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Annie Tremonte

Annie Tremonte

Annie Tremonte is a middle school educator in the humanities, who is focused on designing lessons that are both dynamic and molded to the needs of the classroom. Her students are taught to craft well-organized essays, analyze the literary elements of a work of fiction, evaluate the relevancy and accuracy of a text, and read with a sophisticated, critical eye. She has continued to work to implement technology that maximizes student interest and incorporates 21st century skills. Over the course of her teaching career, she has accepted departmental and committee chairmanships, guided school improvement plans that worked to exceed school-wide student achievement goals in reading and writing, and organized numerous school-wide reading initiatives. She puts emphasis on collaborating with colleagues to commonly align curriculum across grade levels and content areas. She is currently studying Digital Education Leadership at Seattle Pacific University, and seeks to expose herself to cutting-edge scholarship in the field to prepare herself academically for the challenge of implementing digital learning in the global age. Follow me on Twitter @AnnieTremonte

Posted by on in Assessment

Education is no longer a practice that happens to a student, but one that happens with a student (Bayse, 2014). Promoting student autonomy continues to be an important aspect of preparing students for the future. Previously, I have investigated the benefits of student autonomy in project-based learning, digital tool selection, and the troubleshooting of technology. With a lense on ISTE Teaching Standard 2, I am once again investigating student autonomy; this time as an important aspect of assessment for learning. Assessment for learning describes using assessment results to inform instructional practices, and it is often broken into two categories: summative and formative. Summative assessment refers to the evaluation of student learning at the end of a unit of study. Formative assessment refers to the monitoring of student learning during a unit of study allowing both teachers and students alike to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses, modifying instruction as necessary. It is intended to be ongoing and not embodied in a high stake final grade.

Personalizing Assessment for Learning

Assessment for learning strategies are most impactful when assessment is personalized, allowing students to be involved in their own growth. Basye (2014) claimed that “in addition to responding to students’ needs and interests, [personalization] teaches them to manage their own learning — to take control and ownership of it” (para. 14). Technology is useful in the self-monitoring process, in that online grade books like EnGrade and learning management systems such as Blackboard or Edmodo can allow students to play an active role in tracking and monitoring their progress. Stiggins and Chappius (2005) wrote in “Using Student-Involved Classroom Assessment to Close Achievement Gaps” that students are no longer shocked at the end of a grading period by their grade when formative assessments are implemented, and, as a result, trust and confidence are established between teacher and student.

Building a Rubric Together

The next step is to involve students in the selection of standards and subsequent formation of rubrics. Used at the beginning of a unit, clear guidelines and requirements can direct students in their learning. We know that students are most effective and actively engaged in their learning when they are fully aware of the end goal, instead of when they are forced to blindly follow a potentially unknown direction of a teacher (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005). Students become active participants in setting their own personalized learning goals, and thus maintain responsibility for the path to get there. Teacher and student can work together to have a shared objective (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005). According to Boud (1995) students should not only be involved in determining the criteria for an assignment, but also in the actual assessment and evaluation of their work. Students become partners in the learning process and the evaluation of their achievement (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005). They can keep track of their performance and change their performance as needed (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005). This results in the formation of the lifelong skill of making judgements about performance according to criteria (Boud, 1995). Student autonomy is also established by making it possible to practice this skill against other students’ work (Boud, 1995). Moroder (n.d.) noted that young adults already give feedback daily to one another in social settings. They critique one another, ask each other questions and share information; students also practice this online with their use of social media and collaborative video games. So, why not harness this in the classroom? Wiliam (date) claimed that peer assessment benefits both the assessed and the assessor, as students learn what meeting criteria looks like by evaluating both the successful and unsuccessful work of peers.

Using Technology

How do can educators use technology to support the implementation of formative self and peer assessments?

For All Rubrics

My exploration of digital tools first led me to a website and app called ForAllRubrics.com. It is a free resource that can be used holistically to integrate many aspects of assessment for learning. Class rosters are easily uploaded, navigation of the site is simple, and the digital tool includes an online grade book, access to a rubric library, and the ability to analyze the collected data. Students can create their own log-ins, without a required email address, to track personal progress. They can also communicate with teachers about their achievement by reviewing received rubric scores and making comments back to the teacher. With this tool, the grading process is not a mystery, and it is open to continued commentary between the teacher and student. Badges are another layer of this tool that can be implemented to encourage student achievement and allow students to monitor their own growth. ForAllRubrics can even be used in a portable fashion on an iPad, iPhone or even offline in order to encourage a mobile classroom. While all aspects of this site support assessment for learning, it is its ability to create rubrics in a partnership with students that could then be used to self or peer assess. Once students are logged in, they can use a laptop or tablet to self or peer assess with the click of a mouse or the touch a finger. Teachers can then log and analyze all of the data.

