There have been lots of changes to state Standards of Learning testing in the past few years. Here are a few of the changes:
- Since 2013, all SOL tests have shown an increase in the rigor required. Questions include more multi-step problems or problems which require a higher level of thinking.
- In 2016-2017, the online grades 3-8 mathematics SOL tests and online grades 3-5 reading SOL tests will be administered as computer adaptive tests. A Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) is an assessment that is customized for every student. How a student responds to a question determines the difficulty of the next item. A correct response leads to a more difficult test item, while an incorrect resonse results in the selection of a less difficult item for the student.
- Technology-Enhanced Items. All subjects now include non-multiple choice test items. These require students to demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving skills. Some require students to enter an answer directly; others require, for example, students to construct on-line graphs or order items.
- New method of test delivery. Beginning in 2017, students can take online SOL tests on iPads. Previously testing had been limited to computers and laptops.
- Retakes of SOL tests when students almost pass. For years, high school students have had the option of taking end-of-course assessments again after remediation. Now this has been extended to all students, grades 3-8. Students must score in the 375-400 range to be eligible for re-takes and parental approval is required.
Students in both the EDUC 316 and EDUC 370 classes have been required to construct their own Portaportal sites on which students put links to many websites they plan to use when they start teaching. This bookmarking site will make it easy both for the teachers-to-be and their students to quickly access sites which have useful content on them. Each individual student’s Portaportal site has been added to the class Portaportal site, creating a Portaportal of Portaportals. Here are the links to these sites:
EDUC 370: http://guest.portaportal.com/EDUC370
EDUC 316: http://guest.portaportal.com/educ316
Thanks to a recent arrangement with Smart, Inc. all students in the Teacher Education Program can download and install on their personal computers Smart Notebook V15. TEP faculty can provide students with the activation code they need in order to download and use this license from http://smarttech.com. Any students who need additional directions or this access code can contact me.
For a decade now, teachers have had easy and free access to Smart’s Notebook software as long as their school owned one or more SmartBoards. Indeed, here at Bridgewater we’ve given students directions on how to download to their own personal computers the Notebook software since BC does own several SmartBoards.
Recently, though, Smart changed its policy. Now only Version 11 can be freely downloaded by BC students though the newest version of Notebook software is V14. Worse yet, there are some new computers, such as the new Macintosh computers which have Yosemite operating system on them, which can’t run Notebook V11.
Bridgewater is exploring the option of purchasing a site license for Notebook V14. Unlike the previous versions, though, it won’t be free and will even include an annual fee. We’ll keep you informed on the progress of this. In the meantime, if you need to create a Smartboard file with Notebook software, use one of the computers in the Flory 3rd floor lab. These computers can open V11.
Bridgewater College students–I’ve attempted to post to this website all of the files, URLs, and screencasts that you might have found useful in my classes so you could have access to these after the semester is over and your Moodle course has disappeared. If you think of anything I’ve left out just let me know and I’ll add it.
I have added three additional pages to this website mainly for the benefit of students in the EDUC 316, Math Methods for Elementary Classrooms, course. One page contains links to many SmartBoard files (Notebook Software) that I have created. Another page contains links to many Powerpoint files that I have created for use in the same class. The final page contains links to my favorite Math sites. By providing this information on WordPress, students in the EDUC 316 site will have access to these files once the class is over. As it is now, they have access to these files through the course Moodle page, but this access will soon expire.
The SmartBoard and Powerpoint Pages contain files that actually cannot be uploaded to the BC WordPress server since only .pdf files are allowed on it. In order to be able to provide these files through my WordPress site, what I actually did was to upload the files to my Google Drive (aka Google Docs) then shared them to the web. I copied and pasted the link to each shared file from Google Drive and pasted it into WordPress. It works!
By the end of the semester EDUC 370 students will have completed many projects. Some of the major projects that are to be completed during November are:
1) SmartBoard activity
2) Class website using WordPress
3) Classroom Management Plan
4) Class Moodle Project
One of my fun tasks is to assist with the setup and use of the BC TEP iPads. As of August, 2013, we now have a minilab of 12 of them to be used in our classes. I’m an iPad nut–I never leave home without mine. My wife Lynn and I own four of them!
All of my classes have activities involving the use of iPads since they are so popular now in schools. .
Check your e-mail for your login to the Bridgewater College WordPress site. Remember that your URL will be http://wp.bridgewater.edu/(your login)
In EDUC 370 you create a Moodle page and you create a WordPress website. Both are web-based but there are some differences; this post will describe some of those differences. As you probably know, your Moodle page is only visible to those whom you enroll in your class. No one else can see the information you put there. Your WordPress site is visible to anyone to whom you give the address, namely http://wp.bridgewater.edu/yourlogin But another difference is sustainability. At this point, it is unknown how long your WordPress site will be available but there are no immediate plans to take it down at the end of the semester. However, your Moodle page WILL be removed and that’s why it is important that you learn how to make a backup of it at the end of the semester. By having a backup of your Moodle course, you can later upload this to the Moodle server in any school system which uses Moodle.
Many school systems also will have a WordPress server for you to use. But even if yours doesn’t, you can always create a free account at http://wordpress.org
Hopefully, even if you lose the information on these two sites you have learned how easy it is to create both and will have the opportunity to do this in your future employement. Both are great tools for teachers.