Posts Tagged ‘SBAC’

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?

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Many (most?) of us in the country are preparing for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  Students will all utilize technology to take the SBAC. We are submitting data about our readiness in terms of the technology twice a year in preparation for implementing the actual assessment in the 2014-2015 school year.

At a recent in-service in our supervisory union devoted to work on the Common Core, one sample task from the SBAC was shared with educators. In that task, students need to click on a link that takes them to a video. Once there, they should watch the video, pausing it when necessary to navigate back to the assessment to respond in their own words to various questions. They would then continue as often as needed to go back and forth between the open-ended questions and the video.

To me, the embedded basic technology skills include navigating between windows and tabs, starting, stopping, and pausing video, and typing their responses directly on the computer without drafting on paper first. That means a comfort level with keyboarding or at least knowing where the letters are on the keyboard, so that the response they’re typing is not stymied by the act of typing.

Teachers who saw this example task worried about our youngest students (3rd/4th graders) being comfortable enough with the technology so that it didn’t impede their completion of the assessment task. What do we need to do to help prepare them and when do we start? In kindergarten?

I ask, how do we help all of our students gain comfort with these basic technology skills, in addition to those I don’t know about yet, in an authentic manner? We don’t want to have students practice these skills in isolation, just to prepare them for the assessment. That feels like teaching to the test.



Image credit, Creative Commons/flickr http://flic.kr/p/41xp8a by cc511

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