Doing the Shopping: What tools can you use?

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Bergman: What, do you want to tell me what made you a criminal?

Joe Moore: What made *you* a criminal?

Bergman: Nothing made me a criminal. I *am* a criminal.

Once you’ve cased the joint and assembled a crew, its time to do a little shopping.  Just because this is a new job doesn’t mean that your years of experience go out the door.  You are a professional who has been given this job because you’ve earned it.  Make sure your employers leave believers.

1. Think Process, not Product

Stealing is stealing.  The art form hasn’t changed, just the tools at one’s disposal. The SBAC is a test you’ll take on the computer,  it’s not a computer test.  Don’t focus on the technology needs. Think about the cognitive needs for completing the assessment.  It doesn’t matter that you don’t have iPads or a computer lab time.  If you focus on engagement, DOK levels that will challenge your students, claims and targets, and having your students justify their answers you’ll be fine.  Use what you have to push your students.  You can pull this off. You’ve done it before.

2. Collaborative Strategies

You have a team for a reason.  Teams have to function like teams and everyone needs to know their role.  Use the tools you have access to in order make minds collide. Use Kagan or whatever other collaboration strategies you have in your repertoire to make things happen.  Tools like Padlet,, Edmodo to allow students to debate and critique arguments.  Use Edmodo, Schoology, Skype or quad blogging to have students create and defend with students that aren’t in the room with them.  Apps like Homeroom, Classkick, Talkboard, or Baiboard will allow students to help one another with ease. You can even do some nifty things with those CPS responders that are collecting dust in the back of the classroom.

Make sure that in collaborative situations, roles are clearly defined.  For example, during a science experiment, a group of four one might have a statistician, whose job it is to insure that the results are all recorded correctly, a data analyst, who will supervise the the construction of a conclusion from the data, an artist, who will illustrate/contruct an infographic based on the data, and a videographer, who will take pictures and video of the proceedings.

3. Role Playing

In order to commit a crime, you’ve got to walkthrough it a couple of times.  Push students to think like scientists, mathematicans, authors, or journalists by placing them in situations where those skills are required and rewarded.  Your students should be using the vocabulary of a professional during their interactions with one another. The power of pretend is an excellent way for students to see “beyond” themselves and grasp the reins of their own education.

Use creation sites like GoAnimate, WeVideo, Powtoon, Animoto, Metta, or Prezi  to have students present their ideas creatively and professionally. Apps like Toontastic, Puppet Pals 2, or Morfo in addition to the camera can make this creative with your iPad.

4. Bring the Swiss Army Knife

Look for tools and strategies that be applied in multiple contexts.  Tabletop blogging or table top Twitter can be done on just paper and can be used in any lesson.  Infographics can be done with construction paper and crayons.  Interactive notebooks are a composition notebook away.

Digitally, tools like Padlet, Edmodo, or Weebly are tools that cannot be tied to a single function. You can program PowerPoint to do some pretty amazing things if you think outside the box.

5. Don’t forget You

There are many teachers that are looking for tools that will “do SBAC” for them.  No such tool exists.  If it did, why would we need you? Typing web won’t save you. Great instruction will. The time for isolated skills that are never integrated in students’ schema about how the world works is over.  You’re the real genius behind everything that happens in your classroom and there are no short cuts that will equal your greatness.

Assembling your Crew: Getting the Best out of your Students and Coaches

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1. Be honest with yourself

Before any endeavor is undertaken, make sure you know who you are and who you aren’t.  Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses as a criminal…I mean, instructor and seek out resources that can help you in your areas of opportunity and people you can aid with your strengths. Not being honest can lead directly to being caught.  Reflective teachers are master planners. You’ve got instructional coaches at your disposal. Use them.

2. Exploit Social Networks for Professional Gain

Collaboration is key to any heist.  There’s a criminal underworld for a reason.  That’s the way connections are made.  Many teachers are facing the prospect of the SBAC, why not see if they have ideas on how to crack the safe?  There are weekly Twitter Chats, Google+ Circles, Pinterest boards, Facebook sites, and, of course, groups on Edmodo and Schoology that one can mine for interesting strategies for how to best instruct given the new challenge.  You might even create relationships with others that could lead to future successes.

3. Don’t forget the crew that you have

You already have a bunch of individuals who figure pretty heavily in your success in this endeavor: your students!  Don’t forget that they are the most important component of this entire hustle.  Make sure they are involved in the planning and implementation of SBAC activities.

One of the things you might try is this.

  1. If you haven’t exposed them to the practice assessments, make sure they have a opportunity to do so.  Before you do, make sure you’ve play around on the site.  You don’t need logins or anything.
  2. Have your students begin on the assessment that is the year BELOW them*.  There are two assessments available- math and ELA. Don’t give them any special instructions.  Just let them play on the site and see what happens.  Prepare a document, have students bring a notebook, or create an online survey that students will use in order to record notes, issues they might have, successes and failures with the level of rigor or the interface.
  3. Once you return to class, have students converse about their experiences. Use collaborative strategies and digital tools to make a record. This will inform any planning you will do in the future.
  4. The next time you go to the computer lab, use a projector to walk your students through the issues they had the previous time. This will make sure the you aren’t concentrating on your students learning “the tool” when they take the test.
  5. Make sure to utilize the instructional resources available on the the SBAC website to inform your instruction outside of the computer lab.

*If you start with the test that is a year below your grade level, you’ll be able to use 4 tests (2 below, 2 on grade level) to do your practicing on the computer.  Well, everyone except our third grade friends.

SBAC: The Heist

Worried about the SBAC? You shouldn’t be. The SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENT CONSORTIUM Test which is replacing the good ole CRT ain’t that big of a deal.  Imagine the SBAC is a bank job.  Preparation for it is like stealing candy from a baby.  You just need a plan, a crew, some tools, and an strategy to get away with the goods.  Don’t have a clue how to put it together? The Hoodlums have got you covered.

Inspired by David Mamet’s Classic film, we’ll walk you through everything you’ll need to be a proper villain with respect to the SBAC.

1. Casing the Joint: Planning makes Perfect

2. Assembling Your Crew: Collaboration and Student Involvement

3. Doing Your Shopping: What tools will you need?