July 20th, 2016
Can you believe it ?!? MasteryCon is only one week away! To help you plan for the ultimate MasteryCon experience, we’ve compiled a list of last-minute info and reminders.
Schedule & Check In
The session schedule is now live—check it out! There is no need to sign up for sessions, but be sure to snag a program when you arrive. Check-in opens at 9:00 am on Wednesday, July 27th, at the Grand Summit Hotel. Pick up your conference materials any time before the welcome keynote at 5:30 pm. (You can skip printing conference tickets, schedules, or maps; we’ll have everything you need when you check in!)
Special Pre-Conference Workshop
We’ve added a free (yes, FREE!) pre-conference workshop on Wednesday for campers who want to start the MasteryCon fun early! A limited number of seats are available, so register now!
Bunks & Transportation
If you haven’t already booked your lodging, NOW IS THE TIME to reserve your room at the discounted rate. And, if you need to hitch a ride from the SLC airport to MasteryCon, may we suggest scheduling with our preferred transportation partner.
If you’re not staying onsite, you can park for free in the Red Hawk lot, located just below the Silverado Lodge.
Get Your Gear Ready
Dress is casual and comfortable (it is summer camp). But, because MasteryCon is nestled in the most beautiful mountains in the whole wide world, it’s best to bring along the right gear. You’ll want to pack up that sunscreen and a light jacket (warm days, cool nights). And, if you want to join the vista-filled group hikes, don’t forget comfy hiking boots and anything else you may want on the trail.
Make the Most of It!
You’ll want to take in everything at MasteryCon! Be sure to attend conference meals and evening entertainment; they’re all included in your registration, and they are awesome for networking. Also, keep your eyes peeled at the conference for ways to get involved, including earning MasteryCon merit badges and participating in activities wherever you see this guy.
See You Soon!
The MasteryCon counselors can’t wait to meet you at summer camp! Join the fun NOW by connecting with MasteryConnect and other attendees on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Remember to use our conference hashtag, #masterycon, and follow us for updates while at the conference.
See you in seven, campers!
July 11th, 2016
The countdown is over for the launch of the new premium version of our classroom engagement app, Socrative! Users from around the world have already jumped on board to be the first to experience the new functionality.
Socrative PRO gives you everything you love about the free app plus a heap of awesome new features to help you personalize learning, amp up engagement, and work formative assessment magic. Thinking about upgrading? Here’s five reasons why you’ll love Socrative PRO.
Each Socrative PRO account allows you to have 10 unique activity rooms. Run quizzes, polls, exit tickets, or Space Races at the same time to better manage multiple classes, remote and blended learning, and differentiated instruction. Create a room for each of your classes, divide students into groups, or assign homework activities—or do it all!
Large class, PTA meeting, or district-wide training on the horizon? No problem. You can accommodate up to 150 students in Socrative PRO rooms. With three times the student capacity of the free app, Socrative PRO is perfect for conferences, professional development, and grade-level assessments.
Save time and energy by uploading class rosters straight from a CSV or Excel file into Socrative PRO (or enter rosters manually, if you’d prefer). Restrict access to your rostered classrooms by requiring students to enter their personal ID number. And students will save time; they’re only required to enter their ID once into rostered rooms for immediate and future access.
Space Race Timer
Set the timer to have your Space Race end automatically. You can then more freely move around the classroom to answer questions, listen to students, and interact with the class.
More Features Coming this Fall
We’ll be rolling out new premium features to Socrative PRO users in the coming months. What should you expect? Well, instant quiz sharing, a searchable quiz community, and a silent hand raise feature—just to name a few. And you’ll soon get the ability to upload your own icon for a personalized Space Race experience (what will you race?!?).
Whether you’re a seasoned Socrative aficionado or you’re just discovering the formative assessment app, you’ll want to check out all the great new features you’ll get when you upgrade to Socrative PRO.
Socrative by MasteryConnect allows you to gather formative data instantly. Looking to gather formative data over time? Check out other K-12 solutions from MasteryConnect.
Have you ever looked at a standard—local, state, or national—and wondered, “What is this? And how am I going to teach it?” If so, you’re not alone!
