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3 Ways Teachers Can End the School Year on a High Note

3 Ways Teachers Can End the School Year on a High Note

It’s already May. Can you believe it?

If you’re done with standardized testing, your students are on the final stretch. This is a unique opportunity to go the extra mile and close the year with a bang. So instead of limping to the end of the year, use Kiddom to make every second count.

Share individualized resources

You strategically prioritized what to teach throughout the school year, and the end of the year should be no different. Instead of trying to keep up with your scope and sequence, consider taking a step back and reflecting on the progress you’ve already made. Determine what’s most important for your students to learn on an individual basis, given your time constraints.

Luckily, your reports in Kiddom can help you do just that.

 

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To get started sharing personalized work, use the drop-down menu in your Kiddom reports to cycle between individual students. Review the progress they’ve made on the skills you’ve covered, then use Kiddom’s library of teaching resources to quickly find and assign intervention resources.

 

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Add a message of encouragement to the individual resources you share — your students will appreciate the personal touch.

Send good vibes

You’ve spent an entire school year building relationships with your students, which means you probably have a lot more influence over them now than you ever did before. Unfortunately, you might never get another chance to advise or inspire your students again. So take advantage of every opportunity you have now to positively impact their work and their lives.

 

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The simplest way to do this would be to start with the assignments you’ve already graded. Do this through your Kiddom timeline and find an assignment for which you’ve entered scores without adding comments. You don’t have to have the assignment in-hand. Simply find the submissions with very high scores and add a personal note.

Then, be sure to go through a few more assignments spread the positivity to as many students as possible.

 

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A little positive enforcement can go a long way this time of year. Use it!

Spread the word

It might be tempting to simply keep your head down, submit your final grades, and walk out. But why stop now?

This time of year presents a golden opportunity to help parents and guardians understand why their child struggled in your class. Print PDF reports of students struggling in your class and offer suggestions, in writing, for things they can practice while school is out to prepare for next year.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t hold them accountable to act on it once they’ve moved on from your classroom. What matters is equipping them with knowledge to act in the best interest of their child.

 

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Let’s not forget about the students who excelled in your class. This is your last chance to help parents and guardians of students who excelled in your class to understand why they excelled. Consider providing extension playlists for your top-tier students to access and engage with over the summer.

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You’re almost there

Let’s be honest, you might be so overwhelmed with work right now that you’re at risk of losing sight of how important times of transition are for your students. You spent a lot of time at the beginning of the year setting norms, establishing routines, and building procedures. Consider spending just as much time bringing your classroom community to a thoughtful close. That’s the kind of stuff that sticks.

 

 


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By: Abbas Manjee, Chief Academic Officer

 

P.S. Thank you for passionately serving your students.

Closing the 2016–2017 School Year

Closing the 2016–2017 School Year

Dear Educators,

For many of you, the 2016–2017 school year has come to a close. On behalf of the Kiddom team, thank you for your passion and your service to students. We’re incredibly grateful you trusted Kiddom in your classroom.

 

The Kiddom team celebrates the end of the 2016–2017 school year with you.

 

This year, Kiddom got a major facelift. Based on feedback from teachers like you, we completely redesigned the platform to allow you to plan, assess, and analyze learning from one place. A month later, we released a redesigned student experience to promote student ownership. Oh yeah, we also released an iOS app to help you and your students work together effortlessly, no matter where you are.

In addition to a makeover and a full set of new features, we published a plethora of professional development guides to help you learn more blended learning and standards-based grading. We shared how Kiddom’s Planner makes for an effective curriculum tool for self-paced instruction. And finally, we outlined how curated playlists support differentiated curriculum development.

Since our inception in 2015, we’ve experienced rapid growth across hundreds of thousands of classrooms, catalyzed by word-of-mouth referrals from teachers like you. Your communication and collaboration has inspired us to think about how teachers might collaborate together on Kiddom. So as we wrestle with this project over the next several weeks, we wish you a fun, safe, and restful summer.

Thanks again!

