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My quick thoughts, back stage, and rants as I try to Teach kids about the Web while learning how to help others build a better Web.


Come Journey Through the IndieWeb Sites


Greg McVerry

Creating the #IndieWeb CourseWare with @ReviewTalentFS and @withknown thanks to @scsu and @uconn start-up grant

3 min read

Anyone who has followed my meandering path into the knows much of what I do gets driven by teaching.

Our company ReVIEW Talent Feedback System brings this vision to teacher coaching, evaluation and feedback. Reflection and learning should drive classroom improvement.

To that end, we partnered with the Known Open Collective to add learning and reflection to our our platform. We want to help open source learning tools. As part of a start up grant we got from Southern Connecticut State University and University of Connecticut we had three goals

  • Add Single Sign On through OAuth
  • Create a blogging platform to drive coaching and growth through reflection
  • Create an online course builder

OAuth Plugin

The first goal involves a bunch of plumbing. I won't get into this as much to say is what let's you sign into websites with your school email or a social media button. We did do and release all of the development open source. People are already using the OAuth pluging to connect Known to Moodle. That's cool. Open source helps knowledge spread.

Blogging Platform

The second goal derives from ten years of experience in teacher quality and evaluation. We learned important lessons. Mainly we want to measure teacher quality but don't really have the tools yet. Rubric driven observation and coaching does improve efficacy of teaching...jury still out on achievement.

We wanted to give educators a chance to reflect on their growth outside of, but connected to their talent management platform. So we have added the ability to host a school wide network using the software of the Known Open Collective. In fact we donate 50% of any revenue from the reflection blog tools back to the Collective

Course Builder Plugin

I am most excited about the course builder plugin. I have always wanted an IndieWeb course builder and this open source tool is now closer to reaility. We have a few kinks to iron out before we release to the wild for beta testing but I thought I would provide an early view.

You start by clicking on a new course.

You can then design the front page of the course and add course objectives and a code of conduct

adding objectivesThis allows you to include course goals on the front page

add modules and tasksYou can then click on a button to add a schedule or events or add a module.

add a readingOn each module page you get the option to add description, a featured image, a video, and readings.

This is a screenshot of the live module page. We will change the way the reading displays.

My favorite feature, every task is its own page. That means educators or learners can send in artifacts of learning as a webmenton. Meaning they do the learning on their own websites and just link to the task.

The instructor will then be able to see all submissions in one place, while the learner mantains control over their work!

Next Steps

Even cooler we will use this feature for an upcoming webmention badges plugin.

We also need to develop the APIs for the rubrics built into REVIEW Talent Feedback System so we can display scales inside of Known or pull posts into ReVIEW. This goal is more long term.

Also on IndieNews

Greg McVerry

How Will You Move Your Educator Field Work Online? #edchat #teacheredchat #highered

3 min read

review logo

Your students now take classes 100% online. Our k12 schools have shuttered their doors to promote social distance.

What should a teacher candidate do? They came into the semester so excited to do field work or student teach. How can we recreate this learning?

Patrick and I want to help. We will waive the $2,000 annual site fee and reduce our per site license fee down to $10 an account.

ReVIEW Talent Feedback System is a teacher observation and instructional capacity coaching program. It is currently used by New Haven Public Schools, Hartford Public Schools, Killingly Public Schools, and CREC. 

Conflict of Interest Statement: The development of the software is partially funded through a start up grant from the University of Connecticut and Southern Connecticut State University. Dr. J. Gregory McVerry has a revenue sharing agreement with SCSU Foundation and will give portions of profits back to the university

ReVIEW Talent Feedback System Video Library 

All videos are normed against the 2017 CT SEED model and have transcriptions for accessibility purposes. Our framework in Connecticut shares many traits with other rubrics of effective teaching.

The video based calibrations can be used in Ed Leadership replacement observations. They can do a Video Based Calibration as a summative assessment or we have access to high quality partners that have developed curriculum that walks students through 31 strategies for feedback and observation. 

Ed Leadership Replacement Assignments 

Any educator preparation program can use our video library and video based calibration. We will happily donate the VBC platform to any University using the system.

If any program wanted our coaches to score the videos pre and post we have highly talented coached that deserve to be paid so that can not be donated.

We also have access, through our partner network, to high quality curriculum on best practices for coaching through observation and feedback.

If faculty would like to have a class set up in ReVIEW Talent Feedback System as a demo they should email

Teacher Candidate Replacement Assignments 

Any of the videos inside our library can be used to replace scheduled field work. Teacher candidates who can not student teach or students who needed to conduct observations earlier in their program can have pedagogically sound opportunities using our video library,

The videos can be set up for purposeful observations. So, for example, we can watch Ami McMoran teach a small group lesson on vowel sounds and see how she reviews objectives and expectations and sets criteria for students. 

