CEP 813: CMS Assessment Design with Haiku Learning

Assessments should be used as a way to gauge where students are in their learning and the feedback from the assessments should inform both instruction and learning. However, I think that more often than not educators are forced to give assessments that generally don’t align with their instructional style and fail to provide insightful feedback. Sometimes I feel like assessments are used just to provide some sort of data to parents…to communicate a grade in a way that parents understand, even if it doesn’t serve a purpose for improving teaching and learning. For me, I didn’t understand math until I was in college and was taught to reflect on my learning rather than erase mistakes. Based on my personal experiences, for my online math assessment design, I included both traditional assessment measures and nontraditional assessment measures such as, reflective think-aloud, investigations that require problem solving, reasoning, and proof, and collaborative workspaces.

Through both my screencast and this post I am going to tell you about the assessment I created for 8th grade math students enrolled in a fully online math class using Haiku Learning.

CMS: Haiku Learning

Log-in Link to Haiku Learning Math 8 Course, or you can self enroll using this link and by entering 527L3. Keep in mind, this fully online 8th grade math course is something that I am still designing and working on. It is a perpetual work in progress.

Subject Matter: 8th Grade Math: Pythagorean Theorem Unit (Geometry)

Assessment Location: Unit 6: Pythagorean Theorem; Lesson 1: Assess.

Age/Grade level: 8th Grade

Role of intended student: 8th Grade Math Student

Type of course: Fully Online



There are several reasons why I chose to use Haiku Learning for my CMS assessment design. First, haiku learning is both effective and efficient: the design is clean, user-friendly, and easy to manage from an instructor and student’s perspective. Haiku Learning also has gradebook and multiple assessment features built into the site making it not only a great platform to teach learn and assess but also to communicate progress and proficiency accurately and in a timely manner to both parents and students.

Additionally, Haiku learning is extremely efficient from an instructors perspective as content is easily embedded and uploaded, as you can see in the videos and the multiple-choice assessment on the site. Moreover, for both teachers and students, there is an equation editor available any time you choose to type, which is key for math students especially in an online environment. Lastly, the calendar, announcements, discussion forum and Dropbox are just a few great features designed in the CMS’s infrastructure that make assigning, collecting and assessing a well-organized process.

For this particular task, the assessments I created are designed to measure whether learners have reached the desired learning outcomes at the end of the first lesson of the Pythagorean theorem unit. Since assessment should inform both teaching and learning, I will show you how the lesson design, activities, and tasks align with the assessment tasks, goals, and standards.

As shown in the screencast, the lesson and assessments are aligned with Common Core State Standards for 8th Grade Geometry and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practice. Additionally, I explain how the assessment tools I have created will be used to measure proficiency regarding the basics of the Pythagorean theorem: what it is; why it makes sense; and how to use it.

The Pythagorean theorem is one of the main topics covered in an 8th grade mathematics geometry unit, which is also a standard students will be expected to further develop in both high school geometry and trigonometry. Furthermore, the Pythagorean Theorem is commonly present on standardized assessments such as the M-Step and ACT, and in the ever changing world of standardized assessments, the Pythagorean Theorem and its applications have withstood the test of time, making it a key standard for secondary math learners.

Specifically, for this task, I created three different assessments. For the first assessment, I used the built in assessment creation tool in Haiku Learning. This tool, the equation editor, automatic feedback, and direct link to the gradebook made Haiku learning an easy choice for this assessment. The last two assessments utilize the discussion board tool built in Haiku learning. Again, the discussion board tool has a built in equation editor and also allows students to upload pictures and documents to their posts. Perhaps the most impressive tool, though, is the built in rubric creation tool that links rubrics directly to assessments, discussion forums, and the gradebook, making Haiku learning the best choice for all three different types of assessments I created. In addition to those unique features, the discussion board assessment tool allows for collaboration and stimulates conversation.

These three different assessment tasks are designed to give all learners the opportunity to show they have mastered the skills in the first lesson. By differentiating the instruction and assessments, I believe I will be able to more accurately gauge what students truly know in addition to identifying misconceptions. That is, the multiple choice assessment allows me to check their computation and retention, while the metacognitive problem writing and reflective proof re creation assessments allow me to assess transfer, or each learners ability to apply their learning to new scenarios, in addition to each learners ability to consolidate and connect new learning with old. For example, in the Starbursts Re-Creation Proof assessment, I ask learners to consider using half of a Cheez-It on one side of their right triangle. By posing that question, I will be able to see if learners have made the connection between irrational numbers and the Pythagorean Theorem. Additionally, by having students write and solve their own problems dealing with the Pythagorean Theorem, I can ensure that students understand both the math content and vocabulary associated with the Pythagorean Theorem and how to apply that to new real world contexts.

