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The ReVIEW Team

North Branford Public Schools Joins the ReVIEW Team

1 min read


Currently setting up North Branford Public Schools in So proud to have a thought leader district taking advantage of our powerful coaching platform to improve student outcomes by utilizing the new collegial calibration module we added.

When districts use our collegial calibration module they work with Patrick W. Flynn and Amy Tepper of ReVISION Learning to unpack an evaluation rubric, observe for key levers of growth, and then get repeated coaching sessions. Using ReVIEW North Branford Public Schools gets a report on how well their adminsitrators provide teachers with feedback to drive growth.

District Leaders can check agreement and look for issues across the curriculum. Excited to launch the new module in such an important district in Connecticut.

The ReVIEW Team

Peeling Back the Layers of the RVL Supervisory Continuum

2 min read

Onions get a bad wrap. We use the layers of this wonderful root as a symbol of our complexities and their numerous causes.

Teacher evaluation is complex. You have to think about the task, the setting, the learners, the content. So much.

Onion flickr photo by feesta shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Yet we persist becuase we know focusing on the quality of teaching improves student achievement. It's one of the few variables of learning leaders can affect.

Thus tracking the type of feedback our administrators provide their teachers is critical. It could be a Department chair at a university supervising online instruction, a vice principal evaluating teachers, or a program director checking on fidelity of lessons.

Everyone can get better at delivering feedback. That is our mission at ReVIEW Talent Feedback System. We want to help you monitor, observe and coach your leaders on providing actionable feedback.

To this end we created and use the ReVISION Learning Supervisory Continuum and built it right into our system.


You coach your leaders on:

  • tying evidence to performance indicators
  • using both qualitative and quantitative evidence
  • collecting evidence of meaningful learning
  • connecting evidence to key levers of growth
  • reducing bias
  • using feedback as a comprehensive learning tool

Let's celebrate and plan for the complexitites of teaching. Much like the onion throwing just a little bit of feedback work into the frying pan can greatly improve a recipe, and we can get there without any tears.


The ReVIEW Team

Getting Rich Data from Instructional Reviews

2 min read

We do not control all the factors that influence learning. Yet we know many of the key levers teachers can to pull to drive student achievement.

Tardis levers flickr photo by westy48 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

As teachers we must encourage and coach each other to use specific strategies and instructional techniques much like we would simple machine.

Let’s pry some learning loose.

wedge flickr photo by burnthatsucker shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

First schools need to identify key areas where they want to increase instructional capacity. After some training on using key learning levers teachers can then begin to bring these tools to the classroom.

As school leaders and coaches we can then observe for these practices using instructional rounds.

Effective Instructional Reviews

Hone in on specific practice, not people. Instructional rounds are about the learning ecosystem as a whole not the individual teacher.

Choose a few indicators or instructional practice. You can not act on data when overwhelmed with results. Go into the classroom, note if a practice is or is not evident. Capture some evidence to explain your decisions.

Use your staff. While scheduling, staffing, and shrinking budgets make it difficult, empower instructional coaches, department chairs or mentors to observe their peers. The conversation around the table can lead to important insight.

Using ReVIEW Talent Feedback System for Instructional Reviews

Pay careful to your instrumentation. Instructional rounds reveal patterns. As busy school leaders we need our technology to simplify, not complicate the process of instructional rounds.

At ReVIEW Talent Feedback System we make instructional rounds easier and more efficient. We begin by examining your mission and goals. As a team we then develop a list of instructional practices that coaches and faculty can quickly identify. We then capture a small piece of evidence for each indicator.

Your district then gets a snapshot of how the frequencies of these practices in your school. This helps plan your professional development and individual coaching needs.

If you want to learn more about bringing ReVIEW Talent Feedback System to your school or district contact [email protected]

The ReVIEW Team

How Does Video Based Calibration Work

2 min read

Many of you have stopped by the booth or sent a question on Twitter asking about how our video based calibration modules work.

Step One: Collecting Evidence

Evaluators in your district receive access to a video from our library. These videos have been normed against numerous frameworks across the country. We have video transcriptions available for training and to meet the abilities of all educators.

Step Two: Analyze the Evidence

Your district evaluators then score this video against your chosen framework.Using the user friendly interface they can score at the indicator and domain level but also select a rating at the attribute level. We can customize and add any legally available framework for effective teaching to our platform. If you use a proprietary framework we capture scores and written feedback.

