Scaffolding Creative Thinking With Computational Thinking and New Literacies

As an art educator, creativity and creative thinking are important subjects to me. As such, they’ve been the focus of several projects I’ve done as a MAET student.

Deschryver & Yadav (2016) wrote about how to scaffold creative thinking with computational thinking and new literacies. In this video, I synthesized what they shared and extracted three key points:

  1. Students benefit from learning creative thinking skills, new literacy skills, and computational thinking skills.
  2. These skills are typically taught in isolation.
  3. These skills should be taught together so that new literacies and computational thinking skills scaffold creative thinking.

By the way, this video is the first stop-motion animation I’ve ever made, and I think is a good example of scaffolding creative thinking through computational thinking and new literacies.

References

Deschryver, M. D., & Yadav, A. (2016). Creative and computational thinking in the context of new literacies: Working with teachers to scaffold complex technology-mediated approaches to teaching and learning. In Creativity, Technology & Teacher Education (pp. 139-159). Waynesville, NC: AACE.

Images

All videos in this blog post were created by Sarah Van Loo.

Other images used in the video were cited in the video.

Applying Learning Theories to My Teaching Practice

This summer in CEP 800, Learning in School and Other Settings, I had the opportunity to reflect on several prominent learning theories and how they impact my own teaching practice. Based on that reflection, I created a Prezi.

For additional details about all that you see in the Prezi, please check out this Google Doc.

To interact with the Prezi, click Present in the window above.  Use the double arrows to make it full screen, or interact with it in the small window. You can use the left and right arrows on the screen or on the keyboard to move through the animations, or you may click around and look at aspects of the presentation that most interest you.

Arduino: An Update of My Maker Project

During coursework for my Master’s in Educational Technology (@MAET) at Michigan State University last summer I made something that I am really proud of: I illuminated a tutu with a LilyPad Arduino using only online resources. I was challenged to set aside traditional learning resources, including books and the many talented makers I know. I wrote about that in an earlier post.

WHY I RETURNED TO THIS PROJECT

The last time I worked on this project, I had illuminated a tutu using an Arduino LilyPad and four Sewable NeoPixels. Having exhausted my time to finish the project, I strung those LEDs together using insulated wire and electrical tape, knowing that I would like to return to it sometime and finish it in a more elegant fashion.

I was prompted to continue my project when a2geeks shared a request for makers for their Ann Arbor Creativity & Making Expo 2018 (AACME – formerly Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire). I appreciate the collaborative and social nature of the maker community. In the past I’ve been a part of it as an observer; I was excited to be part of it as an exhibitor. I especially wanted to share my process of going from beginner-to-maker with other hopeful Arduino users.

my CONTINUING PROGRESs

Once my application to exhibit was accepted, I spent each night trying and experimenting with different materials and techniques. Sometimes my efforts were successful, some were smoking failures – literally.

I began by using conductive thread to sew my original four NeoPixels to the inside of the tutu, along with eight more that I acquired from Adafruit Industries. Each step along the way, I used alligator clips to ensure that the connection to the LilyPad was still working.

After I had sewn all 12 NeoPixels, I attempted to add my LilyPad using conductive thread, also. It did not work. In retrospect, I think I had cross-wired some connections between the first NeoPixel and my LilyPad. To correct it, I removed all the thread from the LilyPad to that first NeoPixel.

What happened next was a mistake, but one that I learned a lot from. I learned to solder to connect the LilyPad to that first NeoPixel. Although the connections worked (a small triumph for my first soldering attempt), I found that the wired connection with the fabric started to smoke. Since I did not want to start a fire with my project, I unsoldered the connection, gave it some more thought, and again attempted to connect the LilyPad to the NeoPixels to the LilyPad using conductive thread (the safer and recommended choice).

At that point, I removed the first NeoPixel from the connection, since it was soldered and I wasn’t sure if it was safe. I also turned the entire skirt inside out to allow the NeoPixels and thread to be on full display.

What I display at AACME is a battle-scarred tutu with cuts and burns and melted threads that truly belies the hard-won learning I did. I love it!

My next step will be to add an input device, such as a color sensor, temperature sensor, or motion sensor.

Resources That I Used For WORKING WITH LILYPAD AND NEOPIXELS
Related Posts

This is the fourth of four posts about learning to code and use the Arduino LilyPad. You can read about my decision to make this project in my first post. You can read an update about my early progress in my second post. You can read about how I concluded my summer work last year in my third post.

