Mastery Learning and Content Creation on the iPad

By Heather Parris-Fitzpatrick

In this era of testing , it’s a good time to reflect on the elements of  Mastery Learning as an instructional model and see how it may benefit the 21st century English Language Learner. ESL students of every proficiency level can benefit from this approach.

ELLs routinely participate in standardized assessments that are designed for native language speakers.  Oftentimes these students cannot accurately demonstrate their mastery of a topic without yet having mastery of the English language.

With the iPad and a mastery learning approach students can create dynamic and entertaining multimedia presentations that can be used as alternative assessments that inform instruction.

Most mastery learning concepts come from Benjamin Bloom who coined the term. Mastery learning is based on individualized instruction that is targeted and informed by data. Teachers use frequent formative assessment to monitor student progress and provide high quality, corrective instruction to improve student achievement.

Bloom introduced the concept based on the premise that even though students have various learning rates and modalities, if teachers provide the necessary time and appropriate learning conditions, nearly all students can reach a high level of achievement. Research has consistently linked the elements of mastery learning to highly effective instruction and student learning success (Guskey 2010).

This approach is a natural choice for ESL students who are often faced with rigorous content demands while struggling at the same time to acquire English proficiency. As ELL advocates, we know that our ELLs need alternative strategies to access content and they are not always able to demonstrate their content knowledge through traditional means of assessment.

The iPad provides the multimedia support for content that ELLs need and also allows ELLs to demonstrate mastery of a topic, regardless of their English proficiency.

The simplest way for students to demonstrate mastery is to use the built in video camera and have students create short direct instruction videos on a topic they have mastered. Another option is to use traditional tools like PowerPoint or Keynote on the iPad to create multimedia presentations.

Finally, there are many useful apps that incorporate images, video, audio, writing and drawing to create interactive multimedia presentations and videos. I’ve listed some of them in the table below.

Guskey, T. R. (October 2010) Lessons of mastery learning. Educational Leadership,68 (2),52-57. Retrieved from  http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct10/vol68/num02/Lessons-of-Mastery-Learning.aspx

Educreations is a recordable interactive whiteboard that captures your voice and handwriting to produce video lessons that you can share online. Students and colleagues can replay lessons in any web browser, or from within the app on theiriPads. There is also a community showcase on the homepage or the “Featured” tab in the iPad app to view lessons that other teachers have created withEducreations.

Audioboo is an application for recording and sharing your voice with the world. This free version allows you to create audio up to 3 minutes in length and post that to your own account on the web. You can add titles, tags, geolocation info and a photo to the recording before you upload it and it will save all that with the file. The audio can then be shared with your followers or via Facebook, Twitter & other social networks by managing your account at http://audioboo.fm.

Story Kit is an iPhone app created by the International Children’s Library Foundation. This app allows users to create their own digital book that includes video and voice recordings, images, drawings and text. The book is stored on the apps bookshelf to be edited or read at any time.  

Videolicious allows users to create videos without having significant editing expertise. Users choose from videos and photos stored on their iPad, place them in order and then stitch together that media. It enables them to use transitions, visual effects, and logos. Once users have picked the media they want to use, all they have to do is tap the videos while narrating over them, and they can later add soundtracks.

Explain Everything lets you annotate, animate, and narrate explanations andpresentations.Explain Everything records on-screen drawing, annotation, object movement and captures audio. Import Photos, PDF, PPT, and Keynote fromDropbox, Evernote, Email, iPad photo roll and camera. Export MP4 movie files, PNG image files, and share the .XPL project file with others for collaboration.

 

Discovery Education and the iPad: Long Island Day of Discovery

Today we had the opportunity to present at the Discovery Education Day of Discovery Conference.  We explored techniques for building a mobile learning environment and ways to use digital media in creating content on the iPad.  It was exciting to demonstrate how digital media and web 2.0 tools remove boundaries and promote academic achievement for ELLs.  The iPad and other tablet computers can support the use of Discovery Education streaming and allow ELLs to access academic content in a whole new way.

