Looking Ahead to 2015
As we move into this new year, we here at JumpRope are thinking back on 2014 and on to 2015, and we wanted to share a quick post with our readers about what people in our company are planning on, work-wise, for 2015. We want to pull back the curtain a bit on our work, as we begin to think ahead to and plan for a productive and fun-filled (!!) 12 months. Here goes.
Abner: As many of you know, we have a set of implementation benchmarks - see here and here - and we have been thinking a lot about their use: How can we share these benchmarks with incoming schools and districts to get some sense of their readiness to implement standards-based teaching and learning? And so one thing that I will be working on these next six months, with my JumpRope colleagues, is what we are calling right now our Readiness Inventory. We want to put the benchmarks front and center as new schools and districts start with JumpRope, using them to measure readiness of these new partner schools and districts. We can’t give you specifics at the moment, such as the tools we will use in this process or the outcomes once we’ve established readiness levels, but we will be sure to keep you posted - and we might ask for your assistance. Getting input from current JumpRope schools and districts will be critical to this work.
Sara: When I think of the benchmarks and the Readiness Inventory, I think of standards or indicators and diagnostic assessments. As teachers, we know that best practice tells us to align what we ask students to learn - and therefore what we aim to teach - with a set of clearly articulated and well-matched standards. As we begin any learning and teaching journey, we stand a better chance of helping our students meet with success if we assess what they understand prior to the journey’s start. That’s the diagnostic assessment.
A school’s or district’s choice to use JumpRope is at least somewhat similar to starting a new learning journey with students. This is especially true because we are a philosophically-driven company. Our goal is to change the way we collectively teach and assess so that we can change the way students learn. We have found that some of our schools and districts know a great deal about standards-based practice, and therefore introducing software to help manage the data this system generates is an easy and natural step for them. That has not been the case for all of our schools and districts, though; that’s where diagnostic assessment will help us.
If a teacher’s learning target is to have her students use a physical map of South America to locate the Andes, she will first need to be sure her students know what a physical map is and how to use the key. A diagnostic assessment of some sort will enable her to do just that and see where each student is starting. Similarly, we see the need to help schools and districts at their respective starting points. We plan to use our benchmarks and Readiness Inventory to do just that.
Jenna: Once the “journey” of implementing JumpRope begins, it’s my job to make sure we’re supporting the school or district each step of the way. With future growth in mind, I’ll be focusing my efforts in the early part of 2015 on welcoming and training a new member of our support team so that we can make sure we are ready to support all of our new school and district partners. Also in the works are improvements to our implementation process so that we can make sure we have the right tools in place to help our newest schools and districts get up and running as efficiently as possible. I’ll be working closely with the implementation benchmarks to use that information to develop a plan to customize the JumpRope launch process to meet the individual needs of each school and district. Of course, this is in addition to my ongoing work towards making sure our support processes are such that we always respond to all of your emails and requests for help as accurately and as quickly as we can!
Jesse: As we approach the middle of the school year, I like to take the opportunity to check in with our new and existing customers - teachers, schools, and districts - and listen to their feedback, questions, and requests. Many times, the beginning of the school year means a flurry of activity from every direction that is difficult to sort through. By now, we’ve received initial thoughts and follow-up from hundreds of teachers and districts as they’ve learned to use JumpRope, and it’s time to design and implement improvements to the application as well as to our training and support systems to better serve our current and future customers. In other words, now is a good time to reach out if you have ideas about how to make JumpRope better!
Hayley: I’m excited to be working on a new project for JumpRope: online courses for our users. While we’ll always offer our content face-to-face or live via webinar, we’re excited about the flexibility that online courses will offer to teachers, administrators, and other users.
We’ve begun development over the holiday season on our initial teacher training course (you might remember this training that has, in the past, been delivered either in person or as an interactive webinar), as well as courses on more specific topics like the philosophy of standards-based grading, an in-depth discussion of Power Law and other grade calculation methods, and use of the data you’ve collected in JumpRope to inform instruction. In the pipeline we’re aiming to include topics that are more specific to the needs of our district and school clients including advanced JumpRope user courses and school administrator specific courses.
Our hope is to increase the freedom and flexibility of the delivery of JumpRope content and learning to our users. With basic courses available online, teachers and administrators will have the freedom to access the course at anytime, thus allowing for an always accessible reference as well as a self-paced timeline for learning the content. This will be a great additional opportunity for teachers and administrators to feel like they have more control over their JumpRope learning experience as well as deepening their understanding of how JumpRope can support and inform standards-based teaching and learning.