Icon for: Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes

FATIMA TERRAZAS-ARELLANES

University of Oregon, Georgia Southern University
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Researcher
    May 14, 2018 | 08:03 a.m.

    Interesting video, and I will definitely check out the website.  I am curious:  the middle-school teacher in the video talks about how it's nice to have the curriculum laid out, and then she can modify it as she sees need or opportunity.  This raised three questions for me:

    1.  What supports do you provide for teachers' adaptations?  Are there adaptations they could make that would not "fit" with your intent for the students' experience?

    2. This teacher values the curriculum in part because she had none before. Have you tested this with teachers who do already have a curriculum (or text book) as a "base" to work from?

    3. is the whole curriculum delivered via the computer?  How do the teachers make use of the feedback they get about their students?  

    Thanks!

    -- brian 

  • Icon for: Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes

    Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 11:59 a.m.

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for your post and your questions I am happy to answer them to the best of my ability: 

    1.  What supports do you provide for teachers' adaptations?  Are there adaptations they could make that would not "fit" with your intent for the students' experience? 

    When teachers participate in our studies we require that teachers implement the whole program with fidelity, this means that they have to teach all the lessons and are not allowed to skip any of them. However, we also allow them to make any additions they like and for the most part, these also facilitate science learning. 

    ESCOLAR curriculum is also freely available to anybody that wants to use it and in that case, they can accommodate however they like. We support teachers as much as they require from us.

    2. This teacher values the curriculum in part because she had none before. Have you tested this with teachers who do already have a curriculum (or text book) as a "base" to work from?

    We get a variety of teachers (e.g. technology experience, textbook oriented) and while some of them have not used online based programs like ESCOLAR, there are others that have and they also have reported the value they see in our curriculum. Although, I like to say that ESCOLAR is unique in that it provides complete instructional units with lessons plans instead of individual lessons (which is what most online programs do like Brain Pop, Kan Academy, CK-12, among others) that teachers need to figure out how and when to integrate with their adopted program (if any). 

    3. is the whole curriculum delivered via the computer?  How do the teachers make use of the feedback they get about their students?  

    ESCOLAR is designed for teachers to use in their classroom and they are key to implementing the lessons and guide student learning experiences. Most of the content is delivered via the computer, but there are also a lot of hands-on experiments and investigations that students need to complete in the lab or field. In each unit, for example, students need to conduct a team project where either gather data to support an investigation or gather materials to conduct an experiment or model. 

    In the online professional development, we encourage teachers to use formative assessment data to modify instruction as needed to make sure student make adequate progress. That is why we created the report system in the first place. Reducing the time that teachers need to spend on grading, automatic scoring by the computer and automated reports, gives teachers quick indicators of achievement that they can use to provide the needed supports for individual students. 

  • Icon for: Sarah Wille

    Sarah Wille

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 01:37 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing your work! I'm interested in hearing more about: a) the built in supports or students with learning disabilities - what do those look like for the teacher, and for the students? and b) your approach for measuring impact - what types of data are you collecting to determine impact on science knowledge development? Looking forward to hearing more!

  • Icon for: Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes

    Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 02:20 p.m.

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for your post and your questions I am happy to answer them too:

    a) the built in supports or students with learning disabilities - what do those look like for the teacher, and for the students? 

    eText supports are embedded in the units. They enhance text with additional media or information—such as pop-up definitions—so that students can better comprehend what they read. These include:

    eText supports are especially helpful for students who struggle, such as students with learning disabilities and English language learners. The following link has an image of how those look like on the website: eText supports image link.

    Teachers have free access to an online professional development, answer keys, lesson plans, automated quiz reports, student's digital notebooks, and discussion forums. The following link has an image of how those look like on the website: Teacher resources.

    b) your approach for measuring impact - what types of data are you collecting to determine impact on science knowledge development? Looking forward to hearing more!

    In addition to gathering measures given at schools (e.g. smarter balanced assessments, other science achievement test), we also collect content-specific assessments that we developed in-house. While we created these content-specific assessments, we have tested their reliability and validity and have also found that they are highly correlated with other standardized measures.

    These measures were specially designed to see if the students had learned main concepts required by the Next Generation Science Standards to make sure content learned in the units generalize to these standards. You can find more detailed information in our most current publication: 2018 publication.

     
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    Sarah Wille
  • Icon for: Sarah Wille

    Sarah Wille

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 02:41 p.m.

    Really helpful Fatima, thank you! 

  • Icon for: Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes

    Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 03:11 p.m.

    Great, I am glad you found it helpful! If you want access to our site please ask.

  • Icon for: Christopher Atchison

    Christopher Atchison

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 07:38 a.m.

    Nice learning tool, Fatima.  Like Sarah, my question is on supporting students with learning disabilities.  I like the built-in eText supports, but how are you supporting them in a Constructivist approach through this online environment?  How do you know that all students are truly comprehending the material and the objectives of each lesson?  Can you share more about how the students are working together, rather than just completing each module independently?  Also, considering scalability, can you predict any barriers that teachers will face integrating this into their current classrooms?  

  • Icon for: Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes

    Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:37 p.m.

    Hi Christopher,

    Thanks for building in our discussion. I address your questions below.

