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How can I find out more about the latest in EdTech? I’m looking to really take my focus to the next level for the new school year.

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SEEN’s 2019 EdTech Publication provides a lot of information about EdTech - from robotics to coding to products to use in your classrooms. Some of our most trusted resources for EdtTech are featured in this publication.

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Social Emotional Solutions: Evaluating School Climate Using Adaptive and Innovative Technology

By Adam Rockenbach

Surveys are a critical part of early intervention and school improvement strategies. But the survey tool that you implement must enable you to use best practices while embracing new strategies and technologies. An adaptive, responsive and flexible school climate survey tool can deliver best practices with significant improvements over traditional methods.

Once a Year vs. Continuous Assessment Online surveys have made it more efficient

to assess how students, staff and parents feel about different aspects of school climate such as school safety, learning and teaching, school environment and social relationships. However, a survey that is only administered annually provides school faculty with a mere “snapshot” of a school’s climate. Additionally, the large amount of time that it takes for schools to receive survey results runs counter to the point of early intervention. An adaptive school climate tool is built upon the idea that data is reliable and useful only if it is collected routinely over the course of the school year.

Fixed vs. Adaptive Traditionally, surveys ask the exact same questions once a year. Simply offering the same fixed survey more frequently isn’t reliable nor useful especially because such practice can lead to assessment fatigue, where questions are answered mindlessly and without reflection. An adaptive school climate tool pairs a large bank of questions with adaptive technology that identifies and strategically delivers the most relevant questions to each student over the full course of the school year. Data Paralysis vs. Data Analysis

Digital school climate tools will help teachers to recognize even the subtlest of indicators of school climate that may normally go unnoticed, but that could serve as a stimulus for early intervention — critical for issues related to feelings of isolation, loneliness and student well-being as well as bullying.

Teachers today are swimming in data, and it is not enough to show them student responses to questions. We need to provide teachers with data in a way that answers the questions “So what?” and “Now what?” A digital school climate tool frames data use in new ways so that insights gleaned are seen as augmenting, instead of replacing, teachers’ valuable and intuitive observations in the classroom. The assessment process itself is a learning experience for both students and teachers. Through the process of answering carefully designed questions that encourages reflection, students learn social and emotional vocabulary that could help them to interact more effectively with others and to express how they are feeling. Digital school climate tools will help teachers to recognize even the subtlest of indicators of school climate that may normally go unnoticed, but that could serve as a stimulus for early intervention — critical for issues related to feelings of isolation, loneliness and student wellbeing as well as bullying. Moreover, they give teachers a way to think about and to clearly communicate survey results to students, school staff and parents. Adam Rockenbach is the Co-Founder and CPO of Bloomsights. Prior to Bloomsights, Rockenbach worked on developing adaptive learning products for McGrawHill. He was a classroom teacher for 12 years before transitioning to EdTech. Reach out to Bloomsights for an in-depth discussion on how to implement a quality social and emotional assessment plan. Visit https://bloomsights.com/ or call 970.568.8981.

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Literacy in Science and Scientific Literacy

By Dr. Terry Talley

Around the nation, school districts, science departments and science teachers are considering the implications of recent publicity about reading and literacy in the science classrooms. Literacy, as described in recent education publications, relates to the ability to read with comprehension; being able to call letter sounds and putting them together to make meaningful words. There appears to be some confusion about the focus of literacy from a reading perspective and Scientific Literacy from a scientific perspective. Reading a few recent education blogs about the Common Core Standards for Reading in Science, taking webinars from NSTA and ASCD from two different perspectives, and rereading portions of the book by the National Research Council, called “Literacy in Science,� I have come to the belief that there is a need as a science teacher to be intentional about both literacy and scientific literacy in my classroom. Scientific literacy is being able to evaluate and use information from all sources based on its scientific accuracy and suitability to making decisions, solving problems or explaining a scientific situation with clarity. Science literacy is about reading, understanding, recalling and synthesizing information provided through text that is science-based. These text include: science textbooks, vocabulary words, current news articles, authentic scientific text, student writing, trade books, science-based magazines, technology-based text and word problems. Literacy skills in science are a means to support science knowledge through written text, but not instruction in literacy as a means to its self. When used within

