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How Might Schools Quantify “Personalized Learning?”

How Might Schools Quantify “Personalized Learning?”

Personalized learning is a buzz phrase we hear often in education. This pedagogical style is inspirational, and may serve students well, but it often lacks direction.

Many professional development sessions begin with: “Let’s define personalized learning,” because the term is thrown around so often. At Kiddom, we’ve had the privilege to witness many excellent strides toward personalized learning in different environments, but many haven’t yet seen it in practice. So how does an administrator or community measure the pursuit of this practice without knowing exactly how it looks or where to focus their efforts to improve?

In mastery-based classrooms, students become better advocates of their learning when they know where they excel and where they need to improve. The ability to measure performance in a focus area and put that information to practice generally empowers most students to achieve their learning goals. Schools and districts are no different.

For those systems working to offer more opportunities to personalize learning for students, visibility on success metrics makes all the difference in their own instructional growth and professional development. That’s where Kiddom comes in, and we are delighted to announce a new partnership that makes it easier than ever for districts and schools to quantify their personalized learning initiatives.

Kiddom provides both, a team dedicated to your success and a platform for personalized learning, so you have a direct pathway to monitor instructional change within your community. And now Kiddom has partnered with Education Elements to provide an Onpoint score for your personalized learning journey.

What is an Onpoint Score? A “credit score” for personalized learning, Onpoint provides the framework and metrics to help learning communities focus their individualization efforts, including curriculum and instruction, support, culture of innovation, strategy, and so much more.

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Providing schools a focused plan to implement personalized learning is what we are most excited about, as many of Kiddom’s educator communities use our school operating system for this very reason. Kiddom’s early adopter program offers benefits to new schools and districts that adopt Kiddom, including training, a personal success specialist, membership to Kiddom’s Educator Brain Trust, and the newest addition, Education Elements’ Onpoint score for personalized learning.

The ability to give individualized support to every student, with wide ranges of needs, abilities, and interests, is an amazing and critical feat to accomplish. With Kiddom’s tools and Education Elements’ reports, schools and districts are better equipped than ever to quantify their own success. They now have the knowledge to target their efforts in supporting both teachers and admin as they cultivate a personalized learning experience for students.

Interested to learn more about what Kiddom offers schools and districts? Let’s set up a time for a walkthrough!

Introducing the Kiddom Pilot Program: Measure Teaching and Learning in Your Community

Introducing the Kiddom Pilot Program: Measure Teaching and Learning in Your Community

Another exciting year of teaching and learning is underway. And while a new school year can elicit mixed feelings, it also inspires educators and school leaders with a desire to try and experiment with new tools, systems, and pedagogies to make strides and improve upon last year.

 

Introducing the Kiddom Pilot Program for Schools and Districts

 

This year, Kiddom is also offering something new: a pilot program to help schools and districts meet their goals with custom intelligence reports, administrative controls, a tailored onboarding experience, and ongoing pedagogical support.

Last year, Kiddom helped tens of thousands of teachers across the United States improve their classroom experience with a set of interconnected, user-friendly tools. Today, teachers rely on Kiddom’s reports because they’re visual and actionable, offering beautiful analytics to fine-tune instruction.

Teachers love Kiddom’s library because it saves them time by giving them easy access to free resources (e.g. videos, quizzes, and readings) from top-notch curriculum providers. Our Google Drive integration removes the need for teachers to use Google Classroom. And of course, students use Kiddom to access all of their assignments, feedback, and progress from one place, on their own terms.

 

 

We’ve been laser focused on the classroom experience and it’s paid off. However, we believe it takes a village to raise a child. If we don’t connect the various stakeholders involved in a child’s education, then we’re not meeting our full potential.

Kiddom’s pilot program helps schools and districts plan, assess, and analyze learning more effectively as learning communities.

Our pilot program offers school and district leaders the opportunity to measure the pulse of teaching and learning in their community, beyond a single classroom.

Participants receive custom intelligence reports to identify strengths and areas to improve across school(s), as well as a toolset to make timely interventions. School and district-level controls allow administrators to set up community-level preferences, rubrics, standards, and more. Schools and districts also received a tailored onboarding experience and a dedicated support specialist.

We also work with the pilot school/district to design custom professional development resources and experiences. Pilot program teachers, principals, and district administrators also get to shape Kiddom: they take part in product feedback sessions where their input informs future Kiddom features and services. These benefits and services are free for pilots — it’s the least we can do.

Unfortunately, there are a limited number of spots available. We’ve already accepted a range of schools, districts, and non-profit organizations. If reading this got you excited, the best way to get started is to complete this pilot program interest form as soon as possible.

If your organization meets our requirements and you’d rather get something on your calendar soon, schedule a call with us so we can learn more about your community’s goals and initiatives.

 

Features and services for pilot schools and districts:

 

Teamwork makes the dream work!

 

  • Custom class, school, and district-level intelligence reports
  • School and district-level management and controls
  • Tailored onboarding and setup
  • Professional development workshops
  • And much, much more

 

We look forward to learning how best we can support you! 😃

 

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

Teachers: Set Higher Expectations for Professional Development

Teachers: Set Higher Expectations for Professional Development

I support educators by designing customized professional development resources for those seeking to improve their practice. To plan meaningful learning for educators, I bring my own experiences as a former educator, both informing what effective PD looks like and what it doesn’t. When I designed professional development for New York City educators on blended learning, I modeled a true blended learning environment for participants (you won’t believe how many workshops I’ve attended on blended learning that don’t actually blend the learning). My goal was to help teachers learn more about blended learning by learning about it in practice, otherwise implementation rarely occurs. By design, my blended learning PD provided differentiated paths to learning, various online media resources, self-paced tasks, and data-informed instruction. During planning, I ensured every educator that attended my blended learning PD would walk away with new strategies to implement blended learning. Although I had prepared an effective PD, I was surprised by the obstacles we encountered later.

