Teacher of the Month: Maria Sohns

We are thrilled to present our February Teacher of the Month, Maria Sohns! Maria is an exceptional middle school language arts teacher in Indiana who uses Edcite daily. Read on to learn more about Maria and how she uses Edcite.

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Continue reading Teacher of the Month: Maria Sohns

Best Digital Assignments of 2016

 

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As we begin a new year, we are taking a look back at what our community assigned throughout 2016. While over 19,600 digital assignments have been shared in our Assignment Library, below you will find some of the best assignments sent to students in 2016.

Continue reading Best Digital Assignments of 2016

Presidential Election Playlist

The U.S. presidential election is approaching, and students are sure to have a lot of questions! It is important to give students an understanding of how our government and the presidential election works. That is why we put together this playlist of assignments that can be used in social studies, language arts, and even math!

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Elementary

Elections – Lower Elementary

In this lower elementary assignment, students will watch a video to learn about the concept of elections.

Elections – Upper Elementary

In this upper elementary assignment, students will watch a video and learn about the requirements for becoming President of the United States.

Middle School

History of the Presidential Debates

In this social studies and language arts assignment, students will compare and contrast presidential debates throughout history.

Susan B. Anthony

In this social studies and language arts assignment, students will analyze Susan B. Anthony’s famous speech on women’s right to vote in U.S. elections.

High School

Voter Turnout: HS Math and Social Studies Assignment

In this math and social studies assignment, students will analyze how historical events have had an impact on voter turnout by analyzing tables of statistics and graphs.

United States Civics Overview

In this social studies assignment, students will review the branches of the United States government.

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Your vote counts! Share this post on social media or “like” one of these great assignments on Edcite.

Teacher of the Month: Rachel Brown

We are thrilled to present our September Teacher of the Month, Rachel Brown! Rachel is a fantastic Language Arts teacher from Indiana who has created dozens of her own Edcite assignments, which she shares with her Language Arts team.

Read on to learn about Rachel and how she uses Edcite in her school.

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Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a teacher at DeKalb Middle School in Waterloo, Indiana. I earned my Bachelor’s degree from Manchester College in 2012. I am starting my fourth year teaching, having spent two years teaching 4th grade before moving up to the middle school level. In my spare time I also help coach the DeKalb girl’s soccer team.

What do you teach?

I teach 6th grade English Language Arts

Why did you become a teacher?rachel-1

I decided I wanted to be a teacher when I was very young. Amazing teachers along the way helped confirm this desire and strengthen my conviction to reach my goal. Throughout high school and college, I found ways to get active with kids to learn all I could from them by tutoring, coaching, mentoring, and volunteering. I loved working with the children and knew that I had made the right decision in my profession.

How did you hear about Edcite?

I learned about Edcite through another teacher. I was really excited about the opportunities Edcite provided for my students to interact with technology while being prepared for new types of questions.

How do you use Edcite in the classroom?

I use Edcite in a variety of ways in my classroom. Most of our assessments are taken through Edcite. We also do reading comprehension assignments and home E-Learning assignments on Edcite.

What aspects make you most “Edcited” about Edcite?

giphy-47I love how students are able to interact both with texts and questions in new and innovative ways. Being able to have students highlight, sort, categorize, write responses, and use multiple choice formats really won me over. My students love using Edcite and being able to know how they did immediately.

I love being able to quickly see what students understand, and where their gaps are so I can adjust my instruction.

Final Words of Wisdom for other Edcite Users? :)

Use the assignment library. There are so many great assignments out there to help you get started if you are hesitant about creating your own assignments at first. It’s great to see how others make use of the variety of question types before starting to create your own assignments. Once you get started using Edcite, you will wonder how you managed to get along without it!

Olympians Who Persevered Playlist

The third playlist in our Olympic Games series focuses on assignments that teach students about perseverance! Students will learn about Olympians who faced great obstacles but never gave up. These are the perfect assignments to give as the school year closes and the Rio Olympics approach. Also, in case you missed our first two Olympics playlists, you can check them out here and here.

Never Give Up (2)

Elementary

  Lower Elementary: “Olympian Never Gives Up

In this assignment, students will watch a heartwarming video and answer interactive math, science, social studies, and ELA questions.

Lower Elementary: Kerri Strug and the Vault

In this assignment,  students will watch a video about an unforgettable moment in Olympic history and answer interactive math, science, social studies, and ELA questions.

Middle School

ELA: “Olympic Hero Jesse Owens

In this assignment, students will analyze an ESPN article about obstacles Olympian Jesse Owens faced in 1936.

Math: “MS Math Olympics Assignment – Perseverance

Students will analyze Jesse Owens’ amazing performances and solve problems related to speed and distance.

High School

ELA: “Understanding the Power of the Paralympic Movement”

After watching a video and reading two articles, students will summarize the Paralympic movement and analyze the way in which the athletic events are impacting society at large.

Math:HS Math Olympics Assignment – Will It Happen Again?

Students will analyze probability questions about how likely it is to win a gold medal at the Olympics.  

shutterstock_371636536Pass the torch! Did one of our Olympics assignments catch your eye? Share one with a fellow teacher by sending them the link!

 

DIS Insight: Digital Assessment & Edcite (Part 2 of 2)

Click here to read Part 1 of this post, where Alexander Clarkson discusses the challenges teachers face when giving regular formative assessments and feedback.

Smal bit of feedbackA solution

I don’t have the answer, but I have an answer: next generation digital assessment. My teaching emphasized writing as assessment because I was suspicious of structured response items like multiple-choice, true/false, or matching. They felt less like authentic thinking tasks and more like artificial hoops that practically beg students to cheat or use test-taking skills to trump thinking skills. But, what if I could reduce the amount of writing grading that I faced by replacing those bulky assessments with next generation digital tasks that required authentic thinking skills, properly challenged students to master those skills, and provided formative feedback necessary for modification of instruction? And what if that approach graded itself?