P.S. If your school or district is interested in piloting Kiddom for the 2017–2018 school year, book a demo for school and district leaders and submit your school information here. You’ll be among the first to access all of the collaboration tools we’re working on.

The Teacher in Me, Honors the Teacher in You

The Teacher in Me, Honors the Teacher in You

In India, people use the sanskrit word, Namaste, as a greeting. It has a few translations, but a common one is “the teacher in me, honors the teacher in you.” As a classroom teacher, I appreciate this. My core value as an educator centers on the idea that students and teachers are on a journey together. Learning is a dynamic dance of give and take, not a one-sided process of receiving information.

As the year comes to a close and I look around my classroom, I see the artifacts of academics. The Mayan Temple, the diagram of the solar system, the poster of geometric shapes. I reflect on the hours of planning and preparation that went into my instruction. I also think about what I have learned this year. I think about what my students have taught me.

I think about bravery.

I think about a student who was incredibly shy. English is her second language and she was self-conscious about possible mistakes. At the beginning of the school year, she wouldn’t share more than one-word answers. At lunch, she would sit and listen, never directly responding to conversations.

Around mid-year, I gave her a journal. By the end of the month, she had filled every single page. So, I gave her another journal… and she filled that too! One day, she asked me if she could share some of her writing. With a clear and confident voice, she read a poem she’d written. It was beautiful. I showered her with praise and through a smile she said, “Writing makes me feel brave.” This is the student that inspired me to rediscover my love of writing! It’s because of her that I am sharing this story.

Reflecting on this student, I felt the need to share with her what she had taught me. However, my thoughts began to multiply as I realized every student had somehow made an impact on me. We had all made contributions to each other. They needed to be recognized. From here, I launched a class-wide compliment challenge: write a high-quality compliment for each student in class.

This got me thinking… what makes a good compliment?

I began by bringing the class to a place of stillness. With our eyes closed, we envisioned our community. The healthy relationships we had built over the year rested on communication, teamwork, and social engagement.

 

 

Working through the CASEL standards for social emotional learning, students were able to demonstrate their understanding of community. I brought in the ELA standards and connected the compliments to the character traits we had been applying during our literacy block.

Side note: if you’re aligning academic and SEL skills in one project or assignment, you can use Kiddom’s free tools to track and monitor student growth across academic and social emotional skills, which is ideal for this type of project.

To teach the compliment process, I used the acronym “ACT.”

A is for ACTION

Think of a specific positive action you observed.

“I observed Nora return her library books.”

C is for CHARACTER TRAIT

Think of a character trait that would describe someone acting that way.

“Nora is responsible.”

T is for TEACH Me

Think about what that action can teach you.

“This taught me the importance of staying organized.”

“Nora, I noticed that you always return your library books. I appreciate your responsibility and it has taught me the importance of staying organized.”

My students crafted compliments for each other using this technique. I encourage you to give it a try as a way to honor students. Take the time and make space to give and receive meaningful compliments. Life as a teacher begins the day you realize you are a learner along with your students.

Here is the compliment I wrote to my writer:

I see before me a girl with a story to share. I watched as you filled two notebooks with your writing. I notice you are always listening. You are always thinking and aware of the world around you. When you shared your writing in front of the class, I connected with your bravery. You taught me the importance of sharing my story. You inspired me to rediscover my love of writing. You taught me to be brave.

Love, Mrs. Kennelly

 

As I watch the bus pull out of the parking lot, I see my students’ smiling faces through the window. I am thankful for how much I have learned this year. The teacher in me, honors the teacher in you.

Stephanie Kennelly is a third grade teacher in West Saint Paul, Minnesota. Contact her here for comments and questions.

 

 

Guest Post by: Stephanie Kennelly

Wellness Advocate, Joy Seeker, Public Education Defender, Peace Promoter

4 Ways Teachers Can Better Prepare for Next School Year

4 Ways Teachers Can Better Prepare for Next School Year

 

As a teacher, you know there aren’t enough hours in the day to plan, teach, evaluate, and still have time for yourself. Reflecting on and planning for individual student strengths, areas of growth, and interests can take a backseat if you’re constantly overwhelmed by lesson planning and making resources from scratch. That’s where Kiddom comes in.

