Using O365 to track student progress on group assignments is a great way to help keep your classroom organized and efficient so you can focus on working one-on-one with your students.
But the inevitable reality of teaching still exists: What about their grades? How can we show our students, their parents, and our administrators the data that indicates the progress we are seeing every day in our classrooms? What about standards alignment?
That’s where Kiddom comes in!
Our grade-book and reports help to create a holistic view of how your students are doing. Kiddom also allows you to customize your reports based on how your school’s grading system works (Are you a mastery-based school and not a percentage-based school? We have you covered!) .
Kiddom reports provide an added level of analysis to student progress: they don’t just give you a number–they provide you with a holistic picture of how students are doing. Even if you choose to view your students’ scores traditionally (as percentages), reports in Kiddom will still provide you with an overall skills (standards) assessment for each subject area. This provides parents with a more comprehensive view of their student’s progress beyond the numbers we typically see on grade reports.
Not only can you grade all the MS O365 assignments that your students have been completing, but you can also grade and report on the assignments that live outside of O365, as well.
Teachers can add an infinite number of assignment types: PDFs, pictures, paper documents you can scan and add to an assignment, articles from other resources… the list goes on!
Kiddom and Microsoft truly are, better together.
This article is part of ourBetter Together Series, which investigates all the ways the Kiddom operating system helps to enhance the tech you are already using in your classroom.
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Teacher Voice is a blog for teachers, by teachers. Well, mostly teachers, give or take a few writers who wanted to be teachers, but couldn't make the cut. Join the Teacher Voice newsletter to get the latest stories, teaching tips, educational resources, product updates, and latest in the world of K-12 education.
Microsoft Office 365 and Kiddom: A Perfect Combination for Collaboration.
Kiddom and Microsoft Office 365 are a powerful combination for teachers looking to enhance collaboration in their classrooms. With MS O365’s collaborative editing features and Kiddom’s ability to assign groups of students assignments independently from the rest of the class, you have a project-based learning match made in heaven.
Check out the step-by-step process below to get started.
Step One: Use Office 365 to create an assignment
1. Teachers will have to make an assignment for each grouping of students and a document for each of those groupings.
2. Make sure sharing permissions (able to edit) are set appropriately in each Office Doc/Sway/Etc.
Step Two: Create a Playlist With Kiddom
1. Create a Playlist in your Kiddom Planner for the activity you want students to collaborate on, add all the necessary documents from O365 to each assignment (Pro-Tip: Less is more! Add multiple O365 documents to each assignment so you can reduce the amount of assignments on the screen.)
2. After creating your project playlist and adding all the necessary files, you can drag and drop the assignments to Timeline from Planner and assign them to each student group.
Now your students can collaborate in O365 and keep all of their documents in one location for you to monitor and provide feedback. The coolest part is that you can provide private, individual feedback to each student in the group using Kiddom’s commenting feature. So your students can collaborate away in their Word Doc, but you can use Kiddom to discuss individual student work privately with each student in the group. Pretty awesome right?
Are you ready to get started with Kiddom? Check out our free video demo and to see more of the great things Kiddom can do for you and your students!
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A new Kiddom Academy feature helps parents and guardians better understand what their children are learning at school.
What Can Technology Offer Students and Families?
Many parents believe technology in the classroom will be helpful for their children’s education — in fact, 86% do, according to a recent study by Microsoft and YouGov.
The truth is, there’s a lot of debate around the subject. One study has seen very different results for technology-enabled personalized learning (Rand), with vast gains in an earlier report (2015) but only slight gains of late (2017). In “Technology Doesn’t Drive Blended Learning … or Does It?” author Thomas Arnett visits five blended-learning schools and concludes, among other perks, that “although technology is not the driving force behind student learning at these schools, it amplifies the real driving force: high-quality teaching.”
In a study by the Christensen Institute, authors Michael B. Horn and Julia Freeland Fisher acknowledge that the current research cycle is incomplete. Their analysis is an insightful attempt to move past the what to the why. At best, they argue, integrating tech into our schools means that schools can begin to “move from a one-size-fits-all approach to a student-centered one. Teachers can gain a far more precise understanding of how individual students are progressing and provide them with just-in-time materials and supports suited to their needs and strengths.”
At Kiddom, we believe this understanding should extend to parents and guardians, which is why we are proud to announce a new feature to do just that. With Guardian Access, available exclusively to schools and districts using Kiddom Academy, parents and guardians will automatically receive a weekly update to shed light on how their child is performing in school, the skills they’re learning, and where their child needs support.
