Teachers discuss their use of Campus Learning tools at Minnesota conference

Minnesota Educators Academy (MEA) was held on Oct. 17, 2019. It was a beautiful day in downtown St. Paul.

Last week two groups of teachers highlighted Campus Learning tools at the Minnesota Educators Academy (MEA) Conference held at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, MN. The annual conference, hosted by the state’s union of educators, draws teachers from across Minnesota. 

I had the honor to co-present with these two fabulous groups of teachers. They had valuable and insightful information about how they use Infinite Campus tools. Truth be told, I really only introduced them, knowing the information they had to share deserved as much time as possible. If you missed it or aren’t in Minnesota, what follows is a summary of their presentations so we can all learn from our colleagues about how they’ve become more effective and efficient in their practice. 

Marissa and Lizzie: Randolph Public Schools 

In one of the first sessions of the day, I joined teachers Marissa Knapp and Lizzie Warpinski who gave an overview of Campus Learning tools. They worked together last year at Randolph Public Schools, where Marissa teaches sixth grade and Lizzie taught high school English. Lizzie has since changed districts and no longer has Campus Learning tools. “My new district doesn’t have as strong of a technology focus and doesn’t have a dedicated LMS,” she said. “I miss it every day.”

Lizzie talks about getting organized using the Planner.

They started their presentation discussing instructional planning as Lizzie recounted how the Planner helped her become more organized. She talked through a demonstration of how to create units, lesson plans and assignments in Planner. She sets the lesson plans and assignments to be part of the unit, so when she teaches that unit next year or semester, she is able to copy the entire unit, with all the lesson plans and assignments attached, into the new section.

Marissa shows what the Grade Book displays when assignments are Individualized.

Marissa then spoke to her use of Student Groups as one of the ways she individualizes instruction. When using Student Groups, Marissa assigns work only to students in the group. Additionally, she demonstrated how she uses the Individualize button when creating new assignments. If she wants to assign something to a few students or if some students need the assignment at different time, Individualizing gives the option to assign to any student(s) and customize the assign and due dates for each of them. 

Marissa and Lizzie then shared about their use of student submissions in Campus. They showed how to allow students to upload work from their device, share something from their Google Drive, or respond in a text box. They showed what the student sees from Campus Student and how students can turn work in electronically. Then, they demonstrated how to evaluate the work electronically, where the score and comments are entered once, and upon save, are also saved in the Grade Book. 

The final piece they demonstrated was the Scoring Rubric. As an English teacher, Lizzie used rubrics to evaluate student work all the time, so the combination of online submissions and Scoring Rubrics was a “game changer.” Teachers can pull up both the submission and the Scoring Rubric on the same screen and click into the cell to indicate the score, saving time and eliminating all the papers. 

The two fielded several questions at the end of their session. One attendee asked if using the Campus Learning tools has helped them improve student achievement. Marissa responded, “it allows me to complete my planning and evaluating of work more quickly and efficiently which allows me more time to work with my studentsSo I would say yes, it has improved student achievement.” 

Marissa, Lizzie, Me

After the session, Marissa said one thing she hopes people can take away from the presentation is “there are some very effective and positive tools to use within Infinite Campus – it can be more than just an attendance and grading program!” 

Kate, Alayna and Beth: Farmington Area Public Schools 

After lunch, I met up with Kate Farmer, Alayna Godfrey, and Beth Breiland from Farmington Area Public Schools. I introduced them and their presentation on how Scoring Rubrics in Infinite Campus has made their shift to competency-based grading possible 

Over the past six years, Kate and Beth have been exploring how to better meet the needs of their students, landing firmly on using competency-based grading. Last year, Alayna joined their PLC. The three teachers teach 10th grade English, and since their journey started, they’ve been joined in competency-based grading by the 9th grade English PLC as well as several teachers at the different middle schools in the district.  

Challenge at FHS

Their session started with an anecdote. Because of Farmington’s schedule, it is possible for a student to have one teacher for their first trimester of English 10 and a different teacher for the second trimester. This was the case for one student, several years agoBeth became her teacher in second trimester after she was in Kate’s class first trimesterIn an effort to discern where the student was struggling, Beth looked at last trimester’s assignments, but that just made her more confused. The student was clearly struggling but had earned a B. From looking at the grade alone, no one would think there was any concern. But Beth’s assessment showed significant gaps in what this student was able to do. So Beth called Kate to try to get to the bottom of what was going on. After poking around, they realized it was the grading and reporting system that was falsely informing everybody – the teachers, students and parents – on what the student was able to do. Because less than 50 percent of the overall grade was from summative assessments, the student was able to pad the grade in other ways and slide through without putting in the practice necessary to reach proficiency on some key standards of the course.

