February 23

Bridges Writable PDF

Introducing the Bridges Writable PDFs App
Dear Carrie,
As educators wrestle with how they can assess students in a remote learning environment, we have resources to guide you. The main purpose of Bridges assessments is not to evaluate performance but to provide useful information about what students know and are able to do, so the teacher may determine appropriate steps for instruction. To assist with the collection of information, we are pleased to announce the release of Bridges Writable PDFs App.
The new app gives students access to all the student pages and assessments within Bridges in Mathematics Second Edition in both English and Spanish, including the Comprehensive Growth Assessment, the unit assessments, Home Connections, student books, and Number Corner assessments.
Using the same drawing tools as the MLC Math Apps, students using the Bridges Writable PDFs App will be able to annotate PDF documents directly. The annotated versions can then be saved to Google Drive (and shared through Google Classroom), downloaded and emailed to their teacher, or shared using the Share Code feature within the app. (To provide written feedback on student work, open the student document using a Share Code, add your own annotations, and then generate a new Share Code to share back to the student.) PDFs with annotations can also be printed, uploaded to other learning management systems, or shared in any of the other ways you might share a PDF. Please note that if you use Bridges Writable PDFs App, it’s possible that students will see some assessments before the teacher assigns them.
The Writable PDFs App is currently available only as a web app; versions for iOS and Android will be available soon.
To learn more about the app, register for our Using the Bridges Writable PDFs App webinar (March 3 at 10:00 AM PST).
We also want to remind you of another resource, our Assessment During School Closures blog post (BES login required). There you’ll find such recommendations as:
  • Using rich tasks that allow students to show their thinking.
  • Using interactive digital experiences, such as those highlighted in the Tech-Enhanced Activities, to collect more than just answers.
  • Listening to your students and watching them as they work.
We hope these resources prove useful as you continue to provide exceptional mathematical experiences for your students.
Patrick Vennebush
Chief Learning Officer
February 23

Feb. 23rd Teacher Tech Tip-Bryne

From improved efficiency to increased accessibility, web browser extensions and add-ons can be quite helpful to teachers and students. That said, we should be thoughtful about the add-ons we install and what we recommend for our students to install. Here’s what I look for when trying borwser extensions and add-ons.

Date of Last Update

Modern browsers are updated on a fairly frequently. Sometimes those updates are minor and other times they’re significant. The extensions and add-ons that I use should also be updated regularly. Generally, if an extension or add-on hasn’t been updated in more than six months I get concerned and probably won’t install it or keep it installed. The date of last update is published for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge extensions on their respective landing pages.

Reviews and Responses

The reviews on an extension’s landing page can tell you a little bit about it. What I find more informative is whether or not the developer(s) respond to reviews. A developer that never responds or doesn’t address concerns in an update is a red flag for me.

Data Access

At the most basic level you should read the permissions that an extension or add-on asks you for. However, if you read those permissions on their own without the context of why the permissions are requested it can be easy to freak out over how much permission is requested. For example tools like Read & Write for Chrome and Grackle Docs (both I like and I recommend) ask for permissions to access your Google Docs because they need them in order to perform their respective functions in Google Docs. Likewise, Screencastify asks for permission to “read, add, and modify files” in Google Drive so that you can save your videos in your Google Drive account.

I get concerned when an add-on or extension asks for permissions that aren’t related to its stated purpose. For example, a PDF annotation tool that asks for permission to access my Google Drive or OneDrive would be red flag if didn’t offer the option to back-up my PDF to one of those accounts.

I also look to see whether or not the extension or add-on anonymizes data that it collects. That’s not always easy to find, but generally speaking the companies that do that advertise it.

Finally, if the add-on or extension is one that you’re going to have students install take a good look at CIPPA compliance statements from the developer (if you’re outside of the U.S. there is probably similar legislation about use and protection of student data).

How to Find, Install, and Remove Extensions

Chrome extensions are found in the Chrome Web Store. Directions for installing and uninstalling Chrome extensions can be seen here.

Microsoft Edge add-ons are available in the Edge Add-ons storeWatch this video for directions on installing and uninstalling Edge add-ons.