Images

All images and videos in this blog post were created by Sarah Van Loo.

Proof I Learned

When I initially approached this final assignment for my assessment class, I thought, “No problem. I’ve learned so much! This should be easy.” The reality, however, was that it took days for me to sort out what I wanted to focus on from the many important concepts I learned throughout this class. Ultimately, I settled on three takeaways from the seven modules.

The Feedback Loop is Critical in Assessment (Modules 1, 2, 3 and 7)

One of the biggest takeaways from this class for me is the critical importance of the feedback loop in assessment. Explicitly addressed in every module of CEP813, feedback should be timely and it should be direct and specific.

Feedback can help students gain more understanding and give them “more self-regulation over the learning process” (Hattie & Timperley, 2007, p. 90). When teachers help students answer three questions: “Where am I going?” “How am I going?” and “Where to next?” (p. 90) they can help students to close the gap between where they are and what they are trying to achieve.

Feedback, which can be provided during formative assessment, should be given early enough that students can act on it. It reveals students’ progress toward a learning goal, their thought processes, and possible misconceptions (Trumbull & Lash, 2013, p. 2).

Feedback should focus on… the individual student.

Feedback to students should focus only on the work of the individual student and should not involve comparisons with the work of other students (Black and Wiliam, 1998). These kinds of comparisons can be damaging to students’ self-esteem and turn the focus of the class toward competition, rather than collaboration and an emphasis on improving learning.

When students are able to use the feedback loop to revise and improve their work, they can demonstrate evidence of mastery learning (Wormeli, 2010). Module 7 of this course is the perfect illustration of this, as two of the assignments involved multiple iterations and feedback between students and teachers to complete.

Evidence of Understanding

Within my Rubric 4.0 are two criteria in which I specifically referenced the importance of quality feedback, Criterion 1, “Feedback to students is timely to allow students to act upon it” and Criterion 2, “Feedback to students is direct and specific.” Not only have I used Rubric 4.0 to critically review my own assessments but I have also used this to develop better assessments within the context of this course and in my teaching practice. The feedback loop was an important part of Rubric 4.0, as it was developed over time through feedback between my instructors and me.

I also addressed the feedback loop when I created Formative Assessment Design 3.0, in which I carefully detailed how I would collect formative assessment information from students to inform instruction and how I will provide feedback to students to help them close that gap between where they are and where they are going.

Digital Tools Can Enhance and Support Assessment (Modules 4 and 5)

According to Quellmalz (2013), it takes time, content knowledge, and assessment expertise for teachers to plan for assessments during instruction and to provide feedback and differentiated follow-up to students. Digital tools can provide support in all these areas.

Utilizing digital tools can make learning more accessible for all learners by allowing teachers to implement Universal Design for Learning. Educators can represent information through multiple means by utilizing digital tools such as audio files, videos, and images to support text. This can help ensure that all students are able to access assessments (Meyer, Rose, & Gordon, 2014). As Sams and Bergmann (2013) point out, the addition of digital tools to the traditional problem sets, textbooks, and other activities means all students have the option to use “the resources that best suit them to master learning objectives” (p. 19).

Course Management Systems are another digital tool that helps to support classroom instruction. From communication to instruction and assessment, CMSs can be implemented in a variety of online learning classroom models and can also support UDL. Information that teachers can glean from CMSs includes demographic data, usage data, and achievement data (CAST, n.d.). This information can allow teachers to customize instruction to meet students’ needs.

CMS Assessment 2.0

Evidence of Understanding

When I created an assessment to be administered through a Course Management System, CMS Assessment 2.0, I implemented UDL’s recommendation to use multiple means of action and expression by providing voiceovers for text to support struggling readers. In CMS Assessment 2.0, I carefully selected Canvas from the many available CMSs because of its robustness, flexibility, and ease of use for young students.

Digital Games are Engaging, Motivating, and Allow for More Choice (Module 6)

Another way to support UDL is by allowing multiple means of action and expression, whereby teachers allow students to demonstrate their understanding of course concepts in whatever way best suits them (Meyer, Rose, & Gordon, 2014).

Games and coding apps like Minecraft, The Sims, Little Big Planet and Scratch help support and develop planning skills, are fun and engaging, and give students another choice for demonstrating their learning. And as Black and Wiliam (1998) note, choice is beneficial for all students, not just students who need accommodations. They say choice should be available to students for classwork and homework, as long as those tasks meet the learning objectives for the lesson.

