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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Formative and Summative Assessments #edchat

OK, so most of the time I cannot particpate in the twitter #edchat on Tuesday nights because I have activities that I am participating in. So, for a few months I've thought of making a blog entry for the topic of the week and then posting a link to it on the #edchat. So, this is my first attp at this.

Even though this blog is mostly about teaching the IC3 exams, I feel that this weeks topic is a great topic for my blog as well.

The IC3 exams would be considered a Summative assessment while the Practice Tests I use in class as well as the trainings I have mentioned before would be part of the Formative. However, I can also see that the actual IC3 exams could be used for Formative assessment as well. The reason I say this is because the exam will give you an idea of what you may have failed and so you can go back and study that topic and return to the exam again. It is a great example of Assessment for Learning.

In the past when I've had my students taking the exams I have paid for them one at a time either out of my pocket or out of class fees. This made it very difficult to have every student take the exams and if they failed then it was even more expensive for me to have them retake it. However, this year Certiport has created a new system where I paid a yearly fee and I can have unlimited exams for my students. This has totally changed the way I teach my class. I used to require certain students to pass the IC3 based on their proficiency in class. Now, I am requiring it for all of my students. Since it is unlimited I can have them go back and study the topics again and return to take the exam.

I have had one student this semester that failed one of the exams, returned to the Practice Tests, asked questions, and then re-took the exam. He passed it. I just had another student fail one of the exams today and we went over his results (the IC3 exams never show you if you got a question correct or not, it just gives you your overall score and the score you received on each of the main topics). We could see where he was almost passing one or two of the topics and now he knows where he needs to study. I know he will be able to come back and pass the exams.

I have seen a change in my students in the past couple of weeks since I purchased the unlimited exams. The focus on our classes is to pass the exams. So, whenever we are going through practice questions or other exercises it is based on how to complete that type of question on the exam. When my students take the Practice Tests they need to do as much on their own, however sometimes it helps to ask how to complete a task so they can get it into their brains. Once they learn how to complete the specific task and know the reasoning behind it, they tend to remember it. The focus of our classes has gone off from completing specific assignments for a grade to learning tasks and knowledge in order to pass an exam. I've really enjoyed this focus because the preassure is put on the students to do the learning. They tend to ask more questions and think outside of the box.

I'm looking forward to this next semester when I will be able to start the semester with my students taking the real IC3 exam as a "Pre-Test" and then helping them to pass those exams. Luckily my students this semester are totally interested in learning this material. Several have asked if they can retake the class next semester. I have also told them they can come in during our Flex Time to be able to relearn or take the exams.

I think that this type of scenario is what is best for students. This allows the students that know the material to pass the exam quickly while the students who need a lot of help can get that help. There is also a lot more material that the "advanced" students can learn from instead of just playing games or nothing at all.

Anyways, this all appear as ramlings, but it was a great way for me to post my comments for this #edchat.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Two More Students!

So a total of five students have now passed the Key Applications exam. One was my student who failed it last week. I am so excited for them!

I also tested my 8th-graders today on the same exam just to get data from them. One of them also passed it. Another student nearly passed it with 733. This will be goo data fir next year. -- Posted From My iPhone

Friday, December 4, 2009

Two More Students Pass!

Two more of my 9th-graders passes the Key Applications exam in the past two days! I'm so excited to see my students being able to demonstrate their proficiencies.

However, there is some not so good news. I had one student take the exam and didn't pass it. I will have to see if sitting down with him one-on-one will do any help. I know he is smart and can complete most of the tasks, so I think it just might take some time. Luckily I have unlimited exams for a year and he can retake it after a little more study. -- Posted From My iPhone

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

First Student This Year to Pass an IC3 Exam!

So, I just had a student pass the Key Applications exam!!!!! I'm so excited! I require that my students pass the Practice Tests with 900 or above three times before they can take the real exam. This student finished passing the Practice Tests today after school. I asked if he wanted to take the real exam and he did. He barely passed it by six points, but it is still passing it. I can't wait for my other students to start passing these exams and see that they can actually do it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Key Applications

So, it has been awhile since I've actually written anything here (blog, what blog, I don't know anything about a blog). I got pretty behind in trying to prepare the trainings and tests for my students and other things have come up in life to prevent me from moving forward with them at the moment. However, I am hoping to have most everything ready by next semester so that my new set of students will be able to benefit from all of my work.

I have been working on the wording for the tasks that students need to do and have finished all three levels for Microsoft Word (for just the wording) and also the first level of Microsoft Excel. I still need to make the tasks for Level 3 of Microsoft Word, but then I can work on Excel. These are the real big ones that I have to work on. I also have to work on Vista and Internet Explorer for sure.