We enjoyed engaging with those educators working hard with ELLs and all struggling learners.  Here are just a few recommended apps that were shared during our session:

  • Roadshow – Collect web videos and play them back anytime
  • Language Builder – A rich environment for improving language development
  • ScreenChomp – Sharing tools used to create a sharable, replay-able video
  • ShowMe – Record voice-over whiteboard tutorials and share them online
  • Videolicious – Create a video combining videos, photos, music, and stories
  • Audioboo – Create audio and post to your own account on the web
  • SlideShark – View and share PowerPoint presentations on the iPad

 

 

 

Creating Educational Experiences: The iSchool Initiative

Recently we had the opportunity to attend a mobile learning expo with guest speaker Travis Allen of iSchool Initiative.  This young man shared an amazing timeline of events that led him to create the iSchool Initiative.

This student-led, non-profit organization is dedicated to raising awareness for technology needs in our schools.  Travis spoke passionately of his interest in helping others create educational experiences like those that have changed and improved his own college career.

Travis stated, educators must find, filter, and apply technology into the classrooms. The impact of technology and mobile learning in schools continues to broaden opportunities for ELLs.

How will you use technology to create these educational experiences for ELLs?

For more information on the iSchool Initiative: http://ischoolinitiative.org/

Flipping the Classroom for ELLs

Why the blended learning model is a good choice

One of the latest trends in the education world is blended learning. So what is blended learning and how can it help English Language Learners? The term blended learning has been used in education for many years. It involves the integration of traditional classroom instruction and educational technologies and can take different forms.  Nowadays, the newest model is the flipped classroom.

In a flipped learning environment, the traditional format of in-class lectures followed by at-home student assignments is turned around or “flipped”.  The student is required to watch an instructional video or lecture at home and then complete associated tasks or projects in the classroom.  While students work through assignments in class, teachers can better identify and target each student’s needs and facilitate differentiated instruction.

Another objective of this individualized approach is to empower students to direct their own learning by coming to class prepared to ask questions and problem solve with their peers after viewing the subject matter on their own.

For English language learners the model has some obvious advantages. While watching a video at home, students can take notes, work at their pace and re-watch the video as many times as necessary.  Watching video naturally lends itself to language learning, since the visual content is more readily accessible to students of all proficiency levels than complex textbook syntax and vocabulary.

The next day, teachers can spend less time lecturing in the front of the room (a la “chalk and talk”) and have more time to spend engaged with students, giving more personalized instruction, while the students use class time to complete tasks alone or collaboratively.

This brings me to the next and perhaps the most important advantage of the flipped classroom for ELLs.  When English language learners are given more opportunities to interact with their peers in class, opportunities to think critically, and use English to connect authentically with others to acquire knowledge increases dramatically.  

To read more about the flipped classroom and blended learning visit the following links:

http://mindshift.kqed.org/2012/02/whats-blended-learning-ask-salman-khan/

http://www.eschoolnews.com/2012/02/09/a-first-hand-look-inside-a-flipped-classroom/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blended_learning#cite_note-Horn.2C_Michael_B._2011-1

RTI for ELLs: “Our Kids” or “Their Kids”

by H.Parris-Fitzpatrick

Last week we presented at a NYC Conference for the CEI-PEA Children First Network.  The theme was RTI for ELLs and the audience consisted of both teachers and administrators who work with ELLs, but who are not Bilingual or ESL educators.  This audience analysis is a critical piece of information as it points to future trends in ESL pedagogy and the growing demand for information about our students.  

I can’t speak for everyone, but in my past experience, ELLs were not the center of the local or national education agenda.  In most districts, the ESL program was tucked away in a corner of the building and the responsibility for the academic success of ELLs rested primarily on the shoulders of the ESL teacher.  As an ESL professional, I shouldered this responsibility with pride and knew “my kids” needed me to navigate through the school system.  The ESL teacher still facilitates many things for their students; however, now there appears to be some relief on the way.

