Sample: Release Notes for Busy Educators

What’s New with i-Ready?

square2 (1)Using technical release notes, I created customer-friendly communications to update our educator community on changes to the K–8 online Reading and Math program i-Ready. Copy needed to be scannable, clear, concise, and enjoyable. I also selected the screenshots and wrote the label copy.

“My only comment is I loved reading this—major kudos to whoever came up with such punchy prose!” —Supervising Producer, i-Ready

More brand new, built-from-scratch lessons are live for K–2 readers!

The arrival of 76 new Reading lessons—37 on Phonological Awareness (K–1) and 39 on High-Frequency Words (K–2)—adds to our full-scale refresh of the K–2 foundational skills curriculum in under a year. Suffice to say, our product development team is exhilarated: We can’t wait for beginning readers to get going with this new material, which benefited from the latest findings in reading research and the extensive, hands-on testing we did with students.

Here are some screens from the new lessons:

A new approach gets kids answering right away: When we talked to and observed kids, we learned they want to interact earlier in their online lessons. In fact, answering an opening question incorrectly often increased their engagement.

In the new lessons, students complete an activity first thing, and the lesson responds dynamically to the results: wrong answers prompt explicit, targeted instruction to improve understanding, and correct answers bypass instruction and prompt further practice of that skill. That means these lessons are especially efficient with students’ time, quickly assessing their needs to guide them to deeper instruction or practice as needed.

And speaking of i-Ready lessons…

Extra, Extra! Older Flash-based lessons now labeled “Extra”: As we transition to HTML, we have a growing list of older, Flash-based lessons available for assigning as Extra Lessons, but no longer used in the automated learning path. Educators can now easily identify these lessons when adding Extra Lessons: look for the new label “(Extra)” in the Level column, and note these lessons are available through July 2018.

Close Reading lessons: Same text, less time! Based on educator feedback, we’ve edited more than half of the Grades 3–5 Close Reading lessons to reduce duration by about 20 minutes each. The texts used for these lessons are unchanged.

Time on Task: Things just got Real

The wait is over! Time on Task data is now updated in real time on the Class Instructional Usage Report. Monitoring students’ “Week to Date” time on task is a great way to ensure students meet their usage targets and get the most out of instruction. Previously this information was updated nightly, which meant that totals always reflected usage through the previous day. As of this release, Time on Task is updated in real time, so it reflects the latest, up-to-the-second usage data every time you look at it. Go ahead—get your students started on i-Ready, and then refresh the Class Instructional Usage report a couple times and watch the numbers change!

As a reminder, Time on Task is recorded when students are actively working on an i-Ready lesson. That means none of the following count toward Time on Task: logging in, taking assessments (i.e., i-Ready Diagnostic, Growth Monitoring, and Standards Mastery), exploring the Student Dashboard, playing games, and becoming idle. For further details about how i-Ready computes Time on Task, log a couple minutes viewing this handy Cheat Sheet: Understanding Time on Task.

Can students keep track of their own Time on Task? Not yet, but we’re working on it! Look for this feature in an upcoming release.

Teacher requests for last year’s data? They’re history.

We now provide two Reports that show historical student performance data: In April, we told you about the new class-level Student Performance Report, which equips teachers with a snapshot of a given class’s i-Ready Diagnostic and instruction data from the previous academic year.

Today we’re announcing a new student-level Performance Report, which adds more to the (back) story: access this report for a deeper dive into individual student data, including 1) overall scale scores, overall placements, and domain placements for every Diagnostic the student took last year and 2) number of lessons completed, pass rate, and total time on task for every domain they studied.

Take a look!

To run the reports, go to the Reports tab, then the Class Reports sub-tab, and click on “Student Performance” under the new menu item “Previous Academic Year.”

More ways to access a crucial metric

Along with time on task, Lesson Pass Rate is a key metric to watch when evaluating whether students are getting the most out of i-Ready instruction. It is a good indicator of student engagement, and it’s also a great excuse for a party! Lately we’ve noticed an uptick in schools that are actively encouraging friendly competition and rewarding students who achieve high pass rates.

Percentage of lessons passed added to District and School Reports: Previously, individual student pass rates were found in the Response to Instruction reports, and you can still find them there. However, administrators can now see lesson pass rates for districts and schools in the Instructional Usage reports as well. This metric appears as a percentage. (Note this change affects the district- and school-level Instructional Usage reports only; the class-level report does not show lesson pass rate.)

i-Ready computes Lesson Pass Rate at the school and district level by dividing the total number of lessons passed by the total number completed, i.e., a 50% pass rate means that overall, students passed 50% of all the lessons completed during the previous week or previous four weeks.