The gallery Firefox add-ons can be found hereThis short video shows you how to install and uninstall Firefox add-ons.

These were last week’s most popular posts on FreeTech4Teachers.com:

1. Three Easy Ways for Students to Make Short Audio Recordings – No Email Required

2. Whiteboard.chat – Create Online Whiteboards You Can Share and Monitor

3. Some of my Favorites – Creating Green Screen Videos

4. Video – How to Annotate Your Screen in Google Meet

5. Ten Time-savers for G Suite for Education Users

6. Some of my Favorites – Flipgrid Whiteboard

7. Some of my Favorites – DIY Common Craft Videos

Thank you for your support!

More than a dozen of you have taken one of my on-demand courses this month. Enrollment in those courses helps me keep this newsletter and FreeTech4Teachers.com going.

Have a great week!


February 23

Resources from Bridges Educator Online Update

Recently, we’ve been asked if the resources developed for the 2020-21 school year will be available in the future. Yes! Bridges educators will have access to all of these new materials beyond the 2020-21 school year. These resources will be useful if remote learning continues, but they also have value for in-person instruction. We are currently developing new Guidance Documents that include an updated scope and sequence and revised unit planners, as well as links to and suggestions for using the following resources:
  • Assessment Screeners
  • Digital Work Places (BES login required)
  • Technology-Enhanced Activities (TEAs)
  • Digital Scavenger Hunts
  • Math at Home
  • Master Materials Lists
  • Number Corner Preview Videos
In fact, the only resources that will be retired are the grade-level webinars that were limited in scope to the 2020-21 school year.
We intend to release the revised Guidance Documents for 2021-22 before the end of April, to ensure districts, schools, and teachers have ample time to plan for next year. The updated guidance documents will continue to stress that students should have access to grade-level content and engagement with the major work of that grade. The updated documents will help you assess and address areas of need as they arise within the grade-level scope and sequence, rather than devoting instructional time to teaching previous grades’ content at the beginning of the year. Our guidance is based on recommendations from The New Teacher Project’s Learning Acceleration Guide, which reflects the latest research on what works for raising student achievement by addressing unfinished learning.
We will announce the release of the revised Guidance Documents via email and through the News & Announcements section of the Bridges Educator Site (login required).
We hope this information helps as you begin thinking about how to plan for next year.
Patrick Vennebush
Chief Learning Officer
Nicole Rigelman
Chief Academic Officer
Mike Wallus
Vice President for Educator Support
Kim Markworth
Director of Content Development
February 22

PLEASE READ ISIP and ISAT Assessment Updates Please Read

Fall 2021 Istation Enhancements

Beginning in fall 2021, the IStation application will move to the web

  • Web Assembly, or Wasm
  • Allow Chromebook users to access Istation through a URL
  • Improve Istation’s capabilities

Power Path

  • New user experience
  • Simplified Menu
  • Visit the IUG to watch an informational video and learn more


A quick reminder that in October 2019, the Idaho State Board of Education approved the rule to require science ISAT administration at the following grades:

  • Elementary ISAT Science: Grade 5
  • Middle School ISAT Science: Grade 8 NEW
  • High School ISAT Science: Grade 11 NEW

The biology and chemistry end-of-course assessment have been replaced with the grade 11 science ISAT.

No make-up testing (from SY19-20) will take place for the science ISAT. Therefore, only this school year’s fifth, eight, and eleventh graders are required to take the science ISAT.

Plans for Spring 2021

The spring 2021 science ISATs will be an independent science field test.

Student participation in this independent field is an important step in the development of the assessment, therefore all grade 5, grade 8 and grade 11 students will be required to participate.

No paper/pencil form will be available for the science ISAT in spring 2021.No individual student reports (ISRs) or scores will be reported from the spring 2021 administration.

For the spring 2021 science ISAT, the SDE is enabling remote testing for students who cannot test in person. While the expectation is that most students will continue to test in person, districts will be able to apply to enable the remote option for students if needed.

If your district has applied to participate in remote testing, or plans to do so in the future, we wanted to let you know that the window for remote testing may be delayed as we continue to work through last minute technical challenges to ensure a valid and secure test experience. This delay would only apply to students participating in the remote assessment. In-person testing would not be affected. We will provide additional information as soon as it is available. In the meantime, we recommend that districts schedule any remote assessments for later in the window.

