Thursday, October 2, 2014

ZMOT in Education

Technology itself is not changing education.
From the eBook by Mr. Lecinski & Google

The behaviors we have created for ourselves as a result of technology are changing education.

While at Google HQ in August, we heard from the head of Google's offices in Chicago, Jim Lecinski. Soon after hearing him speak, he published an article entitled "ZMOT: Why It Matters Now More Than Ever".  After reading it, you realize our behaviors as a culture are changing because of how we interact with the vast amount of information available online.

Educators needs to know what ZMOT is and how we might use it in schools.

ZMOT means "Zero Moment of Truth", and it refers to the exact moment when a person has a need, intent, or question he/she wants answered and goes online to find it.  A product that can answer that need in the moment has an advantage in the marketplace.  Online presence and advertising allow the consumer to find an answer and the merchant to make a profit. Google has pioneered the concept of ZMOT, and Mr. Lecinski has written extensively about it (click here for Google's collection of ZMOT resources).

Marketers are very interested in the habits and behavior of consumers, and Google is a marketing giant.  ZMOT is easy to think about in your own life:  Think of a recent online purchase you made. What was your original need or intent (a hotel room? household item?)  Now think about how much research you did and how many websites you checked before you hit the final "purchase" button.  Did you research quality, price, design, shipping, promotional codes, etc?  Marketers want to know exactly what it takes for you to finally hit their "buy" button.

But what might ZMOT have to do with education?

Do we know what our student's questions and needs are?
People go online when they have a question that needs answering.  Do we know what our student's questions are?  Do we know what they want to know?  If not, does that make us less helpful to them than the device in their pocket?  The job of a teacher is increasingly becoming setting up the next set of questions we want students to be thinking about.  That's how we stay a step ahead in the "marketing" of knowledge.  But we do not need to have a monopoly on that information anymore - there is a world to support us.

Do students believe teachers as much as they used to?
On a recent road trip, my wife and I read a lot of hotel and attraction reviews before purchasing.  If students are growing up with a consumer mentality of checking 10+ merchants before hitting "purchase", are they going to believe the first thing a teacher has to offer?  On the other hand, it might mean students are willing to consider varied sources before making a final decision.  Either way, Constructivism saves us here - teachers who create the conditions for building knowledge allow students to struggle, research, and build upon their natural curiosity.

Jim Lecinski, the author of the article, offers four tips to win the Zero Moment of Truth in the marketplace.
I think they apply to education as well.  They are:

1.  Use search to uncover and understand the moments that matter.
We need to build relationships with our students.  Our students have questions and needs.  We cannot know those questions without building relationships first - relationships that are even stronger than the mobile device they will consult.  We must search out the moments that matter to our students.

2.  Be present in the moments that matter.
When the question arises, go for it.  Don't put it off.  It took a lot of courage for that student to put him/herself out there and voice that need.  Build time in your classes for these moments to develop. Value questions.  If you can answer that need in the moment, you have made the student's life better and passed on your knowledge as well.  They'll come back again next time.

3.  Have something interesting, relevant, and/or engaging to say.
Do you have something different or unique to offer?  In a system where the ultimate product (knowledge) is pretty much the same from any source (CCSS), do you offer better quality?  Or a better design experience for your students?  They'll come back to you next time if you do.  In a world of standardized learning, teachers must turn to quality and design to differentiate their product (see Daniel Pink's book A Whole New Mind).

4.  Measure the impact.
Marketers are really good at this.  Teachers are getting increasingly good at it.  Everything our students say and do provides data.  Do we harness it and use it to improve our practice?  Do we know where our students are so that we can offer them the next greatest concept when they are ready with their next question or need?

If we truly follow this ZMOT logic in education, we will understand the imperative of breaking down walls between students based on age.  Zero Moment of Truth means students would get the information they need to grow at just the right moment, not by grade level.  It is differentiation, but not based on age or grade level.  It is based on standards, needs, and curiosity.  No more letting some kids sit for days at a time while others are double dosed daily.  Everyone works at their own level, based on current need and questions. Our changing human behaviors are driving us to this new reality.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Early Thoughts on Mastery Learning in Music

So, 4-5 weeks into the school year and I have taken a slower pace than I have ever taken previously.  I had always been a teacher who had a concert's worth of music (or more) in folders, ready to go on day one.  I had always believed in getting right to work and setting the tone with a full plate.

