Friday, September 30, 2011

iPad Blog-Week 1

In the beginning I chose a Math application that allowed students to improve their multiplication skills however the application gave them answers as they were trying to solve the problems. After much thought, I chose to work with the K12 Timed Reading Practice Lite application with my students. I selected this program for the reason that all of my students reading levels are below grade level. I decided to utilize the application as a Reading Running Record. A running record is a way to assess a student's reading progress by systematically evaluating a student's oral reading and identifying error patterns. I am hoping that this tool will help increase my students’ fluency in reading. 

As soon as I explained that we would be using the iPad, my students became ecstatic. The smiles on their faces lit up the classroom. Every day I allow students to read a story on the iPad that is on their reading level.  As they are reading I am listening and monitoring how they are reading. I am recording the amount of miscues that occur. If students are able to read over 100 wmp with a small amount of errors they may move to another level. If students read less than 100 wpm or have more than 7 errors then they will read a different story on the same level. I really enjoy using this application because it records how many words are read per minute and contains several books for each level.  Each day my students wait patiently for their turn to read. As they read I watch them press the button to continue and once it’s over they ask if there is time to read another story. To them reading has now become fun.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

iPad Usage in the Classroom

At first, personally I was very skeptical about using the iPad with my students and inside of my classroom for many reasons; such as what if it gets broken, how can it be done, and how beneficial will it be but most of all I was scared to try something foreign and new. My outlook on the usage of the iPad started to change once I saw my students’ facial expressions and their eagerness to working with this new technology tool. After doing much research, I have found that there are many ways to use the iPad within the classroom such as: loading the iPad with eBooks and then select and assign reading groups, improve student reading fluency and comprehension, improve mathematical skills through repetition, allow students to take quizzes, practice and tutorial of mathematical skills, and have students to listen to read-aloud  books to help with decoding and phonics. Using the iPad within the classroom is very beneficial, it gives students an opportunity to play through learning, helps personalize instruction, address a variety of learning styles, and creates an engaging learning environment. Getting started is not that hard to do. The steps are easy as 1-2-3: 1) download iTunes onto the iPad, 2) create an account 3) download apps that are beneficial to your students. Now the hard part is on you, you now must implement and follow through with the usage of the iPad. If you dedicate a few minutes a day, sit back and watch your students become engaged in learning.

Monday, September 12, 2011

EVASS: Is It Benefiting Our Schools?

EVAAS (Education Value-Added Assessment System) is a software program designed for NC school districts for grades K-12. EVAAS provides school districts with diagnostic reports indicating the effectiveness of a school. It allows users to look at data produces reports to predict student success, achievement growth or reveal patterns in subgroup performance.

Lately there has been some controversy surrounding the usage of EVAAS. Some pros for using the EVAAS program is that it follows students through all NC schools. It offers a collection of student progress and data for up to five years from all subjects. Formulated data is used to help predict each student's future academic achievement and allow schools to identify and customize a plan for students who are at risk for under achievement. By identifying which students are at risk, teachers and administrators can be proactive by ensuring that every student has the chance to succeed. On the other hand many critics have reported that EVAAS:
  • Does not take into account a student’s background
  • Has been used as a punishment
  • Has not been sufficiently assessed in peer-reviewed scholarly journals
  • Is confusing for many teachers
  • Encourages teaching to the test
Another reason that EVAAS has gotten negative feedback is that principals say that it is not a fair assessment tool for either principals or teachers. If student scores are bad, principals can be dismissed, demoted or reassigned. If a student earns exactly the score that EVAAS predicts, then the student achieved no growth that year. Scores below or above the predicted score determines whether the student achieved positive or negative growth. EVAAS also calculates the predicted score for all students assigned to an individual teacher. If that teacher’s students score exactly the predicted average, then EVAAS considers the teacher to have had no effect on the students

EVAAS compares all teachers in North Carolina to every other teacher in the state. To this disadvantage, some teachers will always be at or below average depending on the nature of the students’ socioeconomic status and academic achievement. Using EVAAS data alone separately from observations, artifacts and other effective tools is inequitable. Despite the criticism, the use of EVAAS is being used throughout schools and districts.