Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 10 Posts of 2009

Here are the top 10 posts for 2009.  I have to admit that there were a couple of surprises, but they all offer valuable information that I think you will enjoy if you haven't previously read them. Also, don't forget to search the "Archive" or "Labels" for other posts that might be of value to you.
  1. National Consortium on Health Science and Technology Education
    The most popular post for 2009 discusses partnership between the National Consortium on Health Science and Technology Education (NCHSTE) (now called The National Consortium for Health Science Education) and the CareerTech Testing Center.

  2. The Secret of Writing Multiple-Choice Test Items
    This post discusses how multiple-choice questions (MCQ’s) play an important role in testing and are among the most widely used of selection-type items on examinations today and how they can be designed to measure a variety of learning outcomes. This post has gained a lot of traction and has generated a lot of response for us.

  3. Visual Thesaurus
    Visual Thesaurus is an interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates word maps that blossom with meanings and branch to related words. Although I am surprised at how popular this post was, I think it is a great tool that many of you can use. Try it out!

  4. The Pygmalion Effect: Are You Guilty?
    According to Wikipedia, the Pygmalion effect, (or Rosenthal effect, or Expectancy Effect), refers to situations in which students perform better than other students simply because they are expected to do so. It appears that this "concept" is controversial to some of you, but I think the Pygmalion effect does exist, at times, in regards to education and social class.

  5. Mike Rowe, Dirty Jobs, and mikeroweWorks
    Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel series "Dirty Jobs," has begun a campaign to celebrate the working men and women in this country. His website mikeroweWORKS, is a public awareness campaign designed to reinvigorate the trades, reinforce the importance of skilled labor, and draw attention to our crumbling infrastructure. Read our post to see the letter that he sent to President Obama.

  6.  Response to Intervention
    This interview with Nancy Goosen, Director of Special Services, Edmond (Oklahoma) Public Schools discusses the Response to Intervention (RtI) model. RtI is a service delivery model that uses data to guide instruction and intervention at increasingly intensive levels. Ms. Goosen goes into great detail on RtI, its implementation and its successes.

  7. Understanding the Numbers - III
    This post continues our discussion on statistics and the interpretation of ratio intelligent quotients, standard scores, stanines, and finally the relationship among derived scores.

  8. Why Do We Test Students?
    After a few conversations I thought it was time to address why we test and there are typically many reasons for why we test (educational, psychological, legislative, etc.). At the present time, most educational discussions seem to focus solely on accountability and there are justifiable reasons for that. As long as money is involved, there will always be that argument, but that isn't the purpose of this discussion.

  9.  Culinary Techniques - A New Culinary Arts Product from MAVCC
    MAVCC announced the release of Culinary Techniques, ©2009. Techniques, the third book in the Culinary Arts series, explores the essentials of food production, including tools and equipment, stocks, soups and gravies, salads, hors d’oeuvres, breakfast cookery, meats, desserts, garde manger, and much more. The curriculum is designed to give students a solid grounding in the fundamental skills needed for work in the commercial kitchen. The MAVCC Culinary Arts Series aligns with the American Culinary Federation competencies. Search MAVCC's online catalog for other great products!

  10. PhotoFiltre - Free Photo Editing and Effects
    PhotoFiltre is freeware that I use quite often. Did I mention that it is FREE (you probably know by now what that means to me)!!! Take a look!
I hope everyone enjoyed the CareerTech Testing Center Blog in 2009. Here’s to finding more to talk about in 2010! Happy New Year everyone!!! J.T.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

10 Internet Technologies That Educators Should be Informed About

I found a great post by K. Walsh on the EmergingEdTech Blog that I think is a great resource for any educator to use when mapping out their technology strategy. J.T.