Interim and Sample Tests

Interim Tests

The science interim testing window closes on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.

After 3/10/21, the interims will only be accessible through the Assessment Viewing Application (AVA).

  • Science Interim Blueprints are on the ISAT Portal
  • Science Interim Answer Keys are in TIDE under that General Resources tab

o   Remember that all interim test material should be securely handled.

Accessibility Features and the Science IFT

We are using the Smarter Balanced Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines (UAAG) as the standard for accessibility features on the ISAT Science this spring.  However, there are three accommodations that will not be available this spring because the ISAT Science is an independent field test (IFT):  paper test forms, printed braille test forms, and refreshable braille.  However, the expectation is that students who use these accommodations will participate in the ISAT Science IFT.

ISAT Science Accessibility for Braille Learners

Braille learners will access the ISAT Science IFT using the text-to-speech, read-aloud, and/or scribe accommodations. There are some items on the ISAT Science with graphics that do not include audio descriptions because an audio description would give the student the answer.  For this spring 2021 IFT administration only, the teacher or test proctor may describe any graphics that do not have audio descriptions, hence the need for the read-aloud accommodation. Describing graphics without audio descriptions is considered a non-standard or special accommodation that requires permission.  See the article entitled Requests for Non-Standard Accommodations in the ISAT Section of this Newsletter for more information about requesting this special accommodation.  When explaining why a student needs the describing graphics without audio descriptions special accommodation, simply state that braille tests forms are not available for the ISAT Science ITF.  Braille learners will also need to take their ISAT Science IFT in-person because the read-aloud accommodation cannot be provided during a remote test administration.

Teachers will need to work with test coordinators to code the text-to-speech, read-aloud, and/or scribe test accommodations in TIDE for braille learners taking the ISAT IFT.  IEP teams will need to ensure that the text-to-speech, read-aloud, and/or scribe accommodations are documented in the student’s IEP.  IEP teams can use the written notice to document that Braille is not available for ISAT Science IFT this year.  Parents should clearly understand how their braille learner will be accommodated on the ISAT science IFT.  Please contact Karren Streagle at streagle@sde.idaho.gov or 208-332-6824 if you have questions or need assistance.

If you have questions, please contact ISAT Science Coordinator, Kevin Chandler at kchandler@sde.idaho.gov or 208-332-6988.

Spring 2021 Summative Testing

Required Summative Testing

·         Grades 3 – 8 and 10 (grades 9 and 11 optional) for ELA/L & Mathematics

·         No make-up testing for last year

·         At this time, U.S. Dept. of Education has not waived the requirement for summative testing

Remote Administration

For the spring 2021 ELA/L and Mathematics ISAT, the SDE is enabling remote testing for students who cannot test in person.

While the expectation is that most students will continue to test in school, districts will be able to apply to enable the remote option for students if needed.

If your district has applied to participate in remote testing, or plans to do so in the future, we wanted to let you know that the window for remote testing may be delayed as we continue to work through last minute technical challenges to ensure a valid and secure test experience. This delay would only apply to students participating in the remote assessment. In-person testing would not be affected. We will provide additional information as soon as it is available. In the meantime, we recommend that districts schedule any remote assessments for later in the window.

Summative Testing Window

The spring 2021 ELA/L and Mathematics ISAT summative in-person test window has been extended.

  • Summative In-Person Test Window: Monday, March 15 – Friday, May 28, 2021
  • Summative Paper/Pencil Test Window: Monday, April 5 – Friday, May 21, 2021

For remote testing, we wanted to let you know that the window for remote testing may be delayed as we continue to work through last minute technical challenges to ensure a valid and secure test experience. This delay would only apply to students participating in the remote assessment. In-person testing would not be affected.

Summative Test – Adjusted Form

The spring 2021 ELA/L and Mathematics ISAT summative tests will consist of an Adjusted Form. These adjusted forms will still have a CAT portion, and a PT portion. However, the SDE is estimating that the average student will take about 30-40 fewer minutes on the CAT portion of the adjusted form.