Each weekly update includes two reports: an Assignments report and a Standards report, as well as the overall achievement level in a class.
We’ll cover each report in more length below, but before we do, let’s briefly revisit the practice standards-based grading, since many parents and guardians might have children that are in schools that are new or transitioning to this instructional practice (feel free to skip the next section if you’re already familiar with standards-based grading).
What is standards-based grading and how does it impact my child?
Having technology in the classroom isn’t the end-all, be-all — you can’t expect a hammer to build a roof. However, useful technology can give parents, teachers, and students the right tools to measure a student’s progress accurately. It enables all parties involved to participate in an ongoing, active quality check of their student’s education, with the power to quickly identify a trend change in real time — and to react quickly with intervention or encouragement.
To add to this change in the way we measure, an important shift is forming in what we measure. Many modern classrooms are adopting a system called standards-based grading, or mastery-based learning. This approach is a creature of many names: you’ll hear the words skills, standards, proficiency or competency-based learning — all of these terms represent the shift towards measuring student progress according to specific, measurable skills. Students are encouraged to focus on that skill or standard until they have shown that they’ve mastered it, often with several attempts, before moving on.
Mastery-based reporting requires a different mindset (and practice) than that used with traditional grades. The goal is not to be an A-student, but to demonstrate mastery of skills, and move on when you’re ready. Most students will not reach the level called “exceeding”; if they do, this might mean that they’re not being challenged enough, and may need to move on to the next grade-level competencies. For more on this, check out this Guardian Access support article.
What this means for you and your child, and why Kiddom is useful
What this means is that the student is able to understand their own achievement in terms of what they are progressing in. As you can imagine, this new approach carries the discussion a lot further than the traditional report card, where a child and parent are offered some grade letter or percentage that doesn’t mean much more than “pass” or “fail,” and certainly doesn’t provide much in terms of actionable insight.
With Kiddom, students are always on top of, not just how they’re progressing, but which specific standards or skills they are excelling in, and which they need to improve. In short, they’re able to articulate and take ownership of their own learning, and pull their parents into the details with confidence.
As mentioned, another way technology is shaping modern parenting is the ability to access progress in real-time — you don’t need to wait around for six weeks to see a report card of grades too late to fix. Now, parents are able to stay in the know and help their children work on the areas where they need improvement, from the onset of when a student starts slipping.
At the top of both reports, you’ll get a general assessment of your students’ achievement for a given class. If your teacher uses standards based grading, you will see one of the four terms: Developing, Approaching, Mastery, or Exceeds. For more information on the breakdown of those terms, see this page. You can use this to understand you child’s development aligned to a skill.
Let’s take a look at the two types of reports available via Guardian Access:
Assignment Reports. The assignment report was designed to help parents and students with accountability. This report helps answer: What does my student need to complete? How is my child doing for their assignments?How are they doing for a particular assignment type? The focus is on how they performed for that piece of work, rather than the standard. This particular report gives you more details for the actual assignment, rather than the standards the assignment aligns to. This allows you to track what your student is doing in class, see the attached standard labels to each assignment, and note the student’s mastery level according to that particular assessment.
Standards Reports. The standard report helps answer: What is my child learning? What is their progress? You will notice that you will still see an average performance for all of the standards assessed. This is a snapshot of how your student is doing overall. Additionally, you will find details on the specific standards that your student is working on: it will show the standard label, description, and their mastery level for that particular standard.
1. The field of education is still in discovery mode to determine the best ways to use technology appropriately in the classroom, but a few proven uses are the abilities to measure progress in real-time, and to enhance the power of teachers.
2. As teachers and learners ease into more individualized, student-centric learning approaches, the role of parents and guardians is also evolving.
3. Kiddom’s new feature Guardian Access enables parents with greater access to their children’s progress, allowing them to:
A. Give students individualized feedback; congratulating them on the exact skills they’ve learned or providing support as they approach understanding of a standard.
B. Monitor student achievement in real-time, and help students take action before grades are “finalized.”
C. Allow students to take more ownership of their grades, developing self-management skills.
At Kiddom, we’re focused on delivering value to every stakeholder involved in a child’s education. As we work toward our mission, we’re excited to help even more teachers, students, parents and guardians, and schools achieve the wonderful things that were previously thought impossible.
