On September 30, 2010, Dennis Berkey, President of WPI, and Professor Neil Heffernan arranged a briefing for Massachusetts Secretary of Education, Paul Reville at the WPI Campus Center. We offered, for free, to give ASSISTments to MA for their Race to the Top project. School personnel from six local school districts explained to the Secretary how they use ASSISTments to help their schools. Each school had different ways in which they use ASSISTments, and shared stories of how it helped students, teachers, and the school as a whole. They urged the Secretary to help spread the word and to support professional development for districts. The Mass. Dept of Ed has said that ASSISTments is one of 6 project they are paying attention to. The Mass. Race To the Top application says they want "a test builder engine to deliver interim and formative assessments statewide and return student results to educators within 24 to 72 hours(p25)."
- Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville had this to say about ASSISTments: We are here to talk about a particular innovation that happens to be *spot on* with the kinds of things that Secretary Duncan and the president are talking about
Watch the two minutes of highlights of this meeting here.
Click here to watch the full streaming video of the meeting which was approximately one hour long.
We have selected some smaller parts of the above video that focus on different ways of use:
8:45-8:50 Welcome by Dr. Berkey
8:50-8:55 The state of the ASSISTments Project and quick demo by Neil Heffernan and Cristina Heffernan
8:55-9:15 Hear from each districts for 4-6 minutes each. Worcester, Shrewsbury, Millbury, and Grafton,
9:15-9:45: Conversation topics for how we can work together.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute Personnel
Dennis Berkey: President, WPI
Neil Heffernan: Co-Director of the PhD program in Learning Sciences and Technologies
Cristina Heffernan: Math Coach and Teacher Trainer; Co-Creator of ASSISTments
Janice Gobert: Co-Director of the PhD program in Learning Sciences and Technologies
Karen Oates: New Dean of Arts and Sciences, WPI
Linda Looft: VP of Government Affairs, WPI
Shrewsbury Public Schools
Christine O’Connor: Math Teacher, Oak Middle School
- Using ASSISTments' Essay Critique Feature to support open-ended response questions where students have to explain their reasoning.
- Using ASSISTments' to support students getting immediate feedback on their nightly homework from their textbook.
- Using ASSISTments' Parent Communication Feature to better connect parents to what is happening in the classroom.
Joseph Sawyer: Superintendent
- Dr. Sawyer spoke to the issue of access and argued that with the technology becoming more ubiquitous, access will be less and less an issue.
Millbury Public Schools
Andrew Burnett: Math Teacher, Millbury Junior High School
- Using the authoring tool to creates Skill Building Sets (where the numbers change and the student keeps getting to practice until he reaches a threshold.
- Teaching a class on using ASSISTment within the Blackstone Regional Valley Curriculum Coordinators Professional Development Series. Teachers taking the class can get credit via Framingham State College
- Using the Automatic Reassessment and Retraining System (ARRS) that after a student has reached proficiency in a given day, they will asssessments one week late, one month later and then two months after that. This allows the teacher to see who really "got it" by seeing if they retained it. For student that fail the reassessment they are giving an opportunity to relearning the skill.
Russ Rapose: Curriclum Director, Millbury Public Schools
- Spoke on initiating common benchmark assessments every six to eight weeks for grades 4 - 8. He talked about the value for teams of teachers and administrator to see this sort of data.
Grafton Public Schools
Lucille Boutiette: Assistant Superintendent
- Spoke about district training, and buying iTouches for one of her schools so they can do ASSISTments in classes easily.
- Spoke about how she wants to use the state's "Jobs" money to hire a Math Data Coach to help train her staff.
Nashoba Regional School District
John Tucker: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Coordinator
- Talked about how he had Cristina Heffernan train his teachers from three schools to use the authoring tool so that students can get immediate feedback on thier homework from their text book. The teacher typed in the answers for each question.
- Going Viral. When the Secretary asked "Why hasn't ASSISTments "gone viral?" John replied saying that he was trying to be "Typhoid Mary," in that the IMPACT Mathematical sales people want to be able to share with other districts using their textbook the work his district has done. Mr Tucker argued that the other districts using the same textbook can benefit as well as help. They can benefit from the work that has already been done. They can help by adding hint message and feedback on common wrong answers. John argued we can use the text book publishers as dissemination channel.
Worcester Public Schools
Lisa Houlihan: Principal of Burncoat Middle School
- Spoke about the digital divide. The Sectary was interested in how student can access this for nightly homework, and not all students have Internet connections at home. Ms Houlihan, said her school was sending home nightly homework on ASSISTment so it was entirely possible. She mentioned how she was at the school to open the labs first thing in the morning and there was also after school time. She said the student can get it done.
- Established once a week subject-specific common-planning time for teachers so they can review ASSISTments data.
- Talked about how she set up a "math lab" where each student in the building went once a week for practice, and how that data was shared with all the teachers to keep a pulse on student learning. This time also provides time for student skill building.
Judy Murphy: Teacher & Math Department Head
- Provides nightly homework with ASSISTments using the city-wide algebra text.
Dan Case: Mathematics Coordinator for the entire Worcester Public School System
- Builds common work across school.
Return to Stories of ASSISTments in real Classrooms This page was created by Christina Heffernan