K. Walsh

There are so many different tools and technologies available on the internet today, and so many associated terms and concepts. As I think about topics to focus on here in the coming months, I want to make sure we’re touching on the most important ones. What are the most important internet technologies for educators to be aware of, and informed about? I’m sure many people would probably come up with a slightly different list, but based on my observations and experiences, and feedback from faculty at my institution, I have selected the following technologies. I do not mean to imply that every educator should be expected to use all of these technologies in the classroom, but rather that every educator should understand what these are, the potential they have in the classroom, and how their students may already be using them.

1. Video and Podcasting - One of the most widely adopted internet technologies for use in instructional settings is video streaming. Between YouTube, TeacherTube, EduTube, and many other video hosting sites, there are an abundance of lectures, how-to videos, and supporting materials available in the form of web based video. Podcasting has also been used to provide similar offerings of audio materials through popular sites like iTunes. [Click here to learn more about video hosting for education, or here to learn more about podcasting for education.]

2. Presentation Tools - This category is vast and rich. There are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of tools on the Internet that can be used to create and share presentations, from simple Powerpoint slide players like Slideshare to multimedia timeline tools like Vuvox and OneTrueMedia. These tools can be used to support classroom teaching or distance learning, or for student reports and presentations.

3. Collaboration and Brainstorming Tools - This is another wide ranging category, including thought-organizing tools like mindmap and, and collaborative tools like web based interactive whiteboards and Google Documents. Additionally, some of the other tools in this list, such as wikis and virtual worlds, also serve as collaboration tools.

4. Blogs and Blogging – Bloggers and many other regular Internet users are well aware of blogs and blogging, but there are many other professionals who really are not frequenters of the “blogosphere”. In addition to a basic familiarity with this technology, educators should be aware of sites like Blogger and Wordpress, where users can quickly and easily create their own blogs for free.

5. Wikis – The use of Wikis in educational settings is growing every day. Sites like Wetpaint and others allow users to create free wiki web sites and are a great way to get started with using wikis for educational applications. [Click here to learn more about the use of Wikis in education].

6. Social Networking – All educators should have a basic understanding of sites like Facebook and MySpace and how they are used. This doesn’t mean they need accounts on these sites (and many educators would recommend against using these sites to communicate with their students), but they should understand what they are and how they are being used. Educators should also be aware of the professional social networking site LinkedIn.

7. IM – A large percentage of students use IM regularly, via Aim, IM aggregator site Meebo (Meebo allows users to combine messaging from Aim, Yahoo, MySpace, Facebook, and other sites), or other tools. It behooves educators to be aware of this, and I have even come across various articles about using IM within the classroom setting (such as this one from Educause).

8. Twitter – This listing is really focused on technologies, not specific applications, but this application is currently just too popular to ignore. You should at least understand what it is and the fundamentals of how it is used. [Click here for some insight into how Twitter can be used in education.]

9. Virtual Worlds – This technology has received a lot of press, with SecondLife being the clear leader thus far in this application area. In my experience, the use of SecondLife has been somewhat constrained by high bandwidth and processing power requirements, but this also means that there is still considerable room for increased adoption of the application as systems continue to become more powerful and higher speed bandwidth more prevalant. Active Worlds is one of a number of competitive technologies, and provides a “universe” dedicated to education that has been popular with educators.

10. RSS Feeds - RSS allows users to create their own “push” data streams (that is, define data flows you want coming to you automatically, rather than having to go and “pull” the information with a Google search or other browsing effort). RSS feeds enable you to take advantage of streams of published content that will be sitting in your In Box, or in an RSS reader, when you want them. There are RSS feeds available for many topics and many web sites.

While many readers may have their own interpretation of which technologies are essential for educators to be aware of, I think this is a great list to get started with. Of course, this list will require updating over time, as technologies change, and as educator’s uses of these technologies evolve. As always, reader input is welcomed. What do you think? Is this a good top 10? Would you like to see some other technologies listed here? Feel free to comment and offer your insights, please. Thanks!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Season's Greetings

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reporting Test Results to Parents

As promised in last weeks post, Limitations of Test Scores, the National Association of School Psychologists created a handout entitled, "Using and Understanding Test Scores - A Hand-out for Teachers" by Andrea Canter, Minneapolis Schools and I wanted to share not only the limitations of test scores, but how test results should be reported to parents.

