts that can be shared within/school and/or LEA
  • Ability for districts/LEAs/teachers to upload and control created prompts that will be scored immediately
  • Students track writing progress using online writing portfolios with tracking sheets that show incremental writing improvement
  • Reports showing individual student progress allow teachers to target and differentiate writing instruction
  • Reports allow teachers and administrators to disaggregate writing proficiency within content areas, across content areas, and across grade levels.

Helpful Thoughts:

  • It’s time to train students that passwords are private and confidential. Their world will be full of logins to keep track of – it’s never too soon to teach them how to manage and remember them.
  • Manage your lab time effectively. If you only have 30 minutes in the lab a week, focus that time on actual writing. Use the graphic organizers on paper, pre-writing, etc.

Helpful links from a Course Home Page:

  • Rubrics and How-To’s can be found on the Course Home page – links on the left. Text Evidence and Content Rubrics are the only ones that do not self-score. These are on a scale of 3-1.
  • Example Essays from grades 3-12 as well as Graphic Organizers – black line masters that teachers can copy and use as much as they’d like. Can also be used directly by students when writing in Compose.

‘Prompts’ tab: Teachers can add their own prompts – In a course, click on the ‘Prompts’ tab. Then click the ‘+ Add’ button and fill in the information. Teachers may NOT upload pre-created prompts for copyright issues. Teachers do not need to attach a pre-made Compose graphic organizer to a prompt if they want students to use them. Just let students know which one to use and they can write in them during the writing process. Most prompts are not enabled/unpublished by default – teachers must publish a prompt in order for students to use them. Use the filters at the top to quickly find the prompt you want students to use. The ‘Paperclip’ icon indicates a stimulus is attached. Links are included, and some could be filtered at school because of comments on posts. Make sure to show the ‘Advanced Options +’ at the bottom of any prompt. Great options here – Time, number of submissions, feedback options, & peer review.

‘Lessons’ Tab: Tutorials are here. Tutorials are recommended to students once their writing has been assessed (which can vary each day) – great way to differentiate instruction. Also great for remediation.

‘Students’ tab: Lists your students and classes. The ‘Print’ button will give you a roster with usernames and passwords to quickly print and distribute to students.

‘Reports’ tab: Can show growth and improvement easily. Students should submit all writing to be scored every single time in a lab, even if they are not done. Students can re-access an incomplete prompt. This way the reports will be more complete and meaningful.

Setting up Peer-Edit Groups:
Go into Class Lists under ‘Students’ tab. Click the ‘Groups’ button (top left). +Add or Randomize will remove your existing groups (if any) and will create new random groups with 2-5 students in each (depending on your choice). When editing groups, just click in the names field and a drop-down will show up with any unassigned students.
This is sort of an advanced feature. Get up to speed on the basics, and then add in peer review.



Oct 142014

Thanks to Chris Haught for forwarding this to me. This Google Presentation highlights 75 different Google Play & Chrome Web Store apps. The slides are organized into student tools, teacher tools and language & literacy apps sections. The majority of tools highlighted are for Android tablets, but many are available for Chromebooks.

It’s certainly worth a look!

Oct 022014

Permalink: http://goo.gl/szs1uu

backflipWhen one hears “Flipped Instruction” one typically thinks about students watching videos. And you’d be right! Videos are typically a large component of the flipped classroom pedagogy. When instructional video is used in the classroom, students retain more information, visually understand concepts more readily and are more passionate about what they are learning.

Video can:

  • assist students in making connections between curriculum topics
  • and discover connections between topics and the world outside the classroom. (Thirteen.org)

Video reaches students from a variety of learning styles, provides common experiences for discussions, and illustrates complex concepts that engage students. Read more about “Using Education Video in the Classroom” from Safari Montage (a leading provider of video for the classroom) for theory, research and helpful tips. When choosing videos for classroom use,

the most important thing to remember is to keep them short!

 Here’s a quote from Jonathon Bergman, one of the originators of Flipped Learning. This is from “9 Video Tips for a Better Flipped Classroom” by David Raths.

“Make videos short and interactive. Bergmann says he and Sams initially took their standard lectures and made videos that contained multiple objectives and pieces of content that were way too long. Gradually they learned to make them much shorter, with one video per discrete objective. “My rule of thumb is one to 1½ minutes per grade level,” he says. “That means for a fourth-grader, your videos should be no longer than four to six minutes; and for a 10th-grader, that means 10- to 15-minute videos.”

Students need more than just exposure to video, more than just consumption of video in the learning process. They also need to be taught how to evaluate and use information. They need to learn strategies for analyzing media and understand point of view. While information literacy and media literacy are not the primary focus when thinking about flipped classroom pedagogy, it is important to discuss these elements every time a video is used in the classroom. You can learn more at the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website.

Let’s take a look at what the Flipped Classroom is, and what it is not…

Articles about the Flipped Classroom Model

Many technology tools exist to make flipped classroom learning easier for both the teacher and the student.  My favorite tools are those tools which make the video watching process more engaging. We will take a look at few of those tools: Screencast-O-MaticTED-ED, and EdPuzzle.

 Thanks so much to Rachel Murphy & Jared Ward for providing the information and links in this post!

Sep 262014
UEN Professional Development offers an amazing 6-week online course on Project Based Learning. You can learn more about this course here. Below are some good foundational & informational articles and resources from this course to help you get started with PBL in your classroom:


The Power of Project LearningScholastic Administrator
This article highlights how project-based learning helps to prepare students for their future in the workforce by allowing them to focus on real world issues while working collaboratively and using available technology to generate answers and solutions while still addressing curricular goals.

Start With the Pyramid: Real World Issues Motivate StudentsEdutopia
This article illustrates the benefits of engaging students by using hands-on, real-world problems to achieve learning goals. Watch the video, “Project Learning: An Overview” embedded in the article which shows examples of some authentic projects that students are working on around the country.

What is PBLBuck Institute for Education

Why is Project-Based Learning ImportantEdutopia

Videos that show project-based learning in action in Elementary and Middle Schools:

How Does Project-Based Learning Work?Edutopia
This reading will walk you through the steps required to implement meaningful, project-based learning experiences.

Characteristics of Well-Designed Project-Based UnitsIntel

What Makes a Good Project?Gary Stager
In this article, the author highlights eight characteristics of a good project and then gives you questions to ask yourself as you begin to formulate your ideas to ensure a meaningful project design.

Design Principals for Effective Project-Based LearningPBL Online

Getting A Grip On Project-Based Learning: Theory, Cases And RecommendationsMichael M. Grant