Pearson unveils tablet ELL assessment system
A new tablet-based assessment developed by Pearson will specifically target English Language Learners (ELLs) in order to help them build English language skills and succeed on summative assessments.
With the assessment system, called TELL (Test of English Language Learning), students watch video clips and interact with pictures and words, then answer questions out loud. They listen, write, read and speak—all with no mark-ups or grading by teachers. TELL screens, diagnoses and monitors each ELL student’s progress throughout the school year. Responses—written and spoken—are automatically scored by Pearson’s automated scoring technologies
Fully scalable, TELL can be used with just one student at a time, a small to large group, or for whole-class administration at the school or district level. The assessment covers all four foundational language skills—listening, speaking, reading and writing and is aligned to standards, such as Common Core.
“English language learners are the fastest growing student population in the United States and 60 percent of those students are in elementary school. When we talked to school and district assessment directors as well as English language teaching specialists from around the country, they emphasized the critical need for a new and engaging approach to measuring English language proficiency that accurately diagnoses students’ needs and monitors their progress,” said Alistair Van Moere, Ph.D., head of Pearson’s Assessment Product Solutions.
These amazing kits make electronics simple and fun for every student
Very young students often have a hard time engaging meaningfully in electronics projects. Sure, most middle school kids can learn the function of basic electronic components and follow a set of instructions to create a basic circuit on a breadboard. Often, however, their work suffers from the mistakes, short-circuits, and sloppiness that plague any novice.
More limiting than the struggle to keep bare wires from accidentally brushing each other, is the wall that most students hit after they create the alarm circuit or lie detector that they built from the schematic in the textbook.
While their imaginations are ripe with ideas of things they might like to build, most young students lack the fundamental knowledge to push beyond the canned circuits provided by their teacher and to create something original.
By limiting a student to the re-creation of pre-designed circuits, we are teaching her how to pay attention to detail, how to carefully follow instructions, and how to perform a variety of specific tasks such as stripping the insulation from wire and how to install an IC into a breadboard.
If our aspirations for our hypothetical student involve work on an assembly line, this will be all the training she needs. But if we want a little more for our kids, we will need to set the bar higher.
By following instructions to build pre-designed circuits, our student is not learning how to visualize how her idea might operate in the physical world. She isn’t learning how to brainstorm various design ideas, test them out and persist through failure. We are not asking her to create.
Hillsborough County Schools reveals 99.98% uptime with LMS
A new system leads to improved outcomes and other revealing data Using a new purpose-built learning management system, Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida—the country’s eighth largest district—has released data revealing 99.98 percent uptime and significant utilization of the system in the first half of the 2014-15 academic year. The results are a significant improvement [ Read More ]
Turn snow days into e-learning days with these 6 simple steps
The latest winter storm to pound the Northeast left a foot or two of snow in its wake, in the process shutting down much of the tri-state region, limiting access to roads, flights, and, of course, preventing schools from opening.
While the amount of snow needed for schools to close varies by region, there is no denying that excessive snow days have begun to bleed into summer vacation over the past few years. Luckily, some school administrators have found a new approach to end snow days for good.
The solution is called “e-learning days,” or days dedicated to doing schoolwork over the internet.
E-learning brings massive benefits to any school district. They have the potential to save schools lots of money—buses don’t need to be deployed extra days at the end of the year, the school building doesn’t need additional heating, and hourly staff have the day off. Online learning also helps teachers reduce their stress load. It provides a predictable avenue for educators to budget their curriculum goals with available teaching days. Finally, e-learning days provide students with academic consistency and predictability, eliminating any snow day confusion.
E-learning is already becoming increasingly popular. Twenty-seven states offer online classes and 24 states (along with the District of Columbia) offer full-time virtual schools—as many as one million children in K-12 are already participating in these programs. Many well-respected schools are quickly making use of e-learning, including Stanford University Online High School, VISNet, and Laurel Springs. It’s time for e-learning to become common place in public schools, starting with snow days.
Of course, detractors are quick to point out that not every school can provide a virtual alternative to in-person instruction. Their most potent point is that not every child has equal access to the internet. For example, as of 2013, 75.6% of American households had a computer in the home and 71.7% had Internet access. The two largest age demographics of those with internet access are generally the same age of those raising children in K-12—18- to 29-year-olds (80%) and 30- to 49-year-olds (78%).
(Next page: 6 steps to put e-learning days into practice at your school)
While relying on the internet to facilitate e-learning days is realistic for a strong majority of school districts, it could still mean abandoning one-in-five students nationwide. Perhaps that’s why Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are the only states to provide e-learning options for their public schools to date.
Indiana's Department of Education requires that all districts participating in e-learning days “can prove all students and teachers have the ability to access the Internet when they are away from the school building.” Indiana has several other standards for teachers and students, including requirements for IEPs, and acts as a great reference that can be consulted nationwide.
Are digital textbooks worth it?
It has been nearly three years since the FCC and Education Secretary Arne Duncan rolled out the Digital Textbook Playbook and challenged schools to go digital within five years. It’s safe to say schools are not there yet. While going digital looks certain, arrival in two years looks doubtful.
The potential benefits for schools transitioning to digital curriculum—specifically, replacing their print textbooks with digital ones—remain compelling. As schools move to the Common Core, and Pluto shifts in and out of planetary status, information can be updated on the fly. Interactive quizzes, comments, and discussions live within the text itself. The addition of video, audio and interactivity allows for multi-modal, personalized, accessible and interactive learning; it's lightweight for backpacks; and there are cost savings down the road from not printing.
Of course, widespread adoption relies on a robust infrastructure. Wireless bandwidth must be able to handle the load, and filtering must let advanced material through. Students need reliable devices at school and home, and the content needs to be designed for whatever platform they might have. Importantly, teachers need time to learn a new way of running a classroom.
Here, three early adopters of digital textbooks share their experiences, from conveniences and triumphs to pitfalls and setbacks. Their stories provide a glimpse into the present, still-evolving world of digital textbooks, and a hint into where it may be headed.
The Fairfax Learning Curve
Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools, with 12,000 students per grade level, is a pioneer in the digital textbooks space. Craig Herring, the director of Prek-12 curriculum and instruction, explains that they started using some Pearson online textbooks in 2009, back when they were essentially PDF versions of the printed books. The next year, they flipped that model by buying online social studies books with some hardcopy backups. Those online textbooks included some new features, and they rolled that out to all grades, 7-12, in 2011.