Are you a teacher interested in using Kiddom for search-by-standard lesson planning, teacher collaboration, personalized assignments, student communication, and real-time assessment and reporting? You can still do all of these things with our free app. Sign up here.
Google Drive provides you with an easy way to share content and assignments with students, but what both Drive and Classroom are missing is the ability to craft and share reusable curriculum with your colleagues. Adding Kiddom to your Google Drive tool belt does just that. Read on to find out how!
Power Tip #2: Transforming Drive Folders Into Organized Curriculum
While Classroom is a great way to push assignments and materials out to your students, you’ve probably noticed that you can’t build truly cohesive curriculum there. At the very most, Classroom provides you with an elaborate system of folder organization in your Drive, but that hardly passes as a usable, scalable, curriculum.
This is where Kiddom comes to the rescue: You can not only build a curriculum with your Drive assignments using our built-in Planner, but you can also add content from other content providers as well. The best part? It’s not just a random collection of assignments in folders. You can create units, attach standards, and drag and drop assignments to different classes when necessary.
Do you have a Drive file you want to use along with a online content? Go ahead and attach the Drive material to your assignment and add the link to the website. Now you’re actually creating a curriculum you can use, tweak, and share, year after year. That’s not something that Classroom can do on its own.
Sharing your Curriculum
Classroom and Kiddom both allow you to add collaborators to your classes, but the real super-charge to your teaching will come from using Kiddom in combination with Classroom. Reason? When you share a class with a colleague, you’re also sharing the curriculum you built in Planner as well.
With Kiddom’s Planner, it’s a lot easier to share and use each other’s assignments. When you share a class with another teacher, teaching assistant, or classroom aid, you give them access to all the Planner materials you’ve created. This goes far beyond the ability to simply share folders in Drive (what Classroom does).
The biggest perk of coupling Kiddom’s Planner with Drive? The colleagues you share your curriculum with can use the assignments whenever they want, at any time of the year (or next year). They can also modify and adapt those assignments without it impacting your own classes. Pretty amazing, right?
Once you’ve shared your curriculum, your colleagues can easily drag and drop content from your curriculum into their own courses. This makes co-planning with your team more flexible and streamlined; you don’t even have to be in the same room (or the same school!) to do it.
Planning Across Grade Levels for Student Success
One of the perks of using Kiddom with Drive is Kiddom allows you to see your curriculum in a succinct and user-friendly format. One of the biggest challenges of using Classroom on its own is the fact that you can only see groupings of assignments listed by topic, but it doesn’t provide you with the standards and competencies that your students are working on throughout any given school year. The other problem? It doesn’t allow colleagues teaching other grade levels to understand what the students in your class are doing.
With Kiddom, you’ll be sharing not only the assignments and assessments you’ve created but also the standards that you’ve aligned to them. Colleagues in your department or school can see what’s happening in your class and you can all work together to create a more consistent, rigorous curriculum.
At one of our pilot schools in Marshall County, Kentucky, teachers have shifted their planning from one-size-fits-all instruction to a competency-based framework that allows for student choice in demonstrating mastery through authentic projects. They create basic templates for projects, like journal prompts for observing new cultures on a family vacations, or lab analysis questions for chemistry experiments in Google Drive, and attach them to assignments in Kiddom’s Planner. When they’re ready for students to work on a particular project, any of the teacher facilitators in this flexible learning environment can drag and drop the appropriate assignments to students’ timelines, and then add the unique details for each student in the automatically created copies in Drive.
Marshall County really helps to illustrate that Kiddom and Google are better together! Kiddom’s curriculum planning and sharing takes what you are doing in Google Apps and makes your curriculum accessible, shareable, and scalable. How’s that for a “power couple”?
Starting to feel like Kiddom and Drive are a winning combination but want to learn more? If you missed it, check out last week’s tip or ask us a question on our help desk! We’re always standing by to help.
Teach Like a Champion is a teacher training book written by Doug Lemov. It contains 49 teaching techniques he claims will transform inexperienced educators into “master teachers.” Since its publication in 2010, teacher prep programs, charter school networks, and public school districts have implemented TLAC into their training protocol. The administrators of these programs tout Lemov’s book as the quintessential guide to improving teacher performance, but veteran teachers express concern about its methods.
