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Mastery Connect: Standards Based Grading made manageable

What it is: Mastery Connect is both an online standards tracking tool (parts of it are free) and a free iPhone/iPod/iPad app.  Because the app is truly free, I’ll start with it.  The Mastery Connect app is a handy way to keep the Common Core standards accessible while you teach.  The app sorts the common core standards by grade level, subject and strand.  This is REALLY nice for quickly locating and referencing standards.  Mastery Connect the website is the real gem.  The site is brilliantly designed, easy to navigate, aesthetically pleasing and best of all, it works the way you think it should.  With the Mastery Connect Master Tracker, teachers can assess core standards, monitor student performance and report student progress to parents and administrators.  Master Tracker makes formative assessment that is standards based manageable to keep track of.  Rearrange standards in the Master Tracker based on the order that you teach them in.  View only the standards you are currently assessing, and view the entire standard as a pop-up.  Within Mastery Connect, teachers can create and share common assessments.  Similar in feel to other social networks, Mastery Connect lets you connect with other educators to share assessments, interact and offer each other support.  It is easy to expand your PLN into the space, just find teachers with similar interests and goals and start sharing! And now for my VERY favorite part- bubble sheet scoring. Mastery Connect uses GradeCam technology to make assessment about as quick as it could be.  Just hold up bubble sheets to your webcam or a document cam and it is instantly scored and entered into the Master Tracker associated with the student it belongs to and the standard it is addressing.  Seriously cool.  I am not a big fan of multiple choice testing (mostly because I think it is a lazy way to find out what a student knows and doesn’t give a true picture of what a student knows or can do) but I think I have figured out how bubble sheets can be used by teachers during formative assessment.  Students get immediate feedback from Mastery Connect and can see where in the standards they need some extra work.  Teachers can view class wide item analysis of assessment and can track progress by standard. Students can also use iDevices (iPad/iPodTouch) with the bubble sheet app.  This is connected to Master Tracker so as soon as students input answers, it shows up live.  Are you feeling your assessment work-load lighten yet? Students can also take assessments using any web browser.  It really is a tool that works for schools with minimal tech, to schools that have ubiquitous tech. Mastery Connect exports to ANY gradebook or student information system.  A one touch export feature makes it about as quick as it could be! Mastery Connect makes it quick and easy to keep parents informed of student progress.  Student reports can be quickly created and emailed or printed out for parents.  You can also enable parent notifications that will notify parents of student progress as it is entered. How to integrate Mastery Connect into the classroom: Mastery Connect is actually the tracking tool we will be using at the school I am starting, Anastasis Academy.  We are doing away with traditional A, B, C, D, F grades all together.  I have yet to be convinced that traditional grading is productive and helpful for students (or teachers for that matter). At Anastasis Academy, we are using the Common Core Standards as a framework for setting learning goals.  I see these standards as the critical-mass-of-knowledge that students need to be successful in learning.  Hear me say, I DO NOT believe that these standards are comprehensive of everything a child should, or wants to know.  They are simply the framework that we will use to build the rest of learning around.  They will help us to ensure that we have a rough road map of where we are headed in learning.  Students, teachers and parents will sit down for a conference each block and use those Common Core Standards to help map out learning goals.  You will notice that we don’t leave this up to teachers alone.  We want our students to have ownership and a say in what their learning looks like.  We don’t want the teacher to be the holder of all the keys, slowly revealing learning to students as they see fit.  Instead, we want students who can look at the learning ahead of them, and offer input about how they would like to go about that learning with parents and teachers acting as guide.  The Mastery Connect app will be SO helpful in this process.  Everyone will be able to access those standards easily at any time they need to recall them.  Brilliant. We will use Mastery Connect a little differently than I’m sure most schools will.  Instead of bombarding students with multiple choice “bubble” quizzes and assignments, our bubble sheets will be for teacher use.  For example, we may create a bubble sheet based on a standard with the specific skills or content that we are looking for.  As we formatively assess students, the teacher can fill in that bubble sheet either on paper or on the iPad for instant input into Master Tracker. Tips: I have been extremely impressed with all of the Mastery Connect tools.  Not all of it is free but the portion that is not free is very affordable ($4/student/year).  I like that Mastery Connect offers parent, teacher and student all of the information and tools they need to understand where they are and how they are learning.  The people at Mastery Connect have been dynamite, they are helpful, flexible and friendly! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Mastery Connect  in your classroom!

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Hour of Code: 30 ways to get your students (k-12) coding! #hourofcode

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Apply, Art, collaboration, Create, Download, Fun & Games, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, video, Video Tutorials, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 09-12-2013

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What it is: This week is Hour of Code week! From December 9- December 15, Code.org is hosting an event to introduce students everywhere to computer sciences.  The event is super flexible, you can plan your hour anywhere it fits in your schedule this week.  Code.org has MORE than enough resources, videos, activities to get you going, but these days there are all kinds of great resources to help you bring programming and the Hour of Code into your classroom.  The best part is, there is no previous coding experience required, really!

I can’t tell you how rewarding and exciting it is to learn something alongside your students.  It is such a neat thing for your students to see you as a learner (without all of the answers) and discover learning together.  This is rewarding in ways you may not have experienced before.

How lead your student (school) in the Hour of Code Week: First: sign up for the Hour of Code week at Code.org.  This leads you to fantastic tutorials for the learner.

  • Check out the tutorials and pick one for your class. Tutorials are available in a variety of languages!
  • I like to go through the tutorial once on my own so that I have some background information before diving right in with students.
  • Test tutorials on the devices students will use during the Hour of Code (there is nothing worse than planning everything only to learn you don’t have the correct plugin!)

