Final Project

The final project for this course seems to come up very quickly! The project is an individual version of the Jigsaw midterm featuring four assessment activities developed for a current or proposed online class. I decided to create four assessment activities for an online literature class for upper elementary and middle school students. The inspiration for this class, to be developed for grades 5 and 6 at the school where I currently teach, came from my friend Melissa Smith, the technology integration specialist for grades 4, 5 and 6 at another school.

I decided to use the Haiku Learning Management System to present my final. It is extremely easy and I like the look and ease with which I can move components about as I make changes to the organization of the site. In addition, when I wanted to embed my pre-course survey into the site, I discovered that SurveyMonkey’s embed code was not supported by Haiku. Even as a “free” user of the service, I received excellent support service. By the end of the next day, I had received an e-mail telling me that SurveyMonkey’s embed code was now supported and if I needed anything else to please let the service team know.

While I have not quite finished with my final, the URL is:

Please visit and let me know what you think.


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Failure = The Secret to Success


Unlike the engineers and management of Honda, teachers and students, being in the education business, often see failure as a bad thing. In Memphis, the city schools have a no failure policy for grades K-3 and a one time fail in grades 4-8, the rationale being that failure is damaging to the self-esteem of our youngest students and leads to dropping out in the upper grades.  What does this teach our children? Failure is bad.  We are going to protect you from failure.  We don’t want you to fail.

Perhaps we should look at this from a different perspective.  Is failure fun?  No.  Do I ever like failing?  No.  Is it possible to succeed at everything the first time?  No.  Do I learn from my failures?  Always.

I think that we have forgotten that children are very resilient.  If taught that failure happens to us all and that it is a learning experience, they will be able to come back even stronger.  Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors of all time, said of his efforts to invent a working light bulb, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”

We must stop looking at failure as something that is bad.  It isn’t pleasant, and we should do our very best to avoid it, but failure is an opportunity — an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to try again, an opportunity to succeed the next time.

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Creating a Survey for Formative Assessment

One of the projects required this week in our Assessment in E-learning class was to create a pre-course survey for our final projects.  My final project is an online version of a literature circle utilizing Web 2.0 tools to help facilitate discussion and assess student comprehension of literary text.

My pre-course survey is designed to give me information about my student’s current reading habits, attitudes, and abilities.  I am a firm believer that the only way to become a better reader is to read, but comprehension may be facilitated through reflection and collaboration. Reading is unique in that it is both highly personal, but can be extremely social as evidenced by the popularity of book clubs and social reading sites such as Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, etc.

In order for a literature circle to work to its fullest potential, everyone must read the text individually.  Therefore, several of my survey questions focus upon the individual student’s reading habits and attitudes towards reading.  I need to know who my passionate readers are as well as those who are more reluctant or hostile to reading.  Other questions focus upon the books that students enjoy reading and the ones that they hated or could not even finish.  This will give me additional information on the types of literature the students like to read.  In this way, I will be able to give students a voice in the literature selected for the current class when I create the literature sets for the different literature circles.

I used my favorite survey creation tool SurveyMonkey to create a pre-course survey for my Collaborative Comprehesion Course: Click here to take survey .

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Bloom’s Taxonomy, Assessment and E-Learning

As students prepare to develop the online courses for our final projects in the Assessment in E-Learning course at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, we are looking closely at Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Although the following clips are lighthearted interpretations of Bloom’s Taxonomy, these clips drive home a pertinent point.  Until students are able to utilize the higher order thinking of Bloom’s, they are not going to be truly successful in achieving their goals.

Whether an instructor utilizes the original version of Bloom’s Taxonomy or the action oriented revision, it is most important that an instructor of any course, be it traditional, blended, or online, consider the different levels of thinking outlined by Bloom when designing the course.

Grant Wiggins has gone so far as to say that instructors should begin designing their course with the assessment.  His Understanding by Design Framework (utilizing a Backward Design process) asks what is it that you want students to be able to know or do when they finish the course of study.  According to Wiggins, “Students reveal their understanding most effectively when they are provided with complex, authentic opportunities to explain, interpret, apply, shift perspective, empathize, and self-assess.”  In other words, the best courses allow students the opportunities to show what they know utilizing the higher cognitive processes described by Bloom.

