The One About Follow-Up

Today I implemented my new unit, complete with flipped instruction and rich formative assessment, that tailored the unit to students’ needs.

I’m pleased with the progress of the lesson. In previous posts, Dana had asked how I could be sure if kids watched my video and Gary Bass talked about his inconsistency with students actually viewing the videos. With this in mind, when I assigned the homework to  my class, I asked them, “How can I be sure you watched the video?” It didn’t take them long to figure it out(they’re often smarter than me). They replied, “Well you want us to take notes, right?” I had told them that was part of my expectation. They continued, “Well, can’t you just look at our notes?” Easy. The other class offered a suggestion that involved students commenting on the post. I told them that I thought that might be a little unnecessary, but it did present a great way for students to collaborate on refining their understanding. “If you have questions,” I said, “put them in the comments.”

I sent the students on their way and two days passed. Only one student didn’t show me any notes. She did not do well on the formative assessment.

The rest though, did okay. In the first class, the majority of the class fell in my “middle path” on the formative assessemnt (5-7 correct out of 10). So I divided the class into groups of three, had them peer teach and I re-assessed. Their scores improved. Later, when digging into their data, I found a flaw in my auto-correcting for text fields scheme. While I thought it wouldn’t be an issue because there is only one correct answer for conjugated verbs, I found that the scores were affected by extra spaces at the ends of
answers. It turned out that the class didn’t need re-teaching at all. They knew the concepts. At least this prepared me to teach the second class. The second class had a data set that was accurate and came out squarely in the peer-teaching path. You can see their collated, auto-corrrected and color-defined scores below. I grouped them for peer-teaching and re-tested them. The new data showed great improvement. Two students were still at 5/10, so I updated the Google Doc where we share formative assessment data and sent them an email.

Overall, I’m happy with the results. It seems to be a good way to reach all of the students quickly and differentiate classroom instruction almost instantly. I can’t wait to see what happens Tuesday when we do it again!

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The One About Here’s My Final Project

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The One About Finishing

Below you can find a UbD unit planner and a summary video for my final project. I integrated technology into a Spanish Advanced unit on Physical Geography and the Environment. I flipped grammar instruction, I designed an entire formative assessment program using Google Forms, and I transformed a simple writing activity into a purposeful, higher-level thinking, collaborative writing project. I’m proud of the work I’ve done.

I appreciate the COETAIL experience. It has re-conceptualized the way I think about technology and teaching. It has deepened my understanding and changed the way I talk about tech. The cohort may be finishing, but it’s not over for me by any stretch. I still have a post to write, it will be called The One About Student Achievement. It’s forthcoming, stay tuned.

Video coming soon – not via Explain Everything. See The Other One About Flipping for more details.

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The One About Collaboration and Connection

The final piece of my journey into transformative use was a re-imagining of the final project.   The previous summative assessment for this unit was a pretend article for the school newspaper outlining an environmental project that they created to improve the community. It was pretty standard, and if I had done it this year, it would have been done at the substitution level of Puentedura’s SAMR model. Instead of writing on paper, students would have used their iPads.

After working on the project and studying Puentedura’s work, I believe I have come up with a version of the project that is truly transformative. To recap, Puentedura states that tech use “allows for significant task redesign and a significant increase in student achievement” and “helps to accomplish new goals” at the modification level. At the redefinition level, “technology use allows us to create new tasks that were previously inconceivable.”  Finally, he talks about “dramatic improvement in student outcomes” as an indicator of redefinition. Keeping this in mind, along with Aditi Rao’s “Difference Between ‘Using Technology’ and ‘Technology Integration’” post, I offer my revised final assessment.

Environmental Symposium
Summative: Written Assessment
GRASPS Collaborative Writing Assessment
GOAL-You will present a paper outlining a program to promote the improvement of our local environment.
ROLE-You are an MS student participating in a TED-X type conference at AES.
AUDIENCE-Other Middle School students, teachers and parents.
SITUATION-You are participating in an environmental conference. In preparation for the conference, you have co-written a paper with another student using Google Docs, solicited the opinion of an expert in your field via an email request and integrated that opinion into your paper.
PRODUCT-A written speech for the conference.
STANDARDS AND CRITERIA FOR SUCCESS-A successful product will incorporate appropriate environmental vocabulary and demonstrate understanding of the different usage of the subjunctive mood. It will also correspond to the AES World Language Standards for this project.

 The AES WL Writing Rubric will be used to score this project.