Taken together, these assessments will accurately and effectively measure whether or not learners understand what the Pythagorean Theorem is, when to use the Pythagorean Theorem, and how to use the Pythagorean Theorem.


Moreover, after reflecting on this weeks task of using a Content Management System to create an assessment, I feel as though the assessments I have designed align with my instructional design, which I hope stimulates learners’ curiosity, engages them in differentiated tasks, and intrinsically motivates them. By creating a collaborative workspace, students are able to ask questions and participate in interactions between one another.

I’ve also included traditional quizzes and non-traditional performance tasks. In addition to traditional assessments, which students may try to cheat on but I feel are still necessary, the performance tasks allow students to demonstrate what they know and evaluate their own learning through reflection. I tried to balance the types of assessments so that they scaffold learning but also inform teaching and learning in different capacities. For example, the results from a multiple-choice test provide much different information on learners’ understanding than the evidence revealed through reflective posts or performance tasks. I don’t think that one form of assessment provides an accurate measure of students understanding, so I included various forms that allow me to gauge where my students are at and how they are progressing using different approaches. Through this process, students will receive feedback regularly from their peers and me.

  • What went into your choices as you focused on certain aspects of your assessments?   While designing my online math assessments I decided I would take what I have learned thus far in the MAET program about online learning, how we learn and instructional design and combine those factors with the format and design of many of my MAET classes, which are also fully online. In addition to the design, I tried to focus on efficient, yet differentiated presentations of lesson content and assessments that aligned accordingly. This task has proved to be harder than I initially thought it would be. I tried to focus on including both traditional and nontraditional assessment methods that allow learners to demonstrate what they know. So, in addition to multiple-choice-like assessments, I made it a priority to implement performance based assessments, reflective assessments, and collaborative assessments. Regardless of the assessment type, I also focused on providing feedback within and throughout the lessons and assessments. For example, responding to reflective posts or setting up quizzes so learners receive automatic feedback based on their correct/incorrect answers.
  • How will your assessment of your students be a tool to grow your students’ learning? The assessments shown in the screencast are designed to inform teaching and learning. Through immediate feedback on lesson quizzes students are able to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Similarly, that data provides insight to me as their instructor on which areas I need to go back and re-teach. Moreover, the assessments I implemented in each lesson are designed to stimulate collaboration and reflection. This allows me to assess learners understanding on an individual level and within a community. For example, in the third assessment, students are recreating a proof using Cheez-It snacks and posting their findings to the class discussion. They are also writing their own real world problems and providing insightful feedback to their classmates. Through differentiated assessments learners are receiving feedback from multiple sources and are making adjustments in their learning as they progress, which ultimately leads to personal growth. In fact, learners will not only grow by completing the assessment tasks, they will also grow by reading and providing feedback to their classmates and reflecting on the process. Through this process, by providing multiple different methods of assessment in each lesson, I hope that learners are appropriately challenged and stimulated and if they aren’t that the data collected from the various assessments informs my instruction and allows me to make changes.
  • How will students be involved in the assessment and evaluation process? The way students are involved in the assessment and evaluation process differs based on the assessment design. For example, in reflective assessments, students will receive personal one-on-one feedback from me, sort of like the feedback we receive in our portfolio for CEP 813. Based on my feedback and questions, learners are able to modify and edit their posts and assignments. Moreover, in collaborative assessments, students are involved not only by providing feedback to their peers, but also by responding to the feedback they receive from their peers and me. In additional to reflective and written assessments, students are involved in their lesson assessment quizzes based on how they respond to their immediate feedback and score. They should accommodate their study habits based on their performance scores so they can make improvements by the time they reach the unit summative assessment.

Review of Content Management Systems Through the Lens of Assessment

This week in CEP 813 we examined and compared the affordances of free Content Management Systems (CMSs) through the lens of assessing student learning. I chose to compare Weebly for Education, COURSEsites by Blackboard, and Haiku Learning. The results of my critical review of the three sites listed can be found in this spreadsheet.