  • These adjusted forms will be used in all required ISAT grades.
  • Time estimates to complete the adjusted forms (by grade) will be included in an FAQ and will be included in an SY20-21 TAM.
  • Blueprints for the adjusted forms will also be published.
  • A student will still receive an Individual Student Report (ISR) what has an overall scale score. However, only groups of students will receive Claim level performance data from the Adjusted Form.

Applying for Remote Administration

School Districts (LEAs) will apply for the ability to remotely administer summative tests. Again, the expectation is that most students will test in school. Applications must be submitted on or before March 1st, 2021.

Remote Administration Resources

The SDE is working very closely with our testing vendor Cambium Assessment, Inc. (CAI) to develop several resources to support and train districts on remote administration. These resources will be published on the ISAT Portal. Under the “Resources” tab, is the “Remote Administration” folder. Here are a few of the resources we are working on:

  • FAQ
  • Videos for Parents & Students
  • Training PowerPoints
  • Quick Guides
  • Infographics
  • Checklist

Preparing for Summative Testing

Districts should work in TIDE (Test Information Distribution Engine) to prepare for spring 2021 testing

  • Assign staff User Roles (use CAI User Role Chart)
  • Upload students
  • Create rosters (groups) of students for Reporting
  • User Guide and Quick Guides on ISAT Portal

Staff should complete the TA (test administrator) certification course

  • Required for administration of in-person interim or summative ISAT’s
  • Takes ~30 minutes

(NEW) A separate Remote Administration TA Certification Course (NEW) will also be required. This Remote Administration TA Certification Course (NEW) will be published in the coming weeks.

  • Required for remote administration of summative ISAT’s
  • Takes ~45 minutes

(NEW) TIDE will be updated SOON to document two important aspects of remote summative testing:

  • Remote TA Certification Course
  • Parental Consent for A/V Monitoring

Test administrators that will be administering remote test sessions will need to take and pass the Remote TA Certification Course, prior to administering the remote test session. TIDE will be updated to document that additional TA Certification.

Idaho SDE will approve districts for remote administration capabilities. DAs/ DCs will work with school personnel that were approved for remote administration. School personnel will send the Parent Confidentiality and Video Agreement (on the ISAT Portal) to the parents/guardians to read, sign and return. This agreement will document the parents’/guardians’ agreement to have their child participate in remote administration and the use of the webcam during remote administration. School personnel will keep these signed agreements on file at the school.

School personnel will also document Parental Consent for A/V Monitoring in a new TIDE attribute.

Smarter Balanced Information

Idaho Homepage

Direct links to all the Smarter Balance Tools designed to support instruction and assessment. Check out these tools and them visit the Idaho ISAT portal to learn more about how they support assessment and instruction in Idaho.

Interim Assessment Resources

The English Language Arts/ Literacy and Mathematics ICAs, SICAs, IABs, and FIABs are now available for the SY20-21.

  • The ELA/L and Math interim testing window closes on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.
  • After 3/10/21, the interims will only be accessible through the Assessment Viewing Application (AVA).
  • ELA/ and Math interim answer keys are in TIDE under that General Resources tab

o   Remember that all interim test material should be securely handled.

o   2020-2021 Test Administrator User Guide is available on the ISAT Portal.

o   2020-2021 AVA User Guide is also available on the ISAT Portal.

Nuts & Bolts of Interim Assessments

Five vignettes covering a wide range of topics concerning the interim assessment have been published. Check out these vignettes for more information on how to use the interim assessments.

  1. Organizing Principles of Interim Assessments
  2. What is on the Interims
  3. Administering the Interims
  4. Using Interim Data
  5. Resources for Instruction

Practice & Training Tests

ELA/L and Math Practice & Training Tests are available via the ISAT Portal.

These practice and training tests can be accessed as many times as needed by a Guest User (educator, principal, student, parent, grandparent, guardian) to become more familiar with the Test Delivery System, and to learn about the types of items that will appear on the ELA and Math ISATs.

Answer keys are also available on the ISAT Portal.