In the ever-changing world of which standards are we using this year?!, the work of learning and implementing new standards must often happen quickly. Implementing standards effectively requires teachers to dive deep into the standards to fully understand expectations and make them clear to students.
Why “Unpack” Standards?
Because standards are sometimes written as overarching—and often complex—statements that can be interpreted in different ways, it’s important that teachers share a common understanding about the goals and targets of a standard. (You’ve probably been in a PLC conversation and thought, “I had no idea that’s what that standard meant!” or “Whoa, we’re reading the same book, but we’re not on the same page.”)
“Unpacking” is a technique teachers can use to make sense of standards, and then create focused learning targets to make them actionable. This process, also called “deconstructing” or “unwrapping” standards, fosters a collaborative dialogue that supports growth and effectiveness.
Once you have unpacked standards to identify what students should know and be able to do, you can do three important things:
- Craft your vision of mastery for specific standards.
- Align lesson plans and accompanying resources to that vision.
- As you teach and report progress, create student-friendly learning objectives to better communicate required skills to students and community stakeholders.
So what does unpacking look like? Read on as we break down the unpacking process and go through a couple examples to help get you started.
The Unpacking Process
There are four key steps to unpacking standards:
STEP 1: IDENTIFY KEY CONCEPTS & SKILLS
Identify what students need to know and what they need to do. We like to highlight nouns (content) in blue and verbs (skills) in green.
STEP 2: IDENTIFY LEARNING TARGET TYPES
Next, you’ll determine which concepts are content/knowledge targets, reasoning/cognitive targets, skill/performance targets, and product targets.
STEP 3: DETERMINE BIG IDEAS
The next step is to list the conceptual understandings that students discover during the learning process (the ah-ha! moments).
STEP 4: WRITE ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS
To focus and guide classroom instruction and assessment, write open-ended questions to help stimulate student interest and make new connections.
Think of this unpacking process as a journey with a destination in mind. The journey will include packing and preparation, travel arrangements, perhaps some new experiences, and ultimately an endpoint (student learning), which may very well begin a new journey.
An Unpacking Example
With the journey theme in mind, let’s use the analogy of planning a destination trip to help illustrate the process (it’s summertime, after all!). We’ll start with the learning target and break it down with Steps 1 and 2.
DESTINATION TRIP 101.1
Organize and plan for a trip to the beach.
What should I know?
- Lodging availability
- Location of area restaurants
- Day/night temperature at location
What should I be able to do?
- Locate the surf shop
- Apply sunscreen evenly
What should I understand?
- Recognize changes in tide
- Assess surroundings for safety
- Devise a plan if stranded at sea on catamaran
This breakdown of the familiar process of planning a trip makes sense: It provides clearly outlined steps and a better vision of the target after unpacking the original standard.
Example 2: Unpacking a Complex Standard
Now let’s take a closer look at examples of Steps 1 through 4 with a more complex, real-world standard. For this demonstration, we’ll use a sixth grade English Language Arts national/state standard.
STEP 1: IDENTIFY KEY CONCEPTS & SKILLS
We’ll start by highlighting the nouns (concepts) in green and the verbs (skills) in blue, just like we did in the destination trip example.
Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.
STEP 2: IDENTIFY LEARNING TARGET TYPES
Next, we’ll identify the types of targets the standard represents. You may benefit by using a graphic organizer like the one below.
|Knowledge Targets||Reasoning Targets|
|Evaluate an argument
Distinguish between supported and unsupported claims
|Skill/Performance Targets||Product Targets|
|Trace an argument in a text||Not applicable for this standard|
Identifying specific targets within a standard provides clear direction for instructional planning. It helps to not only focus on important content students should know, but also what skills they should develop. This is a critical balance that can easily get a little lopsided if there’s too much on content and not enough the skills.
STEP 3: DETERMINE BIG IDEAS
You’re halfway there! Determining Big Ideas is next, and it’s one of the most important parts of the learning process. This is where we help students to make connections and attach relevance to new information.
We want student thinking to extend beyond fact retention, because, let’s face it, facts alone aren’t going to get you where you need to go unless you’re a contestant on Jeopardy!
Below are some examples of Big Ideas for our standard:
- Presenting an argument with evidence is more persuasive than sharing an opinion.