Based upon my analysis of these three CMSs, I have chosen to use Haiku Learning to create my CMS assessment. The main reason I chose Haiku Learning is because it not only had all of the redeeming qualities and capabilities I was looking for in the assessment framework, but it also was very user friendly- from an instructor and student perspective. All three sites appeared to offer unique and differentiated options for assessing students-formative and summative, but I was most impressed with the design and usability of Haiku Learning. For example, Haiku Learning offers the following options that could easily be used to assess student learning: 1) discussion forums, 2) dropbox submission, 3) surveys, 4) rubrics, 5) learning portfolios, and 6) peer and self assessment tools. However, I did find that COURSEsites by Blackboard offered perhaps more specific options for collaborative group work, like assigning roles and jobs, but it was much more difficult to navigate and set up than both Weebly for Education and Haiku Learning, which made the features not worth it to me. I felt like Haiku Learning‘s traditional and non-traditional assessment tools worked harmoniously within the framework design and flowed well with content, opposed to Weebly for Education and COURSEsites by Blackboard where I spent a lot of time clicking around in different places to utilize and create different assessment types, but again, that is a design issue not an issue of whether or not the features exist. I am just a huge believe in USEFUL and USEABLE tools, and the challenging design framework in both Weebly for Education and COURSEsites by Blackboard made some of the features and tools less USEABLE.

Since assessment should inform teaching and learning and in many ways drive our instruction, I was pleased to see the various options for feedback in relation to the assessment type. Some sort of gradebook feature is available on each of the CMSs I reviewed, keeping both parents and students informed and up to date. Additionally, through various multimedia tools and options on each of the sites, students are able to express themselves creatively and receive direct feedback via comments from their instructors and peers. For example, in math class, I like to utilize GeoGebra as a teaching, learning and assessing tool. Unless I used a link to a new page for each GeoGebra activity, I would need to be able to embed Java applets into my site. Having learned to navigate Weebly for Education quite well over the past few years and through my explorations with Haiku Learning the past few weeks in both this course and CEP 820: Teaching Students Online, I know I am able to embed Java applets into both of these sites; however, I was not able to figure out how to embed Java applets into COURSEsites by Blackboard. I don’t want to say it isn’t possible, though, because I am still learning to navigate the site and it’s tools. To view a GeoGebra lesson I created on Weebly with a Java applet embedded in the site page, check out my webpage on quadrilaterals and technology. Feel free to play around with the Java applet 🙂

Another great feature I was surprised to find is that all three sites offered an equation editor. As a math teacher, that was a feature I looked for right away. Having created online assessments using a shifty equation editor in Schoolnet for over three years now, I have become all too familiar with writing an equation in Microsoft Word, taking a screenshot of the equation, uploading the PNG file to the assessment question, and then repeating for additional assessment questions as needed. This daunting process is something I would definitely want to avoid while developing an online math course because we use equations so often in math class. As far as I can tell, the equation editors in each of the three sites appear to be up to par and don’t require coding like the equation editor in Schoolnet does.

Moving forward, the plan is to create a collaborative formative assessment activity using Haiku Learning and GeoGebra that allows learners to explore the Pythagorean Theorem. My Math 8 students will work together in a collaborative group space, using GeoGebra to explore and develop an informal proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. Through this activity I will be able to monitor and direct learning by providing feedback and stimulating discussion conversation, allowing my learners to eventually demonstrate their understanding of the Pythagorean Theorem.  In the assessment, students will go on to become “Problem Writers” posting a real-world question involving the Pythagorean Theorem for their peers to read. Then, they will go on to review and respond to at least three questions posted by their classmates.  This will foster collaboration between the students while also assessing students’ understanding of the Pythagorean Theorem (the question they write) and it’s application (their ability to solve their classmates real-world questions).

CEP 813_Minecraft Creation 2: Math Review Rollercoaster

Here is a link to my Minecraft Math Review Coaster: Minecraft Screencast #2

While designing my Minecraft assessment, I really felt like I was forcing any design or assessment idea I came up with…I constantly was asking myself why I needed Minecraft and it’s features, especially if it was something I could do on paper or with tangible materials and get the same results. I really wanted to take advantage of the program’s design features. So I wanted to design something that requires navigation or movement, but also covers several different standards because the design allows for several different types of creations. So, for my Minecraft assessment I made a math review coaster that covers several strands from math 8 Common Core State Standards. The first part of the assessment is the information box at the top of the rollercoaster hill. It asks students to identify the slope of the first hill using two different methods. The students will also need to recognize that the slope is negative. The second assessment asks the students to find the volume of the pyramid. The third assessment asks the students to find the depth of the pool given the volume and then goes on to ask how they could redesign a pool with the same voume but different surface area. The fourth assessment asks the students to identity the coordinates and quadrant in which the rollercoaster cart intersects the coordinate plane. The fifth and last assessment requires the learners to consider two problem-solving tasks that require them to write functions and consider buying and selling the coaster property. After assessing the learners’ ability to navigate this coaster and answer the mini embedded assessments, I would hopefully move on to a more advanced task requiring them to them build a math coaster with assessments embedded for each of the Common Core strands we cover in 8th grade, like I did.

