Frequently Asked Questions

Want a more in depth understanding of Chalk? We have curated the most asked questions from educators like yourself.

What makes Chalk a solution that is truly designed for districts?

Chalk’s integrated planning and analytics platform is designed to deliver maximum results when fully implemented across a district. While Chalk caters to many different stakeholders and end-users – including teachers, principals, and district administrators – it really shines at the district level where the analytics engine is powerful enough to not only help districts make adjustments to their current teaching practices, but can have an impact year-over-year in supporting students’ entire K-12 lifecycles. Here are just a handful of the specific benefits that are realized through a district-wide implementation:

  • Seamless curriculum mapping across all grade levels, from K through 12, eliminating gaps in instruction that occur between grades and ensuring successful year-to-year transitions.
  • Curriculum and instruction alignment at all grade levels, maximizing teaching and learning time not only each year, but in aggregate for the whole of a student’s K-12 journey.
  • Consistent curriculum and instruction across all schools and classrooms in the district, guaranteeing that students are learning the same content as their grade-level peers.
  • Transparency into platform usage and instructional data enables administrators and specialists at the district level to provide support to individual educators as they learn how to maximize their use of Chalk, as well as deliver real-time feedback on instruction to close gaps and enhance student learning.

Chalk also helps curriculum leadership to centralize unit content and plans to document effective pieces and encourage standards alignment. Here’s what Dr. William Morelan, Curriculum Coordinator for Jasper School District, said:

“The use of software like Chalk allows us to stay in touch. It allows us to collaborate. It allows us to do things as a district, rather than as just isolated little components”

What are some examples of the data you provide to districts?

As an integrated planning and analytics platform, Chalk takes pride in delivering actionable data to inform real-time decision-making at all levels throughout a district. Chalk connects curriculum, instruction, and assessment to generate data and insights that can guide curriculum planning and classroom instruction. What differentiates Chalk from alternative processes and solutions is our ability to equip district leaders with timely insights into classrooms across the district, giving administrators the ability to provide support and feedback to teachers so they can make necessary instructional adjustments now, rather than waiting until after assessment results come in.

Dr. Tamara Willis, Superintendent of the Susquehanna Township School District, shared her insight on how Chalk’s data helps leaders answer the “what” and “how” behind test scores by making a direct connection between classroom instruction and assessment results:

“When we get our data from the state assessment, we can see how our numbers correspond to what we taught throughout the school year. That really is the power of having Chalk.”

Our team works hand-in-hand with your district to determine your objectives and the types of data that will best support you in achieving your goals. Just a few examples of data that is commonly beneficial to districts include:

  • Identification of gaps in standards coverage.
  • Comparison of the actual pacing of your instruction across classrooms versus intended pacing, based on our aggregated data on the optimal time to spend on each particular standard.
  • Real-time evidence of learning progress provided by auto-graded online polls, quizzes and micro assessments.
  • Assessment results that are traced directly to the date of instruction and unit plan, giving you the flexibility to make course corrective decisions based on how individual students and entire classes are performing.

Robin Finley, Technology Specialist from Alma School District, explains how our analytics capabilities support better district-wide planning:

“Aggregate data is so important. And that’s a feature that is inside of Chalk that we have not had in anything else. We’re tying the standards to it. We’re tying our lesson plans to it. We’re tying the curriculum mapping to it.”

How does Chalk help me understand the gaps in curriculum and instruction?

The first way Chalk achieves this is by presenting an integrated system that ensures these two key elements are not siloed. The only way to truly identify meaningful gaps in curriculum or instruction is to see the alignment between curriculum and instruction.

Next, Chalk takes a step beyond simply “digitizing” your resources, which would do little to identify gaps for you and would still leave you with that burden. Chalk’s technology allows you to take a more holistic approach – school-to-school, grade-to-grade, and class-to-class – to understanding your entire instructional process, developing consistency across the district, and gaining insights into why you achieved your results.

Technology is not merely used for the sake of taking resources online, and is instead deployed in a transformative manner, with powerful real-time analytics that augment your processes and give you the information needed to make changes now. These are a few of the specific insights Chalk can provide into your gaps in curriculum and instruction:

  • By evaluating the alignment between your curriculum and instruction, Chalk can identify gaps in standards coverage. With full integration and alignment, teachers can also feel confident they are covering all the standards.
  • Chalk gives you assessment results that can be directly traced back to the date of instruction and unit plan, showing at a granular level where a gap exists, and giving teachers the opportunity to course-correct.
  • Curriculum is seamlessly mapped across all grade levels, from K-12, identifying and eliminating gaps in instruction that occur in the year-to-year transition.
  • Chalk supports consistent curriculum and instruction across all schools and classrooms in the district, so teachers in a given school don’t have instructional gaps compared to their grade-level peers elsewhere.

