Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Adding to Theresa's post from last week...

Feedback is important.  Some one say it is a (the?) key to learning.  For students, timely and constructive feedback is everything.  Students appreciate receiving personalized comments and individualized responses.  High quality feedback directly correlates to high quality assessments.
"Feedback helps us learn from our mistakes.  It reveals new perspectives and options you might not have explored otherwise."  - Natalie, grade 10
This article from Edutopia quickly explains how, when, and why to give students feedback.  Its key points are:

  1. Be constructive, kind, and specific.  Start with what's working, critique without scolding, and be relevant.
  2. Reflect, then revise.  Try handing back assignments with JUST comments, which sort of forces students to read them instead of just glancing at the grade.
  3. Be timely.  Provide feedback within 24-48 hours so it keeps its context.
Several of the educational technology pieces we use offer opportunities to give high quality feedback.  To name a few:
Of course, traditional methods work well too!  Handwritten comments and individual conversations go a long way with all students.

Do you give high quality feedback in other ways?  Leave a comment and let us know!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Feedback vs. Grades

Joe gets 100% on his project.  Sara got a 60%.  What is the difference?

Within the classroom, I have seen teachers that give back scores and allow time to meet with students to discuss and give feedback on why they received the score that they did.  We are moving into an age where instead of the percentage being the focus, the feedback will be the focus.

Giving continual and consistent feedback is much more time-consuming than giving a percentage grade, but it is also much more meaningful.  It encourages the student to grow, seeing the skills or concepts where they are proficient and focusing their efforts on the areas where they are struggling.

Project-based learning lends itself to assessment via feedback.  It allows for a continual process of improvement, getting input from the teacher, making small edits, growing into the best and most polished example of the student’s ability.  This also strengthens the student’s “soft skills:” communication, collaboration, adaptability, reflection.

Have you ever told a student that they are really smart?  I’m guilty.  But this feedback isn’t enough.  How are they smart?  What made me believe that?  Is intelligence able to be ranked?  Instead of giving this general feedback, what else could we say?  See this link for some ideas.

We have some amazing examples of teachers already implementing this idea in our district, from the World Language Department using proficiency-based grading (see below for resources), to the standards-based report cards at the elementary level, to the shift from quizzes and tests to project-based learning.  

As the workplace becomes an environment that focuses on “projects” and collaboration, I hope you will continue to feel inspired and encouraged to move away from traditional assessment and embrace a more modern and meaningful approach by giving feedback.

For some ideas, check out this article from Edutopia.


Language department proficiency based “grading” system resources

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

STEAM in the Classroom

What does STEAM look like at Warrior Run?

High School
  • Digital Music
  • Digital Photography
  • Engineering course utilizes 3D printers (and more!)
  • Robotics Club
  • WR News

Middle School

Elementary School
  • CSD - after school program
  • SUMCD - summer program at Kelly Elementary in Lewisburg

How can you add STEAM to your classroom?

Project Based Learning - on edutopia, Andrew Miller explains why PBL and STEAM are a natural fit

Here are some examples of actual STEAM lessons:
  • Chemistry - Chromatography Lab
  • Choir - Vocal Video Recordings
  • Drama - Silent Movies
  • Engineering - 3D Printing
  • English - Independent reading multimedia projects
  • Physics - Projectile Motion Lab
  • Social Studies - Timeline projects
  • Spanish - Scrapbooking with novels

Tell us what YOU’RE doing in YOUR classroom in the comment section!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

How Librarians Support Curriculum

As librarians, we aim to bring new ideas, assist you with getting the ball rolling and be a helping hand when things aren’t going as planned.  Here are some ways we are able to help you in your classroom:

  1. We are skilled in resource cultivation.
Have a question?  We might not have an answer, but we are experts at knowing how to find one.  If you tell us an idea or an area you want to explore, we can get started on researching from our end to find the best resources, gain ideas from others in our field and gather a plan of attack.

One example of this recently came up when a teacher asked me for resources because she was assigning a peer expert project.  I gathered library materials, database information and citations instructions for her to share to her students.  Putting our ideas together, she will execute a project that builds on what students have learned about research in previous years.

  1. We never say, “That’s not in my job description.”
If I need an article, I want some ideas on how another school does something, or I just don’t know where to get started, I can pose a question on our school librarian listserv and I will get dozens of responses.  These are not always related to libraries either.  I posed a question about school recycling programs and they told me how they make it work in their buildings!

We also connect with librarians at conferences, we keep in touch with our mentors and role models, and we participate in idea exchanges through Twitter.  The point is, librarians love to help and that includes each other, creating a huge network of support to which we are able to reach out when we need fresh ideas.

Sometimes all you need is another adult to facilitate, or someone to figure out why the heck your speakers don’t work.  We can do that, too.

  1. We fund access to a variety of educational resources for the district.
You probably know about Discovery Education and use it to show videos related to your content, but did you know the middle school has access to Britannica school edition?  Or that the high school can use EBSCOHost?  When it comes to asking students to do research, it will save you a lot of time and heartache if you ask us to prepare a list for you and give the students a “starting line” for their research.  We would be happy to help with that.