***Please note, due to storms I could not get my final video to upload so I am going to upload a draft. The screencast ends abruptly because Minecraft kept disconnecting from the server but most of the information is there. I will try to upload the complete screencast tomorrow with no interruptions. Thank you 🙂

Minecraft Week 1: Exploring the Tutorial World

This week in CEP 813 we explored Minecraft as a learning & assessment tool. Starting in the tutorial world, I naturally wanted to skip the instructional video and jump right into the game and figure things out on my own, which is pretty standard for me. I like to learn as I go. However, after getting started I realized I needed to go back and watch the tutorial.  I wound up shooting pretty much everything (unintentionally), getting lost in a hole I dug, & missing the instructional signs all together! I typically can figure out games as I go, but Minecraft looks and feels like an outdated video game so a lot of the strategies I typically use couldn’t be applied. It actually reminds me of the Mario in 3D Land video game, but if you had to play it on an Atari console with the original Nintendo graphics. The idea is similar with bricks and hidden treasures; there just wasn’t a destination from what I could tell. Although, the purpose for the tutorial world was to learn skills and navigation rather than reach a destination, I think.

For more on the challenges I encountered while exploring the tutorial world and my initial thoughts on using Minecraft as a teaching and learning tool, check out my screencast: Minecraft Screencast #1

CEP 813: Infographic

Here is a link to my Infographic: Exploring a Mobile, Networked Curriculum in Secondary Math Classrooms

We live in a highly mobile, globally connected society making mobile devices a handy medium of gaining knowledge: with two-thirds of K-12 learners in the US already using smart phones and of 75% of the US workforce already mobile, 65% of those workers declaring their mobile devices to be their “most critical work device” (U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology, 2010). The increasing prevalence of technology in both academic and corporate settings necessitates that students become comfortable using technology to facilitate learning and productivity. Thus, the challenge for our education system is to leverage technology to create relevant learning experiences that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their futures. Learning can no longer be confined to the years we spend in school or the hours we spend in the classroom: It must be lifelong, life-wide, and available on demand. It is evident that mobile devices are an integral part of learning strategies in workplaces, educational settings, and casual environments.  To address the diverse demands of 21st century education and prepare children for life in a global economy, I believe mobile learning must be harnessed as an integral part of learning strategies in workplaces, educational settings, and casual environments.

Mobile learning devices offer consolidated access to high- quality learning materials, including a myriad of tools within the supporting infrastructure built into the device (seamlessly integrated applications, calendar, internet capabilities, social media, multimedia, calculator, e-mail, notes, reminders, & management of technology), allowing users to do more with less. A key tenet of personalized learning is the ability of individuals to choose the right tools for the right tasks and mobile devices equip learners to do just that.

With that said, this week I decided to create an infographic using Piktochart to show how mobile learning devices can be used in accordance with a networked curriculum to stimulate engaging learning experiences that align with 21st century education.

CEP 813- Formative Assessment Design 1.0: Three Acts of a Mathematical Story

This week we were asked to develop the first draft of a formative assessment. I created a three-act math task designed for 8th grade math students who are learning to apply the volume formula for cylinders to solve real-world and mathematical problems. The lesson is designed for students who have already worked with the surface area and volume of 3-Dimensional solids, so they are familiar with how to approach and solve related computational math problems; however, this lesson goes beyond math computation and requires the students to think critically and wrestle with an indirect problem. That is, this lesson requires learners to formulate and solve mathematical reasoning problems (i.e. problems that require application of math processes in the world around us).

Using pop cans and a marketing perspective, the lesson is set up to be a problem solving and problem finding task. It was carefully designed to ensure learners are able to identify the problem, accurately communicate their thinking, apply reasoning skills, make connections to prior knowledge, and understand complexities in various forms. By using multimedia to present the lesson, the learners are able to consider much more complex concepts on their own terms. They are able to address real world problems and present real world solutions. They are able to see how their math computation skills can be applied to real world processes realistically, such as how surface area and volume effect producer and consumer choices. Most importantly, digital media allows for learners to be involved in the process of mathematical abstraction, tackling the problem in its most concrete form first and building towards the abstract form. To complete the task, learners need to know how to find the volume of each cylindrical can, how to write proportions for unit conversions, and how to interpret their findings. They also need to be able to identify what matters in a problem situation and what information they need to complete the task.