Evidence of Understanding

When I created my Minecraft Assessment where students explore and create symmetrical designs, I demonstrated just one way in which Minecraft could be used as an assessment as learning and an assessment of learning. This engaging and fun assessment could be one of a menu of assessment choices, which would support UDL as multiple means of action and expression.

Screen Shot of Sarah’s Symmetry Station in MinecraftEDU

Looking Toward the Future of My Assessment Practice

As I move forward in my teaching practice, I will continue to utilize what I have started to implement through my work in CEP813. I will continue to use feedback to inform instruction, and I will continue to use digital tools for blended learning.

Digital tools, such as Seesaw, Canvas, Minecraft, Tynker, and Scratch will continue to be a vital part of my instruction and assessment practice. They will be part of my practice as my students do inquiry-based instruction in small groups and I am able to “meet” with them each day through tools like Seesaw. Formative assessment through this blended-learning format will allow me “to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students’ achievement of intended instructional outcomes” (FAST SCASS, as cited in Quellmalz, 2013, p. 1).

Images

Header image Learning For Life is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

Screenshots in this blog post were created by Sarah Van Loo.

REFERENCES

Black, P. & Wiliam, D. (1998). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 80(2), 139-144.

CAST (n.d.). LMS data and continual course design. Retrieved from http://udloncampus.cast.org/page/assessment_data#.VEq4B5PF8rk

Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback . Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81–112.

Meyer, A., Rose, D.H., & Gordon, D. (2014). Universal design for learning: Theory and practice. Wakefield, MA: CAST.

Quellmalz, E.S. (2013). Technology to support next-generation classroom formative assessment for learning. San Francisco: WestEd. Retrieved from http://www.wested.org/resources/technology-to-support-next-generation-classroom-formative-assessment-for-learning/

Sams, A., & Bergmann, J. (2013). Flip your students’ learning. Educational Leadership, 16-20.

Trumbull, E. & Lash, A. (2013). Understanding formative assessment: Insights from learning theory and measurement theory. San Francisco: WestEd. Retrieved from www.wested.org/online_pubs/resource1307.pdf

Wormeli, R. (2010, November 30). Rick Wormeli: Formative and summative assessment [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJxFXjfB_B4&feature=youtu.be

Robotics in Grade 5 – A Formative Assessment

My fifth-grade robotics classes are challenging and fun. Students work cooperatively in small groups to build, modify, and program a robot to move autonomously (with minimal human intervention) while also learning to navigate social learning situations.

To plan for and reflect on one of the formative assessments within this fifth-grade robotics module, I have developed Formative Assessment Design Version 3.0, the third iteration of this assessment. 

You may also read prior iterations, Formative Assessment Design Version 1.0 and Formative Assessment Design Version 2.0, as well as my blog posts about FAD 1.0 here or FAD 2.0 here.

Revising a Second Grade Assessment Within a CMS

Course Management Systems (CMSs) can be an indispensable tool in any classroom. In a previous blog post, I wrote about why I chose Canvas when working with elementary school students. I then used Canvas to create a digital assessment for my second graders. You can read about the first iteration, CMS Assessment 1.0, and my second iteration, CMS Assessment 2.0.

I developed CMS Assessment 2.0 after critically considering my own CMS Assessment 1.0, and taking into account feedback from my peers and instructors. While CMS Assessment 1.0 consisted of a 15-question quiz only, CMS Assessment 2.0 includes several linked pages within Canvas.

This video is a screencast of my completed CMS Assessment 2.0:

Analysis of CMS Assessment 2.0

In my creation of CMS Assessment 2.0, I carefully considered how it aligns with professional standards, how it aligns with my Rubric 4.0, how this assessment will inform future instruction, and what link exists between the CMS and student learning. You can read this critical analysis here:

Brief Description of CMS Assessment 2.0

The new assessment page has three buttons, each of which links students with a different part of the assessment. The finalized assessment now includes three parts:

Part 1: 15-question quiz to be taken inside the Canvas CMS. Check out my screencast of CMS Assessment 1.0 to see a detailed description and screencast of the quiz.

Part 2: Sorting task to be completed in Scratch Jr., a coding app with which students are already familiar.

Part 3: Open-ended design task to be completed as a drawing and writing assignment on a sheet of paper that I will provide to students.