Ray Salazar of Chicago Public Schools writes that TLAC focuses too much on controlling students instead of supplying them with knowledge. Salazar’s contention holds water: one of TLAC’s six sections, “Building and Maintaining High Behavioral Expectations,” is dedicated entirely to managing student behavior. Technique 36, “100 Percent,” mandates absolute compliance from every student at all times. In perspective, 23 of TLAC’s 49 techniques focus exclusively on governing classroom conduct, while only one addresses content. Even this singular exception is authoritarian in nature: Technique 5, “No Apologies,” tells educators to never apologize for the “boring” content they teach.
Elizabeth Green of The New York Times Magazineinterviewed Doug Lemov about the process behind the creation of TLAC. She quotes him on the importance of discipline, “It doesn’t matter what questions you’re asking if the kids are running the classroom.” Lemov’s imperious worldview is further reflected in the recommended administration of the remaining tactics: in a section titled No Opt Out, Lemov advocates detaining students for recess if they fail to repeat answers as directed.
Green then describes sitting in on a teacher, Ms. Bellucci, who finds comfort in Lemov’s techniques. Green commends Bellucci for “perfectly satisfying Lemov’s ideal” after there was “not a giggle or head turned” when a student was sent to the disciplinary dean. Interestingly, Lemov once occupied the position of disciplinary dean at Pacific Rim Charter, an institution he founded after admittedly struggling to connect with students as an educator.
Another teacher, Rebecca Radding, left a New Orleans KIPP school after the administration mandated usage of TLAC in classrooms. Radding’s disliked the book’s overarching emphasis on testing.
To understand why testing is so heavily weighted, we can return to Green’s interview, where Lemov provides insight into his motives for writing TLAC. After launching the Uncommon Schools charter network, Lemov’s foremost constraint to expansion was finding high-quality teachers. In the style of Moneyball, he analyzed publicly available standardized testing data, searching for outliers — under-resourced schools whose students tested well.
These outliers were further scrutinized by subject and age. If eighth grade math students at a low-resource school performed at a disproportionately high level, Uncommon Schools offered the responsible teacher better pay. While this proved effective at identifying teachers who improved scores, there was a limited supply of undervalued educators to poach. As charters proliferated, demand for these scarce commodities increased and their costs grew.
Faced with this predicament, Lemov sought to create better teachers. He filmed a number of educators who managed the best scores with the fewest resources, reviewed the footage, and distilled their practices into the techniques found in TLAC. Lemov’s exclusive study of teachers who generated high test scores seems to validate assertions that the text is heavily slanted toward testing.
Peggy Robertson, a former teacher and current administrator of United Opt Out, calls TLAC, “shallow, uniform, and simplistic.” Regarding the text’s depth and simplicity, we’ve mentioned that none of the 49 techniques talk seriously about content. Further, many of the tactics are extraordinarily basic (e.g., Technique 8, “Post It”. Be sure your students know your objective for the day by posting it on the board). Lemov also describes Technique 17, “Ratio,” which has two parts, as “complex.” His utilization of “complex” to characterize the interplay between initiating a dialog (“increasing student participation”) and staying out of the way (“limiting teacher talk”) while students share ideas speaks volumes for the book’s substance.
Concerning TLAC’s emphasis on uniformity, two sections, “Planning that Ensures Academic Achievement” and “Structuring and Delivering Your Lessons” present lesson planning in a specific, rigid manner. Technique 28, “Entry Routine,” stresses the benefits of beginning every class identically to create time-saving patterns. Technique 9, “The Shortest Path,” declares that only direct instruction should be used to teach students, because it is the fastest method. Technique 14, “Board=Paper,” and Technique 26, “Everybody Writes,” place importance on every student writing down every word their teacher puts up for viewing.
One way we can summarize the collective complaints of Salazar, Radding, and Robertson is under the umbrella of “McDonaldization.”McDonaldization is a term coined by George Ritzer to describe the practice of taking a task (e.g., teaching), and breaking it down into smaller sub-tasks (i.e., techniques). These sub-tasks are subject to rationalization, where only the most efficient means of completing the task is utilized; others methods are abandoned for the optimized path. Efficiency is measured with quantitative metrics, production methods are organized to ensure predictability, and the environment is controlled to enhance the uniformity of products. One could readily make the case the core tenets of McDonaldization: efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control, are present in TLAC’s 49 techniques.
While McDonaldization can save resources, indiscriminate application often produces poor outcomes for consumers. Consider those who wait in long lines to pay high prices for “fast” food of dubious quality. The processing required to ensure fast food’s efficiency and predictability results in a product that is less healthy and lower quality than a freshly prepared version.
