Saturday, February 25, 2017

Customized Instructional Resources and the "Master Answer Key"

I always figure that if one person has a good question, others either have the same question or will soon have that question. This post addresses one such answer key for the "Customized Instructional Resources."

You see links to the Customized Instructional Resources in two places:
On the class roster. (The packet addressed weaknesses found on PMA.)
On the Student Grouping Report (The racket addresses weaknesses found on everything except PMA.)

This resources packet is long, and for that reason, is something you may not want to use. After all, much of the advantage of Stride Academy is that the software relieves you from the monotony of duplicating pages and grading papers. For those who do use it, however, having an answer key is helpful.

Where do I get the answer key?
When you click the link to create a customized packet for a student, you get a screen that looks like the figure below.

You are able to print the entire packet or select a particular part. Notice also the very last line...
"You can download the master answer key document here."

What you are getting is a one-time answer key for every question that would be asked of any student. Save it digitally (because it's long). Save it in Dropbox so you can access it fro school and home.

How do I make sense of the answer key?
You won't.

The answer key only makes sense when you have a student's packet to grade. At various points in the packet, the student has questions to answer. At the bottom of the page on the student's packet, you will see the page number and unit number on the Master Answer Key where the answer to that set of questions is found. At that point, the whole thing makes sense. 

If you have not used the Customized Instructional Resources at all, now would not be a bad time to simply look at a same. Go to the Class Roster in one of your classes. Click the link beside any student's name. A pdf packet will download. You can then get a flavor for the length of the packet, the type of material it contains, and make a decision on how (or if) you want to use it.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

How Do I Prevent Cheating on Quizzes?

The Quiz Builder provides an easy way to construct and grade quizzes aligned to Alabama standards. While we covered this capability during the training at each school, the Stride Academy Support Gallery (found on the "Help & Advice" tab) offers additional material. There you will find these resources:

  • How to Create a Custom Quiz Using Quiz Builder video
  • How to Share Quizzes with Other Teachers in Quiz Builder video
  • Custom Quiz Builder Quick Start Guide for Teachers and Administrators

Questions will soon occur to the experienced teacher:

  • What if the student does not finish in class? What keeps that student from finishing the quiz later, outside of class or at home, possibly with the help of other people?
  • What if a student stays home from school and knows a quiz is being given? What will keep the student from logging in from home and taking the quiz?
  • If the same quiz is being given to multiple classes, what is to keep a student who will be taking the quiz 6th period from logging in from somewhere else in the school 2nd period and answering the questions with the help of the textbook or friends?

Presently, Stride Academy has no control to limit quiz taking to only school hours. Even if this capability was in place, it would not address all of the scenarios above. So, what is the teacher to do to prevent cheating on the Quiz Builder quizzes?

To answer the question, let's look at what we do in the pencil and paper world...We pass out to the test to the students when it is time to take the test. If a student is absent, we don't "pass out the test" to that student. If a student will be in our class 6th period, we don't "pass out the test" to that student 1st period.

The digital parallel to "passing out the test" is assigning the test.

When you create a quiz with Quiz Builder, you see a black link which allows you to "assign" the quiz to the entire class or any selected students. Simply wait until the students are seated and you are ready for them to begin the quiz. At that point, pull up the Quiz Builder, click on the quiz, and click "Assign Students."

If Johnny is not present, you don't assign the quiz to Johnny. You have just prevented him from taking the quiz from home.

Your 5th period students would love to access the quiz early, but since you don't actually assign the quiz until they are seated in 5th period, they cannot access it early.

What about the student who does not finish during class and plans to finish later? First of all, you will have the Quiz Builder pulled up on your computer. As you circulate around the room to observe students, you will also be refreshing the page on the Quiz Builder for an instant update of what percentage of the quiz each student has completed and the percentage of correct answers each student has.

When you call "time" on the quiz, you borrow an old trick teachers have used for many decades: make note of who has not finished. Very simply, if you see that a student has not finished 100% of the questions, and later the Quiz Builder shows he has completed all of the questions, you know that student cheated. You won't have to address that problem many times before students get the message that you are a step ahead of them!

