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  • Twitter in the Classroom! And Other Things I Learned As Teacher For a Day

    by LearnEd

    Classroom of students

    A Unusual View Inside the Classroom

    When Peggy Rubero first arrived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, she fell in love with the people and the quality of life. “It felt like home,” she said, “ I had moved eighteen times before graduating from high school. My father was in the Air Force.”

    That’s why Peggy, who is Director of Human Resources at Pearson, jumped at the opportunity to join a program for community leaders in Iowa. “Anything I can do to help in this town—to make this community stronger—I’m happy to do it.”

    Teach for a Day Pull Quote

    Through the program, Peggy learned about an “Educator for a Day” event. Participants shadow a teacher to better understand classrooms and learning in the twenty-first century.

    Peggy was paired with Dana Melone who teaches AP Psychology at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids.

    “I was so impressed,” Peggy says.

    A Better View of America's Teachers

    From the start—very early in the morning—Peggy marveled at how Dana's class brought high energy to a group discussion about homework reading on cognition and perception theories.

    Peggy was shocked to realize students use Twitter to connect with classmates on assignments.

    When the class was divided into groups, they were given two instructions: Define a series of terms in their own words, and associate an image with the term they're defining.

    “Dana wanted her students to work together, collaborate, use effective communication and build on ideas,” Peggy said. "If they didn’t recall a particular word from the reading—they were able to look it up—but had to write it with a blue marker."

    It was assessment in real time, Peggy says. By looking at the words in blue, Dana was able to easily identify which words and concepts her students didn’t grasp from the reading. Her future lessons could be tailored to fill in those gaps.

    “Dana was measuring the class’ collective understanding of the reading, but, by asking them to engage with what they didn't know, she was also instilling values of what it takes to be a twenty-first century employee.”

    “Being in the classroom was such a great learning experience,” Peggy says.

    “We need to do a better job of exposing the public to the modern day experience of teachers.”

    What Peggy Learned4

     

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  • Getting the Most Out of Gifted and Talented Programs

    by LearnEd

    Teacher in from of a chalk board

    Working the Brain

    Katie McClarty encourages her seven-year-old daughter to make choices at school that are always "working her brain."

    "A library book she picked up might be too easy," Katie says. "Are there enough words on the page that she doesn't know? So we talk about how she might challenge herself with a different book that stretches her a little more," Katie says.

    Katie's daughter was recently admitted to a gifted learning program in their Texas school district. As the director of Pearson's Center for College and Career Success, Katie says she's been impressed by the level of personalization in the program.

    "They're doing a good job evaluating students and matching them with educational resources," Katie says. "Math is my daughter's thing and she's in an accelerated class. Writing is not, so she's in a different class."

    Flexibility in Gifted and Talented

    Katie’s work with Pearson—and her appreciation for her daughter’s classes—is based on the idea that all children should learn something every day. "Gifted and talented learners may need deeper exploration or they may need to move faster on a particular topic," she says. "It's important that an education system have the flexibility to provide these opportunities."

    Katie was herself a gifted learner, growing up in Iowa. “In rural communities,” she says, “there may not be a lot of opportunities to explore at different paces—or meet other learners who needed the same things.”

    Summer camps introduced a young Katie to other students with accelerated learning needs. She thrived. Today, she has a doctorate in psychology and an expertise in gifted and talented programs.

    "Gifted and talented programs give many children the freedom to be themselves, even push themselves," she says. "Sometimes, you'll even see learning-related behavioral problems disappear once they enter a gifted learning class."

    A Mix of Challenges

    Katie says she's often asked by parents of gifted learners for guidance navigating the array of program options for their children. "Parents can get easily stressed about picking the right experiences for accelerated learners," she says.

    “I always recommend a broader view,” Katie says. “Give them lots of opportunities to be challenged in lots of different ways. Don’t stress about one decision—and you can always reevaluate.”

    Katie points to a study published in the Journal of Educational Pschology, led by Jonathan Wai at Duke University. The study talks of educational challenges in terms of "dosages."

    "Young learners—all of us—need an appropriate mix of challenges," she says. "It's never just one thing."

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  • How 'Invisible Assessment' is the Future of Testing

    by LearnEd

    Two hands holding nothing

    "The exciting part is where we're headed," declares Kimberly O'Malley with a trademark accent that's both endearing and direct. It's as if she's still in a Texas classroom with her elementary and middle school students.

    Kimberly is talking about the future of testing, something she and her research colleagues describe as "invisible assessments." It's the idea that traditional, end-of-year testing is replaced with real-time assessments that are baked in and "invisible" to the learning process as it happens.

    "We're aiming for new ways of assessment and testing that collect information during learning about where students are, how they're performing, and how they're developing," Kimberly says. "By the time we've harnessed all this information about students on the fly, any data that might have been generated with traditional testing would be so inferior."

    A Shift in Thinking About Assessments

    Kimberly leads much of Pearson's research and development efforts. She has a PhD in assessments.

    "Other industries are using sophisticated behavioral technology to perfect this kind of integrated approach," Kimberly explains. "When I go to the grocery, my receipt has a coupon for cat food. Though I didn't happen to buy any cat food that day—I do have cats—and the grocery understands my buying habits so well that they've matched their services with my current and future needs."

    NextGen Assessments Pull

    "These industries are doing a phenomenal job using data technology to understand people," Kimberly says. "Educators are now using this digital revolution to push our understanding of learning science—to create environments where students are always learning."

    The approach calls for a shift in thinking about assessments. "Tests in the past were used at the end of the year to see if students actually learned the curriculum," Kimberly says. "Now, we're shifting from 'did they learn it?' to 'how are they learning it?'

    It's integrated assessment that's more consistent during the learning year, and it's more granular in its approach. And, Kimberly says, the future of testing is closer than many realize.

    "The Data We Already Have"

    "The first step is a better understanding of the data we already have," Kimberly says. "There's so much information that's already part of the process—classroom grades, homework assessments, tests, quizzes—we just don't often pull all the information together in order to use it."

    "I'm glad the President is calling out assessments," Kimberly says of President Obama's recent comments about what he describes as "too much testing."

    "Next generation assessments will give us much better insight about our learners while they're learning," Kimberly says. "Because the President is right: 'Learning is about so much more than just filling in the right bubble.'"

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John Fallon

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