- Unsupported claims can lead to an invalid argument.
- Identifying a claim supported with evidence is a skill applicable to all areas of life.
These Big Ideas go beyond one standard, unit of study, or even a class. They are the key learnings that move with students to new targets, new applications, and new connections.
In our opinion, the real fun begins in Step 4. As teachers, our favorite moments were those that allowed us to watch a student learn, grow in understanding, or have an ah-ha! Moment. Essential Questions can get you there every time!
These questions are open-ended opportunities to stimulate interest, stretch thinking, make connections that haven’t been made before, and much more. They can be used at the beginning of the instruction on a learning target or during instruction to advance the thinking process.
Examples of Essential Questions for our standard include:
- Why is evidence important?
- Why do we need to be able to recognize an argument that has support versus one that does not?
- When do we use argumentation in daily life?
One important point to remember when using Essential Questions is to keep them truly open-ended. Craft questions to have more than one possible response or to generate discussion when different or conflicting ideas are presented. As teachers, our role in this process is to facilitate thinking and discussion, not to validate. Be wary of responding with, “I agree with you” or “That’s correct”; other students may not speak up if their thinking is different than the answer you’ve identified as “right”.
Congrats! You’ve now gone through the unpacking process. By unpacking this standard, you now have a clear path forward. This process will enable you to plan effectively and ultimately save you time to focus on your students. Not only will you have a deeper understanding of the standards you teach, but your students will be more engaged in their learning. Sounds like a win-win for everyone!
Be sure to check back in a few weeks for Part 2 of Unpacking Standards – Moving from Content Standards to Student-Friendly Learning Targets. We’ll explore priority standards and student-friendly “I Can” statements.
MasteryConnect has Every Standard for Every State!
June 3rd, 2016
You may have experienced the collective sigh of another school year drawing to a close. After a marathon of year-end testing, classroom cleaning, and general exhaustion, you’re probably more than ready for your summer break. (And they’re still great for year-round educators!)
Whether you spend your summer days gearing up for next year’s lessons or getting out of Dodge with the fam, there’s an app to help you do it smarter. Here’s the list of apps we’re digging this season.
Plan a road trip that would make Clark Griswald drool. The Roadtrippers app helps you discover the most interesting route to your destination, and points out a slew of awesome sites along the way. Layer your attraction bucket list with your travel preferences, and Roadtrippers will return a plan for the ultimate journey.
Evernote works across multiple platforms and devices and helps you manage all of kinds of tasks. Think of it like a digital notebook that you can access anywhere, anywhere. Clip webpages, create text notes, upload files and images, scan papers, receipts, and anything else you may lose track of. Teachers can use Evernote to create lesson plans and schedules, keep track of resources and ideas, and so much more. You can even create shared notebooks for students, colleagues, and parents.
Sky Guide ($2.99)
Spend summer nights stargazing with the Sky Guide, an award-winning, out-of-this world app that lets you explore the cosmos by holding your iPad or iPhone to the sky. Discover new constellations, teach your own kiddos about the stars, or just be amazed by the summer sky.
If you have a tendency to take your work home with you (ahem), then DropBox is essential. This cloud storage platform syncs across all of your devices, so you can work from your classroom, home, or summer beachside cabana. You can also use it as backup storage for your favorite vacation photos, your teaching blog, classroom resources, recipes, and more.
Escape the sun by kicking back to watch a summer blockbuster in your local (and air-conditioned) theatre. Check out showtimes, read reviews, and buy tickets right from your phone to bypass the box office line.
Productive-Habit Tracker (Free)
You’ve probably heard the theory that it takes approximately 21 days to form or break a habit. So why not have an app that’ll help you build positive ones? For example, drinking enough water in between homeroom announcements and after-school tutoring programs. Summer’s a great time to embrace some good habits before another busy year. Productive-Habit Tracker helps you build any positive habit you can think, keeping track of your positive-habit ‘streaks’.
Pack Point (Free)
With the arrival of summer, you’re probably looking forward to trading teaching days to beaching days. Use the PackPoint app to ensure you have everything you need for maximum R&R. This sleek tool will give you a complete packing list based on your destination, forecasted weather, length of stay, and vacation activities.