Students could watch for other active discussion techniques in secondary science.

We can use this opportunity to rethink our field work and make sure we use shorter more frequent but targeted observations. We can brainstorm some cool assignments. Long term ReVIEW would be a great place to pilot the validity of a rubric or text the validity of a set of raters.

If faculty would like to have a class set up in ReVIEW Talent Feedback System they should email 

Greg McVerry

Hey @scsu I wanted to share some insights we have had as we build and facilitate trainings to get ready for the 100% move online #edchat #literacies #edtechchat #highered

3 min read

As our students will return to campus without setting a foot on campus we need to ensure we approach the week with care and compassion and then build out a space for learning using four better practices:

  • Use Asynchronous Communication
  • Use Simple Predictable Design
  • Focus On Teacher Presence
  • Provide Timely Feedback

Make Your Class Asynchronous

We have been providing training to many of you on two delivery methods:

  • asynchronous techniques using videos, readings, assignment, and Blackboard
  • synchronous techniques using chat and video apps like Microsoft Teams and WebEx

While as a faculty member you have the academic freedom to design your course in any manner that uses tools supported by the University we wanted to share some better practices:

The majority of your course should be asynchronous. While many faculty may want to just open WebEx or Microsoft Teams, launch the video chat, and teach during their assigned face to face class time this is not considered better practice.

  • Many of your students will be newly unemployed and have child care issues to figure out. Being available at specific times may not be possible to many. Conducting the majority of your classes asynchronously will help ensure every student can succeed.
  • Your synchronous chats should be used to supplement your class and increase your social presence. Better practice would not rely on live chat as your primary delivery system

Keep Your Design Simple

You need to keep your instructional design simple and predictable. For the next few weeks less is more. Provide as few tools to students as possible. Come up with a design for your modules (we made a course template) that you can repeat each week or each two weeks.

Focus on Teaching Presence

After simple design your teaching presence is the most important practice. Set aside 1-2 hours a day for teaching each class and another 1hour per class for delivering feedback. At a minimum you should post a note to each students' first post. Make sure you are posting a minimum of four days a week.

Try so send daily or weekly announcement. A short email, video, or audio announcement can help keep students engaged.
Email messages are very powerful. Send words of encouragement or feedback occasionally to student emails. Research shows this to be a very effective practice at increasing student engagement.

Timely Feedback

We are all worried about the increased work load but we know timely feedback ensures student success in online learning. First begin by asking if your assessments are important. Will they make a difference to student lives in 5 years. If you are doing the assessment for just a grade or accreditation it doesn't really serve a learning purpose and may not be needed.

Think about more frequent and shorter assessments. Use low stakes or ungraded assessments. Rely on peer assessments. Remember feedback, and not the assessment tools and grades we assign, drive learning.

Greg McVerry

My Support for CT HB5376 which eliminates EdTPA in Connecticut #literaces #edchat #teacheredchat #edu506 #edu307 @ctmirror

4 min read

This is a reply to an editorial:

Thank you all for engaging in this important topic, though I do not think the author was suggesting no assessment in student teaching.

Violet Jiménez Sims suggested that EdTPA is the WRONG assessment not that all assessment is bad. The author argued for local control based on high quality feedback rather than handing over testing to a national corporation that leeches away not only dollars from needy students but the American principle of local control in education so important to our federalism.

EdTPA has nothing to do with good teaching as we do not even know if it accurately (reliability) measures what is says it measures (validity). In fact the authors of the state report in support of EdTPA could not even agree on it's efficacy. Two of the report authors REFUSED to sign the report. How do I convince student teachers this matters when two of the State's experts can't even agree?

In terms of authors Aflano, Horton, and Todd voted yes while Grant and Ayalon voted no (copy of report). When 40% of the State's experts do not agree with findings they wrote we need another solution.

A Problem We Created

One of my favorite scholars on teaching writing, Ed White, used to say, "Assess thy self or be assessed." Education Deans around the state made this mess. They never trained, observed or coached student teaching supervisors. We saw this in the data where students would score almost perfect scores every time. This is not a knock on evidence, scores should be skewed positively after four years of instruction, but it was an indicator of lack of validity. Scores should never be that similar.

So the Deans around the state are looking for an easy way to appease accreditation boards far removed from Connecticut classrooms. They turned to giving Pearson, the testing conglomerate, a giant government handout. One that should not sit well with fiscal conservatives or those who favor local control of schools.