science instructional practice, literacy skills build comprehension, critical literacy for all disciplinary curricula, teaches strategic reading and builds scientific conceptual understanding. Teaching literacy skills in science is a means to build literacy skills in general. It takes no additional effort on the part of the student or teacher, nor is there a loss to scientific understanding. To make reading and literacy strategies part of the science classroom instruction takes planning on the part of the teacher. Consideration is always required for students who struggle with reading grade level textbooks, as well as for some nonreaders, who for many reasons, are not able to comprehend the text they read. Many teachers opt to avoid reading in science all together, because it slows down pacing and many students will not read independently. Research is showing that in the STEM-

related career fields, that are the focus of today’s workforce, technical reading is required to be skillful at the job. Technical reading is at a higher level than most high school textbooks, terminology is sophisticated and it requires close reading. Avoiding teaching these literacy skills is NOT the answer in preparing our students for what they will need to be successful in their futures careers and education. The role of the teacher is to first, know the reading levels of the students in the class. Based on these levels, which can vary as much as two to four grade levels above or below their current grade level, a variety of text must be selected. Text is selected to provide a rich and engaging passage, which will provide a rigorous understanding about the science concept. Several suggested sources for text that is engaging, authentic and

yet scientifically accurate can be found outside the textbook. These can include: the authentic writing of scientists — adapted and modified for the age level of students — science magazines and journals, newspaper articles, as well as many internet-based articles that are vetted for school students. Non-fiction trade books are another source of rich, engaging and authentic text for your science classroom. During the time students are reading, teachers should model good reading strategies as well. By taking notes or completing the graphic organizer, the teacher gets a realistic time frame to expect reading to be completed, if done in class. This also offers the teacher the opportunity to work with struggling readers. Reading aloud, paired-reading, or partneredreading are viable alternatives to independent reading, as strategies to

assist struggling students. Successful integration of scientific literacy strategies will be evident when all students are engaged in discussions about what they have read. When concepts within texts are revealed through rigorous discourse and argumentation, the teacher will be able to identify those students who were able to make meaning from the text they just read. There are times when abstract concepts cannot be made concrete through a lab experience. As a result, students will need to be given another way to research and explore concepts. Teachers should not hesitate to use science-based text as a means to reinforce this conceptual understanding.

Terry Talley, Ed.D. STEMcoach in Action!

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Claim, Evidence, Reasoning for Scientific Explanations By Dr. Terry Talley As a science teacher, specialist or supervisor, we are often tasked with explaining to our supervisor why students are struggling with the EOC (End-ofCourse) science assessments. Often when asked to explain the disappointing passing rates to our principals or supervisors we shake our heads and declare it was about student motivation at the sophomore level. Students didn’t have a need to pass, so they didn’t try. When I was in the same situation as science supervisor, the more I began to investigate this phenomenon; I found my district was not alone in the challenge to change the scores for our high school exams. Surrounding districts had the same disappointing passing rates. I interviewed teachers, parents, teacher specialists and students to find they all had the same comments; often stating the EOC as irrelevant, too difficult or not aligned to what was being taught. To further gather evidence, I held focus groups with students, the majority of whom did not pass the EOC. With each group, I asked them to work through 10 items from the released EOC with a partner and to discuss their reasoning and solution aloud. I taped the session and collected their discussions as data that included comments, concerns, questions and misconceptions. As I observed and recorded, I began to understand the value of direct observation in the creation of explanations about data and evidence. When students were discussing the test items, teams began with breaking down the question,


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looking for clues in the prompt, working through diagrams, doing calculations, eliminating answer choices and then selecting their answer choice. They often discussed the labs they did, lectures they heard and the chapters in the book they read. I even asked them to record what they scored on chapter tests about the same scientific materials, which usually were passing grades. I then met with groups of teachers to watch the videos and review the data I collected. The teachers were impressed with the effort each student used to analyze and solve each test item. They seemed surprised that students recalled classroom discussions and lab

experiences associated with each concept. But, they were dismayed when misconceptions began to appear and when team discussions broke down in the analysis of evidence and wrong answer were selected based on distractors or “red herrings” within the diagrams, answer choices or prompts. The teacher groups used this new evidence to create explanations for the EOC scores of their own students. Several of these explanations were that their students: • Lack experience-drawing conclusions based on lab observations. • Were not given opportunities to deal with distracting evidence during lab experiences.

