Archive for the ‘assessON’ Category

Innovate through connections


Recently I watched an interesting interview with Harper Reed who was the chief technology officer for Barack Obama Presidential election campaign.

Reed describes himself as ‘an engineer who builds paradigm-shifting technology’. He also loves ‘using the enormity of the Internet to bring people together’.

What I really found interesting in this interview is that a self-confessed geek thinks the time has come for innovation to focus less on technology and more on people.

Reed says that technology has been mostly solved. Sure, technology will continue to move at a rapid pace with many more innovations to come. However we at the point now where we need to focus more on how people work with each other. As Reed says, how do you innovate on working with people?

Part of what Reed is interested in here is connecting diverse groups of people. He sees these connections and collaborations as the seeds of innovation.

I once worked with a history teacher who connected his students to the United Nations via live webcasts of the General Assembly. What a simple yet powerful way to connect his students to the world’s foremost organisation for peacekeeping and human rights! What a powerful way to learn at the same time as history is being written!

Connecting people is one of the key components of Jacaranda’s digital products. assessON, Knowledge Quest, myWorld Atlas, myWorld History Atlas, ProjectsPLUS and studyON connect students with their teachers. This enables teachers to track the progress of their students and to diagnose the strengths and weaknesses.

And there is also scope in myWorld Atlas, myWorld History Atlas and ProjectsPLUS to connect students, and their work, with not only their class mates but with students and teachers all over the world!

The technology has largely been solved.

Now the time has come for us to innovate powerful learning experiences by making the connections between learners.

The right conditions for feedback

Feedback …… is the rocket fuel that propels the acquisition of knowledge and without it no amount of practice will get you there”.

One of the most interesting books I have read on high performance is Matthew Syed’s Bounce.

Syed was England’s Table Tennis Champion for many years and competed at the Barcelona and Sydney Olympics. He now works as a prominent sports journalist in the UK.

Bounce explores what really lies behind world-beating achievement in sport and other walks of life. In doing so, Syed explores the success of a wide range of high achievers including Mozart, Roger Federer, Picasso and David Beckham.

The general view that we have of high achievers is that they are blessed with extraordinary natural ability. However Syed’s central thesis is that natural ability has very little to do with high achievement and more to do with implementing the right conditions for performance.

One of these conditions is purposeful practice and meaningful feedback.

In exploring his own development as a table tennis champion, Syed points out how he was instructed by his coach to change his highly variable forehand stroke. Sometimes his forehand was played with a high arc, sometimes with a bit of sidespin. Syed reasoned that the variation in his forehand made him an inventive player.

However Syed’s coach insisted that the forehand should be identical every time it is played. For two months, Syed’s was instructed to repeat an identical forehand in training so that it is “played with a long sweeping arc, starting from my (Syed’s) right ear and finishing a few inches above my ankle and taken at precisely the same height of the net with exactly with 80 degrees of knee bend” (p. 94). This was practised until it was encoded into Syed’s DNA.

Syed questioned the value of spending so many gruelling hours practising the same stroke without any variations. But with the wisdom of hindsight, he realised his coach was creating the conditions for purposeful practice and meaningful feedback.

With a variable forehand it is difficult to identify what was wrong when Syed made an error was made. However by reproducing an identical stroke, it is far easier to identify technical errors so that corrective refinement and readjustment could be made.

In other words, Syed was empowered with a tool for automatic feedback and a powerful mechanism for learning. In his own words, “feedback …… is the rocket fuel that propels the acquisition of knowledge and without it no amount of practice will get you there”.

When implementing meaningful assessment for our students we also strive to provide the right conditions for purposeful practice and meaningful feedback. If we can provide the right conditions, our students will have tools to identify their strengths and weaknesses and to make refinements.  More importantly, purposeful practice and meaningful feedback will help build the capabilities of our students to make effective decisions about their learning.

