Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Beating the Implementation Dip: How to Maintain Momentum

Heather Crawford-Ferre, Ph.D.

Many Nevada Ready 21 schools are in their second year of one-to-one instruction and have experienced many successes, but also encountered challenges. If you work in these schools you might report “implementation dip”. Educational researcher Michael Fullen (2001) coined this term to describe the dip in performance and confidence as one encounters an innovation that requires new skills and understandings.

(Graphic from the Center for Public Education)

 Consider this story about the implementation dip from Sue Chapman (2017):

A couple of months ago, my 90-year-old mother bought her first smart phone. Mom was excited about all she could do with this new tool and wanted to become proficient. But she struggled to remember the steps she needed to follow. She did not yet know how to swipe and tap proficiently. As she experimented, she would accidentally change settings and move apps to places where she could no longer find them. Eventually, my mother stopped using her smart phone. It was just easier to call family members on her traditional phone rather than trying to send a text. It had been fun to take photos with the phone but it was hard to remember how to share them. When mom needed to look u a phone number or make an appointment or check the weather, by habit she went to her Rolodex, or the calendar on her desk or the thermometer on the wall (p. 1).  (Click here to see a picture of her mom with her new phone http://bit.ly/2poMtWd).

This dip is a normal part of any learning experience and research indicates that nearly all teachers experience an implementation dip during the early stages of change (Fullen, 1999), but “here’s the danger of the implementation dip – it’s the point in learning where there is the greatest chance that a learner will give up” (Chapman, 2017, p. 1).

This all might leave you wondering – how do I maintain momentum or help my teachers maintain their momentum? Research calls attention to the important role of the instructional coach. A coach can help teachers push through the implementation dip by modeling best practices and providing feedback and support as teachers try new practices. Additionally, coaches can support teachers in developing a growth mindset about their own failures. Remember that the NR21 team is here to help if you need a nudge through your own implementation dip! For a positive message about seeking happy failure and learning through the implementation dip watch this TedTalk from Olympic gold medalist Adam Kreek (https://ed.ted.com/on/v26wnG0x).

Remember, what you are doing is messy and challenging. There will be days with failure, but those might be the days that you learn the most!


Chapman, S. (2017). Coaching: The answer to the implementation dip. Retrieved from https://mathsolutions.com/uncategorized/coaching-the-answer-to-the-implementation-dip/

Fullen, M., & Smith, G. (1999). Technology and the problem of change. Retrieved from http://www.michaelfullan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/13396041050.pdf

Fullen, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Fransisco, Jossey-Bassy.




Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Drab to FAB... How to Make the Peer-Reviewed Bell Ringer Doc

I am facilitating my Leveraging Online Tools course offered through the Nevada Ready 21 grant and one of the assignments is to create a dynamic Doc teachers can use with their students to increase the collaboration in daily lessons. As an example of what I'd like my participants to create, I turned a drab Doc into a FAB one with a few simple design tricks and tips I've learned over the years.

Before we get to how to improve the design of digital handouts, read through the problem I am trying to solve in my classroom and the Doc solution to my problem.

Problem: During the first 5 minutes of every period, students are expected to access my Slide deck where I house the prompt to the daily bell ringer. Students copy and paste the prompt into a Doc then proceed to answer the question. Every Friday, students turn that Doc in to me through a Google Classroom assignment and I grade their responses and input the grade to my gradebook. I use the grade from my bell ringer activity as a participation grade in my gradebook. The problem with my setup is that it takes too long to grade their response and it's almost not worth all the effort for a participation grade that is only worth 5% of the total grade. It can take up to an hour to get through it all! I'd like to create a system in which students can review the work of their peers, use a rubric to grade responses, and input grades to a form so I can easily transfer the grades to my gradebook.

Solution: My "Peer-Reviewed Bell Ringer" Doc will give my students an area to copy and paste the daily bell ringer prompt into a cell of a table for each day of the week. On Fridays, I will use this Random Group Generator to randomly assign students a peer-reviewer. Each student will type their name and the name of their peer-reviewer into the Doc. As a class we will go over each question and the peer-reviewers will provide feedback in the appropriate cell. I created a Form that I have linked to on the bell ringer Doc where students can input the participation grade along with the link to their peer's Doc (I want to include this so that I can keep everybody honest!) My Doc will help my students practice their collaboration skills because the peer reviewers provide feedback weekly to peers in their class. Since this peer review process requires a little "hand holding" at first, I plan to do some "think-alouds" with my students in which I tell my students my thinking process as I grade another student's work. I think that with a lot of practice, my students will be able to provide meaningful feedback to their peers!