If you like to make lists, outlines, and strategic plans, WorkFlowy is your tool—perfect for planning for next year. It’s simple, clean, and intuitive. Use it to gather resources for next school year or plan the summer of destiny.
Gratitude Journal ($2.99)
Looking to boost your mood after year-end burnout?The Gratitude Journal may help you overcome those intermittent bouts of meh. Use the app to track things you’re grateful for to develop an ‘attitude of gratitude’.
If you find yourself getting easily distracted or procrastinating, Moosti may be for you. It’s a clean, simple web app that allows you to set a timer for a specified amount of time with scheduled breaks. Have some housework you want to get done in record time? Try ‘sprinting’ for 30 minutes through your task list, and then taking a 10-minute break. When your breaks over, do it again. Lesson planning to do? Do it in sprints, and use Moosti to help keep you motivated.
Grocery Pal (Free)
For many, grocery shopping is one of the most dreaded task on their never-ending to-do list, especially when planning a summer campout or backyard BBQ. Make your shopping life easier with Grocery Pal. Keep track of all your needed grocery items, and then find which stores have the best sales and coupons to save a little moula. Less time wandering the aisles, more time doing whatever you want.
Back to School Countdown ($1.39)
Get a second-by-second countdown to the first bell of the next school year. This app will help you keep track of how many more days you have to plan the 2016-2017 curriculum–or count the remaining days you can sleep in past six.
Summer is the primo time to catch up on your personal reading. Pocket allows you keep track of articles and videos (like this one!) that you’ll want to peruse later–all in one place. Then share your top picks with friends. And if your summer vacation plans take you out of wi-fi range, no problem: You can view your saved items from any device sans internet.
Camp & RV ($9.99)
Before you set out into the great outdoors, be sure to snag this app that is worth the extra change. Camp & RV gives you a rundown on everything you need to know for roughing it, including 30,000 campgrounds, rest area locations, camper reviews, hikes, and more. Ready, set, adventure!
Have you seen our apps?
MasteryConnect has a whole collection of apps for educators—and they’re free! Get solutions for formative assessment, track student progress of state standards, or collaborate with 3 million educators who’ve already joined the community. Collect ’em all! And keep an eye out for Socrative PRO, launching this summer.
May 18th, 2016
You may have noticed that we are BIG fans of formative assessment around here. And as we meet with educators around the country, we continually find ourselves in (very) good company.
More and more teachers are using formative assessment in their classrooms everyday to answer important questions about student growth:
- What do my students know?
- What do they still need to learn?
- How should I adapt my instruction?
Unlike it’s more traditional cousin, summative assessment, the formative process embeds checks for understanding into the learning cycle, so teachers can provide personalized learning opportunities based on students’ unique needs. It also helps students track their progress and take greater ownership of their learning. Both super sweet wins in our book.
Over the past few months, we’ve shared a series of articles on the ins and outs of formative assessment and strategies to put it to integrate it into your instruction. But we thought it’d be nice to have all that formative know-how in one handy, comprehensive guide.
Now you can become the hot-footed, whiz-bang, undisputed champion of formative assessment by downloading The Definitive K-12 Guide to Formative Assessment, a free 20-page resource designed specifically for K-12 teachers and administrators.
- An overview of formative assessment and its benefits for students and teachers
- The difference between formative and summative assessment
- The three must-haves for meaningful formative assessments
- Ideas to start using in your own classroom
Whether you’re new to formative assessment or you’re already a diehard believer, there’s something for you in this guide.
Looking for a formative assessment solution? MasteryConnect can help you collect more formative data more frequently. View our online demo to see how we may be able to help in your school or district.
May 11th, 2016
Another school year in the books! Your friends are probably already sending the standard “Must be nice…Where are you planning to vacation?” messages. Summers off?! (As a former educator, I’m laughing with you.) Let’s be real: You’ve already planned the staycation in your classroom so you can begin next school year in a less Tasmanian-devil like state.
So when we think of the lists and lists of things to get done in the summer, you may be wondering why I’d suggest beginning with long term plan creation. But it makes sense.
