Featured Teacher:
Patti Desmarais

November 30th, 2018

 

Nicole

Each month we share the stories of dynamic educators who are using MasteryConnect in innovative ways to help students be their best! Follow along with our Featured Teacher series and get to know other teachers in the MC community.

Meet Patti Desmarais, she has spent her entire teaching career of 34 years at Acton Elementary School in Texas and feels that every year brings a new, exciting challenge. She decided she wanted to be a teacher in 4th grade and has never looked back! Learn more about what keeps her excited about teaching there.


 

What grades have you taught?
Grades 1, 2, 3 and a multi 1-2 looping with them to 2-3

What is your favorite activity outside of the classroom?
Snowshoeing

How do you avoid burnout?
I walk most days and do a workout every morning to start my day.

What keeps you excited about teaching?
Learning new things. A few years ago, I took a Methods Reading course (which I should have taken years ago) and learned so much. Last summer, I took a Methods Math course in response to the very low test scores. It was amazing to see how much things have changed. I am so much more energized and excited about math now. And seeing the faces of my students when they “get it” is priceless!

Why did you start teaching?
I decided to be a teacher when I was in 4th grade and never changed my mind. I guess it was the influence of teachers that I had.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Don’t overthink things. You know your students, trust yourself.

If you could choose a “walk-on song” to be played every morning, what would it be?
I’m not sure. Not very good with the names of songs. I just know that I sing my way to work every morning…alone…in my car…loudly.

What is your favorite book on education?
The text book from my Methods math class. I keep it handy all the time. Of course, it’s at work right now and I don’t have the name of it.

What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
Don’t let people tell you it’s not worth the hard work because you won’t make any money. There is so much rewarding about this work. One former principal put it into perspective, sort of. He told me to hang in there because it was only 180 days a year. Of course, it’s much more than that. It’s hard work, but good work.

If you weren’t a teacher, what kind of career would you have?
I would work in a plant nursery.

What has been the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
Looking at my students when everything clicks. And having a former student call me and tell me that she was writing a book because I told her that journaling would help her to keep her feelings in perspective.

Tell us one of your goals for this year.
My biggest goal is to help my students understand math and find a way to help it make sense to them.

What is your favorite MC Feature?
I really like being able to author my own items.

What is one thing you want students to take away when they leave your classroom at the end of the year?
Learning is a lifelong skill. Don’t ever stop – I don’t.

What is your dream vacation?
A warm beach for a week with no laundry to do or house cleaning.

Anything else you want to add about yourself?
I have been at the same school for 34 years now. My sister once asked me how I could do that. I told her that every year I get a new set of students and a new challenge. I love what I do even when I get tired and don’t want to bring it home every night.


Check back often to meet other amazing educators in the MasteryConnect community!

Help Center

 

Start 2019 off right with a PD plan for your teachers and leaders. We are offering exclusive pricing on our Mastery Leadership Institute, Teacher Boot Camp and On-site PD if you purchase before December 21st!

 

#1 Save 20% on The Mastery Leadership Institute

Experience our premier PD that’s guaranteed to transform the data culture in your school or district. When you buy a seat to our January session or our special summer event, you’ll save $700 on the all-inclusive MLI retreat!

Choose from two sessions:

  • San Diego, CA | January 16 – 18, 2019
  • Park City, UT | July 9 – 11, 2019

Learn more about MLI!

 

#2 Early Bird Deals on Summer Boot Camps

Designed for teachers, administrators, and coaches looking to take their instruction to the next level, this intensive two-day workshop focuses on improving every step of the instructional cycle—from breaking down standards to planning meaningful interventions.

Choose the Early Bird Deal that’s right for your team:

  • Early Bird Registration – $800
  • Early Bird Registration with Two Nights Lodging – $1,000

Learn more and reserve your seat!

 

#3 Buy 2 Get 1 Free On-Site PD

Customize a plan of three on-site professional development sessions for the price of two! Whether you want to introduce MasteryConnect to new teachers or promote deeper usage among your team, we can build a plan to meet your specific goals.

Ready to learn more about how you can get this limited-time deal? Call us at (801) 736-0258 to learn more.

 

Nicole

Each month we share the stories of dynamic educators who are using MasteryConnect in innovative ways to help students be their best! Follow along with our Featured Teacher series and get to know other teachers in the MC community.

Meet Katherine Karl Anderson, she currently teaches in Cicero School District in Illinois. As a technology resource teacher, she believes that technology in the classroom provides equal opportunities for students. Although she is cutting edge in the classroom, she still likes to throw it back and listen to a good 90s song every once in a while. Keep reading to find out Katherine’s favorite flashback song, and her go-to book on education!


 

What subjects have you taught?
Technology, Biology, Theater, Elementary Subjects

What grades have you taught?
2nd, 3rd, 7th, 8th, 10th

What is your favorite activity outside of the classroom?
I love to dance… or travel, I can’t decide!

How do you avoid burnout?
I make time for my dog and my husband and reading for fun!

What keeps you excited about teaching?
I remind myself that I am doing this for the kids! Thinking about equitable access for students in my district keeps me going. It is a huge goal but we take it one day at a time.

Why did you start teaching?
I really enjoy students. I love seeing them make connections and be excited about learning. I love the challenge of reaching every student and motivating them to be the best they can be! I also love doing theater with students. Students can grow so much from extra-curricular activities that require dedication but have huge rewards. Even with my little ones, Readers’ Theater became a fun project that allowed them to be so proud of their accomplishment.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Do something you love!