I created a screencast tutorial on how I formatted my finished Doc. If you would like to learn my tips and tricks of how I turn a drab Doc into a FAB one, make a copy of the drab Doc to your Drive, watch the embedded video below, and follow along!

(Don't want to follow along to create the FAB version of my Peer-Reviewed Bell Ringer Doc on your own? Make a copy of the finished Doc to your Drive with this link.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Spatial Reasoning: How to Build It and Why it’s Important

Spatial Reasoning: How to Build it and Why it’s Important
Heather Crawford-Ferre, Ph.D.

Spatial thinking includes the positions of objects and shapes and how they relate to each other.  Linn and Petersen (1985) define spatial sense as the “mental process used to perceive, store, recall, create, edit and communicate spatial images” (p. 1479). Spatial reasoning includes all of these definitions, but also decides how efficiently you pack your suitcase or load your dishwasher!

 Below is an example that requires spatial reasoning.

Using any combination of the pattern blocks above, determine the greatest and fewest number of pattern blocks possible to fill the figure.

Spatial reasoning skills are vitally important. Students with strong spatial reasoning skills are more likely to be successful in STEM disciplines (Hutton & Taylor, 2013), including medicine, architecture, graphic design, and geography. Additionally, research indicates that improving students’ spatial skills also leads to improved achievement in problem solving, critical thinking and mathematics.

Spatial visualization is not intuitive. Students do not automatically grow in spatial reasoning, but rather through experience and practice (Clements, Samara & Wilson, 2004). Many students in the United States lack the experiences to build spatial reasoning skills. This is particularly true to females, whose toys are less likely to require spatial skill for play. Fortunately, research indicates that through carefully selected activities, students can improve their spatial reasoning (Casey, Andrews, Schiendler, Kersh, Samper & Copley, 2008).

Spatial Reasoning Activities for your Chromebook

1.      Use Google Maps to investigate location, magnitude, and relative distance and directions. Try this lesson plan from National Geographic Education Collection. (http://bit.ly/2HlfpWI)

2.      Use Google Draw to explore Tangrams and investigate moving, rotating and translating shapes. After solving some puzzles encourage students to design puzzles to challenge other students. Try these puzzles to get you started. (http://bit.ly/2ovfpbX)

3.      Have students explore photography and videography. This provides the opportunity for students to experiment with different angles and senses of scale. This is a great chance to try WeVideo (It’s included for Nevada Ready 21 schools). (https://www.wevideo.com/)

4.      Try Desmos (It’s included for Nevada Ready 21 schools) to investigate surface area and nets. Try this multi-day lesson plan from a Google Certified Educator (https://jennvadnais.com/2016/05/21/nets-surface-area-desmos/)

5.      Learn to play music. Many researchers have found that playing music increases spatial skills. Have you tried Noteflight yet? It’s included for Nevada Ready 21 schools).  (https://www.noteflight.com/)

6.      Make time for (carefully chosen) video games. Research shows that games where the individual is playing in “first person” significantly increases the likelihood of visualizing movement. You might also try the classic video game Tetris which significantly increases spatial rotation skills!


Casey, B. M., Andrews, N., Schindler, H., Kersh, J. E., Samper, A. and Copley, J. (2008). The development of spatial skills through interventions involving block-building activities’. Cognition and Instruction, 26(3), 269–309.

 Clements, D. H., Wilson, D. C. and Sarama, J. (2004). Young children’s composition of geometric figures: A learning trajectory. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 6(2), 163–184.

Hutton, A., & Taylor, H. A. (2013). Training spatial thinking fundamental to STEM education. Cognitive Processing, 31(4), 434–455

Linn, M. C., & Petersen, A. C. (1985). Emergence and characterization of sex differences in spatial ability: A meta-analysis. Child Development, 56(6), 1479-1498.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Eastern Nevada Digital Learning Summit

  The Summit is coming!!!!  The question is Are You Ready?  The Nevada Ready 21 team is proud to announce the Eastern Nevada Digital Learning Summit is happening on Saturday, February 10, 2018, at Adobe Middle School in Elko, Nevada.  So, mark it on your calendars, buy your ticket(s), get ready to learn some new information and while you're at it earn a .5 CEU!
     This year's topics range from Making the Best of Google Docs: Google Keep to NearPod to Formative Assessment Tools in the Digital Age.  I am personally excited to present Everybody was Google Drawing and Podcast in the Classroom, so if those topics have your teacher senses tingling make sure to be there.  
Information is posted on the flyers below.  I hope to see you there!

Felicia Wilson
Las Vegas

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Increase Learning with InsertLearning

Install this new Chrome extension and easily turn any webpage into an interactive lesson.

InsertLearning can help you deliver digital content to your students and also provide data to help you guide instruction.I believe InsertLearning will be a game-changer in digital and blended learning!