A Better way Forward

We learned many lesson in the last decade of edreform focused on teacher quality. Mainly just because you SHOULD do something doesn't mean you CAN do something. It would be great to assign a numerical quality value in CT to every teacher. The math simply does not work. We end up taking multiple flawed assessments and building a composite score. It like we shine two turds, combine them, and then sell the dish as mud pie.

More importantly we learned the importance of coaching and feedback. There are very specific practices we know show gains in student performance. there are class cultures that allow all students to thrive. We can observe teachers, either veterans or candidates, and provide feedback on how they can grow. This increase in instructional capacity may lead to improved student performance.

There is a better way forward in Connecticut. The majority of teachers in the state get assessed against the System for Educator Evaluation and Development which includes the CCT Rubric for Effective Teaching 2017. Here is my novel idea...We train teacher candidates using the same rubric for effective that is used in the classroom. Imagine people using the same instruments that will be used to judge their performance. Not only would we regain and protect local control over edreformers who seek to nationalize teacher preparation but we would use good pedagogy.

In full disclosure: I am not an expert. My PhD is in educational psychology, with an emphasis on cognition and technology, but I have spent the last five years serving as the Peer Validator in New Haven Public Schools. Any teacher who scores at the top or the bottom of the scale gets observed by me. I also spent threes observing hundreds of teachers in Newark Public Schools.

This experience lead me to create an app called ReVIEW Talent Feedback System, to coach school administrators on how to deliver high quality feedback using the CCT Rubric for Effective Teaching. Feedback, not some silly Pearson test, drives growth.

This app has been used by the CSDE, CREC, Hartford Public Schools, and New Haven Public Schools to train administrators on coaching for growth.

Our app is partially funded through start-up grants from UCONN and SCSU. In fact, we have a profit sharing agreement with SCSU if our app truly took off. I receive no income from UCONN or SCSU for the development of this tool.

Greg McVerry

Developing our Shared criteria for blogging in #edu106 #netnarr

2 min read

This week we began clas by first examining patterns we found in our first three weeks of blog posts:

You folks were highly critical of each other and yourself! Please understand that when these patterns emerge it is not the fault of the students but of the instructor not laying out clear expectiations.


Next I role played with you showing two different ways of delivering feedback. I could say, "You folks are giving me single parapgraphs like a 6th grader...."


....or I could base my feedback on growth and say, "While you took a postion your writing would be improved with greater organization and eloboration. You can begin by trying to organize your writing in mutltiple paragraphs. As an elaboration technioque make sure to use evidence from the readings."

Which approach do you think research supports in helping students grow as learners and writers?

Next in small groups you did a turn and talk and as a table developed a list of criteria for good blogging. We then combined this list as a class

list of topics suggested by students

So here are the final criteria

  • Strong organization as evidenced by a central idea, concept, or argument supported by multiple paragraphs, each organized around a central idea. Use of signal worrds and headings.
  • Analysis of the readings that uses evidence from the text, combined with personal observations to support your position.
  • Voice and Expressions emerge over time to create a clear style for the writer
  • Affordances of Multimedia used such as images, links, and movies to enhance your message.

I left the word length requirement off. The 250 words is a suggestion. The correct answer is the exact number you need. Not one more. Not one less.

Greg McVerry

Writing Tip for #edu307

2 min read

As a writing intensive class I must assign 25% of the grade we make up together at the end of class to revisions.

I believe more in revising forward rather than backward (Which comes with a nasty dose of proofread after publishing). Meaning instead of going back and fixing stuff you already published I want to see writers who take feedback from me and their peers and use it in future writing.

We will of course edit some work. That's a key difference between traditional long form writing and blogging in a way. So in our longer pieces you will track areas of improvement and show how you addressed criterion in your revisions.

Writing Tip One From Module One

A reaction or a synthesis piece goes far beyond a summary. I read the three articles assigned. No need to rehash each paragraph for me.

Take a stand. Show emotion. Get drawn to a quote. Find a connection to your personal life....Start by thinking I must transform these words to transform my thoughts.

We already submitted summaries in our "read" post. Search for creativity and connections.

So here is the tip (beyond please pre-write...makes your life and my life better): Spend time just focusing on "your message" not the readings. Check out the example below:

screenshot of text being edited from

Just watch how word choice strengthens the author's position. Think about what you want to say....Then say it. Then return to your notes from the readings. Decide what fits where in proving that what you wrote will ring true for all.