If you could choose a “walk-on song” to be played every morning, what would it be?
Smash Mouth – All Star! “Hey now, you’re an all star…” I was a child of the nineties 🙂

What is your favorite book on education?
Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman. Though it is actually a business book, it has really informed my teaching practice. I love the premise: that allowing people to explore and find what interests them, will actually make them engage more, produce more, and learn and grow more. It really sold me on STEAM and the benefits of project-based learning. Students never forget what they did for science fair!

What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
It will get better and so will you! Ask for help, ask for advice, ask to be observed; never be afraid to grow.

If you weren’t a teacher, what kind of career would you have?
I would want to direct theater or maybe act!

What has been the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
My most memorable moment this year was when a 2nd grade boy who wouldn’t take a test on paper, actually thanked me for letting him take a test on a computer through MasteryConnect. And he mastered the content!

What is your favorite quote?
You are your limit!

Tell us one of your goals for this year.
One of my goals this year is to become ISTE certified.

What is your favorite MC Feature?
I love the Compare feature (and not just because it looks cool). I love that it can show a teacher how rigorous their instruction and formative assessments are. Teachers sometimes think content is too hard for students but we cannot challenge them enough! They will rise to our expectations.

What is one thing you want students to take away when they leave your classroom at the end of the year?
Since I am a technology resource teacher, I will tell you a wish for the teachers I work with- I want them to not be afraid of technology. I want them to see how technology is the way that we can provide equal opportunities for our students. I want them to know that they can’t “break it”!

What is your dream vacation?
My dream vacation is a safari, which I got to experience for my honeymoon two years ago. I would go again!

Anything else you want to add about yourself?
I work with an awesome team of instructional technology resource teachers!


A big thanks to our Featured Teachers! Visit our blog regularly to meet other rockstars in the MasteryConnect community.

Tech Tip: Check your core!

November 15th, 2018

Help Center

 

We picked the brains of the MasteryConnect Support Team gurus to share tips on some of the most commonly seen support issues reported by MC Users.

Today we’ll cover why it’s important that assessments are aligned to the same standards found within your Tracker. Most users see this mismatch issue when they can’t upload an assessment. Read on to learn about why this happens—and how to fix it.

Why can’t I add my assessment to my tracker?

If you are having trouble adding an assessment to your Tracker, it’s a safe bet that the standards that are aligned to it don’t match the standards built into the Tracker. In order for an assessment to be visible in a tracker, all standards that the assessment covers must be present in the Tracker.

What’s an example of why this would happen?

Below are three scenarios MC Support Specialists commonly see educators experiencing.

  1. Let’s say you are a fourth grade teacher and you want to see what knowledge your students have retained about the properties of multiplication (which they learned last year). You may choose to create and deliver a short formative assessment built on the third grade standards, but might have trouble adding it to your Tracker. That’s because your Tracker was built using only fourth grade standards.
  2. Another common example of when this might happen is when the wrong set of standards are chosen for either the assessment or the tracker. Let’s imagine you teach science in Utah. You choose the UT state standards for science to create your tracker, you find an assessment in the community covering Rocks and Minerals, but then discover it is aligned to the science standards in Tennessee. You will not be able to add the assessment to your tracker as it is.
  3. A third common occurrence is that you want to use an assessment you have used from the past, but your state adopted an updated set of standards for your course. If your tracker is created with the newly updated standards, your previously used assessment will not add to your tracker because of the standard mismatch.

If you find yourself in one of the situations described above, there are two easy ways to resolve the issue. (Click on the links below for Help Center articles that will walk you through each process.)

Note: If your standards DO match, another common reason is that your assessment and trackers were creating with differing mastery scales. Read more here.

How can I prevent this in the future?

The best way to prevent this issue is to carefully check which standards you are using for an assessment and preemptively change them to the ones that match your tracker. Another good tip is to set your default core when creating an assessment. Visit the link below for step-by-step instructions on how to do this.

We hope this tip will help you avoid any headaches in the future. Check our blog regularly for more tech tips, and be sure to visit the MasteryConnect Help Center and Online PD video library or support anytime.


 

Teachers will soon have yet another great tool to build better assessments faster with Teacher Item Authoring in MasteryConnect. Learn more about this exciting new functionality and how you can be one of the first to get it!

 

 

Why You’ll Love Teacher Item Authoring

With the MasteryConnect Teacher Item Authoring tool, teachers will soon be able to author their own items to meet specific standards, DOK, and skills. Quickly create formative assessments using published items by accessing your own item bank.

The ability to share these items with colleagues makes the process of collaborating around and building common formative assessments (CFAs) using MasteryConnect even easier. District administrators can also choose to publish a District Teacher Bank, so teachers can quickly search and add standards-aligned items built by others.

When building TEIs with the Teacher Item Authoring tool, authors can choose from over 50 item types that best fit grade-level and subject. Item types include drag and drop, math formula, image highlight, graph plotting, ordering, and more—all representative of the TEIs students may see on district benchmark or end-of-level assessments.

The perfect complement to integrated third-party and district-created item banks, Teacher Item Authoring helps save both time and energy when building high-quality formative assessments.

 

 

Get Teacher Item Authoring Now

Are you interested in getting Teacher Item Authoring now for your teachers? We are releasing it to select MasteryConnect partners who want to be early adopters of the technology.

School and district MasteryConnect administrators may contact their Regional Education Consultant to learn more about how they can have this functionality activated for educators in their school or district.

Teachers, if you are interested in authoring your own items, contact your school or district’s in-house MasteryConnect administrator and let them know!