I also want to create some basic Level 1 questions for Microsoft Access, and Microsoft Publisher for when I teach about Software. Sometimes I've noticed that students don't fully understand these type of programs because they don't use them that much. I also have to come up with something for "education and entertainment" programs as well as "utility" programs, and "other types of software." This will be a challenge, but I know I can do it.

I am just about ready to have my students take the Key Applications test. I am purchasing Certiport's practice tests and unlimited IC3 exams (see your Certiport sales rep for more details about this). I'm excited to get the Practice Tests because I can see if my students are prepared enough for the exam or if they need to remediate about specific subjects. The former practice tests looked just like the real IC3 exam environment, so it makes students more relaxed about taking the exams. Having unlimited amounts of exams is going to be great because ususally I have a few students who fail it the first time and need to retake it. I have a small amount of students that end up taking it about 3-4 times before they pass it (of course I usually have them take the Practice Tests several times before they retake the real test).

The semester is more than half-way finished and I still haven't had my students take one single IC3 exam. I will have to start getting them to learn about the other subjects a little quicker without putting a lot of preassure on them. This tends to make taking the exams "unfun."

Oh, and least I forget, I have started putting on the Internet the trainings and exams that I am having my students complete. They are located at: http://moodle.oremjr.alpine.k12.ut.us/ic3/. Not all of the tests or trainings are ready, but you can try out the ones that are there. If you have any suggestions, PLEASE e-mail them to me.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Collaboration

I am totally excited about this coming Monday. Last year we started an intra-district collaboration team that met twice a month during our collaboration times. We started creating a wiki for our group and we got ExamView up and running for the majority of us. There were just four of us last year, but This year we have 1-2 more people joining our group and at least one other that can't make it to our meetings, but still wants to collaborate. We might eventually use Wimba to get him in our meetings, but we'll burn that bridge when we get to it.

What I really am excited about is being able to work on what I have been doing this pat month with other people. Even if I can get someone else to go onto Google Docs and write up the questions and tasks, that would be huge. I don't min creating the tasks myself. My wife does say that I am CDO (that would be OCD, however the letters have been alphabetized), and I know I can sometimes get a question done really quick, so I don't mind doing that part.

What I've also started thinking about is distributing the tests to other teachers. This is one of my biggest goals is to be able to collaborate on the test results with other teachers. Years ago a few of us from our school went to Provo to hear Richard and Rebecca DuFour who I see as some of the "fore-fathers" of PLCs. It was a pretty good day, but the one thing that I still remember (and it has been about 6-7 years) is their explanation of the DRIP problem.

DRIP stands for Data Rich, Information Poor. Or in other words we have a lot o data from student test scores and other items, but what do we do with it? They suggested that if we had common assessments and then compared our students results with other teachers that gave the same assessment, we could then see what strengths other teachers have had and learn from them what they did to help students learn that subject better.

We did this two years ago with our group one day. I had the other two teachers that gave the same State test that I did send me their results by student. I then created a spreadsheet that showed how many of their students were proficient 80% or above) on each standard that was tested. We could then compare our students' proficiency rate as a group to the other teachers. What ensued was a great discussion of what we all did to help our students do so well on those questions. It was very exciting and enlightening.

As the "leader" of the team I want to be able to have some common assessments with the other teachers in my team so that before the state test comes around we can know if our students are ready. I would also like for more teachers to be able to have their students take the IC3 exams. If more will do that, then I think that our great CTE people at our district (and for those of you who know me, I am NOT being sarcastic about that--they really are great) would possibly help flip the bill to havestudents take these tests. In fact, it could even go viral and we could follow Hawaii in having every student in the state be IC3 certified. However, I've got to calm down and stay focuse on our little group of collaborative teachers.

I will of course send out the invitation for any other computer teacher out there who wants to join our collaboration. The only requirements will be to submit test scores for inividual students when you have them (no names are required, just test scores), and a willingness to help keep our tests and trainings up-to-date as possible.

You may contact me through this blog, or you can find me on Twitter or Facebook (both use the username of pbhanney).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Word Level 1 Finished

Wow, yet again another couple of crazy days while I got the Word Level 1 tasks and questions ready. I know there are a lot of mistakes because I encountered quite a bit yesterday as I was getting it ready for my students. Luckily my students are pretty good at finding the mistakes and pointing them out to me. Which I fully appreciate because then I can get the kinks worked out for next semester.

this will rake a day or two to go through, so I know I need to start working on Level 2 right away and not slack off like I did this last week. -- Posted From My iPhone

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Word Level 1

So, I've been workin my tail off the past couple of days to get the tasks and questions for Word Level 1 ready for my students. Of course I took about two weeks of from doing any of these only because I was pretty worn out from doing the three levels of PowerPoint. But, now I am ready to go again. After I finish this I will be going back and finishing up the trainings, then I will create the Pre- and Post-Tests. Then I need to start on Level 2. My work seems to be never done, but come next semester I will be totally ready. -- Posted From My iPhone

Saturday, September 5, 2009

PowerPoint Level 3

So, I did get this done this week. It has been a crazy week and I have been working hard to get this level ready for my students. It worked with a few glitches, which are expected.