Greg McVerry

Agency, Argumentation, and Blogging

2 min read

Calls to bridge cognitive and social practices when teaching Argumentation. (Reznitskaya & Anderson, 2002) developed Argument Schema Theory. Beach and What's their name (year) called for an integration (cite that). We continue this effort by building our theory of change on the concept of argumentation as discourse.

Argumentation as Discourse

Teaching students the norms of academic writing remains one of the most consistent challenges for teachers of the English language arts. The earliest comprehensive studies of writing instruction at the high school level suggested that most students were taught highly formulaic structures for producing academic argument (Applebee & Langer, 2013, Hillocks, 1986), and that trend has remained consistent over time (Applebee and Langer, Newell et al., 2015). Teaching and learning academic argument, especially in middle and high school settings, often is reduced to formulaic essay structures. In fact, Newell et al’s work (dervied from an IES grant project) suggests that

To clarify: what counts as argumentative writing, indeed what counts as argumentation more generally, is not a given. It is not something that just exists. It is instead a set of social practices deeply embedded in our everyday lives and the social institutions in which we all participate. It is socially constructed through and exists only through teaching and learning (Newell 1)

It is this set of socially constructed teaching practices related to argument writing that we aim to upend by providing students with a domain of their own to write, give and receive feedback, and critically evaluate outside web sources when creating their own arguments.

Writer Efficacy, Agency, and Identity




Dialogical Discourse

double talk

Community of Writers

community is essential to process writing (Applebee & Langer, 2013; Graham, Fitzgerald, Friedrich, Greene, Kim, & Booth Olson, 2016; Graham, & Perin, 2007; NCTE, 2016; Troia & Olinghouse, 2013; Zemelmann, & Daniels, 1988). Moreover, in writing communities outside of school, community drives all learning (Winn). We believe we have to intentionally design hybrid writing spaces that traverse both the classroom and the lived digital lives of our youth. This study seeks to understand t

Integrating Empirical Research into Phase One

Operationalizing Empirical Research in Phase One

Greg McVerry

Criterion vs Holistic Rubrics? #EDU407Sum19

5 min read

You all know a rubric but have you considered the insturctional design decisions behind building and using rubrics?


Two Types of Rubrics

Teachers use rubrics as measurement tools to capture growth or to measure the quality of an artifact. No matter what they have three parts:

  • Criteria
  • Rating Scale
  • Indicators


Criterion Rubric

in a Criterion Rubric you can dilenate the scales of each thing you hope top measure. In the table below you see how the criterion go down  the left. You then have some type of numerical scale. Each level of descriptor is then used to describe hwat is required to move between the perfromance scales.






Scale 1

Scale 2

Scale 3

Criterion X

Somewhat X


Totally X

Criterion Y

Somewhat Y


Totally Y

Criterion Z

Somewhat Z


Totally Z



Criterion rubrics can also be measured on single domains or multiple Domains. Teacher evaluatiopn rubrics often have multple Domains. Each domain contains a set or Indicators and each indicator is then broken into specific criterion.





In the CT SEED Rubric there are Four Domains. Each Domain cosist of of three indicators. Each indicator has its own criterion based rubric. These are labeld as attributes. Yoru Domain score is made up holsitically from the three indicator scores, and each indicator score is chosen from a series of attributes. Thes rubrics are huge!! Pages and pages




In this image above you see just one of the rubrics for jusy one specfic indicator under one Domain. All images taken from


What Must Criterion Rubrics Have

  • score points and criteria for progressive proficiency
  • consistent language across scales
  • define each scale point
  • requires extensive training for reliability
  • distinct criterion that do not overlap

Benefits of Criterion Rubric

  • Summative data across scales
  • long term growth over years
  • Descriptors provide feedback

Risk of Criterion Rubric

  • Low reliability-most have to use a within band, meaning off by one scale isn't considered disagreement.
  • Time consuming-take a long time to score
  • Cognitive load for learners who need focused feedback


Criterion Rubrics in the Classroom

In the above example of a 3rd grade criterion rubric you see students are judged on six criterion and there are three scale points. Notice the langauge of the descriptors. "important vocabulary," "some vocabulary," or "copied information"


Notice how "copied information" does not equal "no vocabulary?" This means a scale of 1 is measuring something different than a 2 or 3 on the word choice criteria. The descriptors matter.


We call those changes in descriptors "key levers" you use this language when providing students feedback in written comments or during conferences.

Holistic Rubrics

Holisitic rubrics have the same multiple criterion, scales, and descriptors. The difference is the performance is scored as a whole rather than on the individual criterion.