In practice, modeling blended learning the way I had envisioned was a challenge. Depending on where we hosted the blended learning workshop, we had to work around wireless internet issues, websites blocked by proxies, and a lack of tech devices for all participants. It’s clear the motivation was there — the teachers wanted to learn, but were held back due to the archaic, structural roadblocks rooted within our dated education infrastructure. Naturally, this only harms teachers who go to PD thinking they have 90 minutes to learn and explore, but end up with only 45 minutes (or sometimes less). Since roadblocks to learning and lack of resources is not uncharted territory for educators, I’m always met with patience and resilience as we work through the problems together so learning can take place.

At Kiddom, we’re trying our best to work around technology constraints and we’re also learning a lot as we do. Moving forward, we’re providing headphones for blended learning sessions and printed resources and guides for those without a device. Of course, we’re always available for short, 1-on-1 consults, which participants can schedule as follow-up to our PD session. While there’s a lot of work left to be done, we’re excited the educators that do attend our professional development experiences leave our sessions saying, “This was the first time I’ve attended a session where they modeled the practice.” I sincerely hope more educators start expecting to attend a blended learning PD and see the practice modeled. With the rise of tech devices available to schools, more educators should speak up and demand quality professional development on blended learning. This goes not only for Kiddom, but for others that operate in education technology: we must exceed expectations for educators as they prepare students for the workplace in the 21st century.

So I’m asking you, educators, what are the best ways in which you’ve learned about blended learning? What are some PD approaches that we haven’t thought of? What more can be done to bring engaging PD working around tech constraints? If you’ve experienced similar obstacles, how did you problem solve? I would love to hear and learn from you!

Reach out to us for professional development support or to collaborate with us. We’d love to learn more about your school community and its educator learning needs!

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

Take Control: Don’t Wait for Professional Development

Take Control: Don’t Wait for Professional Development

When I taught middle school math, I really wanted to learn how to teach mathematical concepts at a deeper level beyond state standards. One year, my administration asked me to pilot a new curriculum, one that emphasized deeper conceptual learning. It was exactly what I had been wanting, but I had mixed feelings. Change is hard, particularly for teachers because we are responsible for youth so we inherently rely on procedures, routines, and structures. Would the new curriculum reflect my teaching style? Would it be rigorous? How would this change the way I plan? What if students preferred my way vs. this new way? As it turned out, piloting the College Preparatory Math(CPM) curriculum would be one of the best professional development experiences in my teaching career — not because of a charismatic facilitator, but because its success or failure was all on me.

My teaching style emphasized getting students out of their seats, turning math activities into puzzles and challenges to build engagement. I actively pushed students to show their work and explain their answers, but I relied on routines and structure more than I would’ve liked to admit. I was missing the skills necessary to empower students to take control — to own their own learning. I was hesitant at first to give up control. I needed a framework (and a little bit of a personal push) to help me adopt these skills for my classroom.

Piloting the new curriculum challenged the routines I’d established for myself and my students. Instead of teaching students steps and methods first, the new curriculum prompted me to present a conceptual problem first, working backwards to reveal steps to solve later. To implement this, I needed clear examples of how to approach lessons, exemplar problems for different leveled learners, and multiple ways to set up a conceptual classroom. My pilot curriculum provided a vast bank of rigorous problems and advice on how to implement discourse like Accountable Talk. The benefits I saw in my classroom yielded a completely new learning experience for me and my students. The conceptual connections became clearer, as CPM intertwined math ideas that were linked, no longer teaching skills apart, but laying the foundation to understand the “why.” In the end, I could tell my students were more invested in mathematical thinking by the way they approached problems in class.

That year was so memorable because I took control of my own professional development, without having to rely on someone providing it for me. It was my own pedagogical “aha moment.”

Embracing uncertainty in the classroom by piloting a new program opened my eyes to what the classroom can look like, instead of clinging to the classroom I’d always known and grew comfortable with.

I started seeing math concepts not siloed into “units,” but a web of skills that students could connect with and build upon. Holding students accountable for how they discussed math showed me I can support that challenge and “struggling” through the explanations was a critical part of everyone’s learning. Allowing students to find the lesson’s objective given an exploratory challenge instead of me handing it to them required me to be comfortable letting go, something that made me nervous (it still does). Later that year, I coupled the new curriculum with blended learning, to further support kids on different learning paths and working at different paces. Sharing my learning with my mentors and colleagues was meaningful as I felt like I could contribute to the learning of others as well. Piloting a new program led me to lead my own PD and helped me get more comfortable with strategies outside of my comfort zone, on my own terms.

Learning a technique and significantly improving your craft doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why we at Kiddom offer personalized professional development resources for educators. We believe in order for teachers to have the best experience using Kiddom, it’s on us to provide the necessary supports, when teachers are ready to take on new challenges. We’re not going to swoop into your school for a day, get you signed up, and leave. Those experiences lead to teachers to further be skeptical of professional development, which is counterproductive.

When you join the Kiddom community, you’re not just signing up for education technology, you’re signing up for a tool box at your disposal. Those tools will be ready for you when you’re ready to tack them onto your tool belt. And they’ll come with the supports you need to succeed.

