Thursday, August 18, 2016

BrightBytes Clarity Survey: What Does the Data Tell Us?

Norfolk Public Schools has participated in the Clarity survey by BrightBytes for the past three years. The Clarity survey combines input from administrators, teachers and students to understand the environmental factors, skills, access levels and classroom factors that shape the impact of technology in a school district. The CASE Technology Framework is used to improve the impact of  technology on learning outcomes.

CASE stands for Classroom, Access, Skills and Environment. Districts are given an overall CASE score based on survey results. Based on the overall district score, the district is placed on a maturity scale from beginning, emerging, proficient, advanced to exemplary. This maturity scale is used to highlight a district's technology readiness and use in each of the framework's domains, indicators and variables.

The data can also be broken out by building. So each building in a district also receives an overall CASE score and a placement along the maturity scale.

As a district in 2015-16, NPS received a 1068 CASE score which is in the proficient category. This score is down one point from the previous year but an increase of eight points over three years.

At NPS we are fortunate to have a lot of technology in a lot of classrooms. We continue to add technology because we believe that students should have all of the tools they need to be successful in today's classrooms. The purpose of the Clarity survey is to see if the technology you are adding is having an impact on learning outcomes. We would hope that as we add devices to classrooms, the CASE scores would increase.

We have been 1:1 at the Senior High for two years. The first year we did the Clarity survey as a district, we were not 1:1 at the Senior High. So in this building we can see a before 1:1 score and an after 1:1 score. The year prior to going 1:1 at the SH, the CASE score was 1055. The first year of 1:1, the CASE score was 1077. This was a pretty good increase. And this past year, the second year of 1:1, the CASE score grew to 1086. We have seen a steady increase in CASE score the longer the SH has been 1:1.

Last year, one of our elementary buildings, Jefferson (K-4), went 1:1. So again, we have a chance to measure before 1:1 and after 1:1 in this building. The year prior to going 1:1, Jefferson's overall CASE score was 1072, in the proficient range. This past year, the first year of 1:1, Jefferson's overall case score was 1102, in the advanced range. This score increased 30 points in one year!

Jefferson's CASE score is currently higher than the district's overall CASE score. This is the highest CASE score by far among the ten buildings in our district.

Giving each student a device that they can use throughout the day obviously made a difference in this building. But we have given devices to students in other buildings also. Our SH (9-12) and our JH (7-8) buildings are also 1:1. Both of those buildings have increased their overall CASE scores but their scores still remain in the proficient range.

How do I explain the dramatic increase in CASE score? It is so much more than handing a kid a device and letting them go. At Jefferson, Principal Angie Hausmann knew that getting her teachers the support they needed to effectively use these devices was vital. Angie and I met multiple times before the devices went to students to discuss how I could help her teachers. We decided that I would be in the building one day a month to meet with teachers during their plan time. Teachers could come in with questions and we would work together to solve them. Some months we had a specific theme for my day. For example, because the entire building was going to participate in the Hour of Code in December, our November meetings focused on Hour of Code. In April, our topic was creativity or using the devices to create things, having students show what they know.

In addition to my monthly sessions, I was available for teachers whenever they needed me. One day, I went to the 2nd grade classrooms and took the students through Kahoot while the classroom teachers watched. The next time the 2nd grade did Kahoot, the teachers were able to do it themselves.

I attended Thirsty for Knowledge Thursday sessions. (The principal buys everyone in attendance a soda, tea, etc and they learn something new.) The first Thirsty Thursday session I went to we discussed Seesaw which is a student driven digital portfolio. I knew that this app would be a game changer for Jefferson because it was one tool that every classroom could use. Jefferson is 1:1 with iPads in K-2 and Chromebooks in 3-4. Seesaw was the perfect tool to use in this multi-device environment. The teachers loved this tool and students and parents did too.

The week Jefferson participated in the Hour of Code during Plus (intervention) Time, I was in the building every day working out issues and helping teachers and students.

Bottom line, I was in this building, working with these teachers on a regular basis. I worked with this building principal to devise a training and support plan that would work for her teachers. I haven't had that opportunity in every building in our district. But I think we can see that teacher support is vital.

So what is next for Norfolk Public Schools and the Clarity survey? I plan to meet with each building principal to discuss his or her school's results. We will then set goals for improvement and discuss how I can assist in helping reach those goals.

At Jefferson, we are going to take things to the next level this year. We need to be sure that the technology we are using with students makes sense for the task involved. We need to be sure we have students creating things, not just using the devices to practice skills. We have a disconnect between the teachers use of the 4 Cs and the students use of the 4 Cs. We need to be sure students are creating, collaborating, communicating and problem solving with the devices. And we also need to do some work in the digital citizenship area. Teachers believe they are covering digital citizenship but students don't say the same thing. We still have work to do!

How do you know the money you are spending on technology is making a difference? Is improving learning outcomes? At NPS, we have learned through the Clarity survey that providing devices isn't enough. To make a big difference, we must support our teachers as well.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Using Seesaw for a Book Study: The Results

In May I wrote this blog post on how I was planning on using Seesaw to run a summer book study on George Couros' book, The Innovators Mindset. The book study is now over so I thought I would write another post on the experience.

Seesaw is a digital portfolio tool designed for students to share their learning. Seesaw is super simple to use which is why I decided to use it for the book study. I also liked that Seesaw would allow participants different ways in which to share what they were learning as they read the book. And Seesaw works the same on any device so it wouldn't matter if participants were using iPads or laptops, Seesaw works on anything.

We had people take pictures of passages in the book and annotate the pictures using the tools in Seesaw. A few people used the voice record option to add their explanations. We had people share links to websites and YouTube videos for people to review. I used the video record option when I caught up with George at ISTE and had George record a personal message to our book study participants. This was a huge hit! Every post had a like or a comment and most posts had multiple comments. I wasn't sure if we would be able to generate good discussions using an online tool but I am really proud of the comments people made and the support they provided to other participants. I have received feedback from some of the participants who really enjoyed using Seesaw for the book study.

The biggest issue I had was getting people into the class. I used the Google sign in mode which made sense for our staff. When using Seesaw with a Google sign in, people still need a code in order to access the class. The code is only good for 15 minutes at a time. I set up a specific date and time to send out the code. Unfortunately, no one was available at that time to use the code. So I ended up exchanging multiple emails/Tweets with participants making sure they were available to use the code and sending codes out. But once people were actually in the class, we had no issues. I had one participant who had used Seesaw with her students but the rest had either never used it or had just dabbled with it. No one asked any questions about how to make Seesaw work. That speaks to the simplicity of this tool!

Now that the book study is over and done with, I would say that Seesaw was a great tool for a book study. If you want to do an online book study and are looking for a tool, Seesaw should be at the top of your list!