5 Classroom Problems I Solved by Creating My Own App

by Scott Rosenkranz,
They offered me an iPad for the classroom, but the app I needed didn’t exist, so I said no. But then I started thinking. What problems COULD an iPad solve? Could I collect data as learning is taking place without a bulky call/response system? Could I reduce my paperload? Could I hack human nature itself, and make sure I engaged all students? What about student grouping?

It’s unorthodox, but I began to be convinced. I needed to become an app developer. I teamed up with Jacob Bullock, a programmer, and we created an app called Oncore. Here’s how we solved common classroom problems.

  1. Student Equity: Most teachers don’t engage 100% of students. Instead, they interact with the charismatic and curious. I’ve used the note card ( or popsicle stick) system, but I still wasn’t sure that I was engaging everyone, and I had no easy way to assess the quality of a student response on a notecard or a stick. Oncore’s student engagement feature ensures that the teacher interacts with 100% of students equitably by calling on the students the teacher has interacted with the least. In class, it seems random, but it isn’t. Also, since the seating chart is the main feature of the user interface, a teacher can just as easily summon the student of her choice and can see the number of engagements they have had on that day, or over time.
  2. Formative Assessment: Formative assessment is the most valuable type of assessment, but so much of it goes undocumented. In order to document it, teachers have to do a lot of work to set up call and response systems which unfortunately, tend to measure “multiple choice” surface knowledge at the expense of critical thinking. By contrast, Oncore allows a teacher to attach a daily focus standard to any class session, group or assignment created within the app. Teacher’s can effortlessly engage and then assess students on the Oncore color scale. This data automatically updates in Oncore’s “reports” feature. Formative assessment can now take place daily and the data that was once unattainable is now easily accessible.IMG_0727
  3. Paperwork: Oncore allows teachers to be mobile and maximizes their classroom time by allowing them to check student mastery on assignments during class time. With Oncore, teachers can easily create assignments and attach standards and points to them. This allows the teacher to give “just in time” feedback contextualized to the student they are assessing. Too often paper load saps a teacher’s time and energy. Oncore increases the likelihood that students will receive good feedback so that they can master content more quickly.
  4. Grouping: Creating performance level groups can be a chore for teachers. By assessing learning in the class period, Oncore captures performance levels easily and updates those levels throughout the school year. Oncore allows teachers to create same-mixed, level, or random groups using that same data. The groups are modifiable and teachers can assess standards for individuals or whole groups. Teachers can also grade assignments in group mode. Now it takes 20 seconds to create and start working with groups.
  5. Communication: Oncore teachers can send emails home to communicate attendance issues, missed assignments and positive or negative behaviors. Teachers can easily modify these messages to give any necessary context for the notifications Oncore creates. These notifications are automatically logged in the student’s history tab in the app.

Photography by Brian A. Petersen at www.brianapetersen.com

We usually think of educational technology as a way of improving curriculum and assessment. In creating Oncore, I have improved my instruction by leveraging the power of data to inform and enhance the relationships and processes within my classroom.  

Click here to download the free Oncore Classroom Productivity app on The App Store, or to learn more about my project, visit Oncoreeducation.com

Photography by Brian A. Petersen at www.brianapetersen.com

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