The Big Ideas

In January, teachers start giving their students paper copies of the New York State tests to prepare them for the upcoming exams. Sometimes these teachers grade these "practice" tests (which I think contributes to the anxiety surrounding them).
As students move into middle school, administrators and teachers place a greater emphasis on academic performance goals than their elementary colleagues (Midgley, Anderman, & Hicks, 1995) and this new emphasis of grades affects the students' perceptions of themselves as learners (Pajares, Britner, Valiante, 2000). Pajares (1992) said that when a belief is formed early and “incorporated into the belief structure, the more difficult it is to alter” (p. 324–325). So, why do we grade these practice tests? I do not know!

While the students take these practice tests, they encounter questions that they do not know how to answer. In most classrooms, if the teacher goes over the questions, they focus on the "right" answer and may not take the opportunity to explain strategies for answering the questions, key vocabulary that will help them answer the questions or opportunitiesto solve the same type of questions.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if students could practice taking the exams that support multi-modality? These multi-modal exams could be designed so that strategies, vocabulary and other practice opportunities could be embedded right into the test. I can see an exam question that might look like this: - click here for an example -

In this section of the trail, we are going to build small pockets of feedback to help students with the most commonly assessed exam items. We are going to build something that teachers, who are more interested in students' learning content, can send their student to for practice. This section of the trail is in it's infancy. I do not know how this will be promoted to others...yet, but I do know that we are going to build pedagogical content knowledge together

1. Create a multi-modal document out of a New York State test (EDU 612 students please create an ELA document)

2. Choose questions or problems that do not have links to: Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS), Strategies, Practice Sites or Vocabulary links, such as this one:

3. Map 10 questions to the Common Core Learning Standards - details will be found in step 8 of this trail.

4. Build or link to 10 strategies to help students figure out how to solve the problem - details will be found in step 9 of this trail.

5. Link to 5 practice sites to support the student's use of the strategy that you suggested - details will be found in step 10 of this trail.

6. Identify 10 words you think kids would need to know in order to answer the question - details will be found in step 11 of this trail.

Here is an example that was mapped to a CCLS, to a practice site and to key vocabulary words (N.B. the author did not build or link to a strategy):

7. In order for me to know what you did, you MUST do the following:
a.) Choose multi-modal documents to revise
b.) Revise them as noted in steps 3 - 6 which reflect the rubric and put your name in RED in parenthesis next to your revision (just like the word VOCAB in the above example)
c.) TAG the multi-modal document with your FIRST NAME (so I can find your work, if you do not tag them, I WON'T hunt for them) In order to TAG a page with your name, do the following:
Screen Shot 2012-06-08 at 7.31.42 AM.png
Screen Shot showing how to create a Tag
(1) Scroll to the top of the multi-modal document wikipage
(2) Look at the Editing toolbar (where you see the button that says Edit)
(3) Click on the button with the three dots (. . .)
(4) Next to the word Tag, click on the word Edit
(5) Type in your FIRST NAME
(6) Click Save - this is very, very important
(7) I will search the TAGs to find your name and thus all of your work on this trail

8. In order to get started, choose the multi-modal documents you wish to revise (remember you do not have to do math and you can build your own if you wish; it is a lot of work though)

EDU 672 Summer Students Skip to the next section of the trail..... - click here -

Third Graders Learn about Economics and a Supply Chain
Let's start building! There are many ways to tackle this problem, but I think the easiest way is for you to copy my format and clean up the formatting issues. This is the procedure I am going to describe and of course you are more than welcome to do your own thing. Read the whole procedure before starting this.

1.) Create a new page on this wiki and name the page with the subject of the test, the year of the test and the grade level of the test (do not worry if two of you do the same test, wikispaces will prompt you to edit the name. If this happens to you, just give the name a letter a, b, or c after the name). For example:

math2009grade3 - if that is taken call it math2009grade3a or math2009grade3b, etc,.

2.) When you create a new wiki page, there is a prompt for a tag, please tag your new page with the subject of the test, for example: math, ela, science or social studies

3.) Here is the link to the new page section of this wiki - click here - do not close the tab because this is the tab where you will create your assessment

4.) Visit this wiki page where I am building my assessment - click here - close the tab when you are done with step 5a - 5g because you will not need my text anymore.

5.) BE VERY CAREFUL FOR THIS NEXT PART BECAUSE YOU CAN SCREW THIS UP FOR EVERYBODY (I can fix it for the group, but not in a timely manner -meaning immediately). When you click on the tab that has the assessment that I am building do the following:
a.) click on the EDIT button
b.) click the drop down arrow on the SAVE button. You will see a menu of choices and choose Wikitext Editor
c.) select all the text by using the keyboard shortcut - ctrl a (Windows) command a (Mac) - this will highlight all your text
d.) copy all that wikitext code into the computer's memory by using the keyboard shortcut - ctrl c (Windows) or command c (Mac)
e.) visit the tab where you created your new page and click the EDIT button and then the drop down arrow on the SAVE button and choose Wikitext Editor
f.) paste all the wikitext you have in the computer's memory using the keyboard shortcut - ctrl - v (Windows) command c (Mac)
g.) Save the new page

6.) Take a look at your work. You will see test questions that look very well formatted and you will see missing pictures - those are screen shots that you have to take to make your test look good. Otherwise the kids will not be able to answer those questions. If you need help taking taking screen shots, I would try these resources:
a.) Windows - Jing ( or
b.) Mac (this is easy on a mac) -

7.) You will also see the format at the bottom of each question: CCLS: | Strategies | Practice - this is where you will EVENTUALLY link to multi-modal resources to help kids learn.

8.) Start building the wikipage and do not worry about these items: CCLS: | Strategies | Practice ....yet

external image hiker.png Continue your hike on this trail ---->