Imagine the layers of the Earth; the long-term plan is like the crust. It is the outermost layer of your teaching plan and a necessary starting point before drilling any deeper. Creating a long term plan (LTP) will help you avoid becoming overwhelmed in the frenzy that is back to school season. It’ll also help you focus on every educator’s primary goal: student learning. And we all know that doesn’t happen without a specific, charted course of action.
Read on for tips I learned by going through the LTP process myself.
Answer a Few Key Questions
Before you dive right into the writing your LTP, take the time to answer the questions that’ll help you in the process.
What do you want your students to learn?
Use your standards to answer this! Your district may also provide a Scope & Sequence or Pacing Guide you can use as guidance.
Which standards are “power” or “priority” standards?
When working with standards, you may need to prioritize a little. Best place to start is with power standards.
How will you know if students have learned?
Identify what you’ll accept as evidence of learning or mastery. You may use released interim or end-of-level assessments to review standards-aligned questions or tasks. This helps to identify how your school district or state expects students to demonstrate proficiency and ensures that the level of rigor in your expectation is consistent.
If this all sounds a little daunting, hang in there! You don’t have to go it alone. This is a great opportunity to collaborate with your colleagues, whether you do it informally or in your PLCs / teacher teams. Teaming up will help you create a great comprehensive plan while lightening the load.
Now let’s get into the details of crafting your LTP.
What a Long Term Plan Is and Isn’t
A long term plan is a document or tool that details logical and sequenced standards-aligned learning goals for your course, grouping them into cohesive units that build upon one another. More simply put, your LTP is an instructional plan crafted to help you meet your learning goals (which you’ve outlined by answering the questions above).
An LTP is not your textbook’s table of contents, though I’ll personally admit that I’ve used that to drive my own instruction in the past. Major oops and missed opportunity. I learned (and you may have, too) that it’s impossible to cram an entire textbook’s worth of content into a single school year, and there’s often a lot of unnecessary “fluff” between those pages.
How LTPs Help Educators
When I based my plan on a textbook, I didn’t know WHY I was teaching the prescribed content; I essentially allowed it to determine what I should teach and when I should teach it. When I began to use my course standards to drive my long-term planning and leveraged my textbook as a supporting resource, I found that I had more time than I thought I would.
I was then able to approach each instructional day with a clear purpose. That purpose was for my students to demonstrate learning of a very clear set of skills, as outlined by the standards that I prioritized. Building an LTP that you’re invested in is exciting. Really. It helped me enter the school year with a PLAN that I was invested in. Additionally, it helped me to get to know the standards that I am accountable to teach, and it was the first step to exercising my creative teaching abilities.
A Long Term Plan Example
My first LTP was built in a Word document. Here’s an example from a 5th grade Science class.
In this particular unit, I grouped fifth grade science standards on Physical and Chemical Change. Notice that this precedes types and forms of energy and eventually builds to energy flow and the advanced concepts of photosynthesis.
Developing your LTP involves more than grouping standards into a logical sequence; it involves looking at each standard to determine specific and measurable learning goals. Though there are only two standards in this particular unit, there are eight learning objectives. (Psst! Stay tuned for an upcoming article on deriving learning goals from standards.)
The Need for Flexibility
Creating the beginnings of this extensive plan in Microsoft Word is absolutely doable, but it has its limitations. As I moved through the school year, I found the Word doc inflexible. Oftentimes, I would assume a skill would take a certain amount of time to teach; my predictions weren’t always accurate.
An LTP is not fixed; it’s a living document. This means it should be constantly informed and manipulated as you gauge student understanding. You should feel empowered to adjust pace to meet your student’s needs.
Because I needed more flexibility, I built my LTPs in Google Sheets the following year. You can also use an Excel sheet for this. This still requires a significant amount of copy/paste and cut commands to manipulate standards into logical units of learning.
Creating an LTP in MasteryConnect
If you’re writing an LTP, I’d like to introduce you to your new best friend: Curriculum Mapping from MasteryConnect. The Curriculum Map feature is IDEAL for crafting your LTP. It allows you to pre-populate your state specific standards and easily organize them into a unit structure, complete with notes, resources, and aligned assessments.
Below, you’ll find an example of my 5th Grade Science Curriculum Map in MasteryConnect after having organized it into logical and sequential units. Prior to this organization, the map exists as a list of standards based on the core I chose to align it to. Note that this is a collapsed view: I have the option to expand any unit to view embedded standards, learning objectives, and resources.