Call me Pollyanna, but we addressed a room full of teachers who were not trained in ESL methodology and they were warm and compassionate and eager to learn about how they can help “their kids”.  This is a big shift in school culture and I have some theories about why this has happened, but I’m not going to address that at the moment.

What is important to note, is that ELLs in education is a hot topic.  People want to know more about the instructional needs of ELLs.  The emphasis on literacy that is at the core of RTI, has brought to light this diverse population that is an equally important part of the general student body.  

So how can RTI help?  What exactly does it mean? In brief, at the Tier One level, RTI is a reminder to all content area teachers that academic tasks should be tiered and scaffolded for ELLs and that direct and explicit academic vocabulary instruction is required in order for them to be successful.  It is a reminder that teachers must monitor content and language comprehension.  It is an acknowledgement that we are all English language teachers.

As mentioned in a Practicioner’s Brief from The National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCREST), intervention designed to improved literacy for ELLs is multifaceted. In “A Cultural, Linguistic, and Ecological Framework for Response to Intervention with English Language Learners, the authors highlight the need for comprehensive teacher training, http://www.nccrest.org/Briefs/Framework_for_RTI.pdf “less than 20% of the 56% of public school teachers in the U.S. who have at least one ELL in their class are certified to teach ELLs (Waxman, Tellez & Walberg, 2004). Thus, most teachers lack the training, expertise, and experience in teaching reading and other subjects to ELLs.”  

So, how do we address this need and maximize this time in the spotlight? The article provides guidelines that all districts need to consider when implementing RTI for ELLs

It is indeed ironic that this focus on ELLs comes when there is rising hostility regarding immigration and when economic times have depleted resources and programs. Yet, with every crisis, comes opportunity.

As ambassadors for our English Language Learners we are in a unique position.  People are ready to listen.  Get the word out.

 

Esparza-Brown, J., & Doolittle, J. (2008).  A Cultural, Linguistic, and Ecological Framework for Response to Intervention with English Language Learners

 

 

iPads for ELLs: Enhancing Critical Thinking

Here are the highlights from the workshop “iPads for ELLs: Enhancing Critical Thinking” which we co-presented at the 2011 Long Island Tech Summit on October 18th. 

The workshop focused on three essential questions and provided a brief overview of the iPad and how it can help ELLs reach their full academic potential. 

 How can educational iPad applications strengthen and support critical thinking for English Language Learners?

When the the right educational iPad application is integrated into a content rich lesson, it provides multisensory access to that content, facilitating comprehension and allowing ELLs to participate more effectively in academic discourse. Apps can be used to scaffold activities that may otherwise be difficult for ELLs to understand.  In addition, using multimedia apps to deliver content enhances traditional methods of delivery that are largely text-based.  This opens up the door to critical thinking by lowering the language barrier and channeling the instructional focus to academic content.

The following quote sums up the need to provide content-based language instruction that challenges ELLs to think critically in order to attain academic parity with native English language speakers.

 “Merely using the language and knowing the meaning is not enough. To become proficient in a language, learners need to use creative and critical thinking through the target language.”

 From: Muhammad Kamarul Kabilan. (June 2000) A. Creative and Critical Thinking in Language Classrooms The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 6,
http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Kabilan-CriticalThinking.html  

 How can teachers integrate iPads into their classroom toolbox?

Before selecting an app for use with students, educators must first identify the   instructional goals and objectives of the lesson, not the other way around.  Instead of discovering a fun or exciting app and trying to build a lesson around the app, take a lesson that has proven to be successful and find apps that can be integrated into the lesson to scaffold the content, differentiate the instruction and enhance the outcome.

For example an interesting project idea “The Alternate History Project” was showcased at a poster session at ISTE 2011 http://tinyurl.com/whatifhistory . Integrating social studies apps such US History Tools or On This Day as well as a graphic organizer app like Popplet and a digital media app such as Discovery Ed Streaming (Mobile.DiscoveryEducation.com) can help ELLs meet the goals of this project successfully.