Step Three Coaches Provide Feedback

Then a coach from ReVIEW Talent Feedback System will score the evaluator’s submitted report. We use ReVISION Learnings Supervisory continuum which scores written feedback on six qualities of effective observations. Our coaches provide your evaluators with a model of high quality written feedback teachers deserve.

Step Four: Create a Professional Development Plan

As a district leader you will have access to facilitator reports that give a snapshot at how well your evaluators support the instructional capacity of your teachers. You can also download all evaluator and facilitator reports and data.

The ReVIEW Team

Coaching with Video Based Calibrations

2 min read

School leaders use classroom observations to make important decisions. What professional development to engage, if teachers should earn tenure, and even if teachers need counseling out of the profession.

The Power of Leaders in Early Learning flickr photo by New America shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

We owe it to the educators we serve to ensure a baseline of agreement and validity. Our faculty and staff deserve to know important decisions about their lives are being made by highly trained professionals. How many districts run agreement tests? How many school systems have the foresight to provide coaching to their evaluators on how to write effective feedback?

Don't Lose Your Vision

Yet in teacher evaluation we too often focus on the consequences and lose sight of the coaching. If the last decade, and all the experiments of measuring effectiveness, taught us anything we now know feedback matters.

We can not stop at simple agreement tests when training our faculty. More importantly teacher deserves a school leader who can coach them towards growth.

AT ReVIEW Talent Feedback System we place the emphasis on capacity and not simply compliance.

Our Video Based Calibrations not only provide schools with inter-rater agreement but our coaches score written feedback against six domains of effective observation reports. Our team then writes feedback to help evaluators improve their observation reports and the corresponding feedback they provide to teachers.

Culture of Feedback

At ReVIEW we know feedback drives growth. It is more than inter-rater agreement. A culture of feedback must exist from the superintendent to the youngest student.

We model the type of high quality feedback that teachers deserve.

The ReVIEW Team

7 Steps to More Effective Evaluation

4 min read

You can not rely on any teacher development platform without first investing in the coaching skills of your evaluators. Yet too many of the tools on the marketplace assume your staff have the skills to deliver high quality feedback that helps teachers grow. It as if we could have students learn by simply building classrooms without teachers

Classroom flickr photo by Patrick Q shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Regardless of your platform any district or school can follow our seven step plan to training evaluators on effective growth.

Designing Effective Evaluators

Determine Goals

keys-to-smart-goal-setting-mind-map flickr photo by jean-louis zimmermann shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Use last year’s data. Pay close attention to the written feedback evaluators provided teachers. What instructional practices should your faculty focus on in order to drive student growth?How do the identified instructional practices align with your district's framework for effective teaching? Choose your indicators and attributes of focus.

At ReVIEW Talent Feedback system we make determining, following and reflection on goals easy. We have built in goal setting question types in our form builder.

Create Groups

LEEHS 1 flickr photo by US Department of Education shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Do tenure teachers get fewer observations? Are you going to organize evaluators across the district? In each school? By grade or subject band? All of these factors influence how we deploy our teacher evaluation plans.

We believe talent growth stands on a platform of differentiation and personalization. Our group features allow you to customize the experience for each teacher in your school.

Coach Teams

Evaluators need coaching. Model the process and feedback that they should use with teachers. Meet each group to really unpack what effective learning looks like when using the instructional practices outlined in the district’s goals. Have evaluators describe the evidence they would see in effective classrooms.

You can use our customized forms to create trainings or take advantage of the many partnerships we have established with professional development providers.

Conduct Observations

blank dossier flickr photo by theilr shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Evaluators need practice. Next take each group into the classroom and observe specifically for the instructional practices your districts believes will drive student growth. Use the relevant sections of your framework for effective teaching.

Our tools for classroom observation define industry standards by stripping away the features and putting the focus squarely on feedback delivered to the teacher.

Discuss Observed Evidence

Discussion flickr photo by NordForsk shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Evaluators need collaboration. After each observation gather together as a group and discuss the evidence collected. Describe how the evaluators would coach the teacher. Use the language of the chosen indicator and attribute in your discussion.

We make the exporting or reports and data easy you can instantly sort and download any submitted response.

Administer Formative Assessment

Formative assessment and design thinking notes flickr photo by Ewan McIntosh shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Evaluators need feedback. After a series of training have the team observe a teacher and score it against your entire framework. Then analyze the score and responses of evaluators and provide a report. Give evaluators the type of feedback their teachers deserve.

At ReVIEW Talent Feedback System we put the emphasis on evaluator growth. You can use our platform for live trainings or use our video based calibration modules.

