I Am Naiku: Karla Sonnenberg

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Where I teach: ​Eastview High School, Apple Valley, MN

When did you become a teacher and what did you teach: ​1995 ­ German, Social Studies, ACT Prep, Teacher Librarian, Instructional Technology Specialist

What does being a teacher mean to you: ​By nature, I am a lifelong learner. I enjoy discovering new bits of information, technologies or skills. I teach because I love to share my knowledge. I don’t teach because it is a skill. I teach because it is how I relate my knowledge to others. It isn’t what I do…it’s who I am.

When did you become an Information & Instructional Technology Specialist: ​I spent the first 20 years in the classroom and loved it. I enjoy working with young people and feel accomplished at the impact I have had in their lives. In 2015, I was offered the opportunity to grow my skills and share my passion for technology in a new role. I became the Information & Instructional Technology Specialist for my school. I now run the library, databases, computer labs and teach other teachers how they can use technology more effectively in the classroom.

What do you like most about being an Instructional Technology Specialist: My love of exploring new software and apps to get a job done is only enhanced when a teacher says “I want to be able to do ‘​this’ ​”. They are often not sure if ​‘it’ is even possible or how to do ‘​this’, ​but I enjoy the challenge of figuring it out with them. Students benefit when learning is enhanced and transformed through technology. My job is all about finding meaningful ways to do that.

What are the biggest challenges that you face as an Instructional Technology Specialist: As with many jobs, there are a hundred things that need to be done in any given day, but only 24 hours in which to complete them. I find myself needing to constantly prioritize what I can learn and teach to others, and to keep my focus on what will impact student learning the most. It is easy to get distracted by the bells and whistles in technology and miss the mark for technology and learning.

As an Information and Instructional Technology Specialist you’ve become the “Naiku Guru” at your school. Tell us about your Naiku experience and how you became a Naiku Guru: When Naiku was first introduced quite a few years ago, our school was one of the pilot sites. I followed the lead of another teacher and started using it in my classes to do mini quizzes. At the time, it was fun and something different for students to use. I took a break from it as my interests changed and then Naiku did some major upgrades and integrated our student information systems into my Naiku account. That is when I really took off using Naiku because I no longer had to build individual classes and transfer scores ­ Naiku did that work for me. I began giving daily formative checks in both my German and my History classes. Students received immediate feedback on progress and I could see individual strengths and weaknesses. I could more quickly assess what my students had not learned and focus on those learning targets. As others began using Naiku, they often came to me for creative ways to gather information or to troubleshoot creating Naiku assessments. That’s my journey to becoming a Naiku Guru!

Your school recently used Naiku to deliver a practice ACT exam to your entire Junior Class. Tell us a little bit about this process. How did you “put” the ACT practice test into Naiku? What were the goals or expected outcomes of this project? What benefits did this give to the students and teachers? As the ACT test has become a high stakes assessment for many students, we were charged with giving an ACT practice test to every junior in our school in preparation for the state mandated administration April 2015. With over 500 participants, we purchased practice tests but had no way to give the students timely and meaningful feedback on their scores. While the practice for procedures was helpful, the true opportunity for growth was in being able to give the students feedback questions they got wrong and allowing teachers the chance for intervention before the actual test. This task didn’t come without challenges. How do we create a class of 500+ students with access for all teachers? Could the Naiku system handle so many records? How do we make the Naiku bubble sheet match the ACT format? With great teamwork between our school and Naiku we made it happen. We had reliable results ready for students within 24 hours of administering the practice test! Great support from Naiku!

What are the main benefits that Naiku has provided to you, as an Instructional Technology Specialist? There are a number of companies that provide similar opportunities for assessment, but Naiku has gone above and beyond to keep their focus on learning. Every time I have called with a question or a challenge, they have helped me with a solution. Together, we have assisted teachers and students in gathering meaningful data and feedback for learning and intervention.

Can you tell us how your teachers and students feel about giving and taking a majority of their assessments in Naiku? The overall response to Naiku has been positive. As the Instructional Technology Specialist, I have offered a variety of training sessions to help teachers learn how to best create and administer assessments. These teachers have felt the most success and made the most progress in integrating Naiku into their teaching. Students are experiencing Naiku for learning as they do in­class formative/summative assessments, at­home feedback opportunities, and personal reflection of learning. We all continue to learn and grow through constant feedback and reflective processes.

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