 Images

All images in this post were created by Sarah Van Loo.

 

Using Minecraft as a Tool to Assess Students’ Understanding of Symmetry

Symmetry is a concept that is important in the elementary art room, in engineering and design, and in math. There are many kinds of symmetry. In my Minecraft station, Sarah VL’s Symmetry Station, students learn about two kinds of symmetry: reflection (or mirror) symmetry and rotational (or turn) symmetry.

This video shows a walk-through of my assessment station:

The Assessment Process

For each of the two kinds of symmetry, students will view two examples of symmetrical designs. After they view symmetrical designs, they will complete a symmetrical design by placing the appropriate Minecraft blocks as directed. After completing two designs, students will create a third symmetrical design that they have complete control over.

An example of reflection symmetry

After they make their design, students will take a screenshot and share it with me in Seesaw. I will formatively assess their understanding of symmetry. If they created a symmetrical design, I will give them feedback telling them that, also through Seesaw. If they did not create a symmetrical design, I will use the drawing tool in Seesaw to identify blocks that are not symmetrical and ask them to redo that portion of the assessment. Based on the results of the formative assessment, I will reteach them as necessary. Because of the ease of working in Minecraft, students will be able to redo portions of the assessment as needed.

To help students know where to build, I placed build allow blocks. Students will learn to identify these blocks. When they are finished with the assessment, I will ask them to dig up their design so other students can return and build there, too. To ensure that they do not accidentally dig up blocks that are meant to stay, I placed build disallow blocks.

Advantages of Using Minecraft

There are other ways that a teacher could assess a student’s understanding of symmetry, including using physical blocks, making a paper sculpture, or coloring a picture. Minecraft has some advantages over those assessment methods.

An example of rotational symmetry

First, Minecraft is engaging for students. Even if they are challenged at first, they will eventually get comfortable in the Minecraft environment and will enjoy working there. My own personal experience was that I went from completely frustrating to not being able to stop working because it was so much fun.

Second, building in Minecraft is building with digital blocks. Although students could demonstrate their understanding of symmetry using manipulatives like pattern blocks or even plastic bricks, the availability of the technology in the classroom means that physical blocks are not necessary.

Third, if a student does not successfully make a symmetrical design the first time, Minecraft allows students to easily rebuild their design. By contrast, if they colored or painted or sculpted their design with paper and glue, it would be much more difficult to redo their work.

After completing a formative assessment in Minecraft and demonstrating an understanding of symmetry, students will be ready to create a paper sculpture or do some other summative assessment.

Rubric 4.0

During CEP 813, I developed a rubric by which to assess other assessments. You can view Rubric 4.0 or read about it in an earlier blog post if you want to know more. My Minecraft assessment meets some of those criteria but not all. Here are two criteria from Rubric 4.0 and how they are met (or not) by my Minecraft assessment.

7: Assessment requires transfer of knowledge to demonstrate understanding

When students complete a symmetrical design or create their own symmetrical design in Minecraft, they are applying what they have learned through a performance task. This allows them to demonstrate that they have truly learned the content and to begin constructing new knowledge around what they already know (Trumbull and Lash, 2013).

10: Assessment provides multiple means of action and expression

This Minecraft assessment limits students to a single means of action and expression. This does not line up with Universal Design for Learning (Meyer, Rose, & Gordon, 2014), by which teachers make assessments accessible for all learners. However, it would be possible to make an accommodation for a student who was unable to access Minecraft for some reason. This could be done using grid paper or pattern blocks, as previously mentioned.

References

Meyer, A., Rose, D.H., & Gordon, D. (2014). Universal design for learning: Theory and practice. Wakefield, MA: CAST.

Trumbull, E. & Lash, A. (2013). Understanding formative assessment: Insights from learning theory and measurement theory. San Francisco: WestEd. Retrieved from www.wested.org/online_pubs/resource1307.pdf

Images

All screenshots and videos in this blog post were created by Sarah Van Loo.

Screenshot from MinecraftEDU Tutorial World

Incorporating Games Into Classroom Assessments

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the specific application of using games to help students with executive functioning issues. However, Games are engaging for all students and can help all students learn course content and life skills.  

Students can learn skills and techniques for planning through digital games like strategy games, simulation games, and role-playing games. In these games, they learn skills such as predicting game events and switching between short- and long-term goals. They learn to prepare for an event by stocking up items in inventory, and they learn from their mistakes (Kulman, 2014).