I now have to create Plus Tests for all three levels, but that should be pretty easy. I usually only have 15 questions in them, so I just have to change the Post Tests to 15 questions and then publish them.

So, tomorrow I plan on having my students go through the Inpics website to actually use PowerPoint 2007. I know that some of my students used it last year, however they should now have a new perspective on the software.

The inpics site is really cool. It has pictures to give instructions on how to use the software. We purchased many of what was then called Visibooks years ago when they first came out. It was great to see the inpics site come out, because it was free and it could be updated easily.

After that I really want to get them on Google Docs to start collaborating on a project. I will of course have to get parental permission for them to sign up and I will also need to talk with my administrator to make sure it is okay with him. However, I am really excited about the idea of introducing Web 2.0 technologies to my 9th-graders.

-- Posted From My iPhone

Friday, August 28, 2009

PowerPoint Level 2

Holy cow! What a night. I spent most of the evening and nightime until about midnight preparing my Level two tasks for my students to do today. I also then got up a little after four this morning to finish up. Oh, the life of a teacher! I know all of you that aren't teachers are jealous that you can't do this. Wait . . .

I had ten tasks done in CourseLab before I left school yesterday, so I only had thirteen more to do. That might nit sound like much, however it can take anywhere between ten and sixty minutes to do each task, depending on the complexity.

However, it was all worth it. There were some glitches that my students pointed out to me and I am in the process of fixing, however I did have them ready to make a Pre-Test and the trainings ready. Now I am working on the Level 2 Post-Test which is a bit trickier.

I have to take a copy of my Level 1 Post-Test and add the Level 2 questions. I've already copied them in. However, I then have to go through each question to make sure the hotspot links are going to the correct slide or frame. It doesn't do relative links, just absolute. So when I import them if I had a link going to slide 35, now it migh need to go o slide 77. So I have to go in and tweak each part of the task. It's a lot of work, but it will be worth it.

Then I will need to go in and start on Level 3. Once that is done I will need to start all over again with Microsoft Word, then Excel, then Vista. It is going to be a really busy semester, but I think it will be worth it and I am learning a lot myself. Luckily I have the weekend to recuperate and work on everything.

I also plan on purchasing Certiport's new Practice Tests. I I remember right I think it will be about $1,500 for the year. That is pretty steep for a one-year license, however if I don't see that it is worth it, or if I think I can create my own later, then I don't have to purchase another license. However, I think it will be a great thing for my students to take right before taking the real tests. That way they can get used to the correct testing environment as well as seeing the way the IC3 asks the questions. As I've said: a lot of learning for me. -- Posted From My iPhone

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Plus Tests

I also just remembered that I have to create what I calk Plus Tests. Although I don't have to do them until I'm done with Level 3. Plus Tests are to help students remember the items taught yo them when they start learning other subjects.

For instance, I usually start teaching PowerPoint because it is one of the easiest items to learn. Once we go through all three levels we move onto Microsoft Word. When we inish a level in Word and students take the Post-Test for that level I also have them take the Plus Test for PowerPoint. It usually is just 15 questions long and includes questions from all 3 level of PowerPoint.

We then move onto Excel and they have to take two Plus Tests at the end of each level (one for PowerPoint and one for Word). This helps out with retention when it comes time to get ready to take the Key Applications exam. Hopefully this will help them not just dump the information from their brains.

I guess I could just add questions from PowerPoint into the Post Tests, however I don't have any control as of yet of how many questions can come from each area. Maybe I can look into the JavaScript code for this as it randomly selects questions. That way students only have to take one test and I can get more results. Interesting idea! I'll have to mull that one over.

OK, so thinking about it some more I've decided that it isn't a hood idea just to incorporate questions from previous subjects into future Post-Tests. I realized that if I am to share these tests with other teachers (which is my intention), then they won't necessarily be teaching the material in the same order I will. So, Plus Tests it will be.

Any other ideas out there?

-- Posted From My iPhone

Saturday, August 22, 2009

PowerPoint Level 1

So I finally finished the Pre-Test for PowerPoint Level 1. I was working in getting it finished setting up by making them random, having students input their names and classperiods, and creating a page for them to print when done when one day I went to open the file and CourseLab would not open the file. Aaaaaaagh!

So, I had to start all over for the third time. Luckily the actual questions were in a separate file and coul still be opened and copied. So it took me most of this last Tuesday to get it all back together, and I think it actually is a better product.

I also created some simple web pages for navigation. The pages that actually have the tests I created with iframes and made a different color border for each test or training. I also made it so that a new window opens at full screen. I used a blue screen for the Pre-Tests, green for the trainings, and red for the Post-Tests. That way when I see screens I can tell which test a student is on an can tell if I can help them or not.