This year was different, and it was due to the assessments that were designed for both music theory and music performance.  When you are moving into a standards-based/mastery model, you cannot jump right into rehearsal.
Here is what the first four weeks of school looked like in choir (45 min of choir every other day):
Week 1 - Study the history of the Star-Spangled Banner (200th birthday) and use the National Anthem to work on quality performance skills.  Also worked on two simple patriotic partner song choral pieces. Talked about upcoming assessments.
Weeks 2 & 3 - Assessments - Every students had two assessments:  an online music theory test (a Google Form that is self-graded by Flubaroo) as well as a performance hearing (their choice of patriotic song).  Performance skills were based on three factors for the first assessment:  posture, accurate pitch matching, and vowel shapes.  Click here for my post and screencast about how I set up Google Docs and used Kaizena to record performances.
Week 4 - Make-up assessments for students who missed or that we ran out of time.  Start rehearsal of our first concert piece.  And I didn't worry that some students were out of the room for make-ups with a colleague - I just started rehearsals with students who were present.  It actually was nice to "prime the pump" with a smaller group that could then teach the larger group once we all were together.

And how did the assessments go?  Pretty well.  A few observations:
• Students are used to the idea that everything gets a grade.  One of the most tension-reducing moments for students (and teacher) was when I told students that these assessments would not be part of their grade, except to say they had completed them.  They are just to find out where you are - why should anyone be penalized for that?
• Students wondered how the assessments would be used.  When they found out we would be focusing on growth, I think we had immediate buy-in from 95% of the class.  Telling a person you are focusing on his/her individual growth immediately establishes a relationship of care and concern.
• We also spent a good amount of time talking about other things students are good at, how they got to that point, and growth mindset.
• Assessment takes WAY longer than you imagine it will take.  Students who are poor at theory struggle over every best guess, never finish, or never hit the "submit" button at the end of the survey. And even though each student only sang for 20-30 seconds in a performance hearing, it takes a long time.
• The positive culture in the classroom and the high expectations of musicianship that hopefully continue have already made up for the 3 weeks of time it took to get mastery learning off the ground with these assessments.

In the end, I have two sets of baseline data:
Music Theory Knowledge (from online form graded by Flubaroo, 67 questions)
Musical Skills Performance Assessment (from performance hearing, max score = 9)

One thing that has not happened yet is having the students use the data to set their own goals for the next assessment.  That will be the next step.

Assess with Kaizena & Gather Data with Goobric

In a previous post, I explained how to use Kaizena to record performances and attach audio performance to the comment feed of a Google Doc.  We have completely joined the performance to the assessment tool in a single file.

In this screencast, I explain what to do after recording a student's performance.
Teachers can listen to the recording and then capture data to analyze.  This would work for any teacher - not just a music teacher.

The steps in the screencast include:
1. Open student assessment rubric
2. Click on comment feed; Kaizena opens in new tab to listen to performance
3. From Google Doc assessment rubric, use Goobric to submit scores and comments
4. Use Google Form and Flubaroo to create and grade online test of music theory
5. Use scores from theory exam and performance hearing to create data set for entire class
6. Use Google Sheets to create various charts from collected data for analysis.

Here's the screencast:

Sorry the screencast is so long.  It's probably three separate blog posts (at least).  But, as Mark Twain might say today, "I didn't have time to write a short blog post, so I recorded a long screencast instead."  (Apologies to Mark Twain)

I will do a separate blog post on using data in the music classroom in the near future.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Dumbest Person in the Room ... and Loving It

In August, I had the pleasure to visit the Google Headquarters in downtown Chicago as part of the CPS Googlepalooza conference.  Google flew in top Apps for Education people from all over the nation for this event, and in the course of the two days, we heard, met, and learned so much.

Two of the people who spoke that week were Jaime Casap, Google's Global EDU Evangelist (who wouldn't want that title?) and Jim Lecinski, the head of Google's office in Chicago.

My favorite quote from the conference was spoken by Jaime Casap in the midst of a roundtable Q&A with the Googlers.  Speaking of his job, he said "I love being the dumbest person in a room of really smart people!"  He was clearly being self-deprecating since he is a smart guy.

But what does "I love being the dumbest person in a room of really smart people" really mean?

• It is really hard to grow when you think you're the smartest person in the room.
If you think you have little to gain, you're probably right.  People who think they're the smartest person in a room are difficult to relate to.

• Put yourself in risky situations where your mind may be totally blown.
Two years ago, I went to an EdCamp wanting to attend a scripting session.  I didn't know anything about scripting, but I wanted to know about it.  It was one of those times where I was in way over my head, but I loved that feeling.  Today, I look for opportunities to have that same mind-blowing feeling.