How can iPads, digital media and Web 2.0 tools remove boundaries and promote academic achievement for ELLs?

Finally, it is important to explore the bigger picture of using instructional technology and to identify the purpose for using iPads in the classroom. Consider the following list of pedagogical goals in order to identify how this device can help promote equitable educational opportunity for ELLs.

  • For Intervention (RtI)
  • For Enrichment
  • For Assistive Technology
  • For Digital Literacy
  • For Reading
  • For Organizing Resources

http://www.eschoolnews.com/2011/05/27/five-ways-readers-are-using-ipads-in-the-classroom/

If you’d like to read more about how teachers are using iPads with ELLs read “ELL to Go” by Jennifer Demski

http://thejournal.com/articles/2011/05/02/ell-to-go.aspx?sc_lang=en

 

Long Island Technology Summit 2011

How can technology help engage students to learn content? 

As educators, we know that engaging ESL students is key to academic and linguistic success.  We are faced with the daily task of teaching grade level content in a language that poses many challenges.

Dr. Michael Nagler, Superintendent of Mineola Schools, presented a workshop entitled, What Are 21st-Century Skills Anyway?   Though, the workshop was not limited to the needs of ELLs, there were many points that Dr. Nagler shared that highlighted the challenges for all learners. 

Dr. Nagler stated that, “technology is the tool of engagement and we must stop teaching content and start engaging students in the content.”  During this discussion, he described that the order of Bloom’s Taxonomy was now reversed.  With information being readily available, students must learn metacognition – “think about thinking and how they are learning.” 

Today’s student is growing up in a world much different than ours. Educators continue to use traditional teacher-centered methods of instruction; this is a fundamental contradiction to the way our students learn. For many of these students, even the pace of technological advances will even make digital natives into digital immigrants.  What is certain is that 21st century skills remove boundaries and promote academic success for ELLs  and for all students.

So how do we change the way we teach content and how do we use technology to leverage it?  Give students the ability to become problem solvers and critical thinkers.  Don’t give the content, but start with the end first through methods such as project-based learning.  Technology must be used as the tool that provides a means to the end.

Simple Digital Solutions in Complicated Times

Monitoring Student Work with Discovery Education’s Assignment Manager

by Heather Parris-Fitzpatrick

Nowadays it is more important then ever before to document and monitor student progress consistently. Fortunately, there are educational websites that make life a little easier for our beleaguered teachers.

One of my favorite sites for managing classes and creating interactive learning experiences for ELLs is Discovery Education Streaming. In addition to the free teacher resources (hint: they are easily found by scrolling all the way down to the bottom of the homepage), school districts can purchase a subscription to the site.

Discoveryeducation.com provides subscribers with a simple solution for monitoring student progress.

After building assignments, quizzes, writing prompts, or science assessments in My Builder Tools, teachers can keep track and document student work using Assignment Manager. Users can select a tab to view results in three different ways: by class, by student or by URL or assignment code.

Viewing assignments by class is useful to see how many students have submitted or completed the task. Teachers can edit the assignment or due date and determine the progress the class is making as a whole.

Viewing by student allows a teacher to determine whether a particular student requires remediation. Teachers can assign extra practice or decide to delete student attempts on the assignment.

You can also view assignments according to url or assignment code. This may be useful when an assignment has been given to several different classes and you would like to view all class results together.

In addition to simply viewing, teachers may decide to export the results to an excel file so that it can be stored locally and shared with others. The excel file can be imported into a school-based student data system or printed for a parent teacher conference or a student portfolio.

That reminds me, e-portfolios are another great tool for student assessment. More on that next time!

Special Apps for Special Needs

Using Mobile Devices with Limited English Proficient/Special Education Students

More and more school districts are investigating the use of mobile devices such as the iPad to facilitate learning and instruction for LEP/ELLs in Special Education settings. As K -12 teachers continue to adopt 21st century learning models, curiosity is growing over the integration of mobile devices into the classroom and the practical applications of these new tools.

