At Castle Learning, we are committed to improving education, including remote teaching. We provide an online tool that works anywhere with internet access, including homes or schools. While online tools help with in-person instruction, they are vital to the success of remote education. Please note that although this blog focuses on the ease of digital delivery, you can print, display, or digitally deliver any content you create.
For more information on creating tests and assignments for remote instruction, please refer to a previous blog – How Castle Helps Create Tests and Assignments when Teaching Virtually.
Integrations with Digital Platforms
Although you can use Castle Learning as a stand-alone application, many teachers prefer to integrate it with Google Classroom, Schoology, or Canvas. Integrations reduce the number of places students need to look to keep track of assignments and grades. On the platform, students see the assignment as a link. Clicking on the link takes students directly to the appropriate assignment in their student center.
Setting Up Your Classes
First, ensure that your students are entered into a class on your Castle teacher account. This process may happen via an automated district daily sync, or you can manually select students.
Next, consider making additional groups beyond official class rosters. These groupings will save you time and effort throughout the year because it increases the efficiency of differentiating instruction and making modifications. Creating each group only takes a few minutes, and editing them later is even quicker.
Then, you can modify the settings for specific students or groups. Setting changes are available from the class page and the assignment deployment stage. You might choose to enable features such as computer-generated translation and text-to-speech with highlighting. Changing student settings gives these students access to the appropriate accommodations for every test and assignment in every class. This feature makes complying with Individualized Learning Plans (IEPs) and best practices for English Language Learners (ELLs) easier.
With your classes set up, delivering the tests and assignments to the appropriate students takes only a few clicks.
Delivering Differentiated Versions to Various Groups
Students in various classes benefit from similar assignment modifications, such as a different pace or amount of questions. Creating separate “classes” for multiple groups has the added benefit of making assigning differentiated material quick. It takes mere seconds to assign “Ten Questions about Chapter 1” to Group A and assign “Twelve Questions about Chapter 1” to Group B.
Secondary school teachers appreciate how quickly they can create and deliver modified assignments to students in various class sections. Elementary school teachers often categorize students by level for each subject. Making suitable modifications follows best practices for assigning homework.
Practicing, Studying, Assessing and Reviewing
Any assignment can serve multiple purposes. When assigning content, decide if you want students to use it for practice, studying, assessing, or reviewing. Delivering it in “open” mode, “quiz” mode, or “review-only” mode changes how students see it.
Open mode is perfect for practice. It gives students two attempts for each question. It also offers students access to vocabulary, feedback, and reasoning after the first attempt. Click “Quiz mode” for assessments. It gives students only one chance to answer each question. They also do not have access to the other helpful resources of “open” mode. In either mode, additional features are available such as randomizing the questions.
“Review-only” mode is perfect for studying for a test or retake. Students see the questions, their responses, the correct answers, and the reasons for the correct answers, but it does not allow them to answer questions.
Providing Opportunity for Retakes
The retake option provides students multiple attempts to meet a set mastery level. You can choose to give that option automatically or manually. Most teachers prefer auto-retake because it reduces their task load. To select the automatic retake, simply set up the designated mastery level when you issue the original assignment. The data report from the retakes provides the teacher with progress monitoring and growth evaluation.
Adding Time Limits and Time Frames
It is important to note the flexibility differences between “quick assign” and “assign to students.” Generally, students should have limited access to assessments to promote academic integrity. Using “assign to students” gives you the ability to decide when students can start a test and the amount of time they can spend on a test. You may choose the window of time, the duration, and available accommodations. This feature is especially useful for asynchronous remote teaching.
“Quick assign” is easiest for non-assessments because you do not have to make as many decisions about time. The “quick assign” is also useful when the entire class or all classes take the same test with many of the same settings.
A Final Note
You can see that Castle Learning digital tools give you the power of flexibility and the ease of simplicity that are so important in virtual environments. Great teaching tools not only improve student learning outcomes, they also reduce teacher frustration and burnout. The next blog in this series will focus on how Castle Learning tools aid in grading tests and assignments and aggregating data to adjust instruction.