Next decide if your students will be going through the tutorial on their own, in partners, or as a class.  This probably depends on what devices you have available for your students.  Don’t let a lack of devices keep you from participating!  Students can work together on classroom computers (maybe as a center where groups visit the computer together for an hour. A new group can visit the center each day of the week.) If you don’t have reliable classroom computers, or the ability for students to work independently in a one to one setting, think about working as a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  If you suffer from low bandwidth (the worst!) you can even opt to download the tutorials so that you are watching them locally.

Have fun learning together! It is okay to say, “I don’t know.” As I said above, it is truly such a cool experience to learn with your students.

Hour of Code-30 ways to engage your students!

Although Code.org is hosting the Hour of Code, you aren’t limited to the resources you find there.  Below I’ve listed some of our favorite places to learn about coding at Anastasis Academy:

  1. Codecademy (this was where Team Anastasis started our first year during Crave classes. I learned right along with them! I can’t tell you the number of times I said, “I don’t know, let’s see if anyone on Twitter can help.” GREAT experience! The kids loved the game nature of learning to code and the immediate gratification of moving to the next level.)
  2. Codecademy: Hour of Code this is available as an app on the iPhone (can also be downloaded for iPad at the phone resolution)
  3. Squad is a free collaborative code editor.  With Squad, students can access the code they are writing anywhere there is an Internet connection. This means that students can chat and edit files together no matter where they are.
  4. Tynker- This is one that I wrote about just the other day…cannot wait to use it!
  5. Romo- This is a robot that helps teaches the basics of programming. I adore this little robot. It is adorable and fairly affordable if you already have an iPhone/iPod that you are willing to let kids use.
  6. Bootstrap- This is an awesome resource for middle and high school students.  It teaches students algebraic and geometric concepts through computer programming.  Different from other resources, this one begins with the math in mind and shows students practical application of what they are learning in algebra/geometry as you go.  Very cool!
  7. Scratch- from MIT, this is a great place to start…a long time winner for sure!
  8. Stencyl- is game creation software with a visual interface that lets students publish their creations for any platform.
  9. Game Salad- similar to Stencyl, this free download lets students create games visually and publish their creation on multiple platforms.
  10. Hackety Hack!- with this download kids can learn the basics of Ruby on Rails programming language.
  11. Code Monster- great beginner interface for kids to learn the basics of programming through a step-by-step online guide.
  12. Hopscotch- Coding for kids in a visual programming language. Hopscotch is an app for the iPad and FREE!
  13. Move the Turtle- Another app for the iPad that teaches programming visually. This one is $2.99
  14. Treehouse- Free app for the iPad that teaches programming and design from 1000 videos, practice modules, etc.
  15. Cato’s Hike Lite- This is a programming and logic odyessy for kids. This is a great place for kids to learn the basics. The lite version linked here is free, the full version is $4.99
  16. CProgramming- an iPad guide to programming in C. This app features a conversational style with visual explanations and is probably best for older student. The hosts sing badly, tell cheesy jokes, and include ridiculous pop culture references.  All of this adds up to a fun way to learn. $5.99
  17. Codea- an iPad app that fills in the gaps of your lack of programming knowledge with visual interface. $9.99
  18. KineScript Lite- visual programming for kids to learn to code and share it with others. A great starting point! Free!  Full version is $1.99
  19. Dynamic Art Lite- Another iPad based graphical programming option for kids. This one lets students create amazing animation and artwork with a drag/drop set of blocks. Free! Full version is $2.99
  20. Kodable is a free iPad game that offers a kid-friendly introduction to programming concepts and problem solving. (The pro version is on SUPER SALE for the Hour of Code week- 90% off!)
  21. Java Tutorial: Learn Java quickly with this iPad app from Udemy for older students. Free
  22. Light-bot Hour of Code- A free iPad app that introduces kids that have absolutely NO experience programming but can immediately use programming logic in this fun game.
  23. Daisy Dinosaur- a fantastic and free basics of programming app that features an adorable dinosaur named Daisy. The visual interface is great and teaches students the basics of objects, sequencing, loops, and events by solving the app’s challenges. (This is a favorite!)
  24. Bot Bat- a free iPad app that lets students design their own robot tank to do battle, they use visual programming to tell the bot what to do.
  25. Codi Animation- an iPad app where students can create animation for their own iOS app. $.99
  26. Chip Bots- a free iPad app that lets students design and program their own robot using chip-based programming environments.
  27. Circuit Coder- an iPad game and simulator for building digital circuits $1.99
  28. Lego Mindstorms Fix the Factory- I don’t know about you, but our youngest students are LEGO crazy. They would be all over this free iPad app that teaches the basics of programming language.
  29. TouchLogo is an ipad game that introduces programming to young children (even preschoolers could use this one!) $2.
  30. Last but certainly not least, Code.org. A fantastic site for all things code and lots of goodies just for educators!

 

iLearn Technology- Romotive robot

Tips: There are lots of videos and printouts for the Hour of Code that you can use to inspire some excitement about this fun day! You will even find links for letters to send home, to your administration, even the government!

What are you doing for your Hour of Code?  What fun things do you have planned?

Comments (2)

Hi,
It’s great thing that you are included Ruby On Rail. And Ruby is the leading language among all the other programming languages today. And through Ruby On Rails Outsourcing you can build rich and dynamic web applications.

I was surprised at not seeing Alice.org a free program from Carnegie Mellon.

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