You can see an example of my expanded unit on Physical and Chemical change below.
The Curriculum Map feature in MasteryConnect revolutionized my LTP. And it will help you knock out an awesome plan while saving time in the process.
Create Your Long Term Plan
Now is time for you to start crafting your LTP. To help you get started, I’ve rounded up some valuable resources that will provide you with detailed instruction on how to build your LTP through the MasteryConnect Curriculum Map feature.
For on-site professional development on using Curriculum Maps for long term planning, contact your Customer Success Manager. And be sure to check back for upcoming articles in our Client Success Series. We’ll be covering topics like unpacking standards, analyzing student data, teaching for mastery, and more!
See You at MasteryCon!
This year, tell ’em the teachers are going to camp! Join us for three days of summer camp awesomeness at the ultimate K-12 event for formative assessment and mastery learning. Join us July 27-29 in beautiful Park City, Utah. Get tickets.
May 6th, 2016
At MasteryConnect, we think every week should be Teacher Appreciation Week. We are lucky to work with teachers and administrators from around the world! who continually inspire us with their dedication and passion for helping students conquer the world.
But we couldn’t pass up the opportunity during Teacher Appreciation Week to give a GIGANTIC shout out to all the awesome educators doing great things in classrooms every single day. On behalf of the entire MasteryConnect team, THANK YOU!
Meet Other Awesome Educators
And with the already popular article from Samantha Abercrombie, we also launched our guest-blogging series written by actual educators to share their front-line tips, best practices, and teaching stories. Keep your eyes on the blog for more upcoming features and articles like these. Exciting things are in the works!
Get Your FREE Apps!
MasteryConnect has a slew of sleek apps for educators—and they’re free! Get solutions for formative assessment, track student progress of state standards, or collaborate with 3 million educators who’ve already joined the community. You’ll want to collect ’em all.
May 3rd, 2016
Samantha is a 5th grade teacher in Carrollton, Kentucky. A mastery learning guru and exit ticket ninja, she’s committed to creating better writers in her classroom—and changing her hair color like the weather.
Reading. Math. Social Studies. Language Arts. It’s all in a day’s work. And that doesn’t include timely restroom breaks, extracurricular classes, lunch, and recess! How do teachers fit it all in? Like a generous number of my colleagues, I have become quite creative in attempts to cover state-recognized content standards and fill in the gaps with the everyday lessons that ensure students will be successful later in life.
My most recent classroom triumph involves using exit tickets to assess student learning. I know, I know… you’re no newbie to formative assessment. But I’ve found that using exit tickets in new ways has helped as I integrate writing with reading, language arts, and social studies each day. These integrated formatives are giving me the biggest bang for my buck–and they actually work!
Read on to learn about five creative integrated exit tickets you may not have tried in your classroom…yet!
#1 Short-Answer Question
For the teacher that struggles to find time to integrate writing with other content areas, this exit ticket is a must! At the completion of your lesson, ask students to respond to a short-answer question.
My students practice the RAP (Restate – Answer – Prove) method for writing responses. This criterion allows for a 3-point scoring scale: three points demonstrates mastery of the content, two points demonstrates near mastery, and one point demonstrates the need for remediation.
Determining need for specific students is no longer a challenge thanks to this three-point format. While analyzing student responses, I can sort students into three categories: those who need additional restate instruction, those who need additional content instruction, and students who need additional practice finding/using evidence and proof.
#2 Key Terms
During my 11 years of personal observation, I’ve found vocabulary knowledge is a common barrier for today’s elementary learner. To alleviate the deficits this causes, I sometimes ask my students to complete a key terms exit ticket–and it’s one of my favorites.
I’ve put a couple different spins on the key terms exit ticket. One is a fill-in-the-blank format, for which students fill in the missing term in a sentence or short paragraph. This strategy allows students to use the term(s) in context, which helps develop a deeper understanding.
Another version of the key terms exit ticket involves explaining what the key term means, and then providing an explanation as to how the student knows the definition is correct. We do this by explaining the prefix and/or ending used in the word, and using this understanding to develop a working definition for the new term.