    How are you supporting them in a Constructivist approach through this online environment?

    eText supports were mainly designed to support reading comprehension. Inquiry investigations, embedded within each unit, involve hands-on experiments, model design, and what we call scientific investigations (to differentiate from experiments where students collect data but do not manipulate variables like in an experiment). With of these activities, students have the opportunity to gather data, manipulate variables, and see how things work for the purpose of constructing their own learning experiences. We have both hands-on experiments as well as virtual simulations either developed in-house or from open sources. The team project that students complete with each unit also provides multiple opportunities for students to construct knowledge for themselves. An example of a team project activity is available at the following link: Team project example.

     

    How do you know that all students are truly comprehending the material and the objectives of each lesson? 

    This is really where teachers' role is critical. We provide embedded interactive assessments throughout the unit, we provide multiple prompts for students to comprehend text and reflect about important concepts and process (we did this so students use their electronic notebooks more efficiently), lab sheets, data collection tables, among other permanent products. But, it is the responsibility of teachers to look at how students are progressing and/or completing all these activities and manage individual learning. We hope (and encourage teachers) that with access to automated reports and access to all of these students products teachers will monitor students' learning because they were designed to reflect students' gains. We also design lesson plans for teachers so they are clear on the lesson's objectives, how they align with NGSS, and how they should handle relevant content properly. Lesson plan example.

    Can you share more about how the students are working together, rather than just completing each module independently?

    The team project is one of many activities that students need to complete in groups, other experiments, models, and investigations are also group activities. We designed the units for them to be facilitated by teachers rather than for students to complete independently. Just to provide another example, warm-up activities embeded in each lesson need to be introduced by teachers so they can see students' background knowldge and use it later when completing other learning activities. 

     

    Can you predict any barriers that teachers will face integrating this into their current classrooms?  

    Yes, the main barrier for integrating ESCOLAR in a classroom is the access to adequate technology resources. I am not only talking about computers, iPads or laptops, but also internet access that supports multiple uses without slow download times. We deal with this quite often. We know that one-to-one computer-student ratio is best, but it is also feasible to implement in groups with teachers using their projectors, and taking students to computer labs once a week to complete individual activities. To improve school networks we have provided routers to sites that participate in our studies. So any school that considers using ESCOLAR should make sure they have the infrastructure needed to implement it successfully. 

  • Icon for: Christopher Atchison

    Christopher Atchison

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 09:40 a.m.

    Thanks so much for your responses, Fatima.  You may have covered this already, but are you providing specific training and support for the teachers aside from just the curricular materials?  Supports for helping them identify student need and understanding through the curriculum?  How to help the students progress and support for those who need more help?  I realize this should be a skill set that all teachers have already, but maybe not so much aligned to what ESCOLAR is expecting of them?  

  • Icon for: Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes

    Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 11:41 a.m.

    Hi Christopher,

    We have developed a set of training modules and one of them provides tips for supporting students with learning disabilities. However, it is not comprehensive enough to the level you describe. This has not come up to our attention before and it is out of the scope of our current funding, but it is something we will certainly consider in the future.

     
    1
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    Christopher Atchison
  • Icon for: Sarah Wille

    Sarah Wille

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 10:57 a.m.

    To add to some of Christopher's questions, does your team have any opportunities to speak directly with students, to ask them what aspects of the learning experience they think work really well for them, which pieces are trickier, and what they might do differently if they could change some aspect of the web platform? Thanks, Fatima!

     
    2
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    Pati Ruiz
    Christopher Atchison
  • Icon for: Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes

    Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:48 p.m.

    Hi Sarah,

    We have been designing ESCOLAR units for about 9 years now. Our first project was a 4-year project funded by NSF back in 2009. We spent these 4 years designing a model for online science learning through an iterative development process were both teachers and students provided constant feedback. We conducted several case studies, and pilot studies (all publications available in our ESCOLAR website) and our units now are really what they are because of teachers and students involvement. To this day, we continue getting feedback from teachers and we do our best to integrate it. However, we feel like we now have a solid model for designing our units for middle school levels and we are hoping to expand it to other grades too.

    Thank you Sarah for enriching this discussion,

    Fatima

     

     

  • Icon for: Pati Ruiz

    Pati Ruiz

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 08:30 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your project! As a classroom teacher, I am wondering how you pull resources together and also, how does evaluation happen in the classroom. Above you mention focusing on formative assessments and also automating the grading (and reports) for teachers - how have teachers responded to this? Do they like it or do some of them prefer to grade differently than what you provide?

  • Icon for: Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes

    Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 03:46 a.m.

    Hi Pati,

    Well we have all the resources available in our ESCOLAR website. There you will find both the student and the teacher platforms. Teachers have the online instructional modules that provide instructions and guidance for using all the resources effectively. All evaluations, including formative and summative are online but there is the option of doing them by hand if teachers print our available pdfs. However, if you want the system to score them automatically students must complete them online. Experiment and lab sheets need to be scored by teachers and we provide answer keys, this is also true for other question prompts that are embedded in text to check on students' comprehension of material. Teaches have shared their appreciation for the answer keys.

    For all teachers that participated in our studies so far we have required them to use the automated reports (once they become available) and we didn't get complains on that other than needing a bit of more instructions on how to access/use them. 

    Sorry for my delayed response, I had a very busy day today!

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