Coach for Growth

Time.. flickr photo by David Vega Fotografia shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Evaluators need time. Calibration isn’t a one time assessment of checking off observed evidence. True validity and reliability in our measures takes focus. The growth required takes time. Provide opportunities to improve evaluation skills to your staff throughout the year.

Learn More

When you partner with ReVIEW Talent Feedback System you get a platform that allows you track, train, and teach your staff on how to utilize classroom observations in their coaching.
To learn more about how we can help you design for better evaluators reach out to [email protected] or find us at booth 222.

The ReVIEW Team

Making Student Learning Objectives More Visible in Version 5.1

2 min read

At ReVIEW Talent Feedback System we have learned to listen to our users. The educators who partner with us know the power feedback has in driving  teacher and student growth.

Feedback flickr photo by Skley shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

Our customers commonly requested a feature to make student learning objectives more accessible in our system.

SLO's, or yearly goals for learners, play an important role in state maandated teacher evaluation systems. In ReVIEW we have empowered educators by creating easy to use forms to develop SLO's.

Evaluators and teachers noted they needed to easily navigate back to their SLO's throughout the school year.

We listened.

Adding SLO's to your Profile

Today we release version 5.1 of ReVIEW Talent Feedback System. We added the ability to customize a user's profile. Districts can now use this to add to SLO's to their profile.

Evaluators and district administrators can now click on a user's profile to open up the page in a new tab or window

District admininstrators and teacher evaluators will have read privledges. We hope giving districts quick and easy access to their SLO's will help educators navigate our system.

Rich Text Editor

We also added a rich text editor (a What You See is What You Get--WYSIWYG tool) to the profile pages and to any text area in a form component. Previously users needed to know a bit of html to format their forms or responses. Now anyone can add a little flare to their entires.

Improvements to Group Management

We also made a few minor but important changes to our group management tools. Specifically users can now be in unlimited groups. This means schools, consultants, and non-profits using our system can create unlimited learning experiences for their users. 

Goal Setting Components

We also added a new goal setting form component. We now have one goal setting feature that pre-populates. Meaning once teachers fill it out once it their editable responses will be added any time that component is used.

In version 5.1 we included a goal setting form component that dies not pre populate. You still choose a goal and add action steps with deliverable dates but now you can use this feature across many different forms.

The ReVIEW Team

Five Ways to Use our Group Management Tools

3 min read

004_small flickr photo by breity shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Enrique Martinez didn't know what to do. As a new assistant superindent the district relied on him to handle talent development. Yet in Enrique's mind he was a servant to the state and not to students. The talent development platform deployed by the district was designed to meet a checklist of unfunded federal and state mandates.

Teachers hated the system. Enrique needed tools that allowed him to differntiate the instructional support each teacher recieved. 

At ReVIEW Talent Feedback System we strive to  build better teachers through high quality feedback. To accomplish this goal we created our platform to provide flexiility and customizations to meet the needs of people like Dr. Martinez.

Our group management tools provided Enrique with everything he needed so teachers could see talent development as a valuable process rather than a product of bad politics. Dr. Martinez quickly  discovered five ways to use our group management tools.

Video Based Calibration

Our professional development library became an immediate asset to Enrique. He was able to train all new administrators and had inter-rater agreement using our built in video based calibration.

When a group of administrators needed addtional support he created a new group, assigned videos and created tutorials about using frameworks for effective teaching.

Rubric Understanding

Dr Martinez knows the importance of teachers knowing the district's framework for effective teaching. He created a goal setting form teachers to identify indicators where they needed growth. Then Enrique created groups of teachers for training.

Online Classes

The way districts have done professional development needs to change. After reviewing last year's assessment data Enrique noted that many teachers needed to brush up questoning techniques in the classroom. Dr. Martinez used our group feature to create optional online classes. Now teacher could complete the activites online or attend the full day professional development sessions. Many teachers chose to work online so they could use district release time for team planning.

Mandatory Trainings

Food safety classes, coach recertification, dyslexia modules...The number of trainings the district was required to deliver keeps increasing. Dr. Martinez found our group management feature to be an invaluable tool to meeting these requirements.

Professional Learning Communities

Enrique feels blessed to have such a committed staff. In fact many teachers seek out professional development well beyond the minimum the district is required to devliver based on the union contract. Dr. Martinez worked with these teachers to set up a professional learning community using ReVIEW's group management features.

