Today I had the opportunity to work with our preK-2 teachers during a faculty meeting devoted to technology. We had some wonderful shares to open the meeting. One teacher shared an example of an iMovie project some first/second grade students created on iPads. Another shared a new collaborative Voicethread project that she’s hosting for other Vermont educators.
After that wonderful opening, we got to the nitty-gritty of the meeting. A colleague in our district went through all of the ELA Common Core standards and pulled out those that incorporated technology, by grade level. I shared the K-3 list with this element of our faculty. We looked for things we noticed, celebrated what we’re already doing, and brainstormed some next steps. One thing we noticed was that the Production and Distribution of Writing standard (the one that ends in .6 at each grade level) is essentially the goal we set as a school last year and that work continues this year as well. It was a validation that we’re on the right track on many levels.
Then we moved on to looking at the SBAC. In preparation for having one grade pilot a portion of the SBAC last spring, we installed the secure SBAC browser on our computers. Today I demonstrated how to access it, log in as a guest, and choose grade level and subject area (math or ELA). We went to the tech lab to give this a try with a special focus. I asked the teachers not to focus on the content of the sample items, but on the technology skills our students would need in order to feel comfortable taking the test. That was a challenge!
Teachers logged in and took a close look at the 3rd grade items. It was frightening for them, which wasn’t my intent. I wanted them to be aware of the technology skills embedded in the assessment. Our current 2nd graders will take this in the spring of 2015 as third graders. What authentic tasks can our students could do NOW to help them feel comfortable in that testing environment then?
Here are some thoughts and observations that were shared after about 15 minutes exploring some items. Students will:
- Need to scroll up and down to make sure all items are complete.
- Click and drag quite a bit
- Draw lines, shapes, use tools
- Highlight text
- Use a notepad
- Compose directly on a computer or device to respond to questions (no rough draft on paper first!)
- Need strong typing skills/know the location of keys on the keyboard well
- Need to be comfortable reading long passages online
Teachers were scared for their students. They were alarmed at the amount of reading required. They did thank me for exposing them to this now rather than later so that they could ponder next steps. Some ideas that came forth- blogging with students will support many of the skills, reading eBooks on iPads and responding to questions, teachers write longer blog posts for students to read online, and more.
Readers- do you have more suggestions or thoughts?