Games like Minecraft and LittleBigPlanet and coding apps like Scratch help to support planning skills through fun and interactive means. Students need “foresight, planning, dividing the plan into steps, and then actually producing the work,” (Kulman, 2014, p. 118) to be successful.

I have some experience using and teaching coding applications like Scratch, Scratch Jr., Tynker, and Hopscotch. And I live in a house with teenagers, some of whom went through pretty long and obsessive Minecraft phases. But until this week, I had not personally spent any time in Minecraft myself.

That said, my first experience in going through the MSU College of Education’s hosted tutorial world was interesting. When I went to the library to work on my homework, I took my 15-year-old expert son with me. I am so glad I did.

In this video, I walk through parts of the MinecraftEDU Tutorial World and narrate my walkthrough with some information about my experience and how I see Minecraft in my teaching context.

My Difficulty / Challenge

I experienced several difficulties as I went explored in the MinecraftEDU Tutorial World. Two of them are particularly worth noting.

First, I had a difficult time making a long jump over a bridge that had fence pieces on each side. I did not screencast that scene and cannot remember exactly where it was. What I remember is that my son had to help me. He initially made the jump for me but I stubbornly insisted on doing it myself which took ten more minutes of frustrating falling and running up the hill on my part and lots of head shaking on his part. Really, he was a very patient teacher and once I got across that bridge on my own, I was thrilled.

Second, I had a hard time figuring out what to do in the Dig and Build zone. There were “Dig” and “Build” signs in bold all over the place but I could not actually dig anywhere. Finally, I did what my own kids would have done: I read the Wiki, where I finally figured out that all the players before me had dug the ground and built stairs out. So I followed those stairs out.

Relating My MinecraftEDU Experience to My Background

I think I had the difficulty with the jump because I did not grow up playing video games. I have owned a few systems and playing games has been a fun activity during short bursts in my life but I have not logged a lot of hours. So when I got to that jump, I just did not have the experience. I probably could have let my son play me through but I am stubborn and tried again and again. In the end, it was worth it.

My second difficulty resulted from the busyness of my life. I was probably one of the last students to explore the tutorial world and all the digging and building had already been done. The “Dig” and “Build” signs didn’t apply to me because I was just too late.

Minecraft as an Assessment Tool

Two of the criteria in my Rubric 4.0 are based on Universal Design for Learning (Meyer, Rose, & Gordon, 2014).

Allowing students to use games like Minecraft as an assessment tool can potentially meet both of them. Minecraft could allow for multiple means of representation (criterion 6) and multiple means of action and expression (criterion 10).

When students can demonstrate learning through Minecraft (multiple means of action and expression), they are engaged and motivated. Teachers like John Miller say that when he had students create in Minecraft, they were so completely engaged they filled his classroom at lunch every day and groaned at the end of class when he had to turn off the server (Gallagher, 2014).

My Teaching and Minecraft

Minecraft could definitely have a place in my classroom. In my current role as a STEM teacher, I am typically on a pretty tight time frame. I am responsible for delivering specific content to many students. However, I could think of some general ways to use Minecraft now:

  1. As a way to introduce content to my students
  2. As an ending enrichment activity to early finishers
  3. To support the Tynker lessons I teach in fourth-grade. Minecraft and Tynker have partnered up to let students do Tynker coding in a Minecraft environment (https://www.tynker.com/minecraft/featured).

These are general ideas but I look forward to developing more specific ones in time.

References

Gallagher, C. [Colin Gallagher]. (2014, February 19). Minecraft Minechat Episode 23: John Miller [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ev0R_xzMEo&feature=youtu.be

Kulman, R. (2014). Playing smarter in a digital world: A guide to choosing and using popular video games and apps to improve executive functioning in children and teens. Plantation FL, FL: Specialty Press, Inc.

Meyer, A., Rose, D.H., & Gordon, D. (2014). Universal design for learning: Theory and practice. Wakefield, MA: CAST.

 

Using a CMS to Create an Assessment

In a previous blog post, I wrote about my critical review of three Course Management Systems (CMSs) and why I chose Canvas to use with elementary school students. Taking it a step further, I have used Canvas to create a digital assessment for my second graders.