Want to know how easy it is to get started in your school or district? Check out the tutorials below:

Make a New Group

Add People to a Group

Add Events to a Group

Set Form Frequencies to a Group

The ReVIEW Team

Using ReVIEW As Grant Management Tool

3 min read

Globe 6 flickr photo by Guru Sno Studios shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

In part of of our efforts to give back we give access to ReVIEW Talent Feedback System to any non-profit research project for free.

At Southern Connecticut State University we were awarded a grant to focus on bringing Geographic Information Systems.

Using ReVIEW Talent Feedback System to Manage Grants

After demonstrating the functionality to my colleagues and comparing the features to other CMS options such as Blackboard and Google Classroom the Principal Investigators (PI's) on our Geographic Information Systems Grant (I abstained from the vote and then checked with our Dean to make sure there was no conflict of interest) chose to use ReVIEW Talent Feedback System as our tool to organize the institute.

What Can You Do with ReVIEW Talent Feedback System?

Our PIs chose ReVIEW Talent Feedback for numerous reasons:

  • Allowed for differentiated participation between 100% face to face, hybrid, and fully online participants.
  • Created a repository for all of our learning activities.
  • Allowed participants to upload artifacts from the institute.
  • Provided an observation tool for coaching when teachers deliver lessons in the school year.
  • Provided an assessment tool for evaluating submitted lesson plans.
  • Collected demographic data
  • Created robust reporting tools for publication.

How did it Work?

During our two week institute participants had access to all of the learning materials. If they were on the ground the activities were completed in our sessions. Online or hybrid participants completed activities in a self paced approach.

Participants could navigate through the activities

We could then download all responses for any type of qualitative analysis

How will it work?

As we move from the institute into the classroom ReVIEW will work as our coaching and feedback platform. We will begin by scoring their lesson plans against Domain 2 of the Connecticut Framework for Effective Teaching.

The CT SEED model uses four domains to evaluate teachers. The second domain is the planning domain. We then provide written feedback on how to improive the lesson.

Then when the school year begins we will go in and score the lessons on Domains 1 and 3 of the framework. These domains focus on teaching and assessment.

When we finish our coaching and observation we will be able to use our robust reporting features to help prepare data for publication.

Want to Use ReVIEW in Your Grant?

As we have said we make ReVIEW free to any grant that utilizes internal reviews or needs a data collection and analysis tool. If you are a third party or outside reviewer on a grant we have very affordable prices and tools that will make your evaluations more cost effective for your partners.

Simply email Greg at [email protected] for more information.

The ReVIEW Team

7 Lessons I Learned as a Bad Online Teacher

8 min read

Remix of "Nodal Network" flickr photo by -mtnoxx- shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license and Education Reform: Insert your favorite “Wrath of Khan” joke blog title here" flickr photo by opensourceway shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

I love teaching online. I have also messed up along the way and draw important lessons from these failures. So then I iterate.

Over my last decade of teaching online, which began in my blended 6th grade classroom in 2004-2005, I have focused on seven key lessons that drive my instructional design.

Day 55. Classroom. flickr photo by davidmulder61 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Know Your Learners

I always want to create those magical moments. Where networked learning thrives. It rarely happens. Too often I design for the wrong audience.

I think about the participatory learning environments where I live. Places often celebrated by digital bards and nomads jumping from pop up like learning events that differ vastly from the public perception of MOOCs. I want that in my classes.

I can't have it; not without a lot of scaffolding and time, probably spanning multiple classes. There is a difference between learners who want to be there and who want to be there. We must design accordingly.

More importantly I do have to consider the complexity and frequency of tools I want to introduce. I am committed to students controlling their space for learning. Privacy through data empowerment. Yet I need to recognize that navigation must be fluent in all learners.

What to do?

Before each class I draw up a persona of three typical learners in the class. I try to think about their writing skills, their technology skills, and their experience in complex and distributed learning environments.

I offer a week zero class with face to face time before the class begins. I also record these sessions and put them online.

I also build in design studio time in my hybrid classrooms and open video office hours in my online classes. You can drop in any time for help.

empty goal flickr photo by tadekk shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Set Clear Expectations

I always strive for maximum flexibility. Students often grade themselves or each other.  I say,  "No due dates, those are guidelines. I care that you learn, not when you learn." I was wrong.

Even classes with the most open structure  students must know your expectations for assignments and participation. I am not saying apply a rubric to everything or set up, "Post to the discussion board twice by Tuesday and reply three  times by Sunday," but students must know what to do and when.

What to do?

Have due dates. When you work with students who often have multiple jobs, children, and a full class load do not be surprised if they look to your flexibility as a time management opportunity to finish other tasks.