In Unhappy Meals, author Michael Pollan investigates why we eat so many processed foods. In the 1980s, America allocated tremendous resources toward researching food and its essential components. The ultimate goal was to understand what parts of a food make it nutritious, so that we might more efficiently consume them. The findings of this research resulted in food producers replacing real, natural foods with less costly alternatives, fortified with “healthy” vitamins and minerals. Pollan notes that as consumption of processed and fortified products increased, America’s health worsened. Those who ate high quantities of processed foods were more likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
Pollan writes that processed foods are less healthy because food is most nutritious when the whole food is consumed. For example, eating an orange is healthier than gulping down a blend of Tang, Metamucil, and Emergen-C, even if the two have perfectly identical quantities of sugar, dietary fiber, and vitamins. The orange is healthier than the drink not because it has more nutrients, but because its pith contains amino acids that facilitate absorption of Vitamin C in the stomach. Pollan says that no matter how nutritious they claim to be, processed “food-like substances” stripped from their natural context will never be as healthy as whole foods.
Pollan offers two bits of actionable advice to those seeking to improve their eating. One is to avoid foods with packaging containing health claims. “Fat Free” items are often packed with sugar, while “Sugar Free” items are often stuffed with fat; neither is good for us. The other recommendation is to eat whole foods in their natural state. Again, this is because of the importance of how the context that food is consumed in influences the way its nutrients are absorbed.
If we consider the implications of Pollan’s recommendations, we can derive some potentially useful anecdotes to evaluate Teach Like A Champion and teacher training at large. In his recommendation that people eat whole foods, rather than their processed and fortified counterparts, we find a framework to address Teach Like A Champion’s efforts to break down education into bite-sized bits of technique. As processing healthy foods efficiently transforms them into unhealthy “food-like substances,” TLAC’s processing of teaching results in the construction of an oversimplified, “teaching-like practice.”
The text does not mention compassion, wit, intuition, determination, or improvisation in the classroom. Instead, it reduces a dynamic practice into an insultingly reductive list. This list takes teaching out of context. It fails to account for variance in teacher strengths, student learning styles, group dynamics, and classroom moods.
TLAC also avoids discussing the structural contexts that cause schools to receive different resources. Much the opposite of acknowledging the difficulties posed by such differences, Lemov tells teachers, “No matter what the circumstances you face on the job, and no matter what strategic decisions are mandated to you, you can succeed.” While the notion that every teacher can make a difference sounds beautiful, there are teachers across the country without enough textbooks for every student who would contest the conclusion that access to resources does not impact learning outcomes.
From Pollan’s recommendation to avoid foods that make health claims, we can generalize that there are limits to data. Last year, we learned that sweeteners in “diet” sodas cause glucose intolerance, a precursor to diabetes, and alter gut microbes to cause weight gain. Despite the negative health impacts of “diet” sodas, such products are marketed as “Calorie Free.”
In the instance of “diet” sodas, an arbitrary metric (i.e., calories) is used to define a product as “healthier” than its alternative, even though it still produces poor health outcomes. We should ask if the calculable measures of teaching (i.e., standardized testing) might be prone to the same problems. Testing’s potential for misrepresentation seems even greater when we consider how nebulous the process of learning is, and how many forms intelligence can take on. Making standardized test scores the singular focus of any training protocol seems questionable when considered from this view.
There are other problems with Lemov’s claims: when he touts Uncommon Schools as effectively implementing TLAC’s techniques to raise test scores, he doesn’t mention that teachers in his schools are taught TLAC tactics in conjunction with content-oriented programming. His teachers also function as student-teachers for several years before taking control of their own classrooms. Much differently, some training programs making use of TLAC are accepting students with bachelor’s degrees in fields other than education, hustling them through a five-week certificate program, and shoving them in front of classes. They’re presented with a copy of Teach Like A Champion and a reaffirmation that hard work and 49 techniques are all they need to become master teachers.
For the same reason we don’t consider everyone who learns to follow recipes a master chef, or those who learn “game” from pick-up books to be expert lovers, we shouldn’t consider any new teacher a “master,” no matter how many efficient strategies he or she implements. We should instead view the process of becoming a good teacher as one that requires practice, commitment, and dedication. To create “master teachers,” we need to evaluate the whole process of how we train and support our teachers throughout their careers.