•Were not required to provide scientific reasoning for the conclusions drawn during investigations. •Were never given an opportunity to reveal their misconceptions prior to instruction about scientific phenomena. •Did not engage in discussions or argumentation about their data after lab investigations •Were provided lab experiences that did not promote inquiry, asking questions, or drawing conclusions based on analysis of evidence. • Did not have experience in writing scientific explanations that incorporated the data

collected in the lab investigations and the scientific reasoning, with scientific vocabulary, that is taught during classroom instruction. Armed with these explanations, and the fact that students called on their experiences in labs to respond to EOC test items, a team was formed to seek strategies and resources to change the ways science investigations were provided within the district science curricula. The goal was to make labs more meaningful to students yet still reasonable work for teachers. One specific strategy found to be highly effective was based on the research of Drs. Joe Krajcik and Patricia McNeill about Scientific Explanations. Their research showed how investigations that required data collection and then scientific explanations of the evidence, using the format of “Claim, Evidence and Reasoning,” (CER) changed students understanding of scientific phenomena and resulted in greater achievement. This strategy was chosen as one that teachers were interested in trying. Professional Development and Professional Learning Communities were focused on the strategy to help facilitate the changes needed in instructional practice within the district science community. As a result of integrating this strategy into district curriculum and assessments for grades K-12 and in the AP programs, teachers found it easy to incorporate, and students were able to apply and practice their skills of data analysis and drawing conclusions.

As a result, teachers and students began to look at lab investigations differently. No longer did lab investigations have a “cookbook” quality. Labs were conducted to be able to collect data and examine evidence. They discussed the evidence students collected through discourse and argumentation. Scientific explanations were generated, and rebuttals about explanations were part of every lab investigation and conclusion. Changing the way investigations were set up and assessed through CER, met the needs identified by the focus groups. Students applied these same strategies to unit and EOC test items, which resulted in increased scores on unit tests and the EOC assessment in following years.

As a professional science community, the district was able to use the CER format to determine an accurate explanation for the EOC data, which lead to more questions, and the implementation of a strategy that generated a change to the data. As a classroom strategy, CER lead to students gaining a deeper understanding of science and an understanding the value of scientific investigations for increased achievement. The incorporation of the practice of scientists and engineers to engage in scientific discourse based in evidence and data analysis are authentic to teaching and the scientific community.

Terry Talley, Ed.D. STEMcoach in Action!

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Embracing the Toy Store for STEM By Mark Gerl

Here in the early 21st century, we have a wealth of new materials we can use to teach and learn an amazing array of ideas. While Edtech is a booming business, some of our greatest educational tools are hiding in the toy aisle of stores or the game section of retailers. STEM kits, STEAM toys, VR games, the list goes on and on, but bringing these great resources into the classroom is still the realm of the outliers, the pioneers and the vanguards. How do we make STEAM toys the norm for our classes? At Fulton Academy of Science and Technology (FAST), there is an extra class called “Innovation Hour” specifically created for students to learn the engineering design process through project-based learning. This process requires students to problemsolve, plan project solutions, produce tangible designs and evaluate the outcome of their work. Here’s the process and how students become STEM/STEAM innovators: • Three days a week, a teacher presents a problem for students, which students study so they understand its impact as well as what limits there are to solving the problem. • Students then brainstorm ideas that might help achieve the solution and plan their projects accordingly. • During the planning stage, some ideas may prove too impossible to execute so students are guided to weed out these ideas so they can continue working on the ones that might work. • Students then create, build, and prototype their ideas. With trial and error, students tweak their designs through the improving stage — evaluating the students’ creations as a