According to NASP, "Parents are often overwhelmed by the test reports they receive from school personnel. In order to help establish a true partnership between parents and teachers, it is essential that information about student progress be communicated clearly, respectfully, and accurately. Test results should be provided to parents using:
  • Simple, clear language free from educational and test jargon
  • Explanations of the purpose(s) of the tests used
  • Brief descriptions of the test procedure(s)
  • Scores appropriate to the test's purpose
  • Clear explanations of the meaning of test scores
  • Information about the limitations of the test scores
  • Corroborating information from other sources
  • Opportunities for parents to ask questions about scores, testing, etc.
  • Information about how the test results will be used.
  Raw scores and percentiles, when appropriate to the tests used, are generally the most easily explained and familiar types of scores to report to parents. A visual reference may also be helpful, particularly in explaining the concept of "average." Numbers can be misleading and in some cases frightening; it is important for parents to understand the limitations of any test score and to receive a comprehensive picture of their child's performance, not just test results."
The following texts provide an overview of assessment issues for educators, including test scores:
Hamill, D. (1987) Assessing the Abilities and Instructional Needs of Students. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
Salvia, J. & Ysseldyke, J. (1988) Assessment in Special and Remedial Education, 4th Edition. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

10 TED Talks for Teachers to Watch Before 2010

I told you about TED in previous posts (Top Cultural and Educational Video Sites, etc.). If you remember, TED is a small non-profit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. They originally brought people together from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. providing talks and performances to the world, for free (more than 450 TEDTalks are now available, with more added each week).

I found the following post today on Free Technology for Teachers and I wanted to share it with you. These are some excellent videos that make you think and it will be a great resource to get you ready for the Spring semester and can you really go wrong with Coach John Wooden?

Here is the post:
"TED Talks provide viewers with insightful and thought-provoking commentary and ideas. The contents of many TED Talks can be directly or indirectly applied to your classroom practices. While you're on holiday break, you may want to watch one or all of these TED Talks. If you're interested in learning more about using TED Talks in your classroom, check out Teaching With TED.

TED Talks directly about education.

1. John Wooden on Winning vs. Success.
What strikes me most about Coach Wooden's talk is his emphasis on teaching and developing character over winning. One of his three most important rules, "no criticizing of teammates, I'm paid to do that," is a great rule that translates well to the classroom and the workplace.

Clifford Stoll has done many cool things in his life including catching a KGB spy, but the coolest thing he's done is teaching college level physics to 8th graders. What I like about Clifford Stoll is that instead of just talking about ways to teach and improve education he is actually getting on the front line and trying his ideas. (Stoll has definitely done enough things and made enough money to sit back and be a "consultant" but instead he's actually teaching, something I have tremendous respect for). In this talk he gave at TED in February 2006 Stoll talks about and demonstrates measuring the speed of sound with an 8th grade class. Stoll also makes a very profound, but somewhat obvious, statement about the future. He says, "if you want to know what the future generation will be like, ask a Kindergarten teacher."

In this TED Talk given by Joachim de Posada talks about the behavior of children when they are given a marshmallow and told not to eat it for fifteen minutes. In the talk Joachim de Posada reveals that the response of children to this challenge can be indicative of future success in life. In addition to being informative and thought-provoking, the talk includes some really cute video clips. The information shared in the talk confirms what most of us know about the impulse control of small children. None-the-less, it's nice to have a reminder that can inform our planning of day's lessons.

In this interesting TED Talk (they're all interesting) Bill Gates discusses mosquitoes, malaria, and education. The education part of his talk (the last eight minutes) presents some interesting fodder for conversation. While you may not agree with everything that Gates proposes in this talk, it will definitely make you think about what does and doesn't work in education.

