Daily Archives: April 27, 2016

Recap! The newest tool that’s changed my classroom.

It isn’t often I come across a new tool that is so profound and unique it changes how I do something in class. If that tool doesn’t help my students for the better and isn’t something that is easily integrated then it’s not something I’m going to use. It must serve a purpose and make things easier for me. It is even less often that I am so excited about a new tool that I want to publicize it to everyone I know to show them how phenomenal it is. Yesterday, I found that new tool and it is called, “Recap” found at letsrecap.com. Simply put, this formative assessment tool is amazing.

Simply put…it’s amazing.

So what is it? Recap is a way for students to submit a video response to a question that a teacher asks through Recap. As teacher I can pose questions in video or written format to students. I set the video time limit and the due date and I’m done. Students then use their webcam or phone to submit their response. It’s that simple.

Why do I like it so much?

*It’s free.

*It’s so easy to use. I don’t have to input all of the names of my students. I simply give them a class code to sign up and log in and bam! They are all added.

*The videos are all gathered in a single location. I am able to click, “play all” and quickly watch each one without having to continually open each video. It really takes about 5-10 minutes to watch a class set of videos. The picture below is what I see with all of my student video responses. I’ve disguised the students and their names. blog recap2

*It gives me a very quick and accurate snapshot of how well students understand the concepts. Students are able to rate themselves on how well they understand the question(s) asked. The graphic below shows what I see as a teacher. Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 10.22.49 PM

*I can share the videos with the parents of the students by either entering a parent email or sharing a unique and private weblink.

*I can give feedback to each student. By clicking the “Leave feedback” link I can quickly give each student quality feedback on their response.Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 10.22.35 PM.png

*It’s fun. Really! It is, I swear.

Here’s what I see when all students submit their responses:

blog recap1


So how do I use it?  In my flipped classroom, I have students watch my video lectures at home. To check for understanding I submit a question to them about the concepts covered in the video. Students must explain the concept(s) to me from the video. Sometimes I will only ask, “Explain how to….” and sometimes I give a specific example. This gives me instant feedback on how well students know the concepts by how well they can explain it to me in a precise manner on video.

Thank you Recap for creating a tool that is so awesome!

7 things that happened after I implemented Standards Based Grading

It has been 8th months since I’ve fully implementing Standards Based Grading (SBG) in my math classroom and, while skeptical at first, I’ve come to realize that my students are achieving more then before. I’ve noticed quite a few changes in not only my thinking but in the overall aspects of my class. The 7 things I have noticed:

  1. The quality of work has increased. Make no doubt, I still give classwork. So what’s changed? I don’t grade or collect a single piece of it. I do give valuable feedback to students as I walk around the class checking on their work but I have noticed something profound. When you take grades out of the equation of classwork, the quality of work increases. I know it’s hard to believe but it follows the theory in Daniel Pink’s book on motivation, “Drive.” He states that when you make a person’s salary high enough where it no longer becomes a factor in their job, the quality of work increased because the employee never worries about doing work for pay. They do work because they are intrinsically motivated. I find the same to be true with my students. Now that grades are no longer a factor, students don’t fret over earning that grade on each piece of work. They work because they know it’s important. It’s a profound discovery I have seen first hand and one I never would have believed had I not seen it within my own classroom. Here’s an example:   (Remember again that I don’t grade this or even collect it.)        Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 9.51.29 PM
  2. Students have changed their language. Students no longer strive for the grade. They are never saying, “What can I do to get an, ‘A’?” I now here students tell me, “I need to reassess on the standard 7.G.4 because I need help finding the circumference of a circle.” Students know the concepts in which they need to improve upon.
  3. I was held accountable for knowing my standards. I am a math nerd. I know math quite well and I have always worked with standards. I thought I knew my standards well…and I did but not to the extent I needed to. When writing assessments I had to be flawless in writing questions that met the standards. It helped me to delve into my standards even farther to truly understand them.
  4. Grading was less subjective. With nothing factored into a grade other than content, I was no longer falsifying the grades I gave. The grade was a reflection of what the student(s) know. I grade all of my summative assessments based solely on the standards and whether or not students have mastered those standards.
  5. Students look at the feedback. When I put a grade at the top of the paper, students never looked at the feedback I wrote on their work as much as I had hoped. They were fixated on the grade. Once that percent and grade disappeared they started to read the feedback I gave.
  6. The busy work is gone. I actually feel at times like I have cheated the system that we call, “the game of school” but I no longer have hours upon hours of busy work. No longer do I have homework to grade, collect, record and pass back. It simply has disappeared. I now spend the time I used to spend grading endless amounts of work creating more meaningful lessons, videos and assessments.
  7. The grades now have meaning. The grades students earn are now a true reflection of what they knew. Simply put… they are now valid.
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