My proposed course, an online literary analysis class, will require many higher cognitive processes.  The very act of comprehending written text requires active thinking, and many layers of complexity are added to that process when students are asked to analyze and evaluate any given text.  The synthesis of a reader’s background knowledge, analysis and connections created between a text and the reader is an essential skill if a reader is to make any book his own.  I have outlined some of these processes and the prerequisite skills in this Assessment Table.

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Twitter and TweetDeck

One of the greatest technology tools teachers have today is access to immediate professional development through Personal Learning Networks created utilizing common social media applications.  One of the most popular of these social networking apps is Twitter.  I had tried using Twitter as part of my own PLN several times in the last few years.  I never seemed to quite get the hang of it, though I really tried.  Twitter was just overwhelming, a constant stream of chatter and I had no interest in half of it. That situation changed last Thursday.

At the Martin Institute Spring Conference last week, I attended a session on  PLNs for Educators led by my mentors and friends Cathy Kyle, Melissa Smith, Cindy Brock and Kelli Anderson.  During that session, Melissa mentioned a tool called TweetDeck which she utilized to keep up with her PLN on Twitter.  Thanks to Melissa, I am now a convert to the Twitterverse.  To quote Cindy Brock, “I get it! I get it!”

If you want to know more, Josh Stumpenhorst (@stumpteacher on Twitter) created this fantastic tutorial explaining the basics of how to utilize Twitter and TweetDeck.

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Blogging for Kids — Kidblogs vs Edublogs

This past week, I set up a class Kidblog site for one of the fifth grade classes at my school.  Both the instructor and students were excited about the possibilities of the application. I was excited that someone at New Hope was finally beginning to utilize Web 2.0 tools, and it was extremely easy to set up as you can see in the video created by Mark Barnes below. (Which means I may actually get some other teachers to try it!)


As a beginning blogger, I have been generally pleased with WordPress so far, although I have found it a bit difficult to embed some content that I wanted to include on my blog — a Voki and a cool revolving globe version of a clustermap.  At this point, I still haven’t been able to embed those items and from my research it seems that this may not even be possible on a WordPress hosted blog. However, my friend’s who blog on Blogger are able to utilize those widgets. Did I choose the best blogging platform for me?

This situation started me thinking about alternative blogging sites for my classes.  I like Kidblog and it seems to be working well, but what else is out there.  Would Edublogs have been a better choice?  Wes Fryer has been exploring this same thought with his Technology for Teachers class this fall, and he posted a great blog entry Comparing Kidblog and Edublogs.  In the post, he also included screencasts on how to embed video in each application which may be helpful to my teachers as they begin to look into blogging with their students.  From his post and the videos, I feel I made the right choice for my school at this time, but as my school, teachers, and students become more familiar with the technology and the applications available, I will keep alternatives in mind.

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Jigsaw Project – Social Networking in Education

For our mid-term grade, we were required to participate in a Jigsaw Project reviewing the use of Web 2.0 applications for assessment.  I chose to review Edmodo, a private, secure social networking site developed for the educational community.  Readers may read my review of Edmodo on our Web 2.0 Assessment Toolbox Wiki.   While researching Edmodo which uses a platform very similar to Facebook, I discovered a another social networking tool for education called Twiducate. Twiducate provides educators and their students a private social networking forum modeled on the Twitter social network. This video describes the educational goals of Twiducate.



Another type of social networking tool was reviewed by one of my partners. She describes LiveJournal as a combination of a blog and Facebook. Her review emphasizes the use of LiveJournal as a reflective tool with social feedback.

The third tool reviewed for our Assessment Toolbox Assignment, Survey Monkey, is an easy to use and cost effective online survey application. For further information, the full review may be read on the Web 2.0 Assessment Toolbox.

One advantage of putting our toolbox in a Wiki format, is the ability to easily modify, edit and add to our toolbox as we discover new applications with educational uses.

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