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Illuminate Teacher Spotlight- Janel Barber

posted Apr 27, 2016, 9:32 AM by Trent Miller   [ updated Apr 27, 2016, 9:33 AM ]
How have you been using Illuminate in your classroom/school?
​I have been using it to give pre-, mid-, and post-assessments.  It's been wonderful for students to receive instant feedback on their performance and it's been nice as a teacher to be able to spend my time and energy on other tasks than just grading.  

One of the most effective uses in my classroom was during our independent reading unit.  Three of our main standards were on acquiring and using language at the college and career level, reading texts independently and proficiently at grade level, and using inferences to determine what a text says.  ​So, each day for a week we focus  on these skills.  After a week, I gave a mid-unit assessment to see how they were doing in these areas.  I came in the next day and showed the students the data from Illuminate (it was nice not having to create the pie chart myself and having that ready to share!).  I also took off the names but copied each hour's data from the test.  So, when I came into the class the next day I showed them where we were at as an entire grade.  We then looked at our specific hour to see where students fell into that pie chart.  Then we started a conversation about getting every person to master the standards and how we could do that.  I set up mentors (those that had scored in the proficient band) with mentees (those that were not yet proficient).  During their independent reading time I first met with the mentors and talked to them about their role for the next week.  They were going to mentor 1-3 other students in the class for the first 10 minutes of class over the course of the next week.  I then talked to the students that would be mentored and explained that they were going to be receiving some wonderful assistance in a small group setting and the goal was to get all of them to the proficiency level (we also talked about why I wanted all of them to reach proficiency and what that meant).

For the next week, I created directions, activities, and practices for each of the small groups based on the needs of the group.  For example, some people only needed help on inferences, so they had activities designed to help them improve that skill.  Then, at the end of the week, students took a post-unit assessment.  When they scanned their tests on Illuminate their top question was on what score would allow them to achieve proficiency.  That was a very different outlook!

 I came in the next day and the first question from everyone was about seeing the data!  It was very exciting to see them so excited about that information since I've never had a group care about data before!  There was definite improvement from the mid- to post-unit test and the students were very excited!  Mentors were praising their mentees for their hard work and improvement, and mentees were genuinely thanking their mentors.  They were such a united and proud group.  It was wonderful to see.

How is it going?
​I have only had good experiences with Illuminate.  The students were very nervous and apprehensive when we first started using it in the classroom, but now they love that instant feedback. ​
Thoughts and/or reflections about how using Illuminate affects and impacts your classroom and teaching?
​It allows me to quickly check for understanding and mastery, I'm able to spend my time planning instead of grading, and ​​I can provide instant feedback and data to students to help direct their learning.