The extension allows anyone to take any online content (including content that you might have on a published Google Doc) and insert annotations, sticky notes, open-ended or multiple choice questions, and discussion forums. The best part about this new extension is its seamless integration with Google Classroom. That's right, you can build an entire online lesson in minutes and assign it to your students enrolled in your various Classrooms!

How can I get started?

If you have not already done so, sign-up for a free account and install the InsertLearning extension with this link. Use your G Suite account when you sign up and don't forget to indicate that you are a teacher!

In order for the extension to work properly, all of your students will also need a free account. When they sign up with their G Suite accounts, they will have to indicate that they are students.

This is a "freemium" product. This means that you will be able to create 5 lessons using the extension. If you want to create more, the cost is $40 for the year.  You can earn free months by sharing a link with your colleagues. As they sign up, you and your colleagues will receive free months.

After you have signed up and properly installed the extension, navigate to any webpage then click on the InsertLearning extension button from your browser. The toolbar pictured on the left will show up on webpage you navigated to.

What can I do with it?

The InsertLearning toolbar will let you "insert learning" onto any webpage to make it more interactive. Before you assign anything to your students, however, you do need to put in a little elbow grease to increase the interactivity.

You can direct your students' attention to a specific passage in a reading and even add your own commentary with the pen highlight tool. To show you how easy it is to use this tool, I created a simple lesson using a Nevada Ready 21 blog post. Take a look at the looping gif below to see how to highlight text and create an annotated note using InsertLearning.

Imagine being able to direct your students' focus to another resource not originally linked to in the webpage. InsertLearning allows you to insert links to related resources. You can even embed YouTube videos directly into the webpage itself! Take a look at the looping gif below to see how to integrate a YouTube video into a blog post article.

Maybe I am burying the lede here, but InsertLearning's true potential comes through with the next two features. With InsertLearning you can collect formative assessment data directly from the webpage you are using to teach the content by inserting an open-ended or multiple choice question directly into the webpage! What's more, students can answer the question on the webpage without having to go to submit a Form or navigating back to Google Classroom! How wild is that?!

Remember, these elements inserted into the webpage will only be viewable to your students with the extension installed, so don't think that you are changing the actual code of the original webpage. Rather, you are creating a transformative resource that you can use to drive your instruction. Take a look at the looping gif below to see how easy it is to insert an open-ended question into a webpage.

InsertLearning's last feature is the most interesting, in my opinion. One of the ways we can encourage dialogue in an online environment is through discussion forums. InsertLearning allows you to insert a discussion forum into a webpage! Just like with the question feature, the discussion forum does not require a student to navigate anywhere else. They will be able to include their post directly from the webpage. Think about the power of this feature. Students can have their source in front of them as they think about and type out their response to the prompt. How cool is that?! The looping gif below shows just how easy it is to insert a discussion post.

What else?

Whether you are creating your own lessons or using one of the lessons another teacher created on the platform, you can blend instruction easily and effectively. Give it a try today!

Chris Justus
Las Vegas

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Computer Science in your Classroom: The Role of Gender

It’s probably not a surprise to you that females are still underrepresented in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is true in many of the STEM disciplines, but is particularly shocking in the area of computer science where the percentage of women obtaining degrees and entering the workforce has declined since the 1990’s and is continuing to drop (Landivar, 2013). In 1984, 37% of computer science majors in the U.S. were women and today only 18% are. That gender gap grows at the graduate level and in the workforce where women are dramatically underrepresented in engineering and computing. A recent national survey indicated that only 0.4% of teen girls plan to major in computer science.

This is concerning given that STEM fields are estimated to have grown three times faster than non-STEM occupations in the U.S. economy during the past ten years, it is estimated that by 2018 there will be over 200,000 unfilled advanced degree STEM jobs (Information Technology Industry Council, 2012). STEM fields offer employees a number of benefits including higher wages and lower unemployment.

Why is there a Gap?

Interestingly, research, indicates that there are little differences in the skills of men and women in educational technology, science and online learning between men and women (e.g. Hargittai & Shafer, 2006; National Center for Education Statistics), but they do differ significantly in their self-confidence and use with tools. Women report their skills as lower (even when they are higher than men’s), are less likely to explore technology in an unstructured setting, and are less likely to use available technology for programming or other powerful uses. Girls are also less likely to take the AP Computer Science exam or join optional Computer Science clubs.

