Loaded Tool Bag
As this week narrows to a close I have to take a step back, remind myself to breathe, and give reassurance that I am fine ad that all will be okay at the end. The week was going well and I was beginning to get the swing of commenting, tweeting, responding, adding to the wiki, contributing to various discussions, and keeping track of who was saying what and when. Then a wonderful life event happened two weeks ahead of schedule: my wife gave birth! And so, my journey took a wonderfully busy twist that has me regrouping to play catch up. With that said, in between caring for our newborn, I have tried to read through and comment on blogs, answer questions posed, offer advice when I can, read through resources that will soon be posted, and stay current with additional topics that are pertinent to this course. This now leads me to the essential question for the week.
Essential Question for the Week:
What technology tools can I use to manage and track differentiated student progress in my class?
At first glance I thought of the question in terms of what technology tools I use to manage and track differentiated student progress in my class. But after a second reading I realize the word “can.” This to me made the question read differently and after the research conducted for the week about this topic the possibilities soon seemingly became endless. So, in order to keep it short enough to read and hopefully enjoy, I shall first begin by reflecting upon what I use currently, as I had read it the first time, and then finish up by discussing what I “can” use for my kindergarten class.
The first technology tool that I have used recently to manage and track differentiated student progress in my class is the MAP test. The MAP test adjusts the questions according to how the students answer them, thereby yielding results that indicate where the student is in his/her reading, writing, or math. The benefit to this is it shows varying levels of ability within the classroom and what these students are ready for next in their instruction. For example, Johnny may score higher in algebra on the test than Sally and will have different feedback on where to take him next with instruction. Though many primary teachers feel MAP test is controversial due to issues of validity I have found the tools included within it to be a valuable resource to give me an idea of what students know, need, and where to plan for further instruction.
Though many may not consider this to be as valuable as I do, I find that Microsoft excel is a valuable resource for me to organize my data in my class to monitor student progress. With the various teacher-made assessments that I give throughout the year I have found Microsoft excel to be my way of keeping it organized so I can look at the data when needed and plan accordingly. With reflection on previous assessments I can then use the data created throughout the year and make graphs and charts to show the progress of the students as a whole or individually throughout the year.
In addition to MAP testing and the assistance of Microsoft excel, our school has a license to a program called Reading Eggs. Reading eggs is an online reading program that allows students to enhance their reading at home. Students simply log in on a computer at home using the log in information provided by their teacher and work through the program at their pace. Each lesson is provided in a consistent format where students are introduced to skills or concepts for reading before going into doing activities. To begin the experience, students first take a placement quiz to ensure they are at the right level. After 10 lessons students take a mastery quiz. If they are not where they ought to be or are in need of more in one specific area, they can always go back and redo lessons. Teachers can log in to reading eggs and see the progress of the class and where his/her students are as well as where their current reading needs may be. Yet another tool for the tool bag!
That was the piece that I have included in my own room, but now it is time for the “can” piece to this response. The “cans” are many and have opened Pandora’s Box for me. While researching what I can be using for technology tools I came across a few that gave me a sparkle in my eye and the good ole “what if?” question arose. The tools I found rather interesting included Formative Assessment Systems for Teachers (FAST), Kidblog, and Triptico.
FAST is as the site claims, “a suite of assessment tools designed for screening, progress monitoring, and program evaluation as a part of the Response to Intervention (RtI) model.” Through this tool teachers are able to collect their data, easily transfer the data, analyze the data, and report it to the necessary parties. It is a great tool for organizing, analyzing, and sharing with those who want to know.
Kidblog was of interest to me because it presents itself as a kid friendly blog site for students to use and to interact with one another and their teacher. Though it might not be a set up I would use in kindergarten for students to interact with one another, the site did seem as if it could be turned into a class page. Perhaps venturing into this area would provide students with the opportunity to see what a blog is and to give feedback throughout the year on what could go on the blog. In any sense, it could be a valuable learning experience for students of all ages.
Finally, there was Triptico. This resource is one teachers could use in conjunction with their interactive whiteboards, which could be bummer for some since not every teacher has an interactive whiteboard in his/her classroom. For those that do though, it could be a great addition to the classroom. There is a plethora of things that can be done through Triptico. The app has to be downloaded and from here the interactive activities are at the disposal of the teacher and the students! It is an app that can be used from pre-k through college, which gives it added applicability.
There is an increasing amount of knowledge about the applicability and benefits of technology within the classroom. As technology improves so too does the ease of use. Understanding how to use it to one’s advantage as it pertains to managing and tracking student progress is a valuable tool. I have found this week that though there are a few technology tools I use to manage and track student progress, there are always others out there and there is always room for improvement. I look forward to reading more into this topic.