This assessment will be presented to students on the first day of the unit, so they can think about it as they move through the unit and transfer points of learning on the formative assessments, as they look forward to the project. It takes place over several class periods. The first step will be an introduction of the conference. I will invite them all to participate, explain the purpose of  the conference (to share scholarly papers that will be shared with the rest of the world that focus on small, achievable projects to improve local environments). Together, they will collaborate on a class Google Doc to brainstorm a list of possible projects. They will then partner up and choose a project to research. The partners will collaborate on a single Google Doc, shared with me. We’ll talk about how to add notes so they don’t have to be in the same physical space to work together. We’ll also have to talk about how to be effective and respectful collaborators. Students will conduct internet research on their project, and I’ll introduce the expert advice requirement. Students will have to email at least one expert related to their project and copy me on the email. They will explain that this is part of a class project and they are preparing a paper on their project. Ideally, this would be done in Spanish, with a Spanish-speaking expert, but I think a translation of an English-speaking expert will be good enough for the first attempt at this type of transformative use of technology. The advice received from the expert will be incorporated into the paper. Finally, the students revise, edit and prepare the paper for presentation. We’ll set up a mini Ted-X type conference in the room and students will present their projects. I’m already thinking of how they could incorporate presentations into this project, but again, I’ll slow down and see how it goes this year before it gets too big. We’ll record the presentations and upload them to YouTube. I’ll build a simple Google Site to showcase them and students can share the conference with their friends across the world. Perhaps in the future I could solicit the participation of other Spanish classes from other schools in the conference. We could do them as a Google Hangout! That would really be pushing the transformative use. What say you PLN? Are you out there?

This project meets the requirements of transformative use as defined by Puentedura. It’s allowing for completely new things to happen. Students will be collaborating with each other, with me and with real-world experts. The revision, editing and conversations that will take place in class will be cemented in on-line activities. The goal of the collaboration is to increase the overall quality of the learning, so I hope to see dramatic improvement in student learning. It meets the requirements in the integration side of Ms. Rao’s chart. Technology use in my classroom is still planned and purposeful, supports the learning goals and is routine. This project clearly supports the learning goals of the program. It’s connected to NETS standards as well as our AES World Language Standards.  I wanted to focus on engagement, and I believe that this project is engaging. It rests squarely in the center of the TPACK organizer. The technology is essential to the project, it’s founded in secure teaching pedagogy and is supported by the vocabulary and grammar content of the unit. I intended to make the project focus on collaboration to help students use technology to come together. This combines with the following key of “facilitation of otherwise impossible tasks.”


Public Domain by Nesbit

The remaining categories talk about the use of higher-level skills. This project asks students to analyze and synthesize ideas into new ideas. It asks students to compare ideas and recommend a course of action to their peers. These are all high order skills that are important in today’s world.

Here’s to looking forward and hoping this unit is a good opportunity for my students to learn!

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The Other One About Flipping

I’ve been sitting here working on my project for the last 4 and 1/2 hours and I’m waiting for my tutorials to be ready. I’ll get to that later.

I followed my advice from the first video I made and created my presentation in sequential order, paused at the beginnings of slides, and I even figured out how to import the Keynote directly into Explain Everything! But, I wouldn’t do it again. It had negative effects on the formatting of the slides and made ugly white lines across the images. I think screen caps are the way to go. As long as there aren’t too many to make, I think it will make the presentation look better.

So, the 4.5 hours thing. That’s a lot of time on the back end and I hope it’s worth it. I will wait to flip all of my instruction until I can determine if it works. The time it takes to produce these videos is long. It took me about 20 minutes to make the Keynote with the grammar lesson. While that was happening, I used Handbrake to convert the DVD lesson from our textbook into an MP4. Then I had to import the MP4 into iMovie to cut out the pieces I didn’t need. All of that happened concurrently, so no big deal. 20 minutes. From there, I exported the new, shorter MP4 to Dropbox so I could access it on my iPad from EE. I added it to the last slide, then recorded the presentation. That took maybe another 20 minutes, so now we’re up to 40 minutes total. The next part is by far my biggest complaint. The (spoiler alert) first time I sent my finished EE presentation to my camera roll. That took well over an hour. When it was finally done, I previewed it and noticed that the textbook video wasn’t there. The sound, yes. But no video. The second time I tried to export directly to YouTube, thinking that might be quicker. No such luck. And so, I’m sitting here waiting. It’s a good thing that I have a lot to do in the meantime.