• Have a growth mindset.
When you surround yourself with really smart people, you start to question yourself.  Don't be afraid to grow based on those questions - those really smart people in the room probably questioned themselves at one point, too.
Growth Mindset anchor chart from @escott818

Everyone wants to look smart, including our students.
What do we do to get students to be comfortable with the idea of being the "dumbest person in a room of really smart people" and not feeling down about themselves?  Let me be clear: I am talking about a growth mindset here - not achievement or excuses.

• Develop relationships.
Students need to recognize the "really smart part" of every student. Trying to appear smart (or class clown) is a coping or defense mechanism when we don't feel valued in another way.  Developing relationships, recognizing the "How are you smart?" in every student, and being able to say "You matter!" lowers the defenses.

• Support student goal-setting.
Goals really are just framing our shortcomings in a positive, action-oriented way.  Goals say "I need something here - I am missing something here.  Here's how I will set about achieving it."  Goal setting moves a person into a growth mindset, as long as the goals are achievable and supported by others.

• Celebrate accomplishment.
How do kids celebrate accomplishment in a video game?  By moving on to the next level!  Same thing in a classroom.  Celebrate accomplishment and move on to bigger goals.

I hope to make my next blog post about my other big take-away from Google HQ.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Standards Based Learning and Assessment in Music: An Index

After a series of ten (ten?!) posts regarding Standards Based Learning and Performance Assessment in the music classroom, I put together a "table of contents" or index of the entire series. Feel free to click and read any or all of the posts.  I hope this is of use to others.  Good curriculum design crosses content areas - there are applications in these pages to all areas of the curriculum.

Chapter 1
Standards Based Music Assessment - Why state contest ballots won't help students improve.

Chapter 2
Standards - What They Are and What They Are Not - The pieces you perform are not units.  This post also details the four musical units we have put into place for all 6-12 ensembles.

Chapter 3
Why SBL in Music? - The personal reasons why I have started a journey to standards-based learning in music.

Chapter 4
Love at First Sight - Practical books for music departments that are focusing on student achievement and curriculum

Chapter 5
A Book You Must Read - Tony Frontier's Five Levers to Improve Learning will change the way you teach and lead

Chapter 6
Four Questions to Ask When Designing Music Assessments - It's all about quality - individual quality, ensemble quality, responsibility, and improvement.

Chapter 7
Setting the (Learning) Targets - Every topic in music can be broken down into smaller components. Teach students these 18 targets for quality vocal performances.

Chapter 8
Defining Quality - Once you have your learning targets, you can identify what represents quality (or lack of quality) in each of the 18 areas.  Also, offer strategies for improvement in each learning target.

Chapter 9
Standards Based Music Performance Report - Using the materials developed from the first eight chapters, I have designed the music assessment document presented in chapter nine.

Chapter 10
Recording & Assessing Music Performance - A pretty "tech-y" workflow that makes standards based learning doable, practical, and shareable for students, parents, and teachers.  The point is to use data to improve student & ensemble performance.  Not just to collect data.

Thanks for being a part of this journey!

Recording & Assessing Student Performance

What is the biggest obstacle in musical performance assessment?
Recording student performances.
How to record? When to listen? Who listens? What to do with the recordings? How to use the recording for assessment?  With all those students? How does it help the ensemble?
The questions are so numerous that we often give up.

What if we could "attach" the performance directly to the assessment?

And allow students to self-reflect and set goals based on the data?
And allow parents to be part of the process?
And be able to archive it, creating a digital portfolio?
And be able to keep it over the course of many years?
And be able to collect the data and use it to identify areas of need for individuals and the group?
And be able to do it all for FREE?

This post is about to get pretty tech-y.  If that scares you, I apologize.

Here's the simple list of the tech tools we can use to make this work:
Kaizena - to record voice comments (student performance) and attach to a google doc
GClass Folders - to create folders in every student's Google Drive that are accessible by both the teacher and the student
Doctopus - to copy assessment forms into each student's Google account
Goobric - to score students and collect that data back into a single teacher spreadsheet
QR codes - to provide easy access to individual student folders

Two questions come up right away?
1.  Why not use Smart Music?  It's not free.
2.  Why not use Google Classroom?  Right now, Google classroom allows only one editor of a document at a time.  It is written so that the student and teacher alternate editing rights.  If we want student and teacher to collaborate, both teacher and student need editing rights concurrently.  I hope that becomes a feature of Classroom in the future.