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viable solution to the original problem. Students learn quickly how to get closer to their goal during this class. All of these components are the heart and soul of innovation. The “Innovation Hour,” and all of the designs created during the class, are examples of how toys can transform into teaching tools. How do you make this initiative work in your school or district? Here are a few ways you can get started: • Set a goal for students to tackle. Even if their solution is impossible, the challenge is the driving force. Give them agency to approach the challenge in their own unique

The “Innovation Hour,” and All of The Designs Created During The Class, Are Examples of How Toys Can Transform into Teaching Tools. ways. • H ide the instructions. The instructions explain one way to use the toy, but that’s not the only way it can be used. Be creative, be curious, and find more than one way to achieve a goal. The greatest inventors don’t follow instructions, they write their own. • Document EVERYTHING. To quote Adam Savage “The difference between science and goofing around is

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writing it down.” Use pictures and videos, online word processors, pen and paper, whatever — but WRITE IT DOWN. Otherwise you’re just goofing around. • Have students present their findings. A great design is only as good as the way you present it. This is when educators can incorporate cross-curricular learning into STEM. English Language Arts, math and science all come together when students document and then present their designs. • Encourage failure, as long as students are learning from every attempt. No design is ever right the first time and even good ideas can be made better. There is no one right answer and there are thousands more wrong ones. Ensure students that they will fail, but they should embrace it because that’s part of the process. It all begins with the first brave step, go to the toy store and see what looks fun!

Mark Gerl is the Director of Innovation at the Fulton Academy for Science and Technology (FAST) in Fulton, Georgia.

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Empowers Students By Anjali Dighe With the increasing impact of technology in nearly every sector of the global business environment, coding has become a necessary language and skillset in the digital age. It is important for kids — both boys and girls — to start learning the language of code at an early age so they begin thinking about problem solving in a more fluid manner that empowers them to work in team environments that encourages community learning and collaboration. The majority of students today have access to smart phones, tablets, and/or laptops as part of their education. Putting our kids in control over the technology through coding allows them to understand problem solving, logic, sequencing skills, and cause and effect. Allowing them to express themselves in a creative manner through the creation of games, apps, and websites gives them the power to build using their incredible imagination all the while empowering them to understand the critical thinking skills of coding in a fun way. The

earlier we introduce coding to children, the more comfortable they will become with computers and technology and the more successful they will become when presented with more challenging learning opportunities. What is it that kids love doing? They love playing. They love playing games. Whether it is outside, a board game, a video game, or a game on a phone or a tablet, these students have a passion. That passion is gaming. Gaming helps students learn, it motivates students to solve problems, learn conceptually, and increase memory retention — all through adventure. So, let’s take that passion at an early age and turn it into a fun way of learning a skill. So, where do we start? How do we integrate coding into school? Well, as a start, there is a program called Scratch — built for kids ages eight to 16. Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. You can use Scratch as part of your math class or technology class or even language arts

class. From the math perspective, you can utilize Scratch to teach about the x and y coordinates and about angles and degrees. As part of technology class, you can start introducing a glossary of programming terminology like loops and conditionals. And language arts? Well, your students can create an interactive book report or an interactive story. Another great way to introduce students to coding is by using Raspberry Pi; a low cost, credit card sized computer that you can plug into existing computer monitors at school and use a keyboard. One can program using Scratch in Raspberry Pi, learn a language like Python, create websites using HTML and CSS, build robots, and learn to make apps for Android devices. How do you find easy projects?

There are hundreds of free resources, lesson plans, tutorials and events that bring the power

Putting our kids in control over the technology through coding allows them to understand problem solving, logic, sequencing skills, and cause and effect.

of coding into the K-12 classroom. Creating teams of students to work together on projects allows them to solve problems, create new projects, and use their creativity in a fun and safe environment that keeps school fun.

Anjali Dighe is Owner of Code Ninjas Charlotte and Chapel Hill. Code Ninjas provides students a unique resource to enhance problem solving, critical thinking, mathematical, and logic skills, while having fun creating and building games and learning how to code. These lifelong skills give our students a unique outlet to use screen time in a productive and useful manner.

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