And so, my questions:

  • Will it be worth it? Time and assessments will tell.
  • How do you feel about me taking the video from the DVD and putting it into these lessons? Is it fair, educational use? I’m uploading the videos on YouTube, but I’m keeping them on the AES account and I’m making the videos unlisted to limit the “findability” of them. We purchased the DVDs from the publisher to show in class, but what happens when I want that part of class to happen at home?
  • Any suggestions to speed up my process?

UPDATE: 30 minutes later, uploaded to YouTube

YouTube Preview Image

UPDATE: Tried to do the second video, waited over 3 hours and EE crashed at the upload stage. 2 hours and 45 minutes later and it’s done. My guess is the EE compression is weird. Next time, I’d export the slide show to iMovie and add the grammar video there too (unless Wendy is right-see comments). But now that I think about it, I could probably do the whole thing in iMovie. Oh well, you know what they say, “Time wasted is time well-spent.” Oh wait, nobody says that.

YouTube Preview Image
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The One About Formative Assessment

One of the most important things that has come out of this project is how Eric Mazur’s work via Ruben Puentedura has inspired me to use tech for assessment.

Throughout the year I’ve been experimenting with Google Forms and using them for formative assessment, but it hasn’t become institutionalized in my teaching in any concrete way. I’ve used it to check comprehension and design interventions for students that need them, but it wasn’t necessarily revolutionizing my teaching. I do believe that it was effective, however. It has helped student reflect on their learning. I copy the correct answers and their answers into a shared Google Spreadsheet where they track all of their mistakes. I’ve also used it to help students arrange their thinking for an end-of-semester reflection.

I’m hoping though, that applying Mazur’s ConcepTest model will make the use of these formative assessments an integral part of my teaching. As I said in a previous post, I like this model because it offers a clear path for several outcomes. Mazur’s model is seen below.

One of the things that stood out to me in this model was the reuse of the formative assessment if the first or second path is followed. I also like the use of the peer discussion. It offers students a chance to share their learning.

Here are some screen shots of the formative assessments for the Spanish Advanced Unit I’m working on. All of these assessments correspond to the flipped lessons I created.

This is simply a fill-in-the blank form that corresponds to the first flipped lesson on how to conjugate the subjunctive mood. It’s similar to a lot of the other Google Forms I’ve made this year to check student comprehension. You can see that I require students to be logged in the AES account and I also automatically collect their user names. The next screen shot shows what the results will look like when I view them. I watched a cool tutorial on how to auto-correct the results of quizzes given on forms, but supposedly it only works for multiple choice questions. I guess Mr. Hannan means that it can’t be used for complex fill-ins. In this case, there’s only one right answer and spelling counts, so his method can still be used. If you want to see the formulas used, watch his video, it’s great and easy to follow. I’ll explain the colors in the next section.


Here’s another form and results sheet. This one matches the third lesson. Nothing too fancy, but this time I use multiple choice questions to quickly see if they understand when to use the subjunctive and when not to.

Above is the sheet that corresponds to the form. You can see that I’ve answered the questions to provide an answer key. In cell K2, I’ve used the ARRAY FORMULA and I’ll apply that formula in all subsequent cells when the kids answer the form. It will give me the number correct for each student and I’ll be able to follow Mazur’s guidelines.

The colors come from applying a conditional format for the cells. It’s based on the number correct out of the number possible. In this case, there are 8 items. If I stayed true to Mazur, his cut-offs would be 6-8 for the understanding track, 4-5 for the peer interaction track and 0-3 for the reteaching track. Because there are only 8 items, I want to adjust the numbers a little higher. As you can interpret from the image above, I want 7-8 for the high end and 5-6 for the middle track.

I’ve also created a form for the second flipped tutorial that is similar to the one above.

I know that SAMR is designed primarily for students using technology and in this case, they are using their iPads to take the assessments, but I’m the one who is really benefitting from the use of the technology. This is modification at it’s best. The entire process of my class is changing. It’s the Choose Your Own Adventure of assessment. My lesson will depend on which of the three routes the assessment determines, so I have to be prepared for all three. This is something that couldn’t have happened in my class before the integration of Google Forms, and the quickness and ease that they bring. Previously, I would have had to do this correcting after class or during a down time, but now it can be done almost instantaneously and we’re on the path to mastery!

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The One About Flipping

Here is a copy of the first grammar lesson I’m flipping. I would usually do this in class and have the students take notes. Instead, I’m going to assign it for homework, then have the students take a formative quiz when they get to class and go from there. We’ll see if flipping can offer up more time for guided practice in class.

