Education Week Issue 25 - Technology Counts 2014 - 12
The core principle
is looking at student
work, and based
on that, changing
what comes next
in your instruction.
enhances it and
makes it easier."
Summit High School
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 10
on their iPads, Mr. Kilty circulated around the
room, engaging in animated conversations with
students about their research-an old-school
form of formative assessment.
The use of digital tools to gauge student understanding is a novel concept for a veteran teacher,
said Mr. Kilty, and the K12 platform has allowed
him to begin cautiously. Now that he has the basics under his belt, he said, the next challenge is
to use the new tools to revamp how he assesses
students' critical-thinking skills.
Mixing and Matching Apps
Other Summit High teachers have taken
a more modular approach, using a variety of
new ed-tech tools to elicit evidence of student
learning as their lessons take place, diagnose
students' misconceptions, and make informed
decisions about where in the classroom to focus
their attention-all skills that experts describe
as central to effective formative assessment.
During a recent lesson in Brandon Thompson's geometry class, for example, students
used four separate classroom apps to learn
about finding the area of triangles that contain no 90-degree angles. Despite the variety
of tools being used in the classroom, the lesson went off without a hitch, with both teacher
and students switching seamlessly among tools
even though they had only been introduced a
few months earlier.
First, Mr. Thompson had the class download
problems from iTunesU, a course-management
tool from Apple Inc., and begin solving them in
Notability, a digital note-taking app.
Shortly after the students began, Mr. Thompson
asked them to use the Socrative app to submit
their solutions directly from their iPads to his.
As he walked around the room, Mr. Thompson
scrolled through a single screen that contained
each student's name and response. One student
appeared way off base; the teacher stopped by to
work with him directly. Overall, the snapshot revealed that most students got the overall gist, although many made rounding mistakes and failed
to properly notate the unit of analysis.
Based on the information from Socrative and
conversations with students as he circulated the
room, Mr. Thompson then identified two-one of
whose work illustrated the common misunderstandings and another whose work demonstrated
a creative problem-solving approach-and asked
them to "beam in." Using an app called Airplay,
the students projected the screens of their iPads
onto a wall at the front of the room.
"Camille, would you talk us through what's
going on here?" Mr. Thompson asked.
>> MARCH 13, 2014
A quick classwide discussion served to both illuminate the process by which the student solved
the problem and highlight the procedural error
made by much of the class. Murmurs of understanding rippled through the room. Mr. Thompson
concluded that the class was ready to move on, so
he repeated the process, but with a more difficult
challenge: This time, students were asked to develop an original formula that would allow them
to solve for the area of any non-right triangle.
"That's a good use of technology for formative
assessment," Ms. Heritage of cresst said when
the lesson was described to her.
Finding the Right Fit
Ultimately, Ms. Heritage and other experts
believe, the real potential of technology is less
about making formative assessment easier and
more about making it better. That could mean
better ways of curating multiple sources of evidence about a child's learning, improved use of
multimedia tools to capture student work and
thinking, and new tools that encourage and
help students measure their own learning-a
critical component of formative assessment that
experts say is frequently overlooked.
Officials from K12 Inc. believe that peak12 can
be the foundation upon which such solutions are
brought into classrooms; the key, they say, is a
smart digital platform that is comprehensive
enough to be the single point of entry to digital
learning for an entire school or district, but flex-
ible enough to allow teachers to bring in both
third-party tools and their own content.
The market for educational apps and software,
meanwhile, continues to grow and diversify.
Principal DeWittie said that context matters
when deciding which approach to embrace. Her
previous school, she said, was characterized by a
high level of instability and tremendous variation in students' academic abilities and teachers'
readiness to embrace new technology. There, a
"whole school" approach might be the best fit, she
But at Summit-high-performing, stable, and
relatively homogenous, with a cadre of talented
and ambitious teachers-it's been about investing in people first, and tools second.
The result is a rapidly evolving-and somewhat messy-school culture when it comes to
technology and formative assessment.
Mr. Thompson and another math teacher are
already busy training other Summit staff members how to combine the apps that have been so
effective in their classrooms.
And next school year, a total of five Summit
courses will be taught in a hybrid manner with
K12 tools, à la Mr. Kilty's class.
But the history teacher has already begun
experimenting with other tools, such as Google
Forms, a cloud-based tool through which he created his own assessments of students' ability to
identify point of view and bias in primary-source
"It's a new frontier for me," Mr. Kilty said. "I'm
still learning." n
Summit High Principal
Alice DeWittie and
science teacher Jason
classrooms to evaluate
how teachers and
students are using
technology, and then
they discuss their
AUDIO: Listen to Summit
High educators talk about
how they are using digital
tools to personalize
Education Week Issue 25 - Technology Counts 2014
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week Issue 25 - Technology Counts 2014
Education Week Issue 25 - Technology Counts 2014 - 1
Education Week Issue 25 - Technology Counts 2014 - 2
Education Week Issue 25 - Technology Counts 2014 - Contents
Education Week Issue 25 - Technology Counts 2014 - 4
Education Week Issue 25 - Technology Counts 2014 - 5
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