Dec 032014

Access at

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.



Mar 072014

Permalink: (capital ‘i’)
OnTrack Section #:68149 , Course #:60022

View today’s training (YouTube)

SAGE Writing & Summative Training Outline/Agenda

  1. SAGE System Overview
  2. SAGE Summative – Notes From the Field (slides 1-18)
    1. Actual testing time averages
    2. Writing test lengths
    3. Ways to reduce testing time
    4. Suggestions from districts who have completed trimester tests
    5. Vertical Linking Items
    6. Ethics reminder – Ethics Policy here
    7. Test Administration Manual
  3. SAGE Writing Resources (slides 19-23)
    1. Opinion & Informative Essay Rubrics, sample writing tasks, as well as scored writing samples from the Training Test prompts are on the SAGE Portal here (Teachers → Teacher Resources)
    2. Hopefully examples from grades 3-6 are available in the same spot soon
    3. In Common: Effective Writing for All Students
    4. SAGE ELA Blueprints
    5. ELA Samples of Student Writing and Exemplars from UEN
    6. DWA and SAGE Writing
      1. Students need to take both this year
      2. SAGE Writing will replace DWA after this year
      3. USOE is working on a Utah Writes replacement for all grades
  4. SAGE Training Tests (slides 24-32)
    1. Purpose
    2. Content Areas & Grade Bands
    3. Best Practices
    4. Video: Item taking tips from USOE content specialists

SAGE Assessment System Overview:

Gearing Up for SAGE Writing & Summative Assessments:

Sep 182013

A colleague of mine has been asked to help a school out with writing on the iPad, and asked if I had any suggestions for great writing apps. It’s a good question, and there are MANY options to consider. It all depends on your budget, what features you need, and what sort of experience you are looking for.

As far as any apps that will help with the mechanics of writing, I don’t really have any suggestions. I would be interested to see if anyone knows of any apps out there that would help with that.

Evernote is a first obvious choice. It’s not just a note taking app, and it has a lot of great features that students can utilize for research and writing in general. I’ve written about it on my blog – check it out for more info. Evernote and an Evernote account are free. There may be an issue if the writers are under 13 years old…

The next obvious choice is Pages, Apple’s word processing and page layout app. This one is expensive ($9.99, $4.99 for 20+ copies through Apple’s Volume Purchasing Program) but it is the best thing out there for writing on the iPad, hands down.

Google Drive is a fantastic (and free) solution if the district/school you are working with has adopted the Google Apps Domain for teacher/student email and all of the other great additions that come along. If not, this will work if students can create and access a regular GMail account as well. You can do some amazing collaborative things with Google Drive. The one big drawback for Drive right now is that you can not create or edit a presentation on an iPad. I’m sure that ability is coming soon.

I’ve not used it, but many are suggesting PlainText for a free, stripped down, bare bones writing app on the iPad. Sometimes a simple bare bones app is a good thing. I think many times teachers and students get hung up and focus too much on what the document looks like, and less on the content and ideas. It’s much easier to fuss with fonts than to perfectly phrase a thought, and so that’s what they spend time, focus and energy on. PlainText also saves/syncs with Dropbox, so that’s nice.

CloudOn would not be my first choice, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. It’s basically Microsoft Office on the iPad for free. You can save documents directly on the iPad, or you can connect to other Cloud storage systems (Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, & SkyDrive). The drawback is that you must have an Internet connection to use it – you are basically connecting to a virtual server running the desktop version of Office somewhere in the cloud. I personally don’t like the clutter of Word/Office, but many people love and want Office on the iPad.

I’ve really been enjoying Drafts lately for it’s ease of use and flexibility, but it costs as well ($3.99). When you launch Drafts, you are presented with a blank document and a blinking cursor – no hoops to jump through to start writing. Each ‘draft’ is saved, listed in the left sidebar, accessed by a swipe. Then, when you are ready to do something with your draft, swipe from right to left to show the myriad of sharing/saving options.

The last one I’ll mention is Quip. This is relatively new and I have not had much of a chance to put it through it’s paces. It comes from some very smart people (developed by ex Facebook CTO) and has been built from the ground up to work with mobile devices. It’s a little quirky with some new gestures and such, but looks like a really good tool.