For now, please take a look at the video and leave any suggestions in the comments! Thanks.

YouTube Preview Image

My learnings: I created this tutorial in Explain Everything. It’s the first time I’ve used it, so I had to work out a few kinks. I wasn’t sure how to import a whole Keynote presentation so a student recommended that I take screen shots of each slide and add them one by one as images. This is the type of hacking that I love about iPads. They inspire workarounds and creative thinking. The only problems that I would note in this tutorial that will change with successive attempts are the few jumpy glitches when new slides start. I didn’t realize that record function of EE put a voice recording on each individual slide, rather than over the whole presentation. In the future, I’ll pause for a second or two when I switch slides. I also had to hack a bit on my final video, as I tried to go backwards in my presentation (again thinking I was recording over the whole thing instead of slide by slide), I found that the audio I wanted on a new slide appeared on a previous slide instead.

I WANTED: Slide X, Audio 1. Slide Y, Audio 1. Slide X Audio 2. Slide Z, etc.
I GOT: Slide X, Audio 1 Audio 2. Slide Y Audio 1.

I fixed it by taking the video from my camera roll, adding it to iMovie and chopping it up and rearranging. It worked fine, but was time consuming. Next time, I’ll duplicate the slide to maintain a sequential order in the presentation to avoid having to go backwards.

Special Note: This was all done on an iPad. I used Keynote, Explain Everything and iMovie.

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The One About Transformation

In spite of my last post, it’s time to get to work. In this post,  I’ll try to come up with a good, workable definition of transformative use of technology in the classroom, focus on what is working at our school and set up a plan for transforming the tech use in one of my units.

In past posts, I focused primarily on the University of South Florida’s Technology Integration Matrix and the TPACK model to help me understand how to fully and actively integrate technology into my classroom in transformative ways. When I sat down to try to develop a workable definition, I found that those resources were more than a bit overwhelming. So I returned to the work we’ve done previously and refocused on the work of Ruben Puentedura, the developer of the SAMR model. Combined with the image below from the TeachBytes blog, I feel like I better understand what transformative use really is and I’m ready to move forward.

Let’s begin with Aditi Rao’s “Difference Between ‘Using Technology’ and ‘Technology Integration'” to determine whether or not I’m integrating and how this might be combined with the SAMR model to help me make a more cohesive plan for integrating transformative technology in class room. Moving through this chart, I would say that the first three criterion would put me in the integration phase. Technology use in my classroom is planned and purposeful, supports the learning goals and is routine. The students do not spend a lot of time learning the tech, they come with a lot of skill already, and I’m comfortable letting them explore.

I’m not sure it engages students with content, so that will be an area of focus. The sixth, eighth and final points talk about the use of technology supporting thinking skills. This might be happening in my class, but for my project, I want to spend time thoughtfully planning it. Of course we can expect to see in-class and out-of-class collaboration as a key facet of tech integration and this will definitely be an area of focus in my quest of transformation. This combines with the following key of “facilitation of otherwise impossible tasks.” This is admirable, but tough to implement.

Now let’s turn to Mr. Puentedura, and what I’ve learned from digging deeper into his beliefs and the SAMR model. This presentation on getting to transformation, was particularly helpful. I know we talked about SAMR in class, but for whatever reason, I didn’t focus on it. After doing more research on SAMR, I feel like it’s the best model to follow.

In this model, Puentedura identifies modification AND redefinition as transformative use. At the modification level, Puentedura states that tech use “allows for significant task redesign and a significant increase in student achievement.” He also tells us that modification helps to accomplish new goals. He gives the examples of collaborative writing, and jointly critiqued essays. At the redefinition level, technology use allows us to create new tasks that were previously inconceivable.  Like Rao, he identifies collaboration as an example. He also cites the dramatic improvement in student outcomes as an indicator of redefinition.

I appreciate Puentedura’s comments on student outcomes, because it has offered me a new lens for identifying transformative use. I will definitely incorporate assessment into my project. Another aspect of his work that I appreciated is his discussion of “the mesh” at 11:10 in this video. Of course the mesh he’s referring to is a framework of 21st century

skills, these coming from Mishra and Koehler, the TPACK gurus. I agree so much with this, that it hurts. There has to be an institutional framework that binds all of this together. I persoanlly love P21 and I wish our school would adopt it. When you have big ideas to come back to and connect to, everything makes more sense and nothing is done in isolation. This is, in my opinion, the biggest thing holding our school back from really getting important work in technology integration done. Finally, Puentedura references the types of technology use that manifest in the Horizon Report. Social, Mobile, Visualization, Digital Storytelling, and Gaming.