Siftables are the high-tech version of the alphabet and number blocks we all played with as children. Siftables are little computer blocks or digital blocks that contain motion sensors, neighbor detection sensors, digital displays, and wireless communications. The blocks can be manipulated to create words, equations, pictures, and designs. Siftables are not yet commercially available nor do I have any idea what they would cost, but there is a ton of potential for Siftables as an educational resource. Siftables would be great for young students just learning to spell and do arthimetic. Siftables could also be great for older students to develop and try solutions to mathematics problems.

TED Talks with implications for education

6. Tom Wujec - 3 Ways the Brain Creates Meaning.
In this short talk Tom Wujec explains how the brain interprets words, images, feelings, and connections. As an educator I always take interest in research and discussion about how the brain absorbs and processes information. Knowing how the brain processes information should influence how we present information to our audience(s).

Do a Google search for just about any academic term and more times than not Wikipedia is at the top of the results. So how did Wikipedia get started? How does it continue to run? Watch this talk by the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, to find out.

In this talk Julian Treasure tells us that people working in open plan offices are 66% less productive than those in quiet rooms. Treasure follows that up by saying if you are in a noisy open plan room, wear headphones and listen to soothing sounds and your productivity goes back up. The ideas and information in the video are good to remember the next time you have students working independently in a large classroom. Perhaps instead of trying to keep them as quiet as possible, we should allow kids to use their mp3 players when they're working on independent assignments.

In this talk Clay Shirky examines how text messaging and social networks empower citizens to report the news without state-run media censorship. This TED Talk could be good for getting students to think about the positive things that they can accomplish using the technologies that they often think of as just fun tools.

If you're a music teacher, this two minute performance might be something you'd like to share with your students to encourage them to develop their improvisation skills.

In this video David Pogue performs a catchy medley about the changes in the way today's consumers access music and television. Pay particular attention to the middle section of song where David mentions how younger consumers watch two minute shows instead of traditional television shows. Watch and enjoy the video it will put you in a good mood for at least five minutes and you might learn something about shifts in media consumption too."

So what do you think of TED Talks?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Limitations of Test Scores

I found a hand-out from the National Association of School Psychologists entitled, "Using and Understanding Test Scores - A Hand-out for Teachers" by Andrea Canter, Minneapolis Schools and I wanted to share a part of it with you that explains the limitations of test scores:

"Scores can be useful, but must be interpreted carefully, keeping the purpose of the test in mind. A single test can only reflect a sample of skills; therefore, every score includes some degree of error in measurement - no score is absolutely accurate. Score are influenced by many factors, but particularly by the reliability and validity of the test. Reliable tests will yield consistent results if administrered many times. Valid tests actually measure and predict what they are intended to measure. For example, a valid reading decoding test will accurately distinguish students with strong and weak decoding skills; it will accurately predict which students will perform well in a phonics program and which students may have difficulty. We can place greater confidence in the scores provided by reliable and valid tests.

Many tests are of limited value when used with students who come from communities or cultures which are different from the White, middle class groups from which the scores were derived. Students who grow up in poor, rural or inner city communities, in ethnic minority families, or in families who primarily speak a language other than English are not typically well-represented in the standardization of tests, and scores obtained by these students often reflect some degree of bias.

Certain test scores are only useful for certain purposes, and not for others. Percentiles and standard scores, for example, are not intended to measure student growth. They only show relative standing compared to others, and this relationship does not necessarily change as students progress through the curriculum. Raw scores, such as words read correctlyor number of multiplication problems solved correctly, can be plotted over time to reflect progress.

Limitations of test scores can be minimized by using other types of information to describe student performance. Test scores alone should never be used to make placement or other serious educational decisions. Observations, school and health history, parent information, daily work samples, etc. should be used in conjunction with test scores.

Limitations of test scores can be further minimized by the use of qualified assessment personnel such as school psychologists to assist in the selection of tests and the interpretation of results."