I also created trainings from the Pre-Tests so that I can go through them with my students. Then I created the Post-Tests as well. I only put ten questions on the Pre-Tests and 25 on the Post. The trainings have all of the questions so that students can learn how to complete the questions. There are about 30 questions now, but I plan on adding more as time goes by.

I also started working on the Level 2 questions, but spent most of my time with the web pages and trying to figure out a JavaScript way of preventing students from going from the test to any other program. I did find one way of doing it, however it did cause a few problems. When students went to the print page it would not populate their name and it also prevented them from using shortcut keys. Once I took off the code that I had placed it started working fine. So I am currently trying to find a key capture code so that students can't leave the test. It may be that I just need to really emphasize to them about integrity.

Yesterday I had my first day with my 8th-and 9th-graders. I showed a few of the videos from Certiport to give an introduction and then gave a brief explanation of the IC3. I then showed them how to take the Pre-Test and then let them take it. There were a few snags, though. The ones I mentioned above, plus students not bein able to get past the first screen ehwere they enter their name, the teacher's name, and their class period. The main problem was with any textbox. The code I used took the focus away from the iframe and caused all if the heartache. It took me most of the day to figure that out.

I guess I have to go with my old adage of "If you give up a little control, you usually get more back." I probably will just have to talk to them about being honest and if they can't be honest with themselves, they need to take a long, hard look into their lives. Also, I plan on purshasing the Practice Tests from Certiport and having students take the real tests. On both of those they cannot leave the tests to find answers, so now is the time to actually start learning it.

Next steps: finishing Levels 2 and 3; possibly finding some code to prevent leaving the tests. Does anyone know of a code way of doing this with JavaScript?

-- Posted From My iPhone

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Lab

Alright, so I want to talk about my lab a little bit. I have 36 computers that are HP running Windows XP. I can't remember all of the specs right now since I've hardly been in my lab this summer. Several years ago another computer teacher at my school and I decided to switch rooms. My principal at the time allowed me to then redesign the room I was getting. At the time there were several "pod" shaped tables with the computers on them. For those of you who don't know this shape, basically it is a hexagon shape and the computers are placed around the edge of the hexagon. I absolutely HATE this layout. We still have two labs at our school that are using this layout. The problems I see with the "pod" layouts is that the teacher cannot see all of the computers at the same time. The teacher has to walk around the table to see the students on the other side, and if the students are not on task (which of course NONE of our students do that -- sarcasm), then the students can quickly switch back to the program while the teacher is walking. Then, the other students on the other side of the table can go off task while the teacher is talking to the one student about being on task. It's a mess. Yes, there is software out there that will allow you to watch every students' screen (we use LanSchool at our school), however I believe that a computer teacher (or ANY teacher using a lab) should not be sitting at their computer, but be up and around engaging the students (OK, so the engaging part is something I need to work on as well). So, when I went to redesign my current lab, I chose to have straight tables and space up by the whiteboard (which of course should be the front of the classroom). I first was going to have three long tables, but then my principal at the time suggested having six tables so that there was an isle down the middle (I am very grateful that she suggested that, it is one of my favorite features now). Here is a basic drawing of my lab:

The long line at the top is the whiteboard/display boards at the front of my room. Each table can hold six computers. My computers were upgraded this last year (thanks to our district CTE director), so now I have flat screen monitors. We recently purchased computer stands that allow us to place the CPU on the floor underneath the table on the holder that has wheels that we got from Cyberguys (which I absolutely love looking through their catalog - my wife calls it geek porn).

I have my teacher station at the back near the isle. I actually have my computer sitting on a computer rack (an old one from days gone by) and I stand there to teach my classes. I love this layout because I can see EVERY screen in my lab at just about the same time. I can know if someone is on or off task. If I need to "lecture" about something, I usually have the students turn off their monitors (so they are not distracted by the "sparkleys") and then they have to turn around to see me.

This layout has alos has helped with getting my students to learn computer skills. As I've mentioned before I have used Certiport's Practice Tests and clickers to teach these skills to my students. Each table is a "team" that can help each member of the team to know how to complete the skill before I randomly pick a student (this is a great feature on eInstruction's CPS software) to come to my demo computer to complete the task.

This next year I am hoping to change the way that I use the teams. I am creating simulations tutorials that every student can use at the same time. So, what I plan on doing is having each student bring up the same question at the same time. I will start the timer on the CPS software and allow them to play around with the simulation until they find out how to complete the task (i.e. Start Microsoft PowerPoint 2007). Once they figure out how to do it they will click in to the CPS software. They can then show their team members how to do it. Once the whole team is clicked in they will tell me they are done. The first team that gets done will then be able to click in for more points. Also, once the team is done, they can then go and help other teams.

I'm hoping this works out, and I know that there will be some tweaks that I will have to complete as the year goes on, but I am excited about this.