In this video, I walk the viewer through my assessment and describe its purpose and my teaching context. I also critique the assessment based on three of the criteria from my Rubric 4.0 and give a rationale for using Canvas as my CMS. You can read more about this in this post.

Purpose of This Assessment

This is a summative assessment of physical science concepts in second grade. The same assessment will be given as a pre-test and as a post-test to assess students’ understanding of course concepts and to measure their growth over the unit.

Although this is a summative assessment, similar questions can be asked throughout the module in formative assessments using digital tools like Kahoot! or using offline polling. The results of those assessments determine whether course concepts need to be revisited individually or retaught as a whole group. In other words, assessment affects classroom instruction.

Teaching Context

In my two elementary schools, I teach STEM curriculum that is developed by a nonprofit company. It is a comprehensive curriculum that includes a variety of activities, projects, and assessments. When necessary, I modify the curriculum to suit my students and to meet time constraints. I co-teach with classroom teachers in their spaces, adapting instruction based on the formative and summative assessments that take place.

The learning objectives that are assessed are based on the following standards.

Next Generation Science Standards

  • PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter – Different kinds of matter exist and many of them can be either solid or liquid, depending on temperature. Matter can be described and classified by its observable properties.
  • K-2-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
  • ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions – Designs can be conveyed through sketches, drawings, or physical models. These representations are useful in communicating ideas for a problem’s solutions to other people.
  • Science and Engineering Practice – Analyzing and Interpreting Data – Analyzing data in K–2 builds on prior experiences and progresses to collecting, recording, and sharing observations.

Common Core English Language Arts

  • W.2.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).
Rubric 4.0

Earlier this semester I created Rubric 4.0, a tool with which to assess other assessments. When I created Rubric 4.0, I considered the project-based learning environment in which I teach and the projects my students create. Although the assessment I am describing here is a test, not a project, I used Rubric 4.0 to assess it. The following three criteria were addressed in this CMS assessment. Other criteria, such as Criterion 10: Provides multiple means of action and expression, are not met by this test alone but are allowed for when you consider that students make a culminating project in addition to taking the test.

Criterion 3: Aligns with Established Goals

This assessment aligns with established goals (standards) and with short-term and unit-specific goals. Therefore, this standard is met.

Criterion 4: Transparent learning targets

Students are presented with learning targets in this module early. They are posted in the classroom in the form of “I can” statements.

Criterion 9: Technology component

Students use iPads to log in to Canvas in order to complete this assessment. This criterion is met.

Rationale for Choosing Canvas

As part of my work in CEP813, I performed a critical review of three CMSs. There are many different features of CMSs but I focused on the assessment aspects when I chose this CMS.

Based on the results of that review, Canvas is the most robust system that can be tailored to provide easy access, even for young students. In the free version of Canvas, teachers have the option of building courses from scratch to gain unlimited access to the system (in terms of time and number of classes). I have scratch-built and customized existing courses in Canvas before and would be able to do this, but it may be a limiting factor for other teachers who prefer an out-of-the-box CMS package.

For the purposes of creating assessments in CEP813, I decided to use Canvas, which scored the most points in my critical review. Although I previously created a hybrid art course in Canvas for CEP820, I wanted to further explore the full-featured assessment and tracking capabilities that Canvas provides.

Assessments in Canvas can be configured to include a variety of question types. Teachers can identify correct answers to some question types so that Canvas automatically scores those questions. For other questions, teachers can use the speed grader feature in Canvas to quickly and easily grade many assessments.

Images

The following images were used in the creation of my CMS assessment:

Big Balloons” by Chris Breeze is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Bubbles” by kirahoffman is licensed under CC0

Crayons” by Max Pixel is licensed under CC0

Fire Truck” by Garciacom is licensed under CC0

It Took 38 Year for the Hose to Spring a Leak” by oddharmonic is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Juice” by Rebecca Siegel is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original

Popsicle – Orange Cherry Grape” by Ken is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Teddy Bear” by Polimerek is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Water” by jarmoluk is licensed under CC0

Header image in blog post:

Frozen Waterfall” by Peter Griffin is licensed under CC0 / Cropped from original

Second Iteration of a Formative Assessment for Fifth Grade

In my fifth grade classes, students actively work in small groups to build, modify, and program a robot to move autonomously (with minimal human intervention). They use technology and navigate social learning situations to solve a problem that is anchored in the real world.

