Category Archives: Leading Edge

6.3 Reflection: Technology and Assessment

I’ve been thinking about these questions constantly the last few weeks. Here are the facts that make the prompt highly relevant to me:

  1. I’m starting at a brand-new school in the fall, where our classrooms will experience 1:1 computing. Be careful what you wish for! I’ve thought of interesting lessons and classroom procedures which would feature technology IF ONLY all the students had computers, tablets, graphing calculators. So now it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. Well, it takes a bit of planning, doesn’t it?
  2. We as a department are discussing right now to what extent we implement Common Core this year. I feel as if all my decisions regarding next year’s lessons need to wait. But I don’t want to wait.
  3. I’m fortunate to be taking a Leading Edge Certification course. Many of the teachers who are my classmates are already pocket-protector-deep in interactive technology in their classrooms. These people intimidate and inspire me! I think of myself as a tech person, but I feel as if I’m constantly two steps behind them.

So, to answer the question, here are a few of the factors I need to consider.

  1. As with all technology, there must be a Plan B. I actually enjoy this. It’s exciting when the power goes out and my beautiful presentation on the LCD projector suddenly disappears. Students chuckle nervously, many of them assuming the lesson is over. But I have my presentation backed up on a fully charged laptop, and I have three whiteboards and several boxes of EXPO markers, so we continue without missing a beat.
  2. This one’s pretty automatic. Don’t choose the first amazing software solution you see. Consider all the usual software-shopping criteria, a few of which are:
    1. Does it talk to other software? How many export and import formats does it have, and how standard are they?
    2. Is the interface intuitive?
    3. Is the software configurable to do what I need it to do and to do what my co-workers need it to do? If I change my mind about its configuration next month, will the software accommodate that?
    4. Is the price reasonable?
    5. Will it stick around? Is the user base growing? Has it reached critical mass? Is there dedicated development team (and a support team), letting us infer that if we pick this today, we’ll still be able to use it next?
    6. Will it scale? If it catches in one teacher’s classes, could it be used by the whole school and even the district?
  3. Be sure the technological solution serves the learning needs, rather than its being shoehorned into some lesson because it’s so cool.
  4. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Keep talking to co-workers and other colleagues about technology. Maybe someone has already fixed the problem.
  5. Formative assessment is a multi-step process. Don’t scrimp on the follow-up and feedback. This is definitely something I tend to overlook.
  6. Keep Common Core close at hand. I’ve been using Standards-Based Grading the last few years. People say this is good because it’s consistent with Common Core; however, my setup is completely based on small tasks, with no room at all for project-based learning. Too bad, since I love project-based learning.

The original prompt is included below.

This module has explored the use of technology tools for both formative and summative assessment. As you think about how you will implement formative and summative assessments in the online and blended environments, what are some of the factors you need to consider?


Social & professional networks

The Internet has impacted my personal learning, communication, and sense of community immeasurably. I got a master’s degree primarily online: Skyping with my advisor, researching in online libraries provided by the university, submitting and discussing my work.

I use social media for fun (Facebook), for keeping in touch with my students (Facebook and Twitter), and for creating cohorts for collaborative assignments (Google+). The media can be an incredible time sink, so you just have to watch out for that. No flame wars, limit your posts of cat videos to one per year, and so on.

I discuss big and little topics with my co-workers through a Facebook group operated by district teachers. We whine and brag and survey at all hours. The screenshot shows a discussion I initiated about a cheating incident.


I expect my students’ responses to the questions about distraction and usefulness to be about the same as my own. I can help them stay focused by giving them guidelines, telling them I’m watching, and giving them concrete assignments, such as those we receive in our online classes (e.g., one original post and two replies).

Posted for assignment 4.3 Reflection: Social & Professional Networks

Leading Edge certification: first reflection

  • Considering the online learning self-assessment you took this week, and thinking about your reasons for taking this course, what is your highest priority learning goal for this course?

I’m starting at a new high school in September, with a clear mandate to incorporate technology, and with students expected to be immersed. Over the years, I’ve used technology more or less successfully, and usually as a tool that I operate rather than an opportunity for students to work. I try to get the students involved, but it’s usually just easier to do it myself. I hope to break out of these bad habits, think more creatively, and get introduced to more technology.

  • What are some specific skills, strategies or tools you are hoping to learn more about?

I would like to know about more tools that the students can use constantly. I teach math, and it’s usually simpler to work with paper and/or whiteboards and post results under the ELMO. (I’m thankful to have an ELMO!) Can we get beyond this with tablets and styli? We’ll see.

I definitely want to have students work at their desks and have the opportunity to instantly, remotely share their work on the LCD projector for all to view.