Jacaranda is committed to providing the right conditions for learning. Purposeful practice and meaningful feedback is deliberately built into all of Jacaranda’s digital-first products including assessON, Knowledge Quest, myWorld Atlas, myWorld History Atlas and studyON.

This feedback loop provides the right conditions for:

  • Assessment of learning (to compare what has been learned to what has been taught).
  • Assessment for learning (to check what is known and what needs to be known to complete a learning task).
  • Assessment as learning (enabling students to self-assess and find out more about themselves as learners).
studyON VCE Further Mathematics Units 3 & 4 - My results

studyON VCE Further Mathematics Units 3 & 4 – My results

Whether your students are striving to hit the perfect forehand or solve a difficult equation, purposeful practice and meaningful feedback is vital in all learning contexts. Like Syed’s coach, teachers need to create the right conditions for this to occur.

Your students will thank you for implementing and optimising the right conditions for their learning.

assessON tutorials now on YouTube

Great to speak to so many teachers in my travels in the last few weeks.

So many teachers are very keen to implement assessON as early as possible in their schools.

Some new assessON animated tutorials are now avaialble on YouTube. Go to

As mentioned in my previous assessON post, assessON is a great tool to kick-start the year. By creating a Readiness assessment, you can see what students already know about a topic area.


Getting to know your students with assessON

A former colleague said to me once that good teachers always start the school year by finding out what their students know.

assessON is the perfect tool to find out what your students already know before you start teaching a new topic or unit.

There are three types of assessments in assessON:

  • Readiness (FOR learning)
  • Progress (AS learning)
  • Achievement (OF learning).

By creating a Readiness assessment, you can see what students already know about a topic area.

For example, as a Maths teacher you are about to start teaching Real numbers. By creating an assessment in assessON you can find out what prior knowledge your students bring to the classroom.

There is no marking for you to do – assessON will mark everything for you and give you a graphical representation of where your students are at. This will inform your planning of lessons.

A readiness assessment for real numbers in assessON Maths Quest 8 for Australian Curriculum

When school starts in the next week or so, make sure that you first learn your students’ names.

Then find out, with assessON, what they already know.


Using student assessment for professional learning


assessON informs professional learning

How can student learning guide and inform your professional learning?

Formative assessment is widely used to improve learning outcomes for students. However a recent paper from the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development titled Using student assessment for professional learning: focusing on student outcomes to identify teachers’ needs suggests that the same principles of formative assessment can be used to inform professional learning for teachers.

This paper suggests that the learning of both students and teachers proceeds through ‘successive, cumulative stages, or dimensions’. In particular, these stages focus on three key questions:

‘Where am I going?’,
‘How am I doing?’
‘Where to next?’ (Hattie & Timperley, 2007)

While students answer these questions during their learning, teachers also use the answers to these questions to inform their knowledge of students and how to teach them.

Go to the latest edition of Curriculum Leadership to read more.

Jacaranda’s newly released online assessment tool assessON allows students to focus on these three key questions to navigate their learning. From a teacher’s perspective, the rich diagnostics in assessON enable teachers to be better informed of their students’ learning while interrogating the ways they teach.


assessON is now live!


Jacaranda’s new online assessment tool assessON is now live!

assessON is an innovative online tool that provides additional assessment resources for the Australian Curriculum maths or science  courses. It enables online assessments and automatic feedback.

From a teacher’s perspective, this will transform your workflow. Think of the time you will save with preparing and marking assessment. Think of the instant information you will receive to help you diagnose the learning needs of your students and monitor their overall progress.


Get the most out of assessON in 2012!


As a teacher, it was the writing of class tests and exams and then all the marking and profiling of student work that took up a great deal of my time.

What I love most about assessON is that it does all this work for teachers. It gives teachers more time to actually concentrate on teaching!

Early in the new year I will be adding tips on this web page as to how you and your students can get the most out of assessON.

By subscribing to this blog, you will automatically receive updated tips and ideas in your email inbox!


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