  1. Professional Development Materials

The Kiddom team recognizes that experimenting with new tools and strategies requires energy and time, both of which are limited resources. We’ve designed materials to supplement your professional development so that you and your school community can facilitate your own PD. Interested in implementing a blended learning model? We’ve got you covered with blended learning PD you can facilitate among your school community. Would an introduction to standards-based grading (competency-based education) promote meaningful conversations about what grades mean in your professional learning community? Here are some guides to get you started. If you need a resource we don’t have yet, we’d be happy to make it for you: just ask! That’s how we work.

 

 

2. Personalized Support

Kiddom recognizes how critical it is to receive unwavering support during times of transition in the classroom. That’s why when schools adopt Kiddom, we’re there to brainstorm with you and your team, answer questions, and talk through implementation. In a number of schools adopting Kiddom, we’ve facilitated PD sessions both in-person and virtually, assisting grade teams and entire schools in building strong foundations of shared understanding. We love being brought into schools via Skype to support trailblazers as they support their colleagues. If you need a one-on-one PD consult, let us know. Every classroom is different.

3. Growth and Leadership

When you’re the first person in your school to pilot a tool or strategy, you learn a lot about yourself as an educator. These lessons can and should be shared with colleagues. In this Cult of Pedagogy article, a teacher shares her story about volunteering to pilot new programs, showing that it can be support learning through experience and collaboration. Administrators seek teacher-leaders in the school to share strategies and learnings from student outcomes. Once you learn how the multiple ways Kiddom can support your practice, you’ll have a list of successes and challenges to use to guide others. Leading PD for colleagues will not only be the next step for you, but could be the next step for your school.

My “pilot PD” experience was significant because I accepted the notion that there would be hurdles, but regardless of whether it would succeed or fail, I had to come to terms that I do, we do, you do everyday was getting monotonous; the very strategy that gave me structure was holding me back. I’m excited to hear feedback from educators mastering Kiddom and seeking to lead PD to introduce the platform to others. When you’re presented the opportunity to try something new, it can be intimidating and uncharted, but the rewards may surprise you and even stay with you. Click here to pilot Kiddom, experiment with new tools, and receive PD materials to support you and your professional learning community.

Teaching Was My “Aha! Moment”

Teaching Was My “Aha! Moment”

From a young age, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. As I got older, however, I began to get the impression that becoming a teacher wouldn’t be challenging enough for me or wouldn’t be reaching high enough to match my academic performance.

Perhaps this was because in high school, when my classmates and I began talking about what we wanted for our futures, I’d hear someone say, “I’m not sure what I’ll do, I want to coach football, so maybe I’ll teach or something.” Or something…was teaching so unimportant that it was a way into something better? Perhaps it was learning the difference in a teacher’s salary and doctor’s salary that told me that educators weren’t valued as much as other professionals. Along the way, the image I’d had of a teacher challenging students and igniting curiosity was replaced by a teacher asking students to copy definitions from a textbook. I began to believe that teaching was not a competitive, respected, or prestigious profession. My high-achieving friends dreamed of being lawyers, scientists, and engineers; teacher was not what the “best” would boast to pursue.

Even as I entered the profession, I continued to believe that teaching was easy. How hard can it be? My education fit the standard model of textbooks, papers, class discussions, and tests. What else was there? After college, I decided to spend some time in the classroom before graduate school. I learned about alternative teacher certification programs that supported underserved students and was motivated to make a difference and return to my childhood dream of teaching. I thought, of course I can do this.

And then…

My “Aha! Moment” as an educator came not at once, but all throughout my first year in the classroom. My simplistic understanding of the teaching profession could not have been more inaccurate. My appreciation of what it takes to be an effective teacher now came from experience, something that often goes unrecognized.

I learned that teaching one lesson was not enough. During my first year in a Nashville middle school, I quickly found that one approach to any lesson would not be nearly enough to serve my students well. My eighth graders ranged from elementary to high school level in math. This was not unique to my students — in all classes, there are ranges of student needs and abilities that teachers constantly try to address. Many of my English Language Learner students needed vocabulary support, and my students with IEP goals needed modification on assignments big and small. I learned strategies to differentiate my lessons, but learning how to personalize learning for students takes years of practice, and a deep knowledge of each student’s abilities and learning style.

I learned there are different ways to teach a class. My own education consisted of sitting in assigned seats, in rows of desks, where we took notes, and received graded homework. When I began teaching, my default approach was similar to what I had experienced. I soon learned that not only did I want to include different kinds of instructional strategies, but that it was necessary if I was going to make learning more engaging for all. Later, I discovered small group instruction, blended learning, exploratory learning and other strategies to serve different learning modalities. Though challenging, this is how my teaching improved and my students grew. I saw how teaching is truly an art and a science.

I learned that good teaching goes beyond content. As a new teacher, I was thrilled to teach a subject that I loved. To prepare, I taught summer school in the Mississippi Delta. Riding through town to school, I first noticed the boarded-up businesses and lack of activity. Meeting my students and coming to town, I knew that I’d need to understand more than my lessons to teach them well. I needed to know my students and where they came from before my lessons on decimals would be relevant and make a lasting impact.

I learned that at any given time, teachers juggle many things. Even my best days with my students in that first year felt like I was balancing 10 spinning plates overhead. Lesson plans, questioning, behavior management, differentiation, pacing, and assessments were tasks that required my constant attention. Teachers must be both resourceful and strategic, well-planned and flexible. Effective teachers will excel at many different tasks because they problem-solve their way through work daily.

I learned how many hours teachers actually work. Teacher responsibility is never limited to the hours within the school day. Planning, grading, meeting, calling families, after-school activities, and graduate courses are the norm for hours after last period. I struggled to maintain a work-life balance to start and found from other educators that this was not unique to my experience. I dreamed about the educator summer vacation, then learned that teachers use this time to plan with colleagues, attend professional development summits, and begin scoping out the next school year.

also learned why teachers begin to refer to their students as “their kids.”