Now, a little more in-depth about each tech tool.
Kaizena integrates with your Google Drive.  Once you connect Kaizena to your Google Drive (click red "New" button, choose "More" and "Connect More Apps", then search for Kaizena), you can open any document with Kaizena (right click on doc, choose "Open With" and then Kaizena) and record audio.  The audio is then saved as a Comment in the comment feed.  When you, the student, or the parent (if granted permission) opens the document, the recording will remain in the comment feed.  Re-recordings could be added.  Kaizena allows you to tag your audio comments and will send notifications of new comments.

GClass Folders is an add-on in Google Sheets that enables a teacher to install a folder into each student's Google Drive.  Actually, it adds three folders to every student's Google Drive, preset with the correct permissions.  One folder is for classwide viewing, one folder is for classwide editing, and the third folder (assignment folder) is individualized for each student, accessible only by the teacher and student.

Doctopus & Goobric are also add-ons in Google Sheets.  Once you have set up your student folders using GClass Folders above, use Doctopus to make "virtual copies" of your assessment document.  The assessment will be placed into each student's "assignment" folder.  Doctopus integrates with GClass Folders, even though they are separate add-ons.  Goobric, on the other hand, is part of Doctopus.  Goobric allows you to attach a rubric template to your assessment.  As you fill out the rubric, the data is collected into the teacher's spreadsheet.  From there, you can analyze the data for the entire class.

I previously did a blog post on Doctopus.  I am not making a screencast of how to use GClass Folders, Doctopus, or Goobric because it involves student names (no FERPA violations here), so I'll leave it to the experts to explain it better.

QR Codes are a great way for teachers and students to have fast access to anything.  But did you know you can have Google Sheets automatically create QR codes?  Put your URL (or any other content) in the first column of a spreadsheet, and in the second column, paste this formula:
If needed, be sure to change the "A2" at the end of the formula to whatever your reference cell is. The formula will be replaced with a QR code.  You can copy down the formula for as many rows as needed in your spreadsheet.  Print the QR codes and tape them to folders, binders, desks, bulletin boards, or wherever so that students can skip the steps of searching through their Google Drive for the correct folder.

OK - so the assessment workflow COULD be this:
Beginning of the year:
1.  Teacher creates assignment folder for each student with GClass folders (one time, update as needed).
2.  Create QR code links to each student's assignment folder and tape to choir folders.

Every time students will be assessed:
1.  Teacher uses Doctopus to copy assessment document into each student's folder.
2.  Teacher uses Goobric to associate rubric with assessment document.

During assessment:
1.  Student or teacher opens assessment document in Kaizena and records performance. (Depends if teacher is listening live or recorded.)
2.  Teacher assesses performance and assigns scores using Goobric.
3.  Student and teacher together set new goal for next assessment period.  The assessment document has a spot for reflection and goal setting.

After assessment:
Multiple options: Teacher can share assessment doc to parents, teacher can pull up assessment documents at conferences, teacher can use in class for analysis by other students (with permission), teacher can use class data from Goobric and present to the class to analyze.  There are many options!

It took a long time to work all this out, but not very long to set up.   The real breakthrough was Kaizena and the ability to connect performance with assessment.

This has been my Summer project.  My hope is to focus on individual students, and in turn, raise the level of the entire ensemble.  It also makes music assessment quantifiable, yet clearly standards-based.  And it is built entirely on solid curriculum.  This process could be used in other curricular areas as well.  If you would like more information, please contact me on Twitter or by leaving a comment below.  Thank you!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Standards Based Music Performance Report

All of the blogs I have been writing about standards-based learning over the last several weeks have brought me to this point.  Taking all of the standards and learning targets, defining what quality looks and sounds like, linking individual performance growth to the performance growth of the group, and so on has brought us to actually assessing student growth.

At some point, we must assess the individual student for several reasons:
• To establish where the student is at one point in time as compared to the standard (pre-assessment)
• To identify opportunities for growth (goals)
• To monitor growth (formative)
• To provide individualized feedback
• To provide individualized exercises to meet student needs (differentiation)
• To establish that the student performs concert music at an age-appropriate level (summative)

Using the spreadsheet that defines quality for all learning targets (previous post), I created a somewhat-simpler assessment page.  It is not a rubric.  Defining what quality looks and sounds like is acceptable.  I think we will start to see rubrics more and more replaced by "quality" statements because they allow for greater flexibility.

It starts with the student's current goal, takes the student and teacher together through the assessment, asks for feedback from the student and the teacher based on the data collected, and then finally the student and teacher together set a new goal and plan for improvement so that the group may continue to improve.

Here is the assessment sheet as a Google Sheet.
Here is the assessment sheet as a Google Doc.

Partial screenshot of Individual Assessment for choral music
My next blog will be to explain one possible workflow and way of using the assessment sheet so that student, parents, and teachers all benefit.