Saturday, March 19, 2016

Intervention Decisions

Purveyors of digital intervention programs often have beautifully illustrated data packets that show the effectiveness of their program as applied in particular school districts. Districts can be lured into purchasing these programs in their efforts to raise test scores. Districts need to be very careful when considering which program to purchase.

A few things to consider

1.  Cost to implement including hidden costs such as loss of effective teaching
2.  Technology needs and costs-devices and infrastructure
3.  Comparing apples to apples regarding data

The cost to implement a new program often appears to be clear.  The required professional development may not be included, or what is provided may not be sufficient to appropriately train teachers to use the program. An additional cost is the time lost for effective teaching While a program may be able to diagnose a student's level, it may not be able to provide the instruction necessary to bring that same student to grade level.

A secondary issue involves the infrastructure necessary to run the digital program. The specifications need to be read by and considered by an IT specialist. The data demands of all students using a digital platform may be more than a school can currently provide. The cost to upgrade devices and infrastructure must be clear to decision makers.

Finally, when considering those as mentioned above beautifully illustrated data packets, districts must compare apples to apples. If a student grows 136% BUT is still not on grade level, decision makers need to understand that this may be considered normal growth and the student may well have grown more working with a teacher or in a smaller class size.  Research on RTI published this fall showed that students in RTI did worse than their virtually identical peers.

More and more schools are investing in digital intervention. Districts need to monitor the data and make the best decisions for their students. Remember to compare similar schools and ask to speak with other teachers who have already successfully implemented a program.

More and more districts are looking for digital intervention tools to help prepare their students for digital tests including ACT Aspire,  and PARCC. Teachers need to speak up regarding these products. Which products do you use? Do they work?

Teachers, please speak up!

Study:  RTI Practice Falls Short of Promise

Suzanne Rogers

 AP English teacher, Instructional Facilitator, and Arkansas Teacher Practice Network

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Putting It All Together with Donors Choose #bestschoolday

Don't you just love it when things come together nicely?  I certainly do!  This week has been a whirlwind of expectations and pieces oddly fitting together. I'll try to share a bit of what has happened so far. Yes, it has something to do with Educational Technology!

On Monday, my AP Lang students took their Quarterly Exam, which is worth ten percent of their grade. As they wrote their response to the 2010 Synthesis question regarding Educational Technology, I giggled.  My classes politely suffer through trying various new technology products and yet I was still asking them to evaluate issues in educational technology even in their timed writing. I was pleased that most of the students evaluated educational technology to be helpful in most cases. They did admit that it is very easy to be distracted and to use it as a crutch.

One issue came up this week as our students were beginning to film their Poetry PBL projects.
Our teachers were asked to be flexible and to use our school issued iPads rather than cell phones to videotape the projects. While we do have Chromebooks at our school, they are in use this week for ACT Aspire Interim II testing.  Cell phones were simply our first work around. The Poetry PBL is intended to have an authentic audience by using Youtube to broadcast the winning entries.

Our ELA team met at Moe's for our department meeting this afternoon shortly before a Prom fundraiser. As I sat delightedly with my colleagues, I realized that we accomplished out meeting without any technology. Our meeting was less stressful, and our objectives were met quickly. We discussed that flip cameras would be a wonderful technology purchase for the school and that a flip camera would solve our issues for the Poetry PBL filming.  I agreed but realized that it probably wouldn't be possible this year.

After I had driven home, I checked my school email. I opened a letter from  Oh. My. Goodness! Why not create a quick project for five flip cameras? Amazingly, in less than thirty minutes, I had created and submitted the project. Within a few more minutes, I received approval for the project and was notified that it was posted!  I don't know what will happen on the #BestSchoolDay but I am glad that that I put the pieces together with the help of my students, my colleagues, and  Going to try with a little help (or a lot) from my friends.

*Do you teach or live in a rural area? Donors choose can help!
" makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America create classroom project requests, and you can give any amount to the project that inspires you."

Flip Cameras for Our Students 21st CenturyPBL projects