Model the weekly expectations. You may not complete the same tasks as students (though this is my favorite model) but don't do what I do and let weeks of tasks and feedback pile up.

I want a fluid syllabus. The idea that course content can not change in response to students is silly. Yet you need to have expectations of major assignments and group worked laid out early.

Alone. flickr photo by mildiou2 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Online isn't Alone

Just because we do not gather in a room together doesn't mean we don't hang out in class. Yet I have to think about the complexity of tools we use to encourage engagement.

Some of my favorite experiences often occurred when using the Google Suite of applications. This was before Google Classroom but the single sign on and experience of Hangouts, Docs, Google+, Google Sites, and Google Forms made instructional design easy.

I also have to remember I am not teaching a correspondence course. Having students submit a 250-500 word submission each week could be done by mail. Do more.

What to do?

Choose a suite of tools and provide training on how to use them. Do not assume a lack of use is a lack of engagement.

Mix groups of on campus and off campus students. When allowing self selection watch out for geographical segregation or remote or commuter students.

Create assignments that depend on collaboration. Collaborative case studies or weekly debates are two of my favs. In my children's literature classes I love to do book clubs as well.

Wilson teaching flickr photo by Portland Seminary shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Good Pedagogy is Good Teaching. Online or Off.

I bought the latest screencasting software. I made the powerpoints. I hit record. I needed to stop. Watching a narrated slidedeck online is just as bad, if not worse, than watching it in the classroom.

If a practice works in the traditional classroom it probably works in the online classroom. We are not reinventing teaching just changing the mode and medium of delivery.

What to do?

Take what you do already and move it online. Your lessons work because they are good and you have honed them for years. Find a peer who has taught online and ask them to move online.

Take what we know about classroom discussions and writing instruction and include these into your teaching. 

Don't record powerpoints. My favorite way to introduce new content is with expert interviews or scheduling podcasts with authors of articles we read. 

Make! flickr photo by Sklathill shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Production Based Learning

I used to equate readings with rigor. Word counts with wonder. I was wrong. 

We need to make our online classes production based learning environments. Students need to curate and create learning artifacts that provide evidence of knowledge growth over time.

They need to remix readings with their own ideas. You know...analyze and synthesize.

What to do?

Create assignments that require students to use the learning material in novel ways. Get students making.

In more well defined domains such as math this can include making instructional videos to teach others about algorithms being studied. 

Have them design their own space for learning. When students create a stream of their learning or a portfolio f artifacts you get deeper learning.

JUL2011_ 1645 flickr photo by torres21 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Provide Timely and Focused Feedback

I created a rubric for everything. In my first publication "Forums and Functions of Threaded Discussion" I even shared an acronym rubric. Two bad habits of teachers. Seeing acronyms everywhere and trying to grade everything.

I have also just allowed classes to move organically. Just dipping my toes into conversations. My students deserved more. I needed to find the balance.

What to do?

Don't grade every discussion and post. Do you provide a rubric for each response when a student raises their hand in class? No. Why would you do this online? Doesn't mean you can't have a holistic participation grade.

You can have a rubric but you don't need to score students on every criterion every week. Target your feedback on areas where students need growth.

Coach your students. My best feedback is rarely attached to grades. Instead I either your recorded screencasts or video chats to provide feedback.

Filigree - Nicolás Paris (1977) flickr photo by pedrosimoes7 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Model. Model. Model

I often expected my students knew what to do. I would begin each week with a short video introducing the tasks and then let the class go. I was wrong.

Students need layers of of differentiated scaffolding and examples from you and peers.

What to do?

Go back to rule one. Remember most of your students may never have had an online learning experience. Let them see you doing what you ask of them.

Connect your classes across semesters. I utilize the same classroom stream each semester. Students have the option to delete their data but most do not. This creates a library of example of students can use as models.

Recognize the leaders in the class. Students will turn to a few for advice. Online learning requires this kind of emerging leadership. Plan pathways around this.

Empower students as models. Choose students, especially those not overly involved and pre teach them a skill a skill or content. Have them lead the class.

Model how to model.

Online learning and teaching take constant growth. Always Iterate. These seven lessons guide my instructional design and they can help you rethink how to teach online. 

Greg McVerry, is an international expert on literacy and technology. He received his PhD in Educational Psychology as Neag Fellow at the New Literacies Research Lab at the University of Connecticut. If you would like to learn more about how he uses ReVIEW Talent Feedback System to help improve online teaching across the globe feel free to email him.