During my first week in the classroom, my students and I spent time learning about each other. To build relationships for deeper learning, I wrote my students a letter, sharing my background and promising I’d do whatever it took to support their learning. In return, I asked the students to write me a letter about themselves. My students’ honesty, optimism, and promises to try their hardest were humbling and eye-opening. I knew from then that teaching would be so much more complicated than I had planned.

As a teacher, I had the privilege of helping struggling students after class and see them smile for the first time, understanding a difficult concept. I was invited by students’ parents for family dinners, quinceañera birthday parties, and soccer team cookouts. I was introduced to parents as a student’s “second mom,” and surprised with a “We missed you!” card when I was away. Hearing “thank you” from students meant more than any bonus check I could have ever received. I never knew that I would learn so much from them, as I’d prepared for them to learn from me. When someone asks about my teaching experience, I feel an overwhelming range of emotions. Teaching brought me the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. Teaching was a prestigious privilege, hopefully helping young people prepare for future successes.

Teaching is not easy. It takes a significant amount of mental, emotional, and physical strength to get you through. Teachers are some of the most resilient professionals. Seeing my students faces motivated me to go back to school when I was most tired. The authentic relationships with them motivated me to bring my best every single day. In turn, when I would lose my voice, they would teach for me, when I was having a rough day, they were patient with me, and after they graduated, they came back to visit.

My misconception of the profession has been forever changed, especially now as I support educators with Kiddom. Teachers need help and teaching requires better tools. The idea that teaching is easy is something we must dispel. Today’s teachers will shape the next generation of learners and carry immense responsibility. That’s why at Kiddom, we build technology to unburden teachers with the number of tasks they shoulder so they can support all their students’ needs. Providing the best for teachers is the least we can do after what they do for students. We want teachers to experience “Aha! Moments” with their students and have more moments of joy and inspiration

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

Teachers Need Sandbox Time, Too

Teachers Need Sandbox Time, Too

When I first experienced professional development (PD) as a new teacher, the session was not as positive or as promising as I’d hoped for. My school was struggling with academic achievement and as a result, staff was mandated to attend PD sessions twice a week before school, once a week after school, and at least once during a planning period.

You might think, “What a great opportunity: so much learning!” And it really could have been great, if my PD experience had been tailored to what I needed as a rookie teacher, a math teacher, or just someone overwhelmed by grading and lesson planning. As it was, I often found myself mandated to engage in activities unrelated to my content or experience.

I recently read an excellent post on Learning is Leading, a blog by Kyle Pace, that resonated with me and the work I do now at Kiddom. Titled, “Sandbox Time” — The Style of PD Teachers Deserve, Mr. Pace describes his experience delivering educator PD, emphasizing the similar needs of teacher learning and student learning. He explains ‘sandbox time’ as “Simply put, it’s giving the group time to play. Time to explore, talk, and get comfortable. Time to discover and create new ideas.”

There is much consideration and thought given to how students learn, but too often teachers don’t get the same treatment. Lecturing is an unproductive professional development method, especially since a teacher’s time is so precious. We learn much like students do; in fact, it’s more fun that way. To be lifelong learners, we need adequate opportunities to be inspired. Adults, like students, need ample time to discover new strategies by exploring, by practicing, collaborating, and being given the opportunity to drive their own learning experience.

If you’re a teacher, then you know teacher certification programs and college courses do not set up educators to be adequately prepared for day one in the classroom. We now widely accept that the best instruction is achieved through experience. A former colleague of mine shared that her school in Washington D.C. builds up their first-year teachers by requiring them to shadow a lead teacher for a full year before taking on their own classroom. These first-year teachers receive an excellent PD experience by developing the skills they will need on the job through exploration and practice. Teacher learning modalities vary just as much as student learning modalities. We push personalized learning for students, so how are we not held to the same expectation when serving our teachers?

Kiddom’s professional development was designed to address the hypocrisy in teacher vs. student learning. Kiddom PD equips teachers with resources that are innovative and student-centric, but most importantly, they are teacher-tailored. This year, we facilitated several PD sessions equipping teachers with resources to implement with blended learning models, experiment with a variety of education technology tools, and more. We facilitate PD similarly to Mr. Pace’s “sandbox time,” giving teachers plenty of time and support to explore resources and reflect, collaborate, and plan. There are five components of Kiddom PD tailored to support the teacher learning experience.

  1. Choice

Giving learners choice is generally accepted as a good teaching practice. We should set the same norms for adult learning. With Kiddom PD, multiple learning objectives are presented. Teachers choose their primary focus for the session, dependent upon their prior knowledge and individual learning goals for that day. Giving teachers choice in experience tailored to their individual needs promotes engagement and relevance. We know if teachers don’t feel a particular PD session is relevant to them, they check out. We have all done it and it’s time to acknowledge this and change course.

2. Exploration

Similar to encouraging our students to explore concepts with manipulatives in math class, PD at Kiddom encourages teacher exploration time in PD. Once a teacher chooses their learning objective, they are directed to a list of PD options, including choices for reading, watching, listening, reflecting, practicing, and planning. If we are previewing an edtech tool, learners need time to explore what it offers. Offering flex time for teachers to learn at their own pace and reflect on questions they have is critical to development.

