Sunday, November 24, 2013

Google Summit in Arkansas

I AM Thankful for

     The Google in Education Arkansas Summit took place this weekend on the Conway High School campus. Wow! Just Wow! The pure joy of being part of a PLN is in the connection. This weekend, I saw just a couple of Tweets talking about #GIESummit in Arkansas. I literally said "OH MY Goodness! How could I have missed this amazing opportunity?"  So, I quickly responded to a Tweeter @davidjhinson from Hendrix College,  +Hendrix College to ask if I could register late and still attend. David was kind enough to ask the Google staff, if it was even doable. The answer was yes!

     Thankful to be allowed to attend a Google Summit, I thought nothing of ponying up the money for such an  amazing opportunity in our state. (Thanks to Dan Taylor for helping with the registration process.) This morning, I drove up to Conway and sat in on the lovely Keynote, "What's on the Horizon" by +Lisa Thumann, @lthumann.  Each session I attended built upon previous knowledge. The presenters were Google teachers/trainers familiar with the burning brains of educators. They kindly repeated steps and helped us along the way.
     I continue to be convinced that the education sector must simply unleash their students.
We must allow our students the freedom of research, creation, and yes, even expression. Our students walk our halls with powerful computing devices hidden/or not hidden in their pockets and backpacks.
Why stand in their way? Why must they hide or not use their powerful devices. The reality is that they are using them regardless of school rules. A quick scan of the users of Snapchat, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, and other sharing services clearly proves that the students are using these during the school day. Why not engage our students' nimble fingers in the work of education, instead?

     Many educators are fearful of technology. Will Smith's character in After Earth said, "Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.” Educators need to understand the potential danger with students globally interacting with technology. But, they need not be stymied by fear.  Arkansas teachers should be very thankful for Google and the leadership of the CPSD for bringing a Google Summit to Arkansas!  The good news is that CPSD has already agreed to host the event next year! Plan ahead to attend!

Don't feel left out! Feel free to peruse the program and presentations!
#GIESummit in Arkansas Program
Published Arkansas Summit Resources

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Formative Assessment: Dylan Wiliam


     Formative Assessment is continually buzzing through educational circles. It is particularly loud in  #SBGChat led by Dr. Darin Jolly, @DrJolly.  Last week, I had the pleasure of attending three sessions on Formative Assessment by the renown Dr. Dylan Wiliam, @DylanWiliam, at the Arkansas Public Schools Resource Center's Fall Conference, #APSRC13.  Dr. William led me to Tweet rather voraciously. He began by suggesting that educators need to stop arguing about what is and what isn't formative assessment. Ultimately, it is using information to adapt the learning to put the learning back on track. It is constantly making adjustments.
Why was I so engaged?  He was saying things that I knew would help our students and teachers achieve their goals. He was reinforcing ideas that we already knew, but had changed, or drifted away from toward newer ideas. The best teachers have always used formative assessment-even if they don't vocalize that they do. We must encourage our teachers to adapt to their current students by using formative assessment to provide timely feedback. We must stop the cycle of teaching/testing ad infinitum. Our students should receive nonverbal, verbal, and written feedback so that they can attain their goals.

So what is formative assessment?

Using evidence of achievement to adapt what happens in classrooms to meet learner needs

Dr. Wilam's work can be found on his website.  He freely provides his presentations, papers, podcasts, blog, and resources.

Our Cluster has ordered Dylan Wiliam's Professional development DVDs on Formative Assessment. It is professional development worth sharing.

More  videos are available at

What is your school doing with formative assessment?

A few of my tweets are available below.

  1. Mock tests do less to prepare students to raise achievement. Have the students write questions and answers
  2. PD should include choice, flexibility, accountability, support, and small steps
  3. Failure=plan b. plan ahead for your reaction to failure Rally the herd

  1. "we need to help existing teachers get better."-Dylan Wiliams
  2. We should share whee we are going with students. But, we may not always know. Sometimes it spoils the journey.
  3. "the best teachers have always used formative assessment"
  4. best formative assessment teachers are using it every 5 minutes.
  5. "improve the effectiveness of existing teachers. It can be done."
  6. says one additional year of school = 1.7 years longer life