Mr. Curtis Kilburn
Math teacher, South Lewis Middle School, New York
As we have transitioned into the CCLS over past few years, it became quickly apparent that a source was needed for quality multiple-choice mathematics questions. Although I can make my own, generating questions from scratch is very time consuming, and to be honest, even as a teacher, I at times question just how consistently good the questions I write are, especially for an assessment. Is the question I wrote easier than I realized, or too difficult? Further, the NYS Modules we adopted have precisely zero multiple choice questions included, while the NYS assessment aligned to the CC is approximately 75% multiple choice questions. So, this was my first frustration, how do I make, or where do I find the questions my students need?
The first year we taught the CCLS we did not have the NYS Modules, and we did not use Castle Learning in the Middle School. Therefore, I had to scramble all year long, pulling questions from various websites, on top of generating my own. Semi-surprisingly, my growth results were fairly strong. However, this was very time consuming. I was working hard, but I would prefer to work smart.
My other frustration dealt with our implementation of interim assessments. Although we all give various assessments throughout a school year, as a district we made the decision to be more deliberate about assessments. Based upon the model described in Data Driven Instruction, we set about to pull as much information as possible regarding the progress our students were making throughout the year using interim assessments. I think using interim assessments can be very useful, but creating interim assessments is a job description in its own right.
The first year we implemented this plan we had to generate our own assessments. Again, as a teacher I can and do generate assessments. However, people with brighter math minds than mine spend each of their working day generating assessments. It would be wiser for me to tap into their expertise rather than try to “reinvent the wheel.” Further, once the assessment has been completed, I would need to put together a spreadsheet in order to discern the results. This worked, but I knew there must be a more efficient way to get similar or better results. Enter, Castle Learning. The reports generated by Castle Learning are just that; efficient, easy to read, and thorough. Identifying instantaneously which student is weak in which standard is extremely useful.
As a result of using Castle Learning I can spend more time focusing on ways to better engage the students with the content being presented, and less time creating material for homework, quizzes, and interim assessments. Rather than spend hours creating an assessment report, and then hours gleaning information from the report, I can begin right away with verifying where students are weak, or strong, and begin planning how to address these areas.
I’m glad our Middle School chose to implement Castle Learning. Teaching will never be an easy profession. However, as technology continues to progress at an exponential rate, online resources like Castle Learning can make certain aspects of the profession easier. I look forward to using Castle Learning in the future in order to meet the ever demanding needs of the diverse population that is middle school.
To learn more about how Castle Learning can help you empower your students to achieve greater results and take ownership of their learning, inquire about a free trial or schedule a demonstration.