Remote Testing Accommodations

Most IEP testing accommodations will be available to students testing remotely.  However, we have received some emails from the field with concerns that some IEP testing accommodations will not work during a remote test administration.  Messaging from the State Department of Education regarding remote administration of ISATs has always recognized that there are some accommodations that cannot be administered remotely.  We identified early on that the print-on-demand, read-aloud, and scribe testing accommodations would require in-person testing.  It will be up to the school to work with parents to make mutually agreeable arrangements to administer the ISATs in-person to students needing the print-on-demand, read-aloud, and/or scribe accommodations.

Requests for Non-Standard Accommodations

There are rare occasions when a student may need a non-standard or special accommodation on a state-wide assessment.  A non-standard or special accommodation is a testing accommodation that is not usually allowed or is different from the accommodations allowed on the state-wide assessment.  The use of any non-standard or special accommodations must be pre-approved by State Department of Education staff.

The link to the Non-Standard Accommodation Request Form is under the Accessibility and Accommodations Resource on the ISAT Portal.  When you click the Non-Standard Accommodation Request Form hyperlink, the form opens in a new window and is called the Special Accommodations Request Form, as illustrated in the image below.

Most of the form is self-explanatory.   Be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • How does the requested special accommodation appear on the student’s program/plan?
  • Describe the accommodation requested in detail.
  • How does the student use this accommodation during classroom instruction?
  • Why is this special accommodation needed?

The form is submitted to and reviewed by staff in the Assessment & Accountability and Special Education Departments.   We must ensure that the requested non-standard or special accommodation does not change the construct of the test or give a student an unfair advantage.  For example, we will likely not approve the use of the read-aloud accommodation for passages on ISAT ELA/Literacy assessment because this test assesses reading comprehension, except under very unusual circumstances.  Below is an image of an alternate multiplication chart that was approved for use on the grade 5 ISAT Math assessment a few years ago.

Please contact Karren Streagle at kstreagle@sde.idaho.gov or 208-332-6824 if y


Teresa Jones
Director of Elementary Programs
Twin Falls School District



February 19

Grammar Mentor Sentences-Interactive Notebook

Hey Teacher,

When I first became a 4th grade writing teacher, I admit I was somewhat clueless on how to best teach all things writing.

I taught grammar from error, putting up passages that required kids to correct the errors…but it was always the same kids who noticed what was wrong with the passage, and the others weren’t getting the direct instruction they needed. They relied on whether something “sounded right” and you know a lot of kids don’t have access to that kind of oral language!

It wasn’t until I began implementing mentor sentences into my English language arts block, that I really understood how language worked.

While yes, I knew all about parts of speech and types of sentences, I had always taught reading and writing in isolation. It wasn’t until I realized how writing and reading were interconnected that the lightbulb went off. I mean, you can’t have a good book without good writing, and you can’t be a good writer without reading.

Mentor sentences changed everything about my grammar instruction because they model for students what a well-written sentence should look like and helped them apply grammar skills to create them.

Using Mentor Sentences

Every week, students got a new sentence, which we dissected daily. Each day they had something new to do using the same sentence.

  • Monday: Notebook activity to dissect the sentence
  • Tuesday: Grammar hunt table
  • Wednesday: Apply the same skill to new sentences
  • Thursday: Manipulate the sentence
  • Friday: Create your own sentence; Hunt for a similar sentence in your book; Weekly quiz

Visit my my blog post about mentor sentences. It gives a more detailed explanation of each day of the week that will get you started!

Pros to using mentor sentences with your students.

  • Every day you use the same sentence but focus on a different skill.
  • Use the book students are reading, could be their own book, shared reading book, or your modeled reading book, to find similar type of sentences. (Connecting reading and writing!)
  • If you use it weekly, it becomes a habit, and students can eventually do it on their own in a station/center.
  • Since students are using color pencils or markers, it makes it fun for them.
  • Students begin to mimic the sentence in their writing and writing improves.

Wondering which mentor sentences resource to start with? Try the Fourth Grade Mentor Sentences for Grammar. This resource builds the foundation of what will be expected throughout the other mentor sentences resources. And even though it says fourth grade, I have used this resource with third graders and have had great success!

Happy Teaching!

Chrissy Beltran

Buzzing with Ms. B

Category: ELA, Writing | LEAVE A COMMENT