Changing the model of pedagogy to meet the demands of the 21st century is crucial. Learners need the opportunity to learn how to learn, discover and formulate problems, build on other peoples’ insights, and adapt their abilities to various situations. As Polya (1957) states:

“A great discovery solves a great problem but there is a grain of discovery in the solution of any problem. Your problem may be modest; but if it challenges your curiosity and brings into play your inventive faculties, and if you solve it by your own means, you may experience the tension and enjoy the triumph of discovery. Such experiences at a susceptible age may create a taste for mental work and leave their imprint on mind and character for a lifetime.

Here is the link to the first draft of my formative assessment : A Problem Worth Solving

CEP 813 – Module 2 – Critical Review of a Disciplinary Assessment

After reading several articles regarding formative assessment and its role in effective teaching and learning approaches, we were asked to critically review an assessment approach we use in our professional practice. For my critical review, I analyzed mathematical storytelling. Mathematical storytelling is comprised of a carefully selected mathematical problem solving task and a reflective metacognitive memoir. Metacognition is the awareness of one’s thinking. Memoir is a genre usually referring to a piece of autobiographical writing focusing on some problematic event. Together they represent a powerful instructional strategy and assessment tool that allows learners to experience what it means to do mathematics by thinking about and communicating their problem solving process to others. Through mathematical storytelling, specifically: Three Acts Math, learners are able to monitor their thinking as they engage in mathematical problem solving.

For further insights on how to use Mathematical Storytelling check out my review on how creative writing supports creative thinking in mathematics and how this strategy allows educators to formatively assess understanding and inform instructional decisions. Below, I explain why mathematical storytelling, while not a common form of instruction or assessment, is meaningful and worthwhile to me.


Through my vast experiences and challenges I have been able to connect my natural love for English to learning and doing math. In reality, isn’t math just a big story? Don’t the letters and symbols reveal secrets, like clues? Isn’t the problem or situation like the introduction? Consequently I became the author and editor of several math stories. I began to write mathematical stories using my own terms at my own pace. By viewing math as a story I controlled how I approached the problem, I identified the pieces I needed to solve the mystery, and I justified the conclusion using support I identified throughout my story. However, over time I learned to stop erasing my mistakes and embrace them as turning points, essential pieces of key information that defined the conclusion or the way the story pans out. I compare my mistakes to the pivotal, heart stopping moments that occur in all great stories where the main character gets into trouble. How do they recover? What would a good story be without that moment of error? I can’t help but think of The Help when Minnie gives her famous pie to Ms. Hilly and earns the title of a thief. Man oh man, what a mistake that was, but could you imagine what would have happened if Minnie hadn’t done that and the group didn’t have the pie insurance once the book was published? That was a pretty good mistake to make, right?

But, when you think about it, is the end of any good story really the end or is it just another beginning? How would you write the sequel? What ideas would you connect your new understanding to? Learning serves the same purpose as writing or telling a story: It allows you to see your growth and development as a learner, to see where you started and how far you’ve come, just like the protagonist transforms as the storyline thickens. You know, bad guy turns good, coward becomes brave, villain evolves into a hero, etc., etc. But, if the main character doesn’t evolve, then there isn’t much of a story…the point I’m trying to make is, if you cannot see your growth and reflect on new understanding as you progress, then learning is not really happening. You must learn from your mistakes in order to transform and develop as a learner.

Approaching math as if you are writing or telling a story allows you to see the big picture, to connect topics and subjects instead of viewing them as disjoint, separate ideas. It reveals a purpose for learning math that is more than the mundane, and a reason for your hard work as you write your own math story. Having gone through this process, I have realized the importance of my job as a math teacher. I need to make the process worthwhile; I need to present problems to my students that force them to think and reflect, problems that are designed to change their way of thinking and that encourage them to grow as learners and doers of math. And, since I’m a book junky and love a good protagonist, I’m sure you can imagine how lucky I feel that I get to watch my students transform into learners… and get paid for it!! Best job EVER.  In case you cannot relate, let me help you: You know when you get done reading a really good book or watching a great movie and you feel changed? That’s the feeling. I am transformed watching them transform. There’s nothing better than watching someone cease to hate math and begin to love it…besides maybe feeling that way yourself.