Scale 3

  • Totally X
  • Totally Y
  • Totally Z


Scale 2

  • X
  • Y
  •  Z


Scale 1

  • Somewhat  X
  • Somewhat  Y
  • Somewhat  Z



 Benefits of Holistic Rubric

  • Holistic rubrics are less time consuming
  • Have higher reliability-raters only have to agree on utimate score
  • Emphasis placed more on what a learner did rather than did not do

Risk of Holistic Rubric

  • No feedback for students (you can still write or give feedback using descriptors)
  • When students vary widely on the criterion you can not differentiate
  • The criterion can not be weighted.

Many state writing assessments and commercial programs use holsitic rubrics. This is due to the reduction in cost of training raters and the increased reliability.

Holsitic Rubrics in the Classroom


Here is an example holistic rubric. You see it is on a five point scale with four criterion. Though if you look closelsy many of the criterion cast the same ontological net...meaning they measure the same thing.

Do We Need to Rubricize Everything?

In I provided you with a self checklist. I then ask you to rate yourself and reflect on your growth using this checklist.


I never "score" you against the rubric. Converting categorical data into numerical data has never sat well with me. Even worse when we make up some percentage from these scales and then use them to force rank students.


It has so little to do with growth.


I don't mind using rubrics for summative data and to see patterns in the aggregate or growth over time but they are useless as tools of growth for many students. Look at the criterion rubric there are 18 boxes of quality for an 8 year old to keep track of...


Get real.


Instead I like having personal conversations with students and developing TAGs-Targeted Areas of Growth. What are the one or two criterion a student should focus on when improving writing. Never try to get an 8 year old writer to adresss six different indicators of quaility at once. I don't think adult writers should undertake such an edeavor.


Once you meet with a student or read their work and have them develop their targeted area of growth you can then have them focus revisions on these areas. Students can highlight changes or better yet reflect on how they addressed their growth area. This in turn can reduce your grading load.


A 5th grade teacher with 90 essays to read is not manageable and keeping your time in check helps to ensure quaility feedback.



Greg McVerry

Updates Outline/Notes for Agentive Apprenticeship Article

2 min read

in apprenticeship learning target skills are not only continually in use by skilled practioners, but are instrumental in completing meangingful tasks

learning of skills and knowledge embedded in social and functional context 456

The biggest difference between agentive apprenticships and cognitive apprenticeship is the focus on growing the network and spaces of learning rather than focusing solely on strategy use by the individual learner.

cognitive apprenticeships:
-"designed to teach the process experts use to handle complex tasks p. 457"

agentive apprenticeships
-designed to support community goals through learner growth

cogntivie apprenticeship
-learning through guided experienced

agentive appretniceship
-learning through a networked exeperience

cogntive apprenticeship
-require extensive techniques to encourage the development of self correction and monitoring skills 458

agentive apprenticeship
-these skills are encouraged, documented, and parsed using blogging and social media tools

Network Technologies and Abstracted Replay
-chat rooms
Cognitive Apprenticeship was so much about how to deliver feedback. (see the tehcnical reports from Brown, Collins, Dugiuid) and to encourage metacognitive stretgy use. Even here the metacognition was usually focused on outcome driven feedback.

If you look at you can see how these feedback loops emerge.

For these we utlized Gee's Circuit of Reflective Inquiry to operationalize how feedback occurs in agentive apprenticeship.

Increasingly times this feedback is provided my non human actors. In the IndieWeb community for example participants use parsers to check to see if their websites are built correctly. In these feedback loops are strengthened with a wide network of alumni and enthusiasts who may coem across a post by  a student after it was shared by a bot.

Sequencing in Agentive Apprenticeship
Global before local skills

Sociology of Learning in Agentive Apprenticeship
Situated Learning
Culture of Expert Practice
Intrinsic Motivation
Exploiting Cooperation
Exploiting Competition

Outline Draft

Greg McVerry

Hey #clmooc help me on my learning journey by documenting your own #feldgang by building a website

1 min read

As part of this summer I am trying to create a tutorial that students of all ages can use to document their learning journey.

I am writing a tutorial for launching a website with some basic blogging functionalities using the Glitch platform.

Wondering if anyone would be willing to give the tutorials a try. Interested in feedback in general observations, like time it takes, the instructional design, word choice.

You know general teacher feedback on lesson plans.

If you stick with me this summer as I complete the lessons you will leave with a website dedicated to your . I know we all have blogs and keep living there. I just want to drop a few seeds along the way as we journey together this summer.

Here is the tutorial

Here is the starter project.

If you want any help ping me anytime and if anyone else wants a unit or lesson plans reviewed just ask.



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