S'Cool Tools, Teacher Voice Edition: IRIS Connect, The Graide Network, Istation Reading

This week in S’Cool Tools, we share the real experiences of three teachers using three different tools, written in their own words. If you’d like to be featured in our S’Cool Tools column, click here to leave your very own Teacher Case Study.

IRIS ConnectWritten by Alfonso, a 6th grade science teacher in Washington. Alfonso has a 1:1 devices classroom, with a high population of students from low income families.

EdSurge: What was the problem in your classroom or school that you were trying to solve when you implemented IRIS Connect?

Alfonso: We were looking for ways to streamline our personal learning community (PLC) work. We have been using a lesson study model where each PLC team investigated a student problem then designed a lesson to address the problem. By observing the lesson, PLC members took notes on how well the lesson was helping the students. After the lesson, the PLC team met to go over the lesson and decide on any changes that could better address the problem. To conduct a lesson study required time outside the classroom, which means getting subs. There was little to no money for subs and subs were difficult to come by so we tried recording lessons that we could share with our PLC members on a day after the lesson was taught. By recording the lesson the PLC teams could meet after school to observe the lesson and discuss how well it helped students. The IRIS connect Discovery Kit made recording the lesson so much easier. All we had to do was start the recording and the Swivl base and the device did the recording for us! The Swivl base follows the microphone to capture what the teacher wanted the PLC to see. Then using the IRIS Connect platform the teacher shares the video with his or her PLC team! Voila! PLC members can watch the video then meet to discuss.

Describe how you used the product.

I have recorded lessons in my classroom for my own personal reflection. The Discovery Kit includes an iPad Mini to record lessons and a Swivl base with a microphone. I have used the kit to capture my teaching by wearing the microphone. That way the Swivl base followed me and recorded my actions. I have also left the microphone at student tables. That way I was able to work with another team then at the end of the day or during my planning I could watch to see how the group I wasn't working with did on their own! That has been very helpful! The other way I have used the IRIS Connect Discovery Kit was for my PLC work. When I was chosen to teach a lesson I would be able to record it with the iPad Mini and Swivl base. After the lesson, I would share the recording with my PLC team. Using the IRIS Connect platform I was able to leave comments on the exact time in the video where I wanted my PLC team to start watching. By the time we met face-to-face we were either ready to discuss the lesson and make any changes to improve the student learning or we were able to watch the lesson together and discuss as we went along.

What worked and what didn’t?

The Discovery Kit has worked well for us and the IRIS Connect tech support has been very helpful whenever someone got stuck. The IRIS Connect platform has also worked for us quite well. We are able to share our recordings with anyone in our school or no one! That way we can use the Discovery Kit for our own personal reflection as well as for PLC work. We were even able to share video with our principal for evaluation purposes, which helped him so he didn't have to visit our classrooms as much.

The Graide NetworkWritten by an anonymous middle school ELA teacher from Illinois. This teacher has high populations of special education students as well as students from low income families.

EdSurge: What was the problem in your classroom or school that you were trying to solve when you implemented The Graide Network?

Teacher: The Writing teachers at our school had 150 students each with 1 hour prep period per day. Thus, the bulk of the grading work needed to be done in evenings and on weekends. This lead to a few things: not grading as many assignments, less quality feedback, less time to spend doing meaningful curriculum planning.

Describe how you used the product.

We hoped through the Graide Network, that our teachers could just use their time more wisely. We had the "Graiders" score assignments for which a quick turn-around with in-depth commentary for the students was preferred. One perfectly suited task for an outside grader, was our benchmark assessments. It was interesting to see how we scored our students and compare against an impartial grader to see where we were aligned and where we differed. Also, specifically for Writing, we invested out students in producing quality work for an unknown audience. Given that writers seldom choose who will read their work, we felt this was an authentic way to push clarity of written tasks. I'd say, "Remember, the teachers who read this besides me will not give you the benefit of the doubt. Show off what you know!"

What worked and what didn’t?

The staff of the Graide Network were extremely responsive and reflective. They asked for input and obviously are committed to allowing teachers to focus on what we do best - be fully present for our students in the classroom - without being inundated with stacks of papers looming in "to grade" piles.

Istation ReadingWritten by Celeste, principal of a Texas KIPP school. Celeste’s school has a high population of special education students, English language learners and students from low income families.

EdSurge: What was the problem in your classroom or school that you were trying to solve when you implemented Istation Reading?

Celeste: The school I led had very low reading achievement in all grade levels. Teachers were not well-equipped with real time data or intervention lessons. We were faced with a thorough school turnaround effort, and needed to focus heavily on reading. According to the NWEA MAP test, approximately 35% of our students were on or above grade level in reading.

Describe how you used the product.

All teachers had hardware in their classrooms and students rotated through 30 minutes of usage daily. More skilled teachers differentiated the time students spent using the program, and used it to administer intervention lessons as well. We publically used the ISIP data to inform school-wide and classroom level intervention, communicating assessment results to kids & families as well.

What worked and what didn't?

Without thorough training, teachers find it difficult to internalize the use of the program. Though it's generally user-friendly, it does take time to become strategic in its use. The program worked well when it was well structured in a grade level, when we had the necessary hardware in the classroom for students to use it, and when we attached teacher and student incentives to the use and growth in performance in the program.

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