We also buy books, of course.  Let us know if you want books in the library on a certain topic and we can make that happen, too.

  1. We are experts in educational technology integration.
There’s a teacher who often says to me, “I want this to be the product.  Can we make that happen?”  I love this because she’s using me as a resource and tapping into my interest in technology.  We see a lot of great ideas, but we are also willing to investigate new ones.

Keeping up with technology feels like running a race where the finish line keeps moving.  But we love it.  It never ceases to amaze us what teachers will come up with and we are impressed with the ways in which teachers leverage technology to create meaningful learning opportunities that could not have existed before.  Want to hear more?  Ask us!  There’s so much good out there.

  1. We are knowledgeable about current trends in education.
Cooperative learning.  Hybrid learning.  Project-based learning.  These are buzzwords.  What matters is the student and their learning.  We know that and we know that sometimes these buzzwords feel like a new spin on an old idea.  Still, there are great educators out there doing great things (including lots of them right here at Warrior Run!), and we pay attention to what they are so we can share them with you.

The uniting theme behind all of these is collaboration.  We’re really good at that.  Just ask.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Google Drawings in the Classroom

Google Drawing is part of the Google App Suite, so it works just like the other Google Apps.  Here is an infographic to explain the basics.

Google Drawing has many versatile uses in the classroom as well.  Here's another infographic to give you some ideas:

Mrs. Wolfe recently used Google Drawing in her social studies classroom.  Here are some of her students' examples:

For so many more amazing ideas, bookmark these websites:

Thursday, October 27, 2016


For a few years now, our school has had a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) policy, which is located in each school’s handbook.  This promotes the use of a student’s individual device for educational purposes during school hours at the discretion of each teacher in their classroom.  Many teachers are taking advantage of this opportunity to use a tool that the student already owns.  If you aren’t or you are but are not sure about the steps to be taken, here’s a refresher:

On the intranet, read your building’s student handbook with the guidelines.
Untitled drawing.jpg

Students should register their device with the district.
Untitled drawing (1).jpg

The form that they complete looks like this:

Once the students have completed this step, they are allowed to use their devices during school at the teacher’s discretion.  This can include using it for the class itself, as a supplementary material that the student is providing.  Here are some examples that teachers are already using this in the district:

Do you know of other ideas for using the BYOT agreement?  Send them my way!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Google Explore

“This presentation looks boring and bland.  How do I make it better?”

If this sounds familiar, Google is a step ahead of you -- they launched their updated EXPLORE feature just this month.

EXPLORE has been a feature of Google Sheets for quite some time, allowing users to see data in color graphs and summaries.

But now users can EXPLORE in Google Slides and Docs as well!

In Slides (Google’s version of PowerPoint), EXPLORE prompts users to enhance the look and feel of individual slides and entire presentations.  As the Google Docs Blog explains, “as you work, EXPLORE dynamically generates design suggestions… apply a recommendation with a single click.”  This saves you time AND makes you look good!

Using EXPLORE in Google Slides is an excellent addition for making intriguing presentations.  With Google’s integration of presentation themes and compatibility with third-parties like Slides Carnival* and Slide Share**, everyone can create and update presentation masterpieces.

In Google Docs, use EXPLORE to get suggestions based on your document’s content.  Recommendations could include images and content, as well as related information from the web or YOUR DRIVE.

Read more about Google’s EXPLORE feature on their blog: "EXPLORE in Docs, Sheets and Slides makes work a breeze -- and makes you look good too."

* Slides Carnival hosts Google Slides themes for all occasions.  Simply download a theme, then import it in Google Slides.

** Slide Share allows you to share what you know through presentations and infographics -- you can browse, download, and edit what others share too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

VR in the classroom

It can be fun and scary to think about the future.  There’s so much uncertainty, so much worry, but my sanity requires me to focus on the positive and the possibilities for the future, especially the future of education.

That’s why I’m excited to explore the idea of virtual reality (VR) in education.  It’s not like I think we are all going to have VR headsets next year for our independent stations, but it’s pretty exciting to consider the possibilities as this technology becomes more mainstream (and therefore more affordable).  It’s not a “right now,” but “soon.”

There are quite a few different makers of virtual reality headsets that just work with a cell phone now, ranging from cardboard to a sturdier plastic case.  The most popular are:

In order to use this in the classroom, it has to connect to the curriculum and our original objective - to immerse students in the learning experience.  From learning opportunities that simulate experiences, explore inaccessible locations, supplement course curriculum or travel to distant landmarks, there are some fantastic ideas for implementation.  These ideas can be made possible in a number of ways:

So, why VR?  Are there real benefits?  According to research by Samsung, 85% of teachers agree that virtual reality would have a positive effect on their students, but only 2% are actually using it in their classrooms.  These include helping students better understand the concepts, allowing for great collaboration in the classroom and increasing student motivation.

To get started, you need the gear.  This is definitely a topic I’m interested in exploring over the next few years.  If you’re interested too, get in touch and let’s work together!