You Can Help: Tips for your Classroom
·   Introduce female role models
·   Be a role model - Learn coding yourself! (https://nclab.com)
·   Teach computer programming in the classroom (Have you tried NCLab yet? It’s included for NR21 schools!)
·   Be aware that girls and female teachers might feel less confident in their ability (See this blog for more information: http://bit.ly/2AOXFy9)
·   Avoid making Computer Science optional – if it is, invite girls personally or open a girls only club
·   Pick activities that are hands-on and applied – research shows that girls like to code with a purpose in mind
·   Raise awareness of STEM occupations for girls
·   Check out these 40 Important STEM Resources for Women (http://bit.ly/2qNpEik)
·   Check Out this Video of a Girls’ Coding Club in Nevada - http://bit.ly/2CYneC5

~Heather Crawford-Ferre, Ph.D.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Formative Assessment Tools and Apps

Good teachers in every subject and grade level will adjust their teaching based on what their students know at each point. Valuable formative assessment holds all students accountable, engages everyone, removes the embarrassment of public hand raising, gives teachers real-time results that impact how and what they are teaching at that moment, and give students immediate feedback that impacts how they are learning.

When you are getting started with or refining formative assessment in your classroom, here are some things to think about:

  • Think about your learning cycle and determine where you would like to embed checks for understanding/formative assessment to provide you with real-time data that will allow you to adjust your instruction and provide personalized learning for individual students’ unique needs.
  • Determine in the formative assessment is formal or informal. Formal formative assessments are often documented and may or may not carry grade points (quizzes, papers, entrance slips, presentations, concept maps, written surveys, etc.) Informal formative assessments are less documented and often more performance-based (quick checks for understanding, questioning, discussions, observations, confidence indicators like thumbs up/thumbs down, interviews, etc.)
  • Formative assessments, whether formal or informal, are embedded regularly into every step of the learning process, not just administered at the end of the learning cycle/instructional period. 
  • In order to have a meaningful formative assessment, it should have three things. First, there should be proper alignment between the formative assessment and your standards (what you intend to measure. Next, there should be opportunities for “in-the-moment” feedback. Effective feedback should be relevant, include clear goals, address misconceptions, provide students with opportunities to advance, and include specific comments, not just a grade. Lastly, the formative assessment should provide opportunities for the student and the teacher to reflect on learning.
  • All formative assessments should inform teaching and learning, so when you are choosing a formative assessment tool or app you should be thinking about how the data is collected and what types of reports the teacher has access to and what feedback the students have access to.
  • The formative assessment tool you choose should provide immediate and specific feedback to students, so they can track their progress and take ownership of their learning
These are some of my favorite formative assessment tools to use in the classroom.

Teachers can create, send and grade formative/summative assessments with Google Forms. Some question types automatically award point based on correct answer (multiple choice, checkboxes, dropdown, and short answer.
When you use Google Form Quiz with Google Classroom you now have the ability to import grades from Google Form Quiz to Google Classroom!
-Creating a Google Form Quiz
-Import Grades from Google Form Quiz to Google Classroom


Socrative allows teachers to instantly connect with students as learning happens. You can quickly assess students with prepared activities or on-the-fly questions to get immediate insight into student understanding. Teachers can then view students responses and results in real-time from their teacher dashboard. These results can then be used to determine the best instructional approach for individual students or groups of students.
-Socrative Online Help Center

edpuzzle is a video platform for teachers and students. Teachers are able to make any video their lesson with really easy to use tools. With edpuzzle teachers are able to know if their students are watching the video, and even how many times per section they had to watch/rewatch as well as if they are understanding the content. Teachers can add questions with their voice or by text within the video. One of the best things about edpuzzle is that teachers can find and use existing videos from YouTube, Khan Academy, etc. or upload their own.
-edpuzzle Teacher Help Center
-edpuzzle Student Help Center

Padlet can be used by students and by teachers. Teachers can create an online post-it board that you can share with any student or teacher that you want. Just give them your unique Padlet link in order to access it. Padlet allows you to post ideas anonymously or with your name. Whoever has the Padlet board opened on their device can see what everyone is posting in real time. Padlet is easy to use and provides a great way for students to be able to post and share their ideas with one another.
-Padlet Help Center
-30 Creative Ways to Use Padlet in the Classroom

Classkick is an app (also available on Chromebooks, desktops, and laptops) for sharing assignments with students, monitoring their progress, and offering feedback. Each assignment consists of a series of "questions" which appear on the teacher's dashboard like individual slides.
-ClassKick Teacher Resources
-ClassKick Teacher Guide
-ClassKick Videos
-ClassKick Sample Assignments Library

Additional Resources:
-56 Different Ways to Gather Evidence of Student Achievement
-Formative Assessment Strategies
-The Definitive K-12 Guide to Formative Assessment
-What Are Formative Assessments and Why Should We Use Them?
-What is Formative Assessment?

Tearra K. Bobula
NR21 Professional Development Strategist
Carson City, NV