Theme Spark

The biggest setback to ForAllRubrics is the inability to translate Common Core State Standards into rubric criterion. ThemeSpark.net aligns Common Core State Standards with rubric design. It is simple in design and navigation. As a result, working with students to select appropriate standards and design a rubric would be a seemingly straightforward process. Students need to be taught how to be metacognitive in their learning; rubric creation, self assessment and peer assessment can all assists in this endeavor.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Teaching digital citizenship is a broad topic that as the name implies, demands that character education be addressed before one even enters the digital space. If a student doesn’t know how to behave responsibly in real life, then doing so online isn’t going to change that. As part of my studies in Digital Education Leadership at Seattle Pacific University, I am reflecting on ISTE Teaching Standard 4 to promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility in, focusing on indicator c. to “promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information.”

Recently some circumstances at my school have pushed me to think further about an educator’s role in digital citizenship. My school has addressed everything from nude pictures shared among students, to YouTube videos posted for the sake of student humiliation, to online threats made to student safety this year. These behaviors occurred both in and out of school, alarming and paralyzing those tasked with responding to them. Disciplinary action was taken in all of the circumstances, but a feeling of resolution remains absent.

These situations force me to re-evaluate the role educators play in teaching digital citizenship skills. In “3 Quick Tips for Building Digital Citizenship,” Cary stated that “Schools have a tendency to shy away from actively teaching digital citizenship due to time constraints in the curriculum, concerns about student-teacher interaction online, as well as anxiety over students having ready access to social media (like Facebook and Twitter)” (2013, para. 2). In Disconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap James addressed the need for educators to foster conscientious connectivity practices in students (2014). She wrote that most adults are not entering into the digital citizenship conversation and that, as a result, our students are lacking necessary mentorship in their online practice (James, 2014).

Teens and Social Media

As a teacher, I have limited methods of seeing how my students behave online. Engaging with students via social media is inappropriate and beyond the ethical boundaries of student-teacher relations. Therefore, I am left on the side to try to educate them about digital citizenship while awaiting the ultimate, impending mistakes they will make.

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Posted by on in Education Technology

Choice can have a significant impact on student learning. It maintains engagement and drives a desire for inquiry. O’Connor and Sharkey (2013) shared in “Establishing Twenty-First-Century Information Fluency” that the performance of students is at its peak when learning is individualized. However, in offering student choice of technology, one of my challenges as an educator has been challenging students who tend to repeatedly gravitate towards the same digital tools. My direct instruction has encouraged students to use various new tools, however this approach is seemingly unsustainable. Instead, students can be guided to find their own digital tools, as outlined in ISTE Student Standard 3. ISTE 3 states that students should be able to evaluate and select digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks. This shift towards individualized and student-driven learning is reiterated in 21st century skills, which states that a students should be able to judge the effectiveness and impact of various technologies. The Common Core Standards also outline that students should be able to critically navigate and evaluate media. This type of information fluency is a key component of cultivating early adopters of innovative technologies.

As educators we can “innovate pedagogically to help students develop a high level of aptitude to interact fluently with both information and technology” (O’Connor, L., & Sharkey, J., 2013, p. 33). Our ability to innovate might at times be aided by the digital tools we chose to implement. Unfortunately, I have often assumed that quality instruction requires the mastery of digital tools prior to sharing it with my students. While technological aptitude is a necessary part of being an educator, innovation in the classroom comes in the form of allowing student-driven evaluation and choice (Dooley, 1999). A student’s ability to discriminate between useful and useless resources is also a necessary career skill. And, as Bates (n.d.) writes about in Teaching in the Digital Age, learning by doing allows for reflection, understanding, and experience. We need to give students the opportunity to practice these decision-making skills.


Diffusion of Innovation

The need to foster independence and innovative thinking in our students is increasingly apparent. Rogers (1983) theorizes that innovations are disseminated via a spectrum of adopter types: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. Adoption of educational technology can also follow this pattern. We hope to educate students to become innovators like that of Leonardo Da Vinci, Nikola Tesla, The Wright Brothers, or Mark Zuckerberg. However, we may be surprised to find out that many of our students are in the majority or laggard categories of technology adoption, deliberating and waiting until it is safe or necessary to adopt a new technology (Rogers, 1983). While this could be appropriate in some situations, the better goal is to teach students to become critical evaluators of digital tools. And if as educators, we wait for personal mastery before sharing a tool, we may be enabling a generation of students who are dependent on others to make decisions for them.

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