Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Digital Reading: New Possibilities in Assessment #cyberPD

This is our final week of #cyberPD.  The time has flown and the conversation has been thought provoking.  Stop by the #cyberPD community to read reflections from other participants.  Join us Tuesday, July 28th, at 8 p.m. EST as Laura Komos, Michelle Nero, and I host a live chat with the #cyberPD community on Twitter.  We're excited to have authors Franki Sibberson and Bill Bass join us to talk about Digital Reading:  What's Essential.

New Opportunities for Documenting Learning 
Chapter six discussed assessment.  If you stop by my blog often you know I'm kind of a fan of Evernote (a few Evernote posts).  Okay, I'm over the moon about Evernote, but it isn't the tool I love as much as the new ways it lets me collect information about student learning (my Evernote resources here).  As Franki and Bill remind us, "With digital tools we can gather real artifacts from a child's learning and collect and organize the artifacts over time (p. 93)."  Evernote (or Google or Confer or many other applications) allows me to take pictures, record audio, type notes, link to artifacts, and much more.  The addition of tagging lets me sort and organize the information to plan instruction.

Digital tools also allow more opportunities for students to receive feedback from peers and reflect on their own learning.  Tools like Educreations allow students to snap pictures of their learning and reflect on their process.  Quick "exit tweets" (students write tweets on paper to share learning and a few are shared on class Twitter account) help us quickly assess student understanding.  Applications like Twitter and use of email can allow us to celebrate next steps as students work to reach new goals in their learning.  It's easy to snap a picture of a new craft move attempted or a change in a page as a student works to revise.

With our eye on literacy goals, these new tools allow new opportunities to capture student learning journeys.  I tried to think through assessment in the lens of authenticity, intention, and connectedness discussed in earlier chapters.  I created this visual representation to show some of the ideas I was thinking about as I read the chapter.

Created with Draw 53 and Inkflow Plus

Reaching Out to Families
Many of the same tools above allow us to reach out to families.  Emailing assessment notes, sharing tweets, blogging, and keeping an up-to-date hub allow us to pass information along to parents and families.  New digital tools provide a myriad of ways for us to improve collection of information and to share this information with parents.

I appreciated the reminder from Bill and Franki that parents may need to learn about the tools we are using in our classroom to learn, assess, and share.  The authors remind us, "Digital tools have made the connection between school and home so much more effective because we are no longer confined to the space of the classroom or the time constraints of the school day (p. 100)."  Sharing information with parents allows them to see next steps, celebrate new learning, reinforce difficult concepts, and grow student interest beyond the school day.  According to Bill and Franki, "Just as we are intentional about the tools we use with our students, we must be intentional about the tools we use to extend the school day beyond classroom walls (p. 107)."  This is an important reminder that as we build our communities around literacy - digital and print - we need to find ways to support parents in these steps into today's expanded literacy opportunities.


  1. Love the visual! Thanks for sharing it, Cathy.

  2. I love your graphic/visual representation! So cute! I had to save it on my computer it is so perfect! Nice work! Thanks for your work with #cyberPD this summer! What a great cyber-opportunity! Can't wait to spend time this summer looking over all of these great posts IN DEPTH!

  3. I will add to the comments about the visual too! This is wonderful, Cathy! You are definitely inspiring me to give these apps a try!

  4. "Digital tools also allow more opportunities for students to receive feedback from peers and reflect on their own learning."
    Yes! This is so powerful, and digital tools allow us to create archives of student work for collaboration and exploration - interdependent learning. The parent connection is also crucial - and once again, digital tools allow us to make that home school connection so much more meaningful.

  5. I've been making a list of all the possibilities (on Evernote!) to use for sharing, collaborating, and creating, Cathy, but it isn't as cute as your drawing. I love the visual, and what grabs me most are those three words toward the bottom, "talk, talk, talk", so important among the other parts.

  6. I just bookmarked this page because I want to go back to your Evernote notes! I said to Michelle, maybe this could be a new Voxer convo because I really need to learn it and I think she's dabbled in it, but maybe you can help us!

  7. I love your visual notes, Cathy!! Your posts about and your love of Evernote always inspire me to dig in and try it again. I'm thinking this might be my year to go back to it. Your thinking will definitely help me as I move forward!