With all of this in mind, it’s time to make a plan for transformation in my class.

Put simply, I will focus the use of technology in my classroom with an eye on assessment, and online collaboration. I’m also going to flip my grammar lessons because I’ve always wanted to see how that would work. Just for kicks, I’ll connect the unit to the NETS standards.

 Advanced Spanish – Unit 6 Geography and the Environment
Grammar Lessons to be Flipped: The future tense, introduction to the subjunctive mood, the use of the subjunctive with impersonal expressions and the use of the subjunctive with doubt.

The next piece is a formative assessment structure that is tied to the flipped grammar lessons. These assessments will be created with Google Forms and will allow me to tailor instruction relative to what my students need at any given point. This will require flexibility in my lesson structure, but I believe it’s worth it. The structure will be based on Eric Mazur’s work on ConcepTests as referenced in Puentedura’s work. I like that the model breaks down paths for instruction based on clear percentages. It gives me a clear direction from which to work after collecting the formative data.

The last piece of transformation in this unit will be a re-working of the final project. In the past, students have written a pretend article for the school newspaper outlining a project that they created to improve the community. I believe this could be changed into a collaborative writing piece with a possible “connection to experts” piece. I’m not sure exactly what this would look like. Any ideas out there?

Please leave your reactions to this work in the comments and check back frequently to help me iron out this process as I move forward. I have high expectations for this project and I want to realize as many of them as I can. Thanks in advance for your help! 

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The One About Procrastination, Pessimism and PLNs

So I’m sitting here, one unit further down the road than I wanted to be when I began this process and I’m ruminating on the three big Ps.

Procrastination-Allow me a brief pity party. Life is hard for the modern classroom teacher. I’m currently working on this class, finishing up an educational research class, implementing an action research project on vocabulary retention, serving as a member of  an advisory committee that is helping our school move into Standards Based Grading and Reporting, serving as the head of department, administering common assessments to collect data to inform our instruction, teaching my classes (Oh yeah, that) and enjoying the company of my four-month-old. I’ve never been good at long-term projects that span a long time (which is one of my concerns about distance education and independently driven educational programs, incidentally). Nonetheless, it’s crunch time, so pity party suspended.

Pessimism-My last blog post for EDC 603 focused on my future as a tech user/integrator. It had a bit of a pessimistic tone, I have to confess. Since then, and during the time that I should have been writing this post, I’ve done a lot of thinking and even more reading.  My big take away was that in order to truly use transformative education in schools, the whole model of what we consider to be school needs to be disrupted. That, combined with my unreasonably high expectations of myself have held me back from this project. The voice in my head keeps telling me that if I had the answers, I would be implementing them in my classroom, writing articles, blogs, and books about them and selling myself as the newest guru in the world of tech integration.

PLNs-I’ve been lazy about building my Personal Learning Network due to several factors. The first is time. With everything I mentioned in the first section, I can’t justify the time it would take to build my online “brand” via Twitter, the web, etc. While I appreciate the efforts of the COETAIL program to help us make connections and build a network of technology minded educators, I find that my blog is still not well-read, nor have the basic connections I’ve made so far been long-lasting. My plan now is to email colleagues and friends that are also language teachers and invite them to monitor my progress and chime in via this blog. Only time (and there isn’t much of it) will tell if I can build my PLN. I feel like my best PLN has been in the COETAIL classroom when a group of teachers from my school is gathered around a table, building off of each other and collectively getting excited about transformation. Now that I’m back in my classroom and I’m alone (with 7 billion people on the other side of this monitor), it’s harder to make those connections.

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A Man, A Tech Fest and an O. Man-i-fest-o?

The Man? My esteemed colleague and friend, Isaac Currey.

The Tech Fest? A re-envisioned look at how our school might conceive of technology integration.

The O? Oh my goodness, what a task.

The Manifesto? See below.

For the final project for our EDC 603 course, Isaac and I sat down with the previous technology integration plan for our Middle School. That document essentially listed all of the computer programs that our students were using and matched them to curricular areas and grade levels. We decided it was time for an overhaul. We sat down with the The Partnership for 21st Century Skills framework and developed the document above. While we realize that this document isn’t complete, we think it starts to address the use of technology in a way that is more consistent with the conclusions we drew from this class. We would appreciate any comments, additions or deletions to our ideas and we hope that this might be a starting point for more in-depth discussions about how we use technology in our school.

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