VirtualBox

OK, so I absolutely LOVE this piece of software. I have a Mac laptop from school and I chose it on purpose. There are some programs that only run on the Mac (i.e. Garage Band, etc.), however I am mostly a Windows user (the IC3 exams test about the Windows environment, so that is what I teach on). I knew there were other programs out there for emulations on a Mac (i.e. Fusion and parallels), however once I got my Mac, it was going to take some time to actually get the software and then install it, and I needed to use it right away. So, after some searching (again) I found VirtualBox. VirtualBox is an opensource program that allows you to run other operating systems on your computer. For instance, right now I am actually on my Mac, but am running Internet Explorer 8 on my Windows VirtualBox. I mostly use the Windows portion of my computer, however, I will switch to my Mac side to run some of the programs there. It is a pretty easy switch. You can also run VirtualBox on your Windows computer to run other operating systems like Linux or another version of Windows. However, without a hack you cannot run the Mac operating system on the Windows computer (I haven't tried it myself, but I've seen something about it online). IC3 Integration So, since I run a Mac, and my lab at school is PC running Windows XP, I knew I had to do something. What I'm talking about is that the IC3 GS3 standard tests on how to use the Vista version of Windows. My district technology people have decided not to run or support Vista on our machines (which, I don't blame them from what I've heard and read about). However, I need to prepare my students on how to run Vista. So, I used VirtualBox to create a Vista partition on my external hard drive. That way I can use it on one of my school computers, and then use it on my home computer, and even connect it to my Mac laptop and run Mac, XP, and Vista at the same time. I then use the Screen Hunter software to capture the screen of the Vista environment, save them to the Mac or XP side (depending on the computer I am working on), and then work on the simulations in CourseLab in XP. This kind of sounds confusing, but it works for me. I keep my Windows Vista pretty clean. The only thing I really have on it is Office 2007, since that is what is tested on the IC3 GS3 standards as well. Other than that, I don't install anything else (well, except for the Screen Hunter software). That was I don't have to worry about showing programs that are on my computer when I create the simulations. It is just a basic computer layout. I know that some teachers don't even want to get into Vista, but it is a good springboard into Windows 7 that is coming out soon. I think the next standard for the IC3 will probably include testing with Windows 7 and Office 2010, but we'll have to wait for them to come out. Until then I will teach Windows Vista and Office 2007 so that students will be successful in testing.

Screen Hunter

OK, so I've tried to write most of my posts on my iPod Touch, however, sometimes it's just easier to type on my laptop, so here it goes. When creating simulations in CourseLab (which I almost have some ready to show off this week), you have to use images. So, I went looking for a screen capture software. There are a ton of them out there. However, I have found that the Screen Hunter software is one of the best. I can take screen shots as I go and not have to worry about pasting them right away into something (like you have to do when you use the ALT+PRT SCR button combination). I can even change the file type, the quality, the button to use for screen capture, where the images are stored, and how to format the image name. The images are REALLY good as well, so I have been using it exclusively to create my simulations.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

CourseLab

Alright, so this entry will be about another piece of software that I just discovered this year. It I called CourseLab. As I have mentioned before I have been using Certiport's Practice Tests. However, I the ones I have been using only cover Windows XP and Office 2003. To continue to prepare my student for the newer IC3 exams I need to get into Windows Vista and Office 2007.

The Search

To start working with these versions I came to the conclusion that I had to create the simulations on my own. This to a LONG time to research. Some programs that I have used in the past have allowed me to capture the screen, however when I create the simulation they only allow one hotspot. (For those who might not know what a hotspot is, basically it is a spot on a picture where you can click on go to the next slide or to another area).

Multiple hotspots are essential in creating a computer application simulation. If there is only one hotspot, it would be too easy fir students to figure out how to complete the simulation. Plus on most programs there are at least 3-4 diferent ways o completing most tasks (for instance, how many ways can you bold, itlicize, or even spell check). Only one hotspot would only allow for one way of completing the simulation. Thu was the complexity of my search.

CourseLab

In the end I found the CourseLab software. It allows me to create a simulation in a very familiar PowerPoint 2003-like environment and allows me to have more than one hotspot on a slide.

When I stumbled upon CourseLab, I knew I had hit the jackpot. This software allows me to create several hotspots on each page. It also allows me to use keyboard shortcuts when available. It took some time to create my first simulation (starting PowerPoint from the start menu), but it was well worth the effort.

As I started creating more questions I learned even more. It started being fun to create some questions and really challenging to create others (and I always love a challenge).

CouresLab allows me to create simple web pages with the simulations that my students could use to learn and practice the skills they need to learn to take and pass the IC3 exams. It also allows me to create AICC or SCORM files that I can upload to my LMS like Moodle so I can have them learn these skills not just in my lab, but anywhere they can access the Internet.