The following texts provide an overview of assessment issues for educators, including test scores:
Hamill, D. (1987) Assessing the Abilities and Instructional Needs of Students. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
Salvia, J. & Ysseldyke, J. (1988) Assessment in Special and Remedial Education, 4th Edition. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin

I'll have another post at the beginning of next week that explains how test results should be reported to parents. J.T.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Medical Assistant Assessment Expands to Three New Assessments

The CareerTech Testing Center would like to announce that our previous Medical Assistant test has been replaced with three new ones. These new assessments include: Medical Assistant: Administration, Medical Assistant: Clinical and Medical Assistant: Phlebotomy. All three tests have been endorsed by Integris Physician Services and are now available.

Please contact the CareerTech Testing Center today at 405.743.5412 to schedule these new assessments!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Cheers" to John Ratzenberger

John Ratzenberger, better known as Cliff Clavin from the "Cheers" TV Series, is a founder of Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs which is "dedicated to nurturing the tinkering spirit."

According to the site, "Through its manufacturing summer camps and scholarships, NBT is inspiring the next generation of manufacturers, welders, plumbers, carpenters and more ... one tinkerer at a time. Ratzenberger also speaks on behalf of the organization and how they are addressing the urgent need to engage young people in career preparation for well-paid, fulfilling jobs that require hands-on skills."

NBT's goals are:
  • NBT will be the recognized resource for career development information programs, outreach, training, and services to facilitate a skilled manufacturing work force.
  • NBT will be the recognized voice for the general public awareness of the challenge and solutions for renewing the future manufacturing work force.
  • NBT will be a powerful fundraiser that is successful in developing and implementing its funding campaigns.
NBT had a camp last summer in Oklahoma City and they have many of Oklahoma's Technology Centers listed on their site (not all are listed so you may want to contact them).

NBT also offers scholarships for college and trade schools so you might also have your students check out the information.

Congratulations to Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and now John Ratzenberger from Cheers for singing the praises of career and technology education!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Latest Ways that Kids Cheat on Exams

Does your text plan for your mobile device never seem big enough, especially if you have teenage kids? Whether you call them cell phones, mobile devices, smart phones, could 25% of all students be using these devices to cheat?

Lynn O'Shaughnessy on CBS, reports on "The Latest Way that Kids Cheat on Exams." According to the article, "If a student cheats on an exam by texting is it really cheating? Not apparently for millions of teenagers, who typically send and receive 2,272 text messages a month. The cell phone for many students is just as important on test day as a No. 2 pencil and a good night’s sleep.

In a survey conducted by Common Sense Media, one out of three students in grades seven through 12 admit that they have used their cell phones to cheat on tests. What’s more, 65% of all the students surveyed say other kids in their schools are using their cell phones to cheat.

 Here’s how kids who admit to digital cheating pull it off:
  1. They check notes on their phone during exams. (26%).
  2. They text friends for tests answers. (25%).
  3. They hunt for answers on the Internet during tests. (20%).
And isn’t this thoughtful? More than half the cheaters say they text or use their cell phones to call friends to warn them of pop quizzes. Only 16% of students think alerting classmates about a quiz is cheating and only half of students believe that using their cell phone to cheat during tests is a serious offense.

Cell phone cheating prompted the nonprofit Common Sense Media to suggest that schools and parents need to start searching for solutions to this ethical disconnect:

“The results of this poll show the huge need for a national discussion on the concept of digital ethics. Kids have always found ways to cheat in school, but the tools they now have at their disposal are more powerful than ever. Just as they need to be taught the rules of right and wrong in the offline world, kids should have a similar set of guidelines for good online behavior…”

 In the meantime, if phones continue growing smarter, students may some day not have to think at all."

Are you planning on confiscating cell phones now??? J.T.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A New Assessment: Damage Appraiser/Estimator:

Unfortunately, it's that time of year when we begin to get winter storms and all of the terrible road conditions that goes with it. I truly hope that every one of you stays safe, but I wanted to take this time to announce a new assessment that is being offered by the CareerTech Testing Center.

Within our Auto Body series, we have just added an online assessment and skills standards for Damage Appraiser/Estimator.

