Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Discussing Blended & Mastery Learning With the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Justin Bruno, Research Associate at the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute for an episode of their Virtual Viewpoints podcast.  In the episode we discussed blended and mastery learning strategies as well as our transition to a competency-based learning system.

If interested in our discussion, you can listen to the episode on iTunes or Soundcloud.  The episode is also embedded below to listen to it directly from this site.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Students Bring War Letters to Life with Daqri's Augmented Reality App

Last week, I discussed our new World War II RAFT performance assessment and the degree of voice and choice it gave students throughout the project. We also experimented with the use of augmented reality to create more engaging displays for the gallery walk displaying the student projects.

We used Daqri to create the following AR experiences. The app brings the war letters to life by layering the student voice-over as well as providing a brief description of their role, audience, and topic.

To view the experiences, simply download the Daqri app on any iOS device, open the app, and point your device at the pictures below.  If all goes well, a colored box with the project info should appear at the top of the letter and the student voice-over should automatically begin.  Give it a shot!




This was basically a "test run" for using Daqri in the classroom. There is so much more that you can do with the app, this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding this technology's potential.  I hope to collaborate with others (such as AR guru Stewart Parker) to create engaging AR experiences throughout the next school year. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Designing a "RAFT" - World War II Performance Assessment

About midway through this semester, I decided to change things up a bit regarding the mastery progression through our course.  Up until this point, each standard had it's own stand-alone summative assessment.  After putting this system into practice, it became evident that there were some practical (and philosophical) flaws. Without going into too much detail, we decided to group multiple standards into a more comprehensive performance assessment.

My colleague Brian Germain proposed a RAFT project.  In general, students assume the role of a historical figure and have control over the following:

Role  (Ex. Arms Manufacturer, War Correspondent, FDR, Interned Japanese Citizen)
Audience (Ex. American Soldier, Military Recruiter, WWI Veteran, Self)
Format (Ex. Propaganda Poster, Letter, Political Cartoon, Radio Speech, Military Field Guide)
Topic (Ex. Wartime Industry, Pearl Harbor, Scientific Research, Ending Segregated Units)

Click here to view the entire World War II RAFT performance assessment guide.

Their final "product" depended upon the format they chose.  For instance, it may be a letter, poster, audio file, etc.  

We also tried to make the war letters and journal entries look more authentic by using techniques that make paper look old.   In the photo to the right, you can see how students were actually using tea to create this effect.

Since there were many different phases to the project, we created this template to help guide students through the process.  It included specific steps to take while also proving some graphic organizers.  Sharing this document back with us also helped Brian and I track students' progress and provide feedback and support when needed.

As for grading, the following four standards were tagged to this one performance assessment:

Craft & Structure: Comparing Points of View
Research: Selecting Relevant Sources
Research:  Conducting Sustained Research Projects
Speaking: Integrate Sources & Present in Diverse Formats

Overall, I feel that students not only enjoyed this performance task, but were better able to demonstrate proficiency in the skills since the task was much more authentic.  Students also commented that they enjoyed how much choice they had when designing the final product.

When I work on redesigning the mastery progression for next year's course, I will develop more of these performance tasks that enable students to grapple with the content in more authentic ways while also providing them with opportunities to demonstrate mastery of multiple standards in a single project.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Flipped Learning Toolkit

Jon Bergmann & Aaron Sams (pioneers of the flipped classroom) recently teamed up with Edutopia to create the Flipped Learning Toolkit.  This is an excellent collection of videos and articles designed for both those new to Flipped Learning as well as more experienced educators and administrators.

If you are interested in Flipped Learning and would like to sharing the concept with other educators and stakeholders in your community, I highly suggest checking out this series.

Click here to see the entire collection on Edutopia.

The 6 videos in this series can also be viewed below:

Rethinking Space & Time



Overcoming Common Hurdles



Is Flipping For Everyone?



Formative Assessment



Which Tech Tools Are Right For You?



Getting Stakeholders On Board

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mastery Learning Research & Case Studies

Starting next fall, our social studies department is rolling out a true mastery (competency-based) learning system across all core subjects and grade levels.  As I've mentioned in prior posts, our pilot this spring has led us to realize how much planning and preparation is needed to effectively implement this approach.  Before nailing down all of the logistical details for 2015-2016, we have decided to revisit the research on mastery learning and standards-based grading. We will also find and evaluate several case studies of effective implementation throughout the country.   

Since many of you may be considering a shift towards mastery learning and/or standards-based grading in the future, I am sharing out our Google Drive folder containing research and resources.  We will be adding more that we find pertinent and useful over the next several months.

Click here to view the "Mastery Learning / SBG Resource Folder"

*** If you come across any other research and resources that you think would be helpful, please share and it will be added to the collection!