Collaboration

So, I felt pretty good about my discovery and the great way I had created the questions that I put myself on a list to present my findings in our annual CTE summer conference. Usually when I present something at these conferences and need a lab, they put me in the furthest lab away from the main area of the conference. Of course this might be because usually I have submitted my proposal late, and it us probably the only lab open, so it us completely my own fault. So I didn't have any hopes that anyone would show up or even care about what I was presenting. The two people from my district with whom I carpooled that day showed up and I was really greatful. However when about 15-20 people finally shied up I was flabergasted.

Anyways, I had copied the questions I had created to the network and I did my first test run with multiple people running the pages at the same time. Of course they were simple web pages and I didn't worry too much about it since I had run web pages on a network before, however I was greatful.

From the very first it was a hit. I was shocked. I presented the software that I used to create the questions and people had a lot of questions (which I always love because hate being the dreaded "sage on the stage"). In the end about 8-10 people were so excited about the whole concept about collaborating on this that they created their own session the next day with me to show them how to use the software.

I was totally excited and nervous about the whole thing. I didn't expect it to work. Although I will have to say that I have to give a lot of credit to my collegue Diane Lungo because she always helps to take the boring technobabble that is coming out of my mouth and make it fun and interesting.

So, the next morning we had our session and it was a success as well. There again were tons of questions and some great ideas that came out of the session. In the end we exchanged e-mails and started divided up the workload.

In the past week I was able to get help from several people on the CourseLab community page and I learned how to create a randomized test. This means I can have as many question as I like (both simulations and regular questions) and the program will select the amount if questions I want and have them randomized for each student and for each time a student takes the test. I've always liked doing this because the student can't just memorize that the answer to question one is B or and not really learn the material. It also helps me because then I don't have to create a new test for each time the student wants to retake the test. I was totally excited when this finally worked for me.

IC3 Integration

So, my next steps with this program is to develop the different levels of PowerPoint simulations and questions. This usually is the first lessons that I teach because PowerPoint us so easy to learn and if students can learn the basics if PowerPoint, then Word and Excel become easier to learn.

More Collaboration

I am sending out the invitation to any computer teacher that wants to collaborate on these exams and tutorials. My big project right now is to develop tasks for students to complete in the following programs:

  • PowerPoint (although I already have quite a bit, more is always welcomed)
  • Excel
  • Word
  • Outlook
  • Internet Explorer
  • Windows Vista
The reasoning to use these programs is because that is what is tested on the IC3 exams. The lists of tasks are Google Spreadsheets and are easily shared and updated. I also am planning on having som Google Docs that we can share Multiple Choice questions as well that we can incorporate into the tests. Of course the tests and tutorials will be freely distributed so that we can even collaborate on best practices.

If you are interested in collaborating or have questions or suggestions for me, please post here, e-mail me, or find me on Twitter, FaceBook, or LinkedIn (my usual username on all three is pbhanney). I look forward to hearing from all of you. -- Post From My iPhone

Monday, July 20, 2009

ExamView Test Manager and Player

ExamView also has two programs that integrate really well. These are the Test Manager and Test Player.

Test Manager

The Test Manager of ExamView allows you to manage tests for your classes. When you first go into it you create a new class. You can then import (or hand enter) your students and quite a bit of information about them including their birthdates, gender, grade level, ethnicity, and social/economic status (this is helpful later in reports).

You then can add assignments. These are usually one of the following: Paper Test (either scanned in on the bubble forms or through the CPS Clickers) Online test delivered over your Local Area Network (LAN)

I have mentioned the bubble sheets before in a previous post, but I don’t think I explained it in detail. The software (either Test Builder or Test Manager) allows you to print a bubble sheet for students to answer multiple-choice questions. It is pretty easy and very inexpensive to print these out. We have found out, however, that it is not a good idea just to print one out and make photocopies of it (there tends to be some shifting in the copying process which can impede the reading of the sheet by a scanner).

You can print several different bubble sheets. These would include: 100 questions (this usually fills the whole paper with questions) which has the following printing options:

  • 1-5 (instead of A, B, C, D, E this has 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • A-D, F-J (every other question has A, B, C, D and the others have F, G, H, I, J)
  • A-E
  • A-E, F-K
  • TF (True or False)
  • 50 questions (this usually will have half of the paper with questions and the other half has lines where it allows students to write notes or other items that will not be scanned in) which has the following printing options:
    • 1-5
    • A-D, F-J
    • A-E
  • There are also two other options
    • 60 question A-H
    • 30 question TF

Test Player

To take advantage of the LAN feature you need to have an area on your network to publish the test (one that the students can see and use) and also the free Test Player. This test player will come with the purchase of ExamView, however it is available as a free download from eInstruction’s website.