 

 

3. Innovation

Kiddom’s Teaching and Learning team actively seeks new research strategies and cutting-edge resources for teachers, pushing attendees to challenge their ideas of the traditional classroom. When I attend PD, I don’t want to get my hopes up that I’ll learn something new and exciting, but walk away with age-old practices like I have experienced at conferences. PD by Kiddom is tailored to teachers’ individual needs, changing how PD is traditionally offered in schools. Our team is constantly learning, experimenting, and testing instructional strategies and models to adapt for the digital age. We know K-12 education is rapidly changing, so we design PD purposefully to reflect the skills teachers and learners need for the future.

4. Modeling

If I am new to an instructional strategy, I’d like to see it in action first so I can visualize how I can incorporate it when I go back to my own classroom. If I sign up for PD covering blended learning, then I believe the experience should model a blended learning classroom. Participants in Kiddom’s blended learning PD, for example, experience a mixture of online resources, facilitator-led discussions, and opportunities to share and reflect with other attendees. The necessity to model new instructional strategies should be so obvious, as we demand it in our own classrooms!

5. Support

Kiddom’s PD model provides personal support to educators that seek to improve their practice. During sessions, our Teaching and Learning team converse with educators in addition to allotting time for educators to collaborate and support each other. When educators take part in our online PD, support is available at all hours so questions can be answered thoughtfully and personally.

Future professional development by Kiddom will offer mini-PD sessions anyone can take advantage of on their own time. Choosing your own adventure, having a database of actionable, relevant, and useful PD materials to better your practice is what we will continue to build and offer. Unlike some courses that offer self-directed PD with pages and paragraphs of written advice and directions no teacher has time to read through during the school year, Kiddom PD will be bite-sized and digestible, even during tight planning periods.

The clever comparison of educator PD to “sandbox time” resonated with us at Kiddom, so we had to respond and add onto these exciting changes in teacher learning. If we as educators are to market ourselves as “lifelong learners,” then we need to be as convincing for our peers — we certainly owe them high-quality ways to stay inspired and improve their instructional practice. As a former educator now leading professional development, I am so excited to see more thought-leaders in education encouraging exploratory PD. I look forward working with others in the field to rebuild a professional learning culture in schools. One that teachers will look forward to, rather than dread. Then perhaps we won’t even need happy hour afterwards to convince our colleagues to join. But it doesn’t hurt. 😉

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

Flipping “I Do, We Do, You Do”

Flipping “I Do, We Do, You Do”

The first instructional model I learned as a teacher was “I Do, We Do, You Do.” Also known as the gradual release of responsibility (GRR), this strategy was most effective when introducing new concepts because it allowed me to “reach” every student at the same time. But like any instructional technique, GRR has its shortcomings: it erroneously assumes all students learn and work at the same pace. And while this technique may have satisfied pedagogical best practices developed in the 20th century, teaching to the average is no longer considered ideal since it fails to optimize learning for the individual student.

When I relied on “I Do, We Do, You Do” in my first few years as a teacher, I immediately saw gaps in student learning. Students that were learning at a different rate than the pace I set were either bored (maybe they grasped the concept quickly) or distracted (maybe they couldn’t connect to the concept in the way I presented it). I devoted a lot of energy to keeping the whole class engaged throughout the lesson, but this task proved difficult to achieve and often created unnecessary classroom management challenges. The added stress from relying solely on “I Do, We Do, You Do” inspired me to experiment with more student-centric instructional strategies.

I found three components of instruction difficult to incorporate well with GRR: building student choice and voice, offering differentiation, and supporting multiple learning modalities. Using the Kiddom platform, I’m going to explore how teachers can employ student-centric methodologies to address these areas and take their craft to the next level.

Student Choice and Voice

Typically, teachers come to class with a planned lesson, activities, and independent practice. We know, however, that students are most motivated when they’re able to choose their own path to success and voice their opinions throughout the learning process. To increase engagement, students need to be provided with more opportunities to choose and connect. Interest-based projects and Socratic seminars are instructional practices designed to provide students the freedom and flexibility to choose their own path to mastering skills while providing them with a channel to express themselves.

With interest-based projects, students are able to explore topics relevant to them, leading to higher-quality work and deepened conceptual comprehension. Using Kiddom, teachers can easily share a different interest-based project with each student via a standards-aligned content library, a Google Drive attachment, or additional types of attachments.

Once the project has been submitted, grading and sharing feedback is seamless via Kiddom’s rubrics. The platform comes preloaded with academic and social emotional learning (SEL) rubrics, all of which can be modified. Teachers can draft their own rubrics too: outlining specific expectations for groups of students. Interest-based projects make classroom decisions appear just as much the student’s responsibility as the teachers, fostering a sense of ownership that will heighten investment and long-term learning. The Kiddom platform makes it incredibly easy to assign and manage a wide variety of interest-based projects across multiple classes.

Socratic seminars place deeper learning directly in students’ hands. Prefaced with a pre-reading, the seminar facilitator leads conversation with open-ended questions, teaching students to think critically, cultivate higher-order questioning, and comment on peer responses. Provide students feedback during Socratic seminars with these rubrics via Kiddom. Attach the Socratic seminar rubrics to give students thorough feedback as they reflect after a seminar. Kiddom’s SEL rubrics include categories like Self-Assessment, Active Listening, and Speaking, which when appended to a seminar assignment can give students the opportunity to reflect on their own performance. Where GRR limits student involvement in the assessment process, the Kiddom platform keeps the line of communication open. Qualitative feedback in addition to a score motivates students to participate and continue improving.