The idea is simple. We can now develop digital assessment models that automatically grade while providing students with challenging, authentic skills practice. We must move away from multiple-choice question types to those that present thinking challenges that cannot be “gamed,” but will accurately provide data on a student’s ability to perform a skill, with that data indicating how to proceed.

Let me give an example. I wrote an item last year to prepare students for Ohio’s state tests, which were being administered by Pearson’s PARCC platform for the first time. In trying to prepare students for these new tests, I had nearly no practice material, so I collaborated with another teacher to write original material based on PARCC approaches. This particular item was based on an excerpt from Stephen King’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (wonderful little book; check it out) in which the protagonist, a 14 year-old girl named Tricia, finds herself lost after fainting on the Appalachian Trail. The question gave the students six statements about events that happen in the novel before the excerpt presented in the assessment. Students had never read that part. They had to arrange the statements into the correct order. Students had to use causal and inferential reasoning to accurately arrange the statements. In the excerpt, the girl had just woken up from a faint, so the statement “Tricia faints” was logically the last event before the excerpt. The student would move backward from there.

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Edcite order list response item for Stephen King’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.

I’m using this item as an example because it shows the type of assessment item I am now looking to repeat. It requires skills that I actually want students to develop, causal and inferential reasoning, not test-gaming with multiple-choice or matching questions. It is replicable for another passage, which means I can re-write the question with different content and give more opportunities to practice the skills. And, best of all, it will be automatically graded. All I need to do is assign it, let the students complete it, review the data, and modify instruction. The grading burden drops to nearly zero. Sure, the assessment creation takes time, but less time than grading, and assessment creation can be shared collaboratively with teachers throughout buildings or an entire district, thus reducing the time needed even further.

Empower Teacher Quote

This is where I was when Edcite came into my life. I knew what I wanted to do, but I was struggling with the perfect platform to accomplish it. As a Google user, I stuck with Forms graded through Flubaroo, but Forms was never designed for educators. It works just fine for multiple-choice questions, but designing this Stephen King question in Forms led to a student experience that was basically clunky. I suspected that students may not be able to complete the question well because of its awkward presentation. Edcite, however, offers an order list response item type, which allowed me to create the question as a user friendly drag and arrange item. It worked perfectly. After looking at it, I reviewed other items in the same assignment, which were mostly traditional multiple-choice and multiple-select items, and chided myself for not creating more of these rigorous and authentic challenges for my students. Empowered by Edcite, I’m excited to design more.

And what will those items look like? How about having students watch a compilation of movie clips and then sort quotes based on the type of figurative language? How about asking them to graph a quadratic equation or use a math keyboard to answer a word problem? Or maybe asking them to click on sections of a map when asked questions like “Identify the compass rose” or label a blank map of Mesopotamia? No multiple-choice to provide assistance. Just the student’s ability (or lack thereof). How about asking students to highlight statements from the novel The Valley of Fear to answer a question about irony? All of this automatically graded. Just design the assessment, assign it, and modify instruction based on the data. It’s just like setting up that robot pitcher.

That’s why Edcite is such an incredible gift to teachers. Instead of offering a handful of question types and limited ability to customize, Edcite offers (at the time of this writing) 74 question types. I have discussed only five or six here. Most questions allow for customization including the embedding of images, videos, sound files, links, and more. With a little creative thought and focus on effective learning challenges, a teacher could use this platform to completely redesign assessment in a way that would provide repeated opportunities for authentic skills practice. Oh, and without the crushing burden of grading.

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Various Question Types available on Edcite.com

I’m an English teacher. I will always grade essays, and my students will always work hard to improve those vital communication and critical thinking skills, but by embracing next generation assessment approaches, I do not need to only grade essays. I can develop a library of assessments that will sharpen a wide range of skills without the constant crush of grading.

It’ll just be that kid and me, her in the cage, me watching from outside. A pitch and a miss, followed by a few words. Another pitch, another miss. More words. Some demonstration. Another pitch, and CRACK! A slam threatening to punch a hole in the net.

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Clarkson Profile PicAlexander Clarkson is currently the digital instruction specialist for Sylvania Schools, where he helps teachers include innovative instructional strategies in their classrooms as they move to full 1:1 implementation. Just last year, though, Alex finished a sixteen-year tenure of teaching that included English language arts, philosophy, and film studies at the college, high school, and junior high school levels. When he’s not thinking about digital instruction, Alex marvels at his two-year-old’s abilities with a tablet and his fifteen year-old’s abilities with a drum kit.

History of the Olympics Playlist

Our Olympic Games series is continuing, and this time around we have fantastic formative assessments related to the history of the Olympics! In case you missed our first Olympics post, you can check out our playlist here. Be sure to stay tuned for more when our Olympics series continues next month!

Elementary

In this assignment, students will watch a video and answer interactive ELA and math questions related to how the Olympics began.

In this assignment, students will watch a video about Olympic high jumping and answer interactive math and ELA questions.

Middle School

In this assignment, students will analyze a news article about sports eliminated over the years by the International Olympic Committee.

Students will watch videos and work with word problems to answer, “How fast are Olympic athletes moving in their events?”

High School

Students will analyze two texts about the return of the modern-day Olympics and will then write a speech, giving opening statements on the first day of the Games.

Students will watch videos and work with interactive math questions.


shutterstock_371636536Pass the torch! Did you enjoy one of our Olympics assignments? Share a message on Twitter or Instagram by tagging @EdciteTeam, or share an assignment on Facebook!