This player allows students to answer any possible type if question available from the Test Generator. I personally love using this feature. I can immediately see how my students are doing on a subject (both individually and as a whole group). I can even set it up so that I can compare each class with my other classes.

Students log into the program and can then start answering questions. You can set up the test with a lot of different settings. For example, you can allow students to return to previous questions or force them to not be able to go back to them. You can also scramble the questions and possible answers (on multiple-choice-type questions) so that students can’t just look at their neighbor’s screen for the answers.

The reports that are available in the Test Manager are phenomenal. You can produce reports for yourself or reports to hand back to your students. It is one if the best features of the software.

IC3 Integration

Using the ExamView Player is a great way of helping students with the IC3 exams. I create exams with questions about each IC3 subject. When students need to remediate on questions they can come into my lab and go through them. I set up the player so they can see what the real answer is during this time. It doesn’t matter since during the final test the questions are random (not all of them show up) and the answers may be in a different order. This helps the students to take over their own learning. I only need to be around to help clarify answers they don’t understand.

OK, so I’ve taken forever to write this post and I want to get onto other subjects. If you want to try ExamView, you can download a free 30-day trial at the eInstruction website.

Sent from my iPod

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ExamView

So, in my last post I talked about ExamView. In this post I will explain more about the program and how it works.

There are four different programs that come with the suite. Today I will concentrate on the Test Generator.

This program is divided into two parts: a Test Builder and a Test Bank. The test builder allows you to create a test for your students to take. You can print it off and have them answer the questions on the printout.

You can also print out a bubble sheet for your students bubble in (a lot like the Scantron, except a lot cheaper). You then need a scanner (preferably with an Automatic Document Feeder) and you will be able to get the results in a few minutes (depending on your scanner speed). This has been one if the key features that sells this program when I talk about it. It is tons cheaper than purchasing a scantron and you can use regular paper and not scantron sheets. However, from what I can see, it will scan from scantron sheets as well (with a scantron scanner of course).

There are several different types of questions that you can create. These are:

  • True/False
  • Modified True/False (where test takers need to explain WHY an answer is True or False)
  • Multiple Choice
  • Multiple Response
  • Bumodal (can change question from Multiple Choice to Completion with the click of a button)
  • Yes/No
  • Numeric
  • Completion (like fill-in-the-blank)
  • Matching
  • Short Answer
  • Problem
  • Essay
  • Case
  • Other (these last five are the same type of question, just with different names)

The test bank allows you to create just that--a bank of questions. Each bank can hold up to 250 questions. It is just like the test generator in creating questions, but you wouldn’t print off a test from the test bank.

In the Test Builder you can scramble the questions and answers. This is helpful since it makes it easy to just put “A” as the correct answer in the Question Bank, then scramble them in the Test Builder.

You are also able to import or copy and paste pictures, tables, symbols, and hyperlinks into a question. There is also an equation editor to easily create math problems as well as a Graph creator.

One fantastic feature is that many publishers already have question banks created for many of the books they publish. So, if you already have a book you use in your class, you might want to see if your publisher already has banks available.

Since eInstruction owns ExamView, it is easily integrated into their CPS clicker software (I’ll talk about that in a later posting).

I use ExamView to create questions that have to do with the IC3 exams. I use these same questions to teach about the different subjects of the IC3 exams using the clickers that I will explain in another post.

In my next post I will discuss the Test Manager and Test Player.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

ExamView, UTIPs, and CPS Clickers

OK, so first of all I've used the ExamView softare for quite some time now. I don’t even remember when I first started using it. I find it a great piece of testing software. Before I get into ExamView, let me give you some information about a testing software we have available in Utah.

The Utah Education Network (UEN) has developed a really great databank of questions for teachers in Utah to use. It us called the Utah Test Item Pool or UTIPs. They even have a way for teachers to set up a test for students to take online. It is a pretty good piece of software, however it does have it’s drawbacks (as most pieces of software do). One if the biggest in the past is that if hundreds if students within the state are taking tests online, it can bog down the system. Also, if your network connection in your school it district goes down and you have planned on having your students taking that test, you are pretty much up a creek.

However, what I REALLY like about UTIPs is the databank of questions available. A lot of times questions that weren’t used on the end-of- level tests are placed here fir teachers to use. However, the drawback to this is if you are unfortunate enough not to be one of the core teachers (math, English, or science) you will have to create your own questions.

I have noticed that using ExamView allows me to create a test that my students can take in out local network. This helps if our district Internet connection goes down (not that it does frequently, however it has gone down at inoppurtune times). ExamView also helps because if the great reports it has. I’ll go into those reports at another time.

Another great reason to use ExamView is because it is owned by eInstruction. This is a company that also creates what is known as “clickers.” Although not the only company to make these clickers, it is one if the best sets around. I have even had people tell me that they have used them in their college classes at BYU and UVU.

These clickers are some if the best technology around for teachers. It allows teachers to evaluate students’ knowledge of anything right now. They also allow for a safe environment for students.