The Question Formulation Technique (QFT) is a student-centric protocol that guides students to form questions most meaningful to them within the context of a class unit. Provided with a “focus” by the teacher, students create various questions, then prioritize them after reflecting on what they want to learn as a group. Using Kiddom, teachers set up a “QFT focus” as an assignment description or Google Drive attachment, directing students to upload their question list as a response to the assignment or in the comment loop. Leveraging Kiddom’s content library to provide launch activities for question formation makes lesson planning easy. SEL rubrics such as Decision Making, Problem Solving, and Relationship Building, can be aligned to QFT tasks. Give students feedback as they create questions to drive learning. Student engagement with this method will alleviate the stress of finding the “perfect topic” and guiding questions to hook students. Let them lead the way!

Differentiation

One of my biggest challenges with “I Do, We Do, You Do,” was differentiating well. Differentiating appropriately for an entire class working on the same task, at the same time is near impossible. In the 21st century, educators should expect education technology to adequately provide the information necessary to differentiate content, process, and product for a class of students.

Interest-based projects are a space for differentiation as students are able to pursue topics appropriate for their performance level and interests. Engagement for students at any level is achievable here as students pursue projects that challenge them to improve from where they started. With guidance from their teacher, students can engage in an interactive feedback loop via comments. Students can ask questions and receive responses they can refer back to while working independently or in homogenous groups. With Kiddom’s Google Drive integration, students can also submit interest-based project materials via a Google document, slides, or spreadsheet, providing proof and evidence of their learning. The ability to modify assignments provides differentiation that GRR simply cannot.

Socratic seminars help students learn from each other and reflect on their ability to engage in academic discourse, taking differentiation to an interactive level. Choosing an accessible pre-reading is important to start. Passages can be found in Kiddom’s content library filtered for different grade levels or attach links to leveled readings online in an assignment for students to prepare. Differentiated guiding questions can be asked during the seminar, then after, students receive feedback to improve. Guiding questions can be sent via Kiddom to students in need of extra time before engaging in a discussion. The platform provides teachers with the data needed to differentiate discussions and assess students at appropriate levels.

While Socratic seminars are meant to be open-ended, providing students with feedback is vital since sharing ideas can make some students feel vulnerable. To differentiate with the Question Formulation Technique, have students come up with their own questions via Kiddom’s Google Drive integration. Students brainstorm questions from the topic with their peers and submit the product to their teacher for review. Alternatively, teachers may post a link to an outside resource in the assignment description to launch discovery of a new focus, then students can upload their list of questions in Kiddom as an attachment. The teacher can help prioritize questions to pursue as projects afterward. Having students create their own inquiries from one guiding prompt cultivates higher order thinking skills much more efficiently better than “I Do, We Do, You Do” allows.

Multiple Learning Modalities

We know planning a lesson that incorporates auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning well every day is a Herculean task. With Kiddom, preview and assign standards-aligned content and assessments from Khan Academy, CK-12, CommonLit, Newsela, and more all from one place. The ability to filter resources by keyword, grade level, and subject area allows teachers to assign interdisciplinary, appropriate content for students working on projects and exploring new units. This is a great way to find out which learning methods students prefer.

For example, Socratic seminars are initiated typically as a follow up to an assigned reading or a prompt for students to consider. Assign articles and passages leveled appropriately from our content library directly to the student dashboard for pre-reading to Socratic seminars. Since all of our content can be filtered by student interest and topic, interest-based projects can be launched as students explore different resources via the Kiddom dashboard. Or, assign students a video or activity or link an outside resource to a Kiddom assignment to set students up to create their formulate their own list of questions to guide their learning with QFT.

Choose small groups of students to assign a video from Khan Academy and a different small group of students an article from Common Lit. Afterward, have students share what they learned with each other, allowing students the opportunity to be the master and expert. This level of student ownership is empowering and not typically seen within the I Do, We Do, You Do framework. If students are engaging with different kinds of learning materials and can explore those together, the learning experience becomes unique and exploratory for all.

More Time to Connect and Inspire

The “I Do, We Do, You Do” method certainly shouldn’t be retired entirely, but teachers should guide students to take the lead. The student-centered approaches outlined above can really remove the unnecessary stress the GRR method creates. More importantly, these approaches give valuable time to work directly with students in small groups or one-on-one. While students excitedly tackle their own interest-based projects or explore questions they created, teachers get to focus on connecting with and inspiring students. Note that with the Kiddom platform, the most important work still takes place in the classroom, via interactions with students. Sound education technology should expand these interpersonal experiences. These are the experiences students learn from and remember most. Happy teaching and learning!

P.S. If you’re looking for one-on-one support when experimenting with these strategies using the Kiddom platform, reach out to us! We offer professional development via demos, tutorials, consult sessions, and live chat. Our team of former educators would love to learn more about your practice and how you’re using Kiddom to work directly with your students.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it's very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

“Disrupting Traditional PD.” Practice What You Preach!

“Disrupting Traditional PD.” Practice What You Preach!

Imagine you’re a chef and you’re about to participate in a cooking class with Bobby Flay to get some professional development. You’ve been a chef for years, but you’re seeking to expand your knowledge of the culinary arts. The trip is booked and you’ve packed your favorite cooking utensils and a camera to capture the moments. Most importantly, you just can’t wait to get in there and cook something new. You’re confident you will leave Flay’s class equipped with innovative recipes and new strategies to better your restaurant.

As it turns out, this won’t be the case. When you arrive, you discover you’ll be listening to a culinary representative speak about why the culinary arts are important, outlining traditional ways one can improve as a chef and a diagram dissecting some of Bobby Flay’s best culinary creations. No Bobby Flay, no chance to practice on your own, no inventive new recipes, no skills to take home, and nothing to capture what you didn’t already know. You’re crushed: you were promised a learning experience you didn’t receive!

