Thursday, July 23, 2015

#CyberPD - Chapters 6 & 7: Assessing Literacy and Moving Beyond the Classroom Walls

Assessing Literacy and Moving Beyond the Classroom - Chapters 6 and 7

"The digital tools we use have not changed our beliefs about formative assessment.  Rather they have given us better tools with which to monitor and encourage the journeys of our readers (pg. 90)."

A student is helping another reader in the class think about her response to the book titled Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds. I loved capturing this student to student feedback.

I captured this moment using the camera on my iPad and then imported it into Evernote (pg.93).  Cathy Mere, who loves this digital workspace, came to our school last year to discuss the many features Evernote offers.  I loved all the possiblities it offered so I started to use this tool to help me monitor my students' growth as readers and writers.  I can have folders for each student or I can make a folder for a group of students.n I am not losing post-it notes or conference sheets and I don't have to add anything to a large binder.  I can jot a little note along with a picture to capture students' thinking or reading habits, and I can quickly snap a picture of work samples.  I can record a conference so I can reflect on my feedback to see if I am helping a student grow as a reader or writer.  I love how this tool gives me flexibility to gather artifacts about a student's learning and keep them organized.  

I really liked being able to take pictures of  "TBR" piles so that I could conference with students about their reading life.  We could have conversations about which books they loved, disliked, or abandoned and why? I could recommend a new book or series based on our conversations or I could talk to them about maybe recommending a book to a friend or to the class.  Sometimes the students would want to blog about a book to share their thinking with a wider audience. 

The only problem I had with Evernote was having a device to use everyday.  Since we did not have 1 to 1 or BYOD I would find myself giving my teacher iPad to a student to use.  I should have brought my computer to school or used my smart phone when my iPad was not available. However, I need to get a bigger smart phone so that it is easier to read and compose on.  Next year we will have more devices so that should not be an issue. I want to try and use tags and the work chat feature to see how this will help me better meet students' needs.  I look forward to using Evernote again and learning more about how to use this digital workspace to capture, gather, reflect, and share students' learning journeys. 

My students used digital bulletin boards and Kidblog. These tools helped us connect/share our learning and it also helped me monitor and celebrate student progress. We used Padlet to record our thinking about our chapter book read aloud or to write our reading goals.  It was so nice to have all the thinking on one page to quickly access during conferences.  I could look back over my Evernote artifacts and read their Kidblog posts to see decisions students were making as learners.  For example, in the beginning of the year Trey wrote about a baseball memory in his writing notebook.  He got the idea from another writer in our classroom.  In May when he was trying to think about a possible blog post he took this idea from his notebook and crafted a new post.  

Our padlet we used to share our thinking about Edward Tulane in the beginning of the year during Global Read Aloud -

A Padlet with our reading goals -

Next year I would like to use the following digital tools so that students and myself can assess how their learning is progressing throughout the year: 
  • Google Docs - (pg. 93) last year we used this tool to help us organize our first Edcamp Kids across grades 3-5.  We used the survey to see who was interested in presenting and what they would like to teach in a small group.  We also used the survey for students to reflect on the Edcamp experience.  This tool really helped us get organized and now we can refer back to it when we think about planning for Edcamp Kids next year. As a literacy coach I use Google Docs during data team meetings and to share documents with teachers.  I would like to have students use Google Docs next year for various reasons throughout the year.  I love this post from Two Writing Teachers -  I will reread this again before school starts to help me think more about how to use Google Docs in my workshops.

  • Digital Portfolios- I started these with my students last year but the year was more than half way over.  We used Weebly so that each student could create his/her own website.  I plan on starting this at the beginning of the year so students can collect and reflect on their learning all year.  I would also like students to refer to their websites during conferences with parents. Not all homes have a computer or internet access so parents could have an opportunity to see how digital tools are helping their child monitor and reflect on their learning. My new grade level team does student led conferences which I am very excited to try next year.  Of course the goal is for students to share their digital portfolios frequently with their family so that this tool can help parents and students learn alongside each other. 

There is always so much to ponder over and reflect on before school starts, but I need to think about my overall goals for the year.  "Just as in reading instruction, no one path or strategy will serve all students in all situations, so it's important to choose wisely based on your goals (pg. 97)." It is important that whatever tool/s I choose it will help me achieve my goals and to monitor how students are growing in literacy.  I need to keep in mind that some of the tools will allow parents to be more involved in their child's learning journey.  This will help connect our learning community to students' lives at home.  I need to be explicit with parents when sharing how these digital tools fuel our literacy learning.  "The key is having a plan with goals for communication that supports literacy in multiple ways and involves families as digital readers (pg. 108)."


  1. Tony, WOW! You already have a lot of digital tools already in place in your classroom. I'm sure your students will enjoy using Google Docs. I know the students in my building do. In fact, they know how to use it better than me! I enjoyed perusing your site. I'm curious what grade you teach. ~Amy

    1. Thanks so much responding to my blog post. I taught 3 grade last year but I am moving to 5 grade next year.

  2. I LOVED the Padlet of the reading goals. What a great idea to come back you for reflection later on. I love analyzing the results and seeing how students define reading and 'better' reading based on what they choose. This is such a great idea! Thank you!

  3. Thanks so much for your feedback! I really think choice is key during independent reading and I need to find ways to support their reading lives as they grow as readers.

  4. Tonya,

    Thanks for sharing all that you are already implementing and trying in your classroom! Super jealous that Cathy was at your school teaching you the in's and out's of Evernote! That's one of my goals this year ... wondering what device I will use as well. I had to return the school iPad this year ... hmmmm. May have to try and get it back! I also want to utilize the power of GoogleDocs as well. Thanks for sharing the link to the TWT site, I missed Tara's post, so thank you! I also really appreciate the Padlet examples you shared. I have used Padlet with teachers, but not students -- and seeing examples helps me think more about how and why I want to use this tool.

    Thanks again!

  5. Tonya,
    Thank you for this peek into assessment in your classroom. I appreciated the way assessment is just wove seamlessly across the work you do. Hopefully improved access will make this even easier this year. I also enjoyed the discussion around student ownership of assessment and learning. I think Weebly is a smart way to collect pieces of learning. I'm looking into Seesaw for younger learners. With fifth graders, your possibilities will grow exponentially. I'm a bit jealous!

    Thanks for joining the conversation, Tonya. I'm glad this summer has found several opportunities to learn with you again. :o)