While I do not take credit for developing the traditional “fist-to-five” self-assessment tool, I do want to share how I have adapted it to assess student mastery of learning standards. Conventionally, the fist-to-five self-assessment is used to get immediate feedback concerning lesson pacing. The fist means no additional time is needed to complete the task, while five fingers up means at least five more minutes is needed to complete the task.
I have adapted this strategy to assess content mastery on paper. I pose a question about the learning target, and the students have to rate themselves on a fist-to-five scale. Once they have given themselves a numerical rating, they must support their thinking with an explanation as to why. This explanation provides great insight into how much the students know about the learning target and how much support they may need moving forward.
In addition to this, I have found that students are very honest when assessing their own knowledge. It’s always interesting to me to delve into their minds for a brief moment and learn about them as scholars.
#4 Venn Diagram
Following the lesson, ask students to compare their new knowledge with previous learning using a venn diagram. For best results, assign a specific topic for students to compare and contrast to. This will allow you to easily reward points for appropriate likes and differences.
The expectation in my classroom is two differences on each side, and two similarities; this six-point scale makes scoring and analysis easy to accomplish.
Another popular exit ticket in my fifth-grade classroom is the summary. Upon completion of the lesson, generally a reading or social studies lesson, I ask students to summarize their new learning from the day.
The format we use for a summary exit ticket includes four components: a main idea statement, two details/pieces of evidence, and a conclusion statement. The writing integration in this exit ticket provides great opportunity for student growth.
It’s my hope that this article has provided you with some new ideas for using exit tickets to get the most out of the time you have with your students. Because we all know, no matter where you try to pull it from, there are only so many hours in the day. To make the biggest impact with the minutes you do have, the formative strategies I’ve mentioned will help you assess students for lesson knowledge while also growing writers in your classroom.
Want to be a guest blogger?
We love sharing stories, tips of the trade, real-world advice, and more from educators like you. If you’d like to be featured on the MasteryConnect blog, let us know! Send an email with your article idea to email@example.com.
April 21st, 2016
We live in a data-driven world. Everything is determined by data from from the Facebook posts we see to the marketing emails that pile up in our inbox. Somewhere, on a distant computer system, algorithms are run. Numbers are crunched.
But for educators, data is very personal. It’s a representation of the hard work they do day in and day out. It’s a representation of a child’s education.
That’s why education has a complicated relationship with data: it can be used to distill teaching and learning down to a set of inaccurate numerical values. But data-driven instruction is gaining a foothold in classrooms and schools around the country, showing that data should be about more than high-stakes testing and year-end results. The power of data should be leveraged to make ongoing, informed decisions to adjust instruction to better fuel student growth. It should be used while learning happens, not after the student has moved on.
This week, we share a few tips how to start using the principles of data-driven instruction in your classroom.
What is Data-Driven Instruction?
Data-driven instruction helps educators make informed instructional decisions, using information about student learning, to improve learning outcomes.
Although there are several variations on the specific elements of data-driven instruction, they all essentially include the following three things: assessment, analysis, action.
First, you must assess your students to determine their current levels of understanding. Then you must analyze the assessment data to identify learning gaps and self-evaluate instruction. The final step is acting on that information by adjusting instruction appropriately.
Some schools and districts have prescribed systems in place to help teachers track data at a student, class, grade, or school-level. However, many teachers craft their own strategy to make data-driven instruction work in their own classrooms. Regardless if it’s a district-wide or one-classroom initiative, taking the time to formalize your data-driven instruction strategy will lead to a more manageable process and greater success.
Start Building Your Data Strategy
This may sound intimidating at first, especially if you are new(ish) to data-driven instruction. But it doesn’t need to be.
Data isn’t some large, nebulous concept; the reality is that you already use data in your classroom everyday. You probably have mounds of info from student assignments, interactions with students, and more. Defining your strategy is simply taking a more systematic look at data in order to inform your instruction at a deeper level.
Audit How You’re Currently Using Data
Auditing how you already use data will highlight what’s working, what could be improved, and what’s missing.
- What are you currently tracking?
- Are you using formative assessment regularly?
- How are you using data from summative assessments?
- How are you recording data?
- Which tools do you use to store/track data over time?
- What are you required to report on by your school or district?