This new test is in addition to our existing tests and standards that align with ASE/NATEF: Non-Structural Analysis and Damage Repair Technician and Painting and Refinishing Technician.

Please contact the CareerTech Testing Center at 405.743.5412 to order this new assessment! As always, you can access our skills standards for FREE on our website.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

10 Questions Every Parent and Student Should Ask About Testing

I found a 2006 CNN article by Audrey Schewe entitled, "Cheat Sheet for Parents on Testing: Ask Right Questions to Understand Impact on Children, Schools." The last couple of pages were from the National PTA and it involved questions to ask before and after testing. I'll list them for you first and then provide a few comments:

Questions to Ask Before Testing
1. Which tests are given in my child's grade?
2. What are the purposes of these tests? What will these tests measure? How will the scores be reported?
3. How will the results of the tests be used?
4. What do you do to prepare children for the tests? What can I do at home to help my child prepare to take the test?
5. What happens if my child performs poorly?

Questions to Ask After Testing
1. What do the test results tell me about my child's strengths and weaknesses?
2. What can I do to help strengthen my child's skills and abilities?
3. Are the test results consistent with my child's performance in the classroom?
4. How does my child compare with his peers?
5. Is the test data used to help improve instruction? What, if any, changes will be made in the classroom instruction?

First of all, I believe that all of these questions should be asked by both parents AND students. I think that a student should always advocate for themselves and taking responsibility for their actions is an important first step for any individual.

The first questions I would add to the list of questions to ask prior to testing is "who" will administer the test and "who" will interpret the test? It is important that a person knowledgeable in assessment should administer and interpret the test. A standard score of 70 is not "like a C average" and unbelievably, I have heard that interpretation before. I would also ask what happens if my child, or I, performs successfully? Almost any type of test will demonstrate areas of relative weakness and areas or relative strength. Your child may make a score at the 95 percentile, but he/she may have a weakness in a particular area. Like I have stated before, a test is a point in time reference and a multitude of factors comprise this score. A person knolwedgeable in assessment should include these factors when interpreting the test.

The questions that are listed to ask after testing are all important. From my point of view though, I'm most interested in building upon strengths and remediating weaknesses. Use the test results to establish obtainable goals for the student and then monitor their progress and continue to raise the bar. Although it is interesting to compare yourself or your child to others, I really care about maximizing a person's abilities. Everybody has a strength, something that is unique to them, and it's exciting to watch them find success!  One last thing, besides using test results to improve classroom instruction, the results should be evaluated in regards to program improvement as well.

Remember to empower yourselves as a student or as a parent. Become active in your education...get involved and ask lots of questions! Asking questions is the best way to learn!!! J.T.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Google Wave Update: Is Anybody Out There?

I made a post last October stating how excited I was about the new Google Wave, but I also told you how sad I was that Google didn't select me to receive a demo version of the new product.

Guess what??? Times have changed and I just received my invitation to preview Google Wave! Unfortunately, I can't share the activation link, but there are so many features that I could try if I knew of anyone else that has access.

Please contact me if you have access. I would really like to see some of the features with multiple users.

Happy waving! J.T.

Looking for Web 2.0? Try Go2web2.0

Besides testing, we spend alot of our time sharing educational technology with you (especially Web 2.0 resources). I wanted to let you know about a directory that I use called Go2web2.0. According to the site,  "For the past two years, Go2web20 has been one of the biggest web2.0 directories out there. We built this application to enable people to stay up to date with all the new and hot services that are born daily into the web. In many cases, Go2web20 has been the first to report the existence of a new application.

Today Go2web20 includes over 3,000 services and more are uploaded everyday. We also make sure to disable services that are no longer working and by doing this we ensure a more useful and enjoyable experience when performing a search. We believe that this is a natural behavior and logical progress - not all the services that you see here will live forever, but they'll serve you for as long as they live."

Go2web2.0 has listed these services according to category and each service has it's own app page (from there you can visit the website).
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...