LEP/ELL students with special education needs present a distinct challenge: how are the language needs met while also addressing various required learning accommodations? One of the key reasons why teachers are exploring mobile devices is that they provide ways to differentiate content and accommodate a variety of learning needs and styles.  This is especially true when planning instruction based on the unique needs of a special education student as delineated in his or her IEP. Educators are discovering that mobile devices come with wealth of applications that assist struggling learners and many of these devices have built in accessibility options. 

The number of quality educational applications continues to grow daily.  These apps can be downloaded onto an iPhone, iTouch, iPad as well as any Android device.  Let’s take a look at just a few of the apps that make mobile devices so unique and so useful for LEP/ELL Special Education students.

Here is a list of applications that are designed for use in Special Education settings:

IEP Checklist -Provides a list of items (with description and ed code) to complete for an IEP

Proloquo2Go Full AAC solution with over 7000 symbols, natural sounding voices, automatic conjugation, and more.

DAF Assistant Delayed auditory feedback and frequency shifting to help improve stuttering.

Sign 4 Me With more than 11,500 words in the library, you can learn signed English from a 3D avatar.

Sign Smith ASL With more than 1,200 signs, you can learn American Sign Language from a 3D avatar.

iCommunicate Pre-loaded pictures and storyboards/routines (e.g.,schedule) facilitate language comprehension.

Other Classroom Management Tools:

iReward With this motivation chart, choose the behavior, the reward from your camera or photos, and optional praise.

Dragon Search Voice recognition to speak, see and edit your text, then search on Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, iTunes, & Twitter.

iWriteWords In easy or regular mode, trace numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters using numbered prompts.

MindMeister Create, view, and edit mind maps, then share them to a website to view and edit further.

iPad Training for Teachers: It’s all about the Apps

We recently conducted a three-day workshop for teachers who are using iPads with kids in grades K-12. Although all of the teachers worked with ELLs, some of the teachers were ESL teachers, others taught ELA, Math, Social Studies, or Special Education.  You get the picture.  We were all over the map as far as our audience was concerned.

So,  the obvious question is how do we train teachers from such a wide variety of settings to use the iPad effectively in their classroom? This answer lies at the very core of what makes the iPad so unique: differentiation through apps!

Once the initial how-to session about the functions and features of the iPad is completed, the emphasis must switch. Professional developers must model differentiation for the teachers, just as they would do for the students in the classroom, through the use of solid apps.

This begins by exploring applications that are truly educational and useful for each teacher in their subject area or focus. First share the apps that are basic tools for instruction such as reference tables, calculators, readers, and dictionaries.  Introduce apps like iBooks, Stanza, Periodic Table of Elements, Google Earth, and CalcMadeEasy.  

If you are part of a district wide initiative using iPads, there should be one set of student tools for managing notebooks, submitting classwork and studying for all students.  You must decide as a class which tools you will all use.  Index Card is a great app that allows users to customize flash cards and organize them into categories for studying. 

Ideally teachers should create a paperless system. (Can you imagine a world where you do not have to carry home 5 classes worth of assignments on Friday night?) By allowing students to submit their work via the iPad, teachers begin to model one of the true 21st Century learning protocols.

 The buzz at ISTE 2011 was that Evernote works very well for this and is a robust app for creating, storing, and sharing documents.  The native app Notes is a simpler note-taking tool.  Of course, you always have the option to print out assignments when necessary.

As for instruction, remember that oftentimes the best apps cross over into many disciplines. For example, after we distributed our best apps list for ELLs, a teacher shared with us her best apps for Special Ed and we discovered a whole new bunch of apps that can be used with a variety of students. Apps for brainstorming and mindmapping such as iThoughtsHD and Popplet are universal tools for differentiated instruction.

Finally, teachers have to establish a classroom routine that works for them and their teaching style. Whether you have an iPad center a few times a week, or each student uses an iPad every day, the priority must be to set up classroom rules about how and when the iPad is used to achieve the instructional goals the teacher has designed.