 

 

I experience this feeling often when attending professional development (PD) sessions at large education conferences.The workshops advertise the “most innovative” educator PD, but I typically leave disappointed, disengaged, and sometimes even confused. Case in point: I eagerly attended a PD session earlier this year titled, Disrupting Traditional PD: Innovative PD for Educators. Unfortunately, this session did not disrupt anything nor was it innovative. I left wondering how the facilitators missed it. It included the usual players: chart paper placed on tables, wordy PowerPoint slides, and scattered scented markers for stop-n-jot moments. While some of these materials can foster meaningful and deep conversations, educators are really craving actionable PD: What is something new I can learn that I can bring to my classroom tomorrow? If 21st century teachers are tasked with personalizing instruction and developing lifelong learning mindsets, why can’t they experience a similar approach to their own growth?

As a former educator, I attended PD before school, after school, and during planning periods: almost all were lackluster. Today, I lead Learning and Development at Kiddom, so I actively search for non-traditional PD opportunities to share with our educator community. My ongoing lackluster PD experiences have inspired me now more than ever, to build better professional development experiences for our educators. I believe PD should be a space where teachers are given the opportunities that students have in dynamic classroom environments. Educators’ learning objectives should be relevant based on their prior experiences. What is learned should be actionable, and should expose teachers to resources they haven’t seen, read, or used before. PD should by design assume educators are self-aware, can manage their own time, and are interested in their own growth. And finally, the experience should model what teachers are there to learn about. Is it a blended learning session? Then blend the learning and incorporate technology so participants can actually visualize a model. We expect teachers to model in the classroom, so how can we expect teachers to walk away from PD and implement what was learned without a model?

Today, Kiddom’s professional development spans across blended learningstandards-based gradingsocial emotional learning, and using educational technology to personalize learning. And we’re in the process of designing these PD experiences to better utilize educators’ time, since by nature of the profession, little time is allocated for anything beyond planning, teaching, and grading. We’re designing PD to allow educators to identify what they’re seeking and then “choose their own adventure.” We’ll offer mini-courses complete with supplementary materials to meet learning goals. When an educator participates in a Kiddom-designed PD, they will explore, plan, research, experiment, and learn. And in the not so distant future, we’ll offer credentials to educators who complete multiple sessions of PD on various topics. These credentials will highlight 21st century educator skills and further validate the time spent developing and improving pedagogy. I know that if I’d been given the incentive to receive ongoing credentials and achievements, I would have been more motivated to “do the work,” instead of brainstorming my next lesson plan. I believe that with ongoing education, teachers can and will lead the charge in elevating their own profession.

So let’s utilize 21st century resources in tandem with chart paper and post-it notes. Let’s challenge ourselves in the same way we challenge students. Change will make us stronger, which will make our school communities better, fostering lifelong learning environments for everyone. And finally, we can’t design personalized PD experiences without your input, so I have questions for you:

1) What have you always wanted from PD?

2) What quips do you have with PD? How might you suggest solving them?

3) What are you interested in learning more about via PD?

Leave your answers below. We’d love to hear and learn from you!

Merging Social Emotional Learning and Academics: Process, Rewards, & Rationale

Merging Social Emotional Learning and Academics: Process, Rewards, & Rationale

At the end of every school day, behavior trackers inevitably found their way on my classroom floor, in the trash, or forgotten under the stacks of papers on my desk. My school was attempting to track how students communicated their feelings with classmates and teachers through individual social emotional goals to boost classroom culture and address student development. Goals were reviewed daily, but unfortunately progress was lost to the netherworld of misplaced student papers. Social emotional skills were seen as a separate, “ungraded” progress report, and students were not invested.

My classroom experience demonstrates the inefficiencies schools often experience in addressing social emotional learning (SEL). Without clear guidelines and a means to observe progress over time, we didn’t have an effective method of providing students with feedback. The developmental skills were typically separated from core content classes. Since our gradebooks were designed for academic skills, it was difficult to track and monitor SEL. There had to be a better way to instill positive communication and deeper learning that would hold beyond a 45-minute class.

I taught SEL skills effectively for the first time during my third year teaching by carving out academic instructional time. This investment paid off tenfold. I stepped over the advisory period barrier and disguised behavior trackers as components of my lesson plans. That year, I incorporated Accountable Talk, a method of classroom discourse encouraging positive communication, relationship-building, accountability, and rigorous content engagement among students. One component of Accountable Talk requires students to be self-aware and in tune with the emotions of those around them, interacting with others positively and productively, even when disagreeing. For my 6th graders, I anticipated this would prove challenging, but I was determined to establish the norm in my room that when we discussed math, we would do so by learning from each other and building these socio-emotional skills. I would later learn these skills were not only valuable to our classroom culture, but also in improving math skills overall.

At the time, I didn’t realize the competencies I was teaching were called “social emotional learning.” These skills exist in a group of national standards defined by CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic and Social Emotional Learning. I incorporated these skills by building in time to introduce conversation starters, sentence stems, how to respectfully agree or disagree with classmates, and how to build on each others’ ideas. I taught them how to be aware of their own opinions and feelings and how they would influence those around them. They observed their classmates model this behavior, they watched me model it, and they were given guidelines and suggestions for how to improve. Over time, with feedback and dynamic conversations, my students began to really enjoy the communication and would remind each other to speak respectfully and provide thoughtful feedback. The students required less prompting from me as it became a part of the class culture. Though I didn’t have a surefire way to monitor my class’s progress with Accountable Talk at the time, I saw this growth day after day.

One component that made this a success was teaching these skills in conjunction with our math skills. Whenever my students worked together on a project, discussing their strategies and approaches to the answer, they worked through both the math standards and the social expectations I’d put in place for Accountable Talk. In my lesson plans, I intentionally wove social emotional learning throughout the math problem by having students practice considering another student’s feelings in their group while explaining their approach to converting fractions. Accountable Talk prompted empathy in my class. This took time to cultivate, but the practice built stronger relationships, opened dialogue, and broadened understanding.