Testing security has been a challenge since before any of us entered the front door as students. Over the years, the tools change, and the strategy for curbing cheating changes with it. Now you have a strategy for security with this new tool. Happy quiz building!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Motivational Ideas

I received this feature in an email from LTS. It highlights ideas one elementary school has implemented to motivate Stride use. Your school could be the next one featured.

Benignus Elementary is Bananas for Stride 

Benignus Logo

 Brrrrrr-ing on the Winter Frenzy at Benignus Elementary!

Nothing beats the winter fun of a good old-fashioned snowball fight!  Benignus Elementary in Spring, TX (Klein ISD knows this to be true. That’s why for their “Winter Frenzy” school-wide Stride contest, the Top 100 students got to toss some snow on February 20!
Students were a bit confused at first, since there was no snow on the ground. However, Benignus staff used chilled, felt balls for “snowballs.” According to Holly Mason, Assistant Principal at Benignus Elementary“The kids loved it! It was so much fun!”
groupA[1]      groupB
    ………… actionA[1]      actionB[1]

Learning Fun All Year Long

Benignus has been extremely creative with their school-wide Stride contests this year. In November, they held a “Turkey Trot” contest, with the top primary and secondary class winners each receiving spirit sticks and winning a spotlight on the school-wide video announcements.
Over winter break, Benignus students competed in the “Snowflake Showdown.” This time, the winning class got to host the school-wide video announcements from their classroom, and topped off their victory with a popcorn party.
We look forward to finding out what contests they will run this spring! Thank you for sharing these great contest ideas!

Weekly Incentives Motivate Students

Weekly incentives are also very successful at Benignus Elementary. On the “Stride Wall” pictured here, the Reading Specialist highlights the top class from each grade level for the week (based on Stride Reading performance).
beningus pic stitch “Stride is hands-down the most user friendly program I have ever encountered.  The designers seem to have taken the time to see every possible challenge or question encountered by teachers.  They have created a program that fits seamlessly into our curriculum and classrooms.  Students learn while having fun, and teachers can administer prescriptive lessons or glean priceless data.” - Dede Dietzman, 1st grade Teacher, Benignus Elementary

Getting Ready for STAAR Testing

What are your strategies for using Stride to help prepare for the STAAR tests this year?
Holly Mason, M.Ed., Assistant Principal at Benignus Elementary, reports:
“As testing has gotten closer, teachers are writing TEKS-aligned quizzes and assessments. Based on in-class formative and summative assessments, teachers are also assigning specific skills in Stride to spiral back to and assist with TEKS/skill mastery.”

We Welcome Your School’s Contributions.

The everyday strides that your students and teachers are making in the classroom are the very reason Stride exists! Your ideas and achievements help us build a better program. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

PMA 3 Ends February 10

The third Progress Monitoring Assessment ends February 10.

You have the ability to run a report on PMA for both the school and the classroom level.

Running the PMA Report at the School Level:
  1. Use the school administrative login to access Stride Academy.
  2. Click the "Reports" tab.
  3. Click the blue "Generate Real-Time Reports" button.
  4. Click "View Reports."
  5. From the list of reports which appears, click "School PMA Report."
  6. The defaults on the next screen should be OK as is.
  7. Click the red "Apply" button.

You will notice that the graph is the first page of almost two-dozen pages of data. You can click through those graphs and tables to see data for each class and data for each grade level.

My recommendation would be to share with any given teacher the data for that teacher's class and the average for the grade level as a whole. That way, each teacher gets an idea where he or stands in relationship to the rest of the pack without ranking teachers. Richard Defoor addresses this point in his PLC seminars.

Running the PMA Report at the Classroom Level:
  1. Use your KCC code and password to access Stride Academy.
  2. Click the "Reports" tab.
  3. Click the blue "Generate Real-Time Reports" button.
  4. Click "View Reports."
  5. From the list of reports which appears, click "Class PMA Report."
  6. The defaults on the next screen should be OK as is.
  7. Click the red "Apply" button.
The resulting graph will look much the same as the school graph displayed above. Clicking through the remaining pages will reveal data on each student.