Day 7: D.A.R.E. Friday, Fiesta, and “Mastery Connect”

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Today was D.A.R.E. Friday, providing little opportunity for new technology or student-specific observation. The classrooms not scheduled for D.A.R.E. today would have been my next chance for some new experiences, but upon walking down the hall, I found them having a Mexican fiesta and learning to dance!

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20130111-094940.jpg Mr. Angell and I, allowing the D.A.R.E. officer to take over, took the chance to chat about some new technology being implemented for teachers. Fortunately, the fiesta-bound classes happened to leave their chips and dip unattended, so rather than chat “around the water cooler,” we took advantage of the day’s events (chuckle).
20130111-095621.jpg In all seriousness, though, it did provide some great time to talk with Mr. Angell about a new assessment tool/network for 21st Century educators, “Mastery Connect.”

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This website (also an app) is a collaborative and communicative network for educators to share assessment tools that meet state and national standards. It is ultimately like a sortable Facebook news feed of tests and quizzes. This resource can serve as a huge benefit and time saver for teachers when searching for an effective tool to assess learning of various content standards. One of the most impressive features, in my opinion, is the filters and sortable menus available when searching through the database.

20130111-101126.jpgTeachers are able to sort and find assessments based on grade level, state, curriculum, standard, and subject. Additionally, there is the option to display highest rated, most used, and most viewed assessments. This adds credibility to the choice the teacher makes when selecting an assessment. Once the test or quiz is chosen, there lies, once again, the option to print and give a paper test, or utilize even more technology. Mastery Connect provides a cooperating app for students called “Bubble Sheet.”

20130111-101443.jpgBy simply entering the individualized code of the assessment being used, the app loads the test or quiz and (assuming it is multiple choice) provides a bubble sheet for students to fill out for each question.

20130111-101616.jpgThe app then sends the results back to the website, where they are tabulated and reported to the teacher, very similarly to the way Socrative did in yesterday’s blog. One unique feature about Mastery Connect, though, which I feel sets it apart, is the ability to see and access countless resources via the results for each class to assist in reteaching and evaluating student progress. The site also gives the ability to see student scores sorted by standard, and by hovering over the standard, be reminded of exactly what it entails.

20130111-101929.jpgThis is an amazing tool for educators, especially because of its “sortability” by standard. This attests directly to the #3 becoming trend listed in the USNews article I linked earlier in the week: Standards.

Article: USNews – What to Expect

Once scores are tabulated, if reteaching is necessary, Mastery Connect also sets itself apart by providing a direct link to Khan Academy videos for the specific standard being assessed to aid in reteaching. What an invaluable resource.

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My passion, as I’ve stated before, though, is still found in student relations, and when emphasis is placed too heavily on meeting and achieving standards, we must caution to not lose that. Ultimately, this tool is a wonderful opportunity to spend less time focusing on tailoring assessment toward standards and more time on reaching out to students. As I work through my undergrad program, I have been haunted by this same underlying question, motivating me to enter the field: Are we teaching to produce students that meet standards and know textbooks, or are we sending out authentically better people from our classroom… Today, for me, was a great example of how new teacher tech can facilitate this refocus.

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