This module is challenging but using “focused questions, feedback, and diagnostic assessment” (Wiggins & McTighe,2005, p. 46) helps to uncover misunderstandings, questions and assumptions my students have. In turn, this informs my instruction and helps students learn more, avoid forgetfulness, and transfer what they know to other situations.

To plan for and reflect on one of the formative assessments within this fifth-grade robotics module, I have developed Formative Assessment Design Version 2.0. My prior iteration is Formative Assessment Design Version 1.0, which I wrote about in an earlier blog post.

References

Wiggins, G.P. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from http://p2047-ezproxy.msu.edu.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/login?url=https://search-ebscohost-com.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e000xna&AN=133964&scope=site

 

A Critical Review of Course Management Systems for Assessments

Online learning is becoming more and more common in our schools. It can include a wide range of courses from fully online courses to those that include an online component with face-to-face instruction.

Course Management Systems

To help facilitate online instruction, teachers may benefit from using a Course Management System (CMS) that allows them to organize and manage course content, assessments, students, and records. These can range from websites to all-inclusive, commercial systems.

As a teacher of science, engineering, and technology, my elementary school classes often include a digital component. In the last year, I have regularly used Canvas and Seesaw. When I was a middle school art teacher I used Google Classroom to facilitate assignments and record keeping.

Critical Review of CMSs

When I was tasked with critically reviewing the assessment features of three CMSs for my current K-5 technology teacher position, I decided to review Canvas, Google Classroom, and Edmodo. Although I have not used Edmodo as a teacher in the past, I have used it as a parent.

I also included Seesaw as a fourth option. While it may not technically be considered a CMS, Seesaw has been a great help to me in getting online content to my young students and collecting assignments back from them. Because I was curious about how it would compare to the full CMSs I was reviewing, I added it as a fourth system to review.

In comparing these CMSs, I used criteria that were provided to me, as well as four other criteria that I consider to be important in a CMS. I scored each criterion with a 1 for yes or 0 for no, so that I could easily compare the features of the CMSs.

My Results

Based on the results of my critical review, Canvas is the most robust system that can be tailored to provide easy access, even for young students. In the free version of Canvas, teachers have the option of building courses from scratch to gain unlimited access to the system (in terms of time and number of classes). I have scratch-built and customized existing courses in Canvas before and would be able to do this, but it may be a limiting factor for other teachers who prefer an out-of-the-box CMS package.

For the purposes of creating assessments in CEP813, I will use Canvas, which scored the most points in my critical review. Although I previously created a hybrid art course in Canvas for CEP820, I still want to further explore the full-featured assessment and tracking capabilities that Canvas provides.

Images

Wordle Cloud for Drexler (2010)” by Chris Jobling is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (as header image)

Assessment Rubric 4.0: Including Technology and Universal Design for Learning

Over the past six weeks, I have been developing and revising a rubric by which to assess other assessments. Here are links to previous iterations and the blog posts that I wrote about them:

This week’s final iteration is Rubric 4.0, which I have updated to include criteria specifying the importance of a technology component in assessment and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Universal Design for Learning stresses the importance of providing multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression to make education accessible for all students (Meyer, Rose, & Gordon, 2014).

References

Meyer, A., Rose, D.H., & Gordon, D. (2014). Universal design for learning: Theory and practice. Wakefield, MA: CAST.

Creating a Formative Assessment for Fifth Grade

Formative assessment, assessment for learning that occurs during a unit of instruction, is dynamic assessment. It gives teachers the opportunity to find out what students are able to do on their own or with adult help and guidance (Shepard, 2000).

By making students’ thinking visible and open to examination, it can reveal what a student understands and what misconceptions they hold (Trumbull & Lash, 2013). It also provides opportunities for scaffolding steps between one activity and the next, for each individual student (Shepard, 2000).

Guided by Rubric 3.0, my third iteration of a rubric to assess other assessments, I have created the first draft of a formative assessment. Formative Assessment Design Version 1.0 is meant to be used during a fifth-grade robotics module that I teach. During a typical school year, I teach this module four or five times, so I look forward to revising this formative assessment over time to make it the best it can be.

References

Shepard, L. (2000). The role of assessment in a learning culture. Educational Researcher, 29(7), 4-14.

Trumbull, E. & Lash, A. (2013). Understanding formative assessment: Insights from learning theory and measurement theory. San Francisco: WestEd. Retrieved from www.wested.org/online_pubs/resource1307.pdf