- When students self-report their level of understanding (using “thumbs up/thumbs down” or “fist to fives”, for example), how do you plan your next steps?
- What do you wish you knew about your students’ learning?
- How do you use data to plan for the next moment, the next day, or for the following year?
Identify All Sources of Available Data
Next, consider other sources of data that may be available to you and which ones you’d like to add to your strategy. Analyzing data from multiple sources helps you create a more holistic view of a student’s learning, which will assist you in making more informed instructional decisions that influence growth.
- Classroom formative assessments (quick checks, exit tickets, and other low-stakes activities)
- Graded assignments (chapter-end tests, performances, essays, etc.)
- Your own observations
- Self-reporting from students
- Collaborations with colleagues
- Benchmark and year-end tests
Make a Plan
Take the information you gathered during your audit (along with the info on additional data sources) to use as a framework for building your personal data strategy. Each answer will help you craft part of your plan.
If you’re brand new to data-driven instruction, or you’re still working to fine-tune your strategy, it’s best to keep it simple. Start by thinking small, perhaps by starting with one class, one unit or lesson, or one month at a time. Starting small will help perfect your strategy before launching it at a grand scale.
- Which standards would I like to assess?
- How will I track this data over time?
- What resources or tools are available to me?
- How can my administrators support my efforts?
- When will I make time to analyze the data?
- What are my colleagues doing?
- How will I use this data to collaborate?
- How will I communicate about data with students? Parents?
- What would “success” look like?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a more concrete idea on how to best approach your personal data strategy. Maybe you’d like to start by using daily exit or entrance tickets to plan the day’s lesson, and then track the day-to-day growth. Or you’d like to focus on a few concepts or standards that your students are struggling with, and then gauge how many students have moved from near-mastery to mastery. However you decide to do it, you’ll soon see that data can empower you to help more students do better.
Hear How One Educator Did It!
We recently sat down with a NYC teacher to hear how staff at her school leveraged the power of data to move from “remediation” to the top-10 list for most improved math scores in city. Listen to the full webinar to hear their story.
MasteryConnect helps over 2.5 million educators worldwide with formative assessment, data-driven instruction, standards-based learning, and collaboration. Get more information about how we can help drive student outcomes in your class, school, or district.
April 1st, 2016
It’s finally here! Ahhh, Spring. Thoreau welcomed it, writing that it was when the Earth began to “stretch itself.” Shakespeare said it put the “spirit of youth in everything.” And they didn’t even have to endure months of inside recesses and telling students to STAY OFF THE ICE!
So shake off those winter layers, revel in the glimmers of sunshine before the morning bell, and welcome the warmer weather with K-12 standards from across the country that are perfect for spring.
Minnesota | 1st Grade
126.96.36.199.1 Explain how the combination of the Earth’s tilted axis and revolution around the sun causes the progression of seasons.
Nebraska | 2nd Grade
SC2.4.3.a Observe that the sun provides heat and light.
Montana | 8th Grade
2.6 identify, build, describe, measure, and analyze mechanical systems (e.g., simple and complex compound machines) and describe the forces acting.
Next Generation Science | 3rd Grade
3-ESS2-2 Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world.
California | High School
1.4 Practice aerobic activities in real-world settings.
Georgia | 1st Grade
S1E1 Students will observe, measure, and communicate weather data to see patterns in weather and climate.
South Dakota |Middle School Earth/Space Science
MS-ESS.H Water influences weather and weather patterns through oceanic, atmospheric and land circulation.
Ohio | Physics
PS.FM.CE.1.2.2 Friction is a force that opposes sliding between two surfaces.
Florida | Middle School
DA.68.H.1.2 Research and discuss the influence that social dances have had on the development of classical, theatrical, modern, and contemporary dance genres.
Virginia | 7th Grade
PH.7 The student will investigate and understand properties of fluids. Key concepts include a) density and pressure; b) variation of pressure with depth; c) Archimedes’ principle of buoyancy; d) Pascal’s principle; e) fluids in motion; and f) Bernoulli’s principle.
With MasteryConnect you can track student learning of these standards—actually any standard—with our web-based platform. See how you we help you identify student levels of understanding so you can target intervention and inform instruction. Learn more.