Today, these social awareness competencies can be tracked with technology, alleviating the lost paper tracker abyss and opening opportunities for sharing, viewing data, and making adjustments for improvement. Kiddom’s platform supports CASEL’s competencies, which would have aligned perfectly to track Accountable Talk in my class. I could have given them individual progress reports on how they were doing, an added report I didn’t have time to produce because I was overburdened writing lesson plans, making worksheets, grading assessments, the list goes on. Kiddom makes so much of this faster and actionable for teachers.

We owe parents the ability to track how their children are developing self-awareness and building relationships, in addition to science and social studies. Click on a button to download a standards-based progress report for parents that doesn’t look like a spreadsheet? Yes, please!

 

Actual photo of me saying, “Yes, please!”

Kiddom can help you align academic standards and social emotional learning standards together in one math project or ELA paper. Then, you can send feedback for both sets of skills. Social emotional learning should not be taught separately from content: it’s importance is amplified if it’s taught in tandemwith academics. When SEL is taught in a silo, it’s importance is undermined and inconsistently addressed. In reality, the skills necessary to be empathetic, relatable, and compassionate are the skills that drive student success in school and beyond.

 

 


 

 

If you’d like to learn more about teaching SEL in tandem with academics, grab SEL 101: our free guide to support your students’ social emotional development.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

Want Lifelong Learners? Start By Being One

Want Lifelong Learners? Start By Being One

I remember creating my first lesson, incorporating standards-based grading, so many moons ago in Mississippi. I glanced back and forth between my computer screen and my content notes in overwhelming anxiety and frustrated confusion. Where do I even start? What did it mean to scaffold questions to track and target a specific standard? I had so many questions around simply writing assessments on a single topic to fit this framework. I needed a standards-based grading (SBG) fairy to sit on my shoulder and walk me through this new, seemingly complicated, method of teaching.

Fast forward to today; now I work with Kiddom. My first memories are examples of the blockage and doubt that can occur when trying something new, making a switch to a model that is different from what we are used to. Feeling unsure and uncomfortable when taking a risk is completely normal and is shared by so many educators making the switch to SBG. I know the stakes feel even higher, your daily work influencing the minds of young learners. The good news is, you’re not alone, neither in the way you may be feeling, nor in learning the ins and outs of SBG. My priority at Kiddom is to make this process seamless for teachers, bringing all of the data and content involved with SBG to one place. If you need assistance, we’re here. And, the risks you’ll take with SBG will pay off, they will motivate your students to own their learning, and they will save you time in the long run.

When I began teaching in Nashville, my fellow educators were also making the switch, most new to SBG. Beginning that transition was met with hesitation and skepticism because its importance wasn’t explained and much-needed guidance was barely accessible. Many were concerned this would limit their teaching freedoms, that student learning would be restricted, and love of learning would cease.

While the hesitant feelings are valid, the actual outcomes are so beneficial for students and teachers. SBG actually frees us from the structured I do-We do-You do mentality and from having to keep your classes all on the same schedule in time for a chapter test. If someone falls behind when taught traditionally, there is the lingering fear, how will they catch up? In an SBG classroom, students work on different, intentional paces. SBG helps guide the educator (or facilitator) to pinpoint where to spend their time and energy, remediating and enriching on an individual basis.

With Kiddom, so many of my co-teachers’ concerns could’ve been alleviated, guidance and resources to SBG at their fingertips, making tracking and targeting instruction so much easier. Having the ability to do all of the steps called for in SBG by yourself is impressive, but we know it’s not sustainable. Teachers are leaving the classroom, and without support, who’s to blame them? SBG is game-changing, but only when teachers are supported through the transition process. My commitment through Kiddom is to bring this safety net to you, helping teachers like you navigate through the initial hesitations to the day students are coming to you, asking how they can master those last remaining skills.

You may be wondering how this looks for your subject. Introducing SBG opens up new doors and ignites newfound gaps to conquer in student learning for all areas. Let’s take a quick look.

In math and science, SBG gives teachers the opportunity to have a laser focus on which part of skill students are having misconceptions. Then, a teacher won’t need to reteach the entire unit or struggle blindly wondering why students still aren’t understanding how to calculate slope or how to explain mitosis.

Humanities classes typically assess students on specific content or ever-developing skills, such as the WWII or the writing process. SBG can be complex here with so many categories of performance (e.g. drafting, revision, publishing), but can be beneficial in understanding gaps in performance.

For artistic classes, students can sometimes feel discouraged when they are assessed on one final project. SBG opens a window for students to be assessed on artistic processes, such as neatness, craftsmanship, technique, and originality. In addition to artistic proficiency, students can be assessed on other skills that would mirror their progress and mastery.

I’ve seen students learn more with SBG, more motivated and driven by SBG. Students who understand a skill get to move on and expand their thinking, while students who need more one-on-one intervention are identified. Students in the middle no longer miss opportunities to grow, because we know where they are, too. The opportunities with SBG and Kiddom are limitless here, and the time saved aimlessly throwing darts in the dark, will be a substantial shift in your classroom, for you and your kids.

Adopting SBG leads teachers to understand their content as experts, knowing each intricate portion of a skill. Leading up to calculating slope, students will need to have mastered the skills that contribute to slope. As teachers are tracking past and future skills in their subject, the “end goal” mindset is replaced with a lifelong learning mindset. I never loved math more than when I could show my inner nerd, breaking down a skill to its complex core.

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