We support educators in setting young minds on growth: To see how your peers in the i-Ready community inspire and celebrate growth, visit i-Ready Ideas, a forum where educators post real-life examples of what works for them. This article on i-Ready Central also has tips for engaging students with i-Ready and includes links to customizable student Certificates of Completion.

Unveiling the new i-Ready Family Center for parents and guardians

Look for new buttons on the Login and Student Dashboard pages: These link to the Family Center, a website created to explain the purpose of i-Ready and the role families can play in supporting student success.

Here’s what it looks like:

Let’s get the word out! Please share the Family Center URL far and wide— (no login required)—and look for a letter addressed to families that you can send home with students in an upcoming i-Ready Newsletter.

A student holding an i-Ready goal sheet.

…18, 19, 20! Kindergartners can count on 20 brand-new Math lessons.

Twenty kindergarten Math lessons built from scratch and spanning all four math domains have arrived! Like the new Reading lessons launched in December, everything about this instruction was informed by our latest research, which included contributions from teachers and hundreds of student testers. These lessons replace all the previous kindergarten lessons, so alert your students that they’re sure to notice something new in i‑Ready.

As for the content, we’re confident your students will be motivated by engaging new learning activities, high-quality animations, and, last but not least, the “talent,” our fun new characters Plory, Yoop, and Snargg. Have you met them? Here’s an introduction:

Teacher requests for last year’s data? They’re history.

New Student Performance report gives teachers access to historical data: Teachers know what their class is up to this year, but what did their students do last year in i-Ready? Now, teachers can access a summary of their class’s prior academic year data from i-Ready by running the new Student Performance report:

To run the report, go to the “Reports” tab, then the “Class Reports” sub-tab, and click on “Student Performance” under the new menu item “Previous Academic Year.”

What about a student-level historical report? We thought you might ask that, so we’re working on it now. Look for its arrival later in 2017.

An animated “nudge” to keep students clicking

We want to be sure students make the most of their time in i-Ready by moving efficiently through their assessments and lessons. Now, i‑Ready students who have been idle for 20 seconds on the student dashboard get an animated “nudge” to prompt re-engagement. Additional pages with this functionality include the subject selection page, various error pages, and the lesson pause and lesson results screens. The “My Stuff” page nudges students after 30 seconds.

My Buddy has a first name . . . and it’s P-L-O-R-Y!

Improved buddy selection: Student study buddies appear throughout i-Ready, guiding students through what to do next and cheering their accomplishments. To select or change their buddy, students click their name to access the student dashboard. This release features some enhancements to the buddy selection process:

New Games! Send your students off on a Galaxy Sprint.

As you know, students earn 20 credits for each lesson they pass in i-Ready. Credits resemble a gold coin, and students redeem them to play a short game of their choosing (cost: 50 credits) that whisks them off on a mini-adventure far away from Math and Reading.

Three new games available via Computer, Chromebook, and iPad: With this release, students have access to three fun new games: Galaxy Sprint, Wizard Pinball, and Dig Site. Encourage your kids to give them a try, and consider reminding them that passing lessons is the only way to earn i-Ready credits. (We promise to return students to their learning in short order! All games last a maximum of four minutes.)

This is our first crop of games supported by iPad, and this addition brings the total number of available i-Ready games to eight. Here’s what they look like:

Of course it’s never all just fun and games: We recognize that sometimes teachers need to control or disable access to Rewards for individual students, an entire class, or an entire instructional group. So we make it easy! Make these changes to the “My Stuff” module (the student personalization and games area) by accessing the Settings tab in i-Ready.

“Hmmmm. Looks like there’s a problem here.”

Like most everything else on the internet, i-Ready lessons occasionally encounter an error. To help students know what to do when this happens, we’ve tweaked the error page they see. As shown below, students are now encouraged to click on the arrow button before asking their teacher for help. In most cases, this will take them back to the student dashboard where they can resume the lesson.

iPad users with SAML SSO: Go ahead, forget your i-Ready password.

If your school uses a portal with SAML single sign-on, students will no longer be prompted to log in using i-Ready credentials when accessing the i-Ready Standards Mastery app on iPad. Just make sure your students are using the Safari browser when they log in to their school portal.

iPad® is a registered trademark of Apple Inc. App Store℠ is a service mark of Apple Inc.

That’s it from us! We hope you enjoy all these improvements.

Until next time,
The Team at i-Ready