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Showing posts from February, 2019

Access and Equity: The Time For Devices is Now

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When I talk about the reasons I am passionate about using technology in my classroom, I almost always list things related to pedagogy and engagement. But the reality is there is a new skills gap that has to be addressed when we talk about making students college and career ready and the only way to really address this growing divide is by ensuring students have consistent and equitable access to devices in their classrooms.


Technology integration in the classroom allows for more personalized learning, it allows students to be more connected globally, it increases collaboration and student interaction, and it prepares our students with the skills they need for the workforce, college, and beyond. A recent analysis of over 54 million employee profiles, across 350 industries determined that the ability to wrangle or navigate new technology was one of the top four types of talents aligned to employee success. Additional analysis found that 19 of the 21 most in-demand skills in job postings …

Education Research and The Problem of a Single Study in Isolation

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Recently, I have had some conversations online about grading practices where my use of grades and rubrics has been challenged. Most often my own defense of the letter grade or 4 point scale is often shot down by just one study: Ruth Butlers 1998 study on intrinsic motivation. This is the study that shows that feedback without a grade, just feedback alone, is the most beneficial and impactful for student learned. Now it is important to note that I absolutely love this study.

But this study, like most educational research studies, looks in isolation at one component of teaching and does not take into consideration everything else. One of the big red flags with this study is that it looks at the impact of grades, grades with comments, and comments alone have on student motivation "when no further evaluation was anticipated." It is not looking at grades and comments in a cycle of inquiry or as part of the process of the feedback loop, it is not looking at formative assessments …

Books Talks and Literacy in the History Classroom

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Last year I saw Douglas Fisher at a PLC conference and one of the things he talked about was how easily we can increase student literacy and reading engagement just by sharing our own love of books. Now, it's been a while since I saw Doug speak so I might not remember his message exactly but I do know what seeing him speak inspired me to do and what an incredibly positive impact it has had on my classroom culture.

Fishers talk inspired me to take 5 minutes a week to tell my students about a book or article I had read and enjoyed. So each week, I start one class with "Oh my goodness guys, I just read _____ and I want to tell you about it!" Then I give them a really brief summary of what it was about and what it reminded me of. If it's a book I try and have a copy in the front of the room for students to look at and if it's an article I send the link to them on Remind later that day. Last year when I started this, I found students staying after school to ask me bo…

Hacking the System: Using a 4 Point Scale with a Traditional Online Gradebook

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When I first started down the road of "how do I make sure my grading system supports learning and is not just a tool for communication" I found my biggest challenge was not creating lessons or building proficiency scales, it wasn't student buy-in or parent buy-in, it wasn't admin support or all the things you would think would stand in the way of such a foundational shift in practices. No, it was something entirely out of my control, the biggest challenge was trying to figure out how to get the digital grade book I had to use per my contract to play nice with a 0-4 scale. 

Why a 0-4 Scale?
The 100 point scale is a dream killer and it is full of opportunities for our own bias to trickle into the grading process. Maybe Johnny and Sally did the same level of mastery but Johnny had an attitude when completing it, how likely is it that Sally will get an 85% and Johnny will get an 80% while those few points might seem like nothing, that can add up. The bias that can find …