Whether you’re just starting to explore education technology or you’ve already got a set of favorite tools, these four strategies using Kiddom can set you up for success next year — and save some precious time.

1. Juxtapose performance with curriculum

It’s important to reflect on overall student performance, but juxtaposing that performance against curriculum can give you even more insights. With Kiddom, you can easily monitor student progress over time and analyze performance on individual standards and skills. As you review individual student performance, ask yourself: Which students grew the most? Which skills took students multiple assessments to master? Where and when did my students encounter the most challenging roadblocks?

To gather insights from reports:

  • Your reports are already full of life if you’ve added and graded assignments using Kiddom. To adjust your reports to display longer time intervals, choose the monthly view.
  • Your first report, Class Grade Average, is an average of all graded assignments and allows you to identify larger trends in overall student performance.
  • Use Mastery Groups (the stacked line graph) to reflect on and analyze changing student performance trends. As the year progressed, which students grew the most? Which students fell off your radar? Did any students make drastic performance changes? Clicking a point will reveal which students were in each group at a selected point in time.
  • Use the Class Standard Mastery graph to evaluate the progress your class made on specific standards and skills. Use insights gathered from these reports to start thinking about how you’ll adjust curriculum for next year.

 

 

2. Fine-tune curriculum from lessons learned

Gathering insights on which units need refining can become wasted labor if we never actually get the chance to revise curriculum. And once the school year gets underway, making those0 changes can get exponentially harder given time and resource constraints. With Kiddom’s Planner, you can modify your curriculum with ease.

To fine-tune curriculum in Planner:

  • Open Planner from the right side of Timeline. If you haven’t created curriculum in Kiddom yet, start by adding a new unit. Add items you’d typically include within a unit like assignments, videos, and other types of resources.
  • If you’ve already created curriculum in Planner, easily add more items to it by using the blue + button. To remove assignments or resources that didn’t work the way you thought they would, press the trash button. Be sure to use the insights you obtained from your reports to make the changes you think could improve student performance next year.
  • The best part about Planner is that it makes ongoing curriculum development simple, which opens up more possibilities for students to make meaningful connections with academic content. Changes are saved in real-time and of course, your curriculum can be imported across all of your classes.

 

 

3. Build differentiation in early

Differentiated curriculum allows students to meaningfully connect with content, but designing it well can be time-consuming. If you know a specific topic requires a little more remediation, why wait until your students hit a roadblock to design resources? Alternatively, if you know a certain point of your curriculum generates a lot of student interest, wouldn’t it be nice to have exploratory resources at the ready? Use the playlist feature in Planner to grouping together resources like videos, readings, and assessments on a topic for enrichment or remediation.

To differentiate instruction with playlists:

  • Open Planner and find a unit or topic for which you’d like to add resources based on your experience teaching it. From there, click the blue + button and add a new playlist. Title it whatever you’d like.
  • To get started adding resources to your playlist, hover over the playlist until another + button appears. Clicking this + button will add this assignment to the playlist. You can add as many assignments and resources as you’d like within a playlist.
  • Some students love knowing what’s coming up, while others can get overwhelmed by this information. Assign a set of resources or share individual assignments from your playlists, depending on the student. This allows you to match the working style of every student.

 

 

4. Supplement curriculum with digital resources

A teacher’s challenge is twofold: lessons must align to standards and engage students with relevant connections. This is inherently time-consuming. To save time and avoid reinventing the wheel, use Kiddom’s Library to find free, standards-aligned resources. Attempts and scores sync with Kiddom, which means your Kiddom reports encapsulate everything students work on, from materials you’ve made to pre-made digital content.

