Tag Archives: implementation

NGSStweeps: A Look Inside NGSS Classrooms



Coming soon, @NGSS_tweeps!

As an educator, I am always curious about how other educators approach lessons, units, content areas, etc. I have never walked away from a peer observation or a student teacher/practicum experience without feeling like I better understood how to improve my own practice. To see how others do things makes it more clear why we do our own practices and find areas where we can continue to grow. I started blogging in my first year teaching to connect with a larger PLN and grow my practice. Blogging is great, but I still want more. I want to see inside the classrooms of those embracing NGSS. It is very vulnerable to share. As reflective practitioners, we are so critical of our own work. So, many of us still stand guarded in sharing our day-to-day adventures in implementing new standards.


My friend, Patrick Goff (@BMSscienceteach), has developed an idea for the NGSS community based off of accounts like @biotweeps. This idea will bridge this gap! Accounts like @biotweeps, let the community join in on what is happening in a biologist’s lab/research/field for a week and share in the experience. @NGSS_tweeps aims to do the same for the NGSS community.

I am so excited to support Patrick and others who share their professional experiences to benefit the NGSS community.

No matter where you are in your journey with NGSS, we can all learn from each other. Together, we can grow professionally and improve scientific literacy. Our students will even benefit from participating because they too will enjoy showing what they are DOING because NGSS gives them the skills to THINK and DO like scientists!

Join us in opening the doors on NGSS classrooms and celebrating the journey of implementing NGSS by following @NGSS_tweeps and consider hosting!

sullyscience signature


“Anoint Yourself Teacher Leader”

Ileadershipday2014_01-300x240 am fortunate to be employed in an environment that is supportive of teachers taking initiative and becoming teacher leaders. I was even told, “anoint yourself ‘Teacher Leader’”, by my department chair during my very first week in the building. It is clear that my value is not based on number of years I have taught or solely on the test scores from my classes, but also on my contribution to the school community. This invitation to lead from my administration has fueled my passion for sharing instructional strategies and tools with my colleagues and the world.

When I heard about #leadershipday14, I was inspired to participate in the challenge to speak (blog) about the role of administrators in fostering innovative technology-based programs in the P-12 setting.

The first concept in which I differ from other points of view on the subject is how I define my expectation of administrators. I expect effective leaders to not limit themselves by doing the modeling of practice themselves. Our current P-12 system removes our school-wide leaders from the classroom in order to perform their duties. There are many reasons for this, but it leaves us in a situation in which implementation is not modeled directly. Rather, it is the role of the administrator to inspire teacher leaders to provide the most current and relevant models of good practice.

I also differ from others when I believe the role of administrator does not include uncovering all applicable research to improve teaching practice. Instead, I suspect that inspired and empowered teacher leaders would find more relevant and timely resources to share. The role of the administrator then becomes the ‘disseminator’ of the information and the platform to support teacher-led professional development.

In order for an administrator to be both of the above, it is critical that they recognize two things:

  1. The potential for leadership in their employees
  2. How to empower teachers to rise and lead in areas like technology (especially in areas they might not be experts in)

As I am already fortunate to have received this call to leadership in my building, I challenge other administrators to lead their schools into the future by lifting up the gifted and curious among their staff and anointing them – teacher leaders.


Technology Implementation – Class Dojo

ClassDojo-IconThe Need

We have all been there – the parent conference for the formerly straight-A student. “I don’t understand. [Insert name here] has always done well in [insert subject here]. Why does he/she have a [insert non-A grade here]?”

There it is – the need for specific instances of student behavior that have led to their failure to learn. As teachers, we are aware of what behaviors lead to student success and which can stand in a student’s way, but how we respond to these difficult situations can be tricky. Sometimes, all it takes is your word. Other times, it takes data. Collecting behavior data can be problematic. It is inherently easier to note the bad behavior and to focus on only a couple of students.

That is where Class Dojo comes in.

The Tool

According to their website, Class Dojo is designed to “improve behavior, share data, and save time”. I have found it to be have a simple user friendly interface with great customization potential. When you first join Class Dojo, the tutorial and example class will teach you the basics. From importing rosters to inviting parents and students to view their progress, Class Dojo has made set up a breeze.

Deciding which positive and negative behaviors to monitor can be more difficult. Some questions to consider when choosing are:

  • How does this behavior impact student learning?
  • How will this behavior help students regulate their own actions?
  • How will tracking this behavior help parents support their student?
  • Which behaviors are valued by the school administrators?

Once your class is up and running, this tool is only as useful as you make it. Teacher accountability is necessary to keep useful and consistent data. Integration of Class Dojo into your daily class routine is essential. One easy way to integrate Class Dojo is by using the “Random” feature. You can easily call on students or check student participation by clicking “Random”. Class Dojo picks a student for you and then prompts you to assign either a positive or negative award.


The Plan

My plan for implementation of Class Dojo includes parent and student involvement. At the beginning of the year, I am using the parent and student invitations generated by Class Dojo to share login information. I will be encouraging students and parents to frequently check their accounts to monitor patterns in their classroom actions.

However, the most significant point of including parents and students in Class Dojo is to meet the need described at the beginning of the post – responding to parent concern. When something goes wrong, we can collaboratively identify points of concern related to behavior and isolate the results of behavior from academic concerns.

Although this responsive use of Class Dojo is the main purpose of promoting parent involvement, my biggest reason for implementing Class Dojo in my instruction is to be PROACTIVE rather than RESPONSIVE. By monitoring class data, I intend to identify patterns and changes in student behaviors and INTERVENE IMMEDIATELY. Student interventions become more meaningful as I can separate behavior from academic issues and respond appropriately.

The Evaluation

Good implementation of any tool requires a mode of evaluation in order to assess effectiveness. The points of evaluation to be used for Class Dojo include:

  • Teacher Data Collection
    • Successful teacher data collection is demonstrated by consistent tracking of student behaviors at a frequency of 3 times per class session.
  • Parent Involvement
    • Successful parent involvement is demonstrated by a participation percentage of 50% or higher.
      • Participation is defined as parent account set up and some use of portal
  • Student Involvement
    • Successful student involvement is demonstrated by a participation percentage of 75% or higher.
      • Participation is defined as student account set up and some use of portal
  • Successful Interventions
    • Successful interventions are demonstrated by useful application of Class Dojo generated data to inform next steps to improve student performance behaviorally and/or academically.

As the semester progresses, I will post about how implementation of Class Dojo measures up to the evaluation criteria listed above.

The Conclusion

Class Dojo has tremendous potential to empower teachers, parents, and students. The usefulness of the data generated and the ease of collection makes Class Dojo an easy addition to classroom instruction.

Technology implementation for student success!