It is really nice to ask a question and see where the while class is on their knowledge of that subject. Of course one question does not really give you that perspective. However as you even ask one question most clicker software will tell you what percentage if the class got or guessed the question correctly. If a low percentage got it right, you as the teacher can spend a few minutes talking about that subject. This can spark a great discussion with students because there will be inquisitive students that will always ask more questions about the subject. It is always fun to talk about a topic that students thought they knew, but is obvious they don’t. I always like to throw a re- worded question a second or even third time to see how many students were paying attention before.

Students can feel safe because most clicker software won’t show if the student got the question right or not in front of the class. I always tell my students that if they were the only one in the class that got it wrong, they could laugh at the person that hot it wrong and no one will know that it was them.

eInstruction’s Classroom Performance System (CPS) is a pretty good piece of software. As I mentioned before, it integrates with ExamView quite easily. It is also an east interface to use. When you have “engaged” a lesson there are several options availableyo you. You can randomly puck a student and even wait until all students have been picked before starting the list all over again. You can also set it up so that it only picks the students who ate present that day. You of course can see a breakdown of what percentage of students answered the options that were available for the question.

One of the funnest features is the Top Ten list. This will give students a certain amount of points if they guess the question right. At first it is east to see who got the question right and who didn’t, but after about 5-6 questions it isn’t that easy. Also it allows you to give the first student who got the question right extra points. This is a real motivator to get in as soon as possible. However, it only goes to the first person that got it RIGHT. Also, if they guessed right, but then changed their answer, the extra points go to the next person. My students to crazy trying to get in first, plus they are always watching the points of their friends and calling them out when they pull ahead if them.

OK, so this entry has gone on way too long, and I may have talked too much, so I will end it here fir today and puckbit up tomorrow.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

History

I am always tweeking the way I teach my classes. Almost every year I have either changes some little thing or have done a major overhall of my teaching methods.

For a few years I had students working at their own pace on a workbook I put together (it was over 100 pages long and took forever to print the way I wanted it to). I quickly found out that this was not helping my students to learn the material in order to pass the IC3 exams. I wasn't having any studets pass the practice tests with a good enough score to actually pass the real exams.

Then one day something happened to our network and the test I was going to have my students take on the network wasn't available. So as usual I had to punt and work something else out. The CTE department for our district had purhased a set of "clickers" for each school. At first I thought they were a waste of money. However, since I didn't have my network to work with I decided to try and use these clickers to have my students take the test.

They didn't do so well on the test, however I found that using the clickers helped me to see where they were at immediately. I didn't have to wait until the end of the test to know that they hadn't learned anything from my workbook. I was intrigued. However, it would take another year or two for me to figure out a way that would help my students to learn the material enough to be able to take and pass the real IC3 exams.

My department had purchased the old IC3 practice tests. These were really great because the tests looks and feels like the real test environment. I had used these as a final exam before, but a I mentioned before, it really wasn't working too well. So I decided to show the practice test to my students on my LCD projector. I could show them how to complete the tasks they were being asked to do so they would know how to do them when they took the tests. The biggest problem was that every time you start the practice test it was a different test. You might have the same questions here and there, but hardly ever in the same order. Now as a test, thisbis really great, but to use it as a teaching tool seemed like a major problem. Also, I found that after awhile the students seemed to get bored. This is where I started mixing some ideas.

Some of the questions on the practice tests are knowledge questions (i.e. multiple choice, etc.). I brought out my clickers for these questions and the students were really engaged in the learning proces.

I quickly found that I could teach using the clickers and the practice tests. On the performance questions I could randomly pick a student to come to my computer and try to accomplish the task. I put my students into "teams" and if the student that was picked can do the task, then the team gets to click in die extra points. If the student cannot complete the task, then another student us randomly picked.

This has proven to work REALLY well. I have students who are more engaged in their learning. I even am having more and more students being prepared enough to actually take the IC3 exams and pass them!

In my next couple of entries I will write about the software and hardware that I use. I will also write about my current project of making my own practices for the performance questions.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Background

To give a bit if background on myself, my name is Phil Hanney (there are actually three if us in the world). I have been a computer Teacher at Orem Junior High School for the past eleven years.

I teach many classes. One of my favorites is called "Computer Technology." It is a required class in order to get a diploma in Utah. As I tell my students, if you complete all of your high school requirements and don't pass Computer Technology, you will only get a certificate of completion. I will write more about the class in another post.

One of the ways to "test out" of the class is to pass Ceriport's Internet and Computing Core Certification or IC3. The IC3 is also an option for the final for the class.

I passed the IC3 exams back in 2002 when they first came out. I have since passed the 2005 version as well.

What I hope to do with this blog is to show how I teach my course and hopefully start to collaborate with other teachers so that we all can become better facilitators for our students.

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