To find free, standards-aligned resources:

  • Open your Timeline and click the blue + plus button to add an assignment. From here, click the “K” icon to access Kiddom’s Library. From here, perform a keyword search (e.g. “fractions’) to find a plethora of lessons, videos, exercises, and more. Use filters to zero in on grade level and/or subject-specific content.
  • Use resources from Kiddom’s Library to supplement assignments you create in each unit in your Planner. This way, you won’t have to create an entire lesson, with all of the resources that go with it, by yourself.
  • Finally, don’t forget that content from Kiddom’s Library can not only be assigned to a class, but to an individual student too.

 

 

When the school year gets started, every minute counts. We hope these Kiddom features save you time and help you develop authentic learning experiences for all of your students.

Extra credit: for even more time-saving tips, register for a free one-on-onecoaching session with a Kiddom team member.

Teaching Strategies to Close the Year Based on Student Interests

Teaching Strategies to Close the Year Based on Student Interests

It’s the time of year to help students pinpoint areas of interest and encourage them to explore those further.

 

As the year comes to a close, student motivation can start to slip. When the weather warms up, it’s okay to admit that some students may be counting down the days until their summer vacations start. Truthfully, you might be too! Teaching is a double-edged sword: it’s rewarding, yet emotionally and physically exhausting.

It can be tempting to become more passive as things wrap up, especially when many of us have been preparing students all year to demonstrate what they’ve learned on cumulative standardized tests or internal exams. However, when I was in the classroom, I took another approach to end the year strong. I used the last weeks of school to encourage students to reflect and dive deeper into a topic from earlier in the year, which sent students into summer feeling empowered by everything they were able accomplish. Students spent the last part of the year working on projects to highlight what they learned and share why it excited them.

An easy way to give students a level of ownership is by using Kiddom’s Planner for curriculum development. The playlist feature in Planner lets you break projects into manageable pieces for students to complete. First, students begin by choosing the format in which they want to showcase what they have learned. Based on student choice, teachers can assign them the most relevant project outline. By using individualized resources and feedback shared through Google Drive and Kiddom’s communication tools, students will be able to produce projects that reflect their own development and passions, and take critical reflection and analysis tools with them onto their next course or grade.

 

Use Kiddom’s Planner to build personalized playlists for students to explore topics of interest.

 

In my biology class, there was a broad unit that covered nutrition. I had one student who, in his words, was allergic to vegetables, saying they made his “taste buds sad.” As we approached the final project, he wanted to build a greenhouse to grow flowers for his mom. I took this opportunity to link multiple units together and tied the skills he was passionate about developing to nutrition by supplying him with lettuce and radishes to plant. I had never seen him so excited to learn and build! This student was chronically late throughout the year and yet, for this project, he was coming in after school and at lunch! When his plants began to grow, his eyes lit up. The moment we harvested his first radish, I didn’t even have to ask him if he was going to try it. He rinsed it off and popped it in his mouth; the look of disgust was priceless, and could only have been gained through this personal exploration. While he left for the summer still hating vegetables, he was ecstatic with the knowledge that he could build a structure and grow plants.

As a teacher, shifting ownership of learning to students through final projects gives me time to reflect and learn from my students. I was able to identify which lessons truly “stuck” and which may have missed the mark. Analyzing which topics students choose to focus their projects on helped identify strengths in my curriculum. What does this tell me about the units I have taught? Where do I need to focus more next year and what lessons were particularly effective? I used the students’ interests to help me reflect on lessons that they remembered, and which ones had faded by June. Kiddom’s standards reports, alongside the assignment based reports, lets teachers compare student interest to their mastery of those skills. Not only can we see what our students enjoyed learning but how that engagement affects their mastery of a standard. With these data points I can make notes for next year detailing the most effective lessons for bringing students to mastery. Setting aside time to learn from past experiences is an important part of teaching that can easily get lost in the shuffle.

 

Standards-based reports allow you to infer interest by performance on specific skills.

 

We focus on students leaving the school year with something they can take away but we also need to find time for teachers to synthesize what they have learned during each school year. Kiddom gives teachers time to analyze their own development at the end of the year, letting them go into summer ready to take what they have learned and build a stronger foundation for the coming year.

 

Guest Post by: Liz E.