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What teachers talk about when they talk on ARIS

Yesterday, Elizabeth noted that the networking component of the Department of Education’s new data system is up and running. I got a taste of the program, “ARIS Connect,” in action last week at Channel 13’s Celebration of Teaching and Learning last Friday.

As some of GothamSchools’ commenters have noted, ARIS Connect is still very new and not yet widely used. But at least a couple of teachers and administrators already have tested its waters. I saw this myself at last week’s event when a DOE representative, Kerry O’Brien, gave me a demonstration of ARIS that included a look into how educators are using the system to network with each other.

One user had posted a question in a forum about assigning homework on weekends. Four or five teachers, from neighborhoods as far afield as Hunts Point in the Bronx and the Corona section of Queens, offered responses with varying perspectives and explanations. One called the weekend “the best time” for homework because assignments can be more in depth. Another said she doesn’t assign homework on the weekend at all. At the end of the thread, the teacher who originally asked the question weighed in again, thanking her colleagues for their feedback.

The exchange is precisely what ARIS Connect is meant to do, O’Brien told me. “The department is empowering educators to share their expertise,” she said.

One thing ARIS cannot do, according to O’Brien: Allow multiple teachers to leave notes to each other about individual students. She said DOE officials believe the ramifications of having every comment become part of a student’s permanent DOE file so far outweigh the potential instructional benefits of such a feature.

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