Monday, August 31, 2015

Moving Learning Forward One Step At A Time

 If you are looking for my testing resource page - you can find it here:
"Put one foot in front of the other and soon you'll be walking cross the floor. Put one foot in front of the other and soon you'll be walking out the door."  This song refrain from one of my favorite holiday shows, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, is appropriate for this start of the school year.

It is easy to get caught up in the procedural side of education and lose sight of what has to happen in a classroom to move learning forward.  What are the steps you can take to help your students grow their learning or grow your own learning? Pick one step to start!

Clean Out Your Assessment Closet

  • What evidence of learning does this assessment collect for me or for my students?
  • How does this assessment match to the standards I am teaching
  • Where does this assessment fall in the continuum of assessment in my classroom - from formative to summative?
  • What can I do to revise this assessment to build in more stretch?

  • Resources for Assessment Literacy:
    Use Informational Text To Help Students Build Knowledge
    • What texts, including print, digital,  video, audio and graphics, are you using in your classroom?
    • How are you building academic and content area vocabulary through a variety of texts?
    • What opportunities are you building into your lessons to allow students to interact with the text and each other?
    • Are the texts you are using appropriately complex for your students? 
    Resources for Informational Text
    Build A Professional Learning Network For You & Your Students
    • What doors can you open that will allow you or your students to connect with others who share similar interests or passions for learning?
    • How can you use technology to help you to collaborate on student learning or help students collaborate with each other around their learning?
    • What learning networks are you already a part of? How can you continue to make the focus of those discussions around "moving learning forward"?
    • What do you want to learn more about? What steps do you need to take to make that happen?
    Resources for Professional Learning Networks & Student Collaboration

    Friday, August 14, 2015

    Welcome To Open House 2015-2016!

    Char's Testing Resource Page for 2015-2016 can be found here

    The start of school brings with it the annual Open House.  This is one of the few chances you may have during the school year  to communicate face to face with large numbers of your parents and family members.  
    • What do you want to learn from the parents? 
    • What do you want parents to learn from you?   
    • What class management information can be shared through a handout or on your website to allow you more time to interact with the parents? 
    • How will you reach out to parents or family members who may not be able to attend the Open House?

    As we have shifted to new learning standards, more and more parents are wanting to know what they can do to help their child at home.

    • What suggestions can you make on ways to read out loud with children, or have children read to parents?  
    • What activities, websites or books  could they use together as a family that might connect to topics being learned in class.

    Math has become a particular hot button topic as parents try to understand why their child's homework may not look like the math they did when they were in school.

    • Suggest some real world math activities that can be done at home to help build a child's understanding of math.  
    • Set up learning centers or stations with hands-on math activities for parents to try.  
    • What math games  might you recommend they play at home?  
    • For older students, consider having parents work through a short math task together, or provide them with some real world scenarios where the math skills the children will be learning can be applied.

    If you teach science, social studies, technology, the arts, physical education, world languages or family consumer science, think about how to give parents some first hand experience doing the kinds of learning activities their students will be doing throughout the year.

    • How might you help parents to see the connection between what their students will be learning in class and what they may be doing at home or in the community?
    • How could you share examples of work students have done in past years to give parents an idea of what typical work looks like for a student in the grade and class?

    Testing is another topic parents may have questions about.  Think through how you can help parents understand the role of formative assessments in your planning of day to day instruction to help their students move their learning forward.

    • What examples might you use to demonstrate the difference between frequent formative assessment and the more long term summative assessments?  
    • Where does state testing fit into the picture? 
    • One way to explain state testing might be to make a comparison to a check-up at the doctor's office. The doctor will usually show the parent a graph that places  a child on a line for height and weight, putting them in the context of other children their age. State Tests do the same thing, only using where a child is in their learning of a set of knowledge and skills.  These check-up results can be used to make a long term plan for learning, provide information on whether a child is on track, and help teachers see where a child's strengths and weaknesses are in comparison to a larger group.

    Finally, parents are looking to teachers to provide information on state testing.  Think about how you can share what we know right now about state testing with parents.

    • Ohio State Tests will be in ELA, math, science and social studies. 
    • There will only be 1 test for each subject area.  
    • The tests have been shortened. Each child will have up to 3 hours to complete each test, but most will be able to finish in less time. 
    • Districts can choose to do the test in one sitting or split it into two 90 minute sittings.  
    • The tests will be aligned to our Ohio Learning Standards. 
    • There will be one testing window that runs from April through the beginning of May. 
    •  Ohio teachers will be helping to select the items that will be on the tests.  
    • We will be using the same computer platform that the science and social studies tests were given on last year, so students and teachers have had experience using it.  
    • Paper and pencil tests will be available to districts who may choose to use them for all or part of their testing.

    Here are some great resource sites to direct parents to:

    Tuesday, August 11, 2015

    What Has Changed & What Stays The Same 2015-2016

    Char's Testing Resource Page for 2015-2016 can be found here

    "Be the change." 
    There is an undercurrent of change that runs through education and carries along with it the constant need to adjust and update to new classroom conditions, new standards, new assessments, new teaching strategies, new students and new colleagues.

    This summer in Ohio brought about a number of changes to the plan for Ohio State Tests.  These changes were based on the input of teachers, parents and community members who wanted a shorter test aligned to Ohio Standards that could be given on one testing platform closer to the end of the school year.   Ohio teachers will be working side by side with the Ohio Department of Education and AIR to build Ohio State Tests for ELA and math.  These new tests will join our existing Ohio State Tests for science and social studies and will be given this year.   The good news is that Ohio teachers and students already have taken tests on the AIR technology platform.  Districts who have been working to add devices and build infrastructure will be able to still give online tests. Paper and Pencil versions of all the tests will also continue to be available.

    In addition to the change in the testing platform, new Safe Harbor provisions that put a hold on the use of Ohio State Test results in teacher evaluation,  will allow teachers the opportunity to focus on instruction and on revising classroom assessments to better gather evidence of student learning. has excellent resources for teachers to use to continue to change their instructional practice to meet the depth of our standards and develop assessments to match to these standards.

    There are a number of key pieces in Ohio education that are staying the same.  Our Ohio Learning Standards have been in place since 2010 and Ohio teachers continue to locally develop lessons around these more challenging standards.  Instruction that meets the needs of all students will always be the main priority in Ohio classrooms. Good Formative Instruction and Assessment are essential to planning instruction that helps all students succeed. Teachers have been using formative assessment to make changes in instruction to immediately meet the needs of their students.   Parents are partners in the education of their children. The Ohio PTA is working to continue to support parents as districts move forward with the new Ohio State Tests.

    All of the work Ohio teachers and administrators did last year to make the shift to the new, computer based, standards aligned tests has helped to build a solid base for the 2015-2016 tests.   This year, we can keep our focus on instruction.