FHS presentation
From left: Alayna, Kate, and Beth explain how their journey to competency-based grading started.

It was at this point the teachers began their journey to first discover, then implement competency-based grading. Over time, their grading practice changed significantly, with 100 percent of the final grade coming from summative assessments only. That meant giving students regular practice with formative assessments to gain skills and understanding before attempting a summative assessment, as well as multiple chances to retake the summative, if necessary, to reach proficiency.

Beth discusses the difference between standards-based grading and competency-based grading.

As with many teachers, Kate, Alayna and Beth use rubrics to evaluate student work, but the way they approached creating rubrics changed as well. Competencies are aligned to standards, but they demand higher-order thinking and focus on the ability of the student to apply or transfer skills across content areas. They reworded the criteria in their rubrics to match the rigor of competency-based grading. Competencies are scored out of 4, where both 3 and 4 earn 100 percent – so regardless of where you are on the continuum of learning, there’s always room to grow. 

What they were starting to do with students was different than traditional grading and different from what some of their grade-level peers were doing, so how were they going to communicate with students and parents about what scores mean? That’s where Scoring Rubrics in Infinite Campus came in to play.  

Kate recounts the challenges they had reporting and communicating grades.

Scoring Rubrics allow teachers to evaluate student work by highlighting the criteria description that matches the student’s performance and adding comments for each criterion as well as the work as a whole. The feedback appears in Campus Student and Campus Parent automatically, so everyone is kept in the loop. Kate, Alayna and Beth all use the same rubric on the formative assessments as the summative. That means there are no surprises for the student when they take the summative assessment. The language and expectations are familiar and consistent, not only from formative to summative but from one teacher to another.

After initially explaining how competency-based grading works, Alayna explained how incredibly informative the regular feedback using Scoring Rubrics was for everyone. After a formative assessment, the student and parent/guardian knew strengths and areas to work on. If the student was at a 2 in one area on the first formative assessment, she can focus on what it takes to have a 3 on the next one. It put ownership on the student to understand what to practice and where to put the time and effort and individualizes the learning experience for everyone. 

The result was more engagement for students at all levelsStruggling students received specific feedback and were given multiple chances to practice and improve. Highflyers could see from the start how their learning could be extended. “Students have taken ownership of their own learning,” Kate said. Beth added, “my special education students are writing!” After years of frustration, students who see their growth on a continuum were embracing the practice and that was leading them to success.  

New features of Scoring Rubrics 

At the end of Kate, Alayna and Beth’s session, I was able to showcase a new feature coming to Scoring Rubrics next month. Score Analysis on Scoring Rubrics allows you to quickly see how your entire class did on the rubric. Not only will you see how your students scored on each criterion, but when you click on the rubric cell, you will see the names of the students who earned that score. If you only want to see a list of students who scored well, you can filter the results by clicking on the green section of the color distribution at the topFrom the list of names generated, you can create student group and assign a specific assignment or extension activity just to those students – all without leaving the Score Analysis page of your Scoring Rubric! 

02 No Students No Filter
Score Analysis in Scoring Rubrics will be released in November. Clicking on the rubric cells or the colors on the distribution bar at the top filters the list of students.

After the session was over, Alayna said she hopes people “took away the message that Infinite Campus’ rubric scoring tool combined with competency-based grading can provide clear and specific feedback for students and parents that helps promote a continuous growth mindset and focuses on key skills.” 

At our booth in the exhibit hall 

At the booth, we handed out fidget spinners, jumbo pens, stickers and flyers with information on campuslearning.com and this blog.

When I wasn’t attending sessions, I got to hang out at the booth with Campus experts Mike Soucheray and Joey Gilbert. We had fun telling teachers about all of the resources we’ve been putting together for them, from this blog and in campuslearning.com. We were also giving out some free swag and a $50 Amazon gift card to one teacher who took the time to fill out our survey! That lucky winner is:  Chelsey Stadler of Byron, Minnesota! Congratulations!

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