What do you mean by “real-time insights?”

Our focus on providing real-time insights is driven by two objectives. Firstly, to provide districts with information that is truly actionable. And secondly, to make sure the information is actionable now, when it can still make a difference in the success of your instruction. This means we deliver data at every step throughout the teaching and learning process, so you can make adjustments to help kids now, not next year or two years from now. Real-time insights give you the ability to do a diagnostic – understanding what’s going wrong now, so you can make adjustments – rather than an autopsy–simply knowing what already went wrong, but without the ability to change your approach.

There are many reasons why this is essential, but they all come back to maximizing the effectiveness of your teachers and the success of your students. As an administrator, having the ability to provide useful data and timely feedback to teachers means that you will be able to help them not only increase learning and achievement this year, but year-over-year, through streamlined curriculum mapping that improves cohesion and consistency across K-12.

Further, these insights mean you are applying the right data to the right students. By contrast, systems that provide a rich trove of data from this year’s students that teachers can’t apply in the classroom until next year, means that the insights are not being applied in the relevant context. Next year’s learners will have their own unique needs, so a process without real-time data can lead to a cycle of “too late” adjustments. Our real-time insights solve each of these challenges to help you succeed!

What does the implementation process and timeline look like?

The specifics of the implementation process vary district-to-district, according to your unique needs. Chalk’s customer success team works closely with your district to understand timelines, success metrics, and check-in points to plan out a customized implementation process. This includes onboarding administrators onto the platform and providing adequate teacher training.

In total, the timeline for implementing our integrated planning and analytics solution for curriculum, instruction, and assessment can be as short as a few months compared to what, without Chalk, is often a process that takes place over a number of years. Our process is built around our three C’s of implementation:

  • Criteria. Together, we will define what success means to you at the start of our partnership. With this, we will outline a detailed timeline of deliverables for both parties to assure accountability.
  • Communication. Timely and transparent communication will ensure mutual accountability when it comes to meeting key milestones on your road to success.
  • Commitment. From our team to yours, we will work diligently toward a common goal. Your success means everything to us; we will always be here to help you.

Technology Specialist Robin Finley, of the Alma School District, described how our implementation process helped her district achieve success:

“With each part of implementation, we see more success and engagement. We have so much positive feedback from our parents. It had a positive impact on our community and parents.”

After implementation, how do you support our change management and efforts at sustained success?

You will have a dedicated account team throughout your collaboration with us. We will help you with your change management efforts and helping educators through the district to maximize the platform’s benefit. Our team provides ongoing support to all stakeholders.

In addition, direct-to-teacher support is available in the form of a live online chat feature, enabling teachers to have their questions answered throughout the day. This in particular comes in handy for busy teachers, who often have only a few minutes available at a time and need quick answers, so they can find a solution now rather than waiting out the standard 24-hour period often provided by support teams. This support is not limited to technical questions, but in fact gives teachers access to our expert team, who can provide guidance on their processes, receiving redirection when needed and reassurance when they are doing it right.

By aligning processes for teachers, providing the right technology and support to make their jobs easier, and clearly demonstrating a positive impact on student achievement, we are able to help you gain buy-in for your curriculum and instruction initiatives and sustain your success. At every level, from the classroom to the district, you will be able to define and plan for success according to your own organizational objectives.

What do teachers think about Chalk?

Whether you are an administrator looking to implement Chalk’s integrated platform district-wide or a teacher planning to use one of our tools, it’s important to know what other teachers think about the platform. When districts implement Chalk’s planning and analytics platform, teachers find a solution to some of their biggest pain points, giving them confidence in their instruction. Teachers using the platform know that curriculum, instruction, and assessment are all in alignment with one another and with the standards; feel confident they are covering all the material that will be assessed; and have more time to deliver instruction that helps all students succeed.

Carmel Fantelli, a social studies instructor at Gilmour Academy, explained one way Chalk helps teachers save time and get organized:

“That ability to have all your resources in one location and not have to search really impacts the students’ learning and that downtime is truly lessened.”

Many teachers have also shared their valuable insights on social media, including specific thoughts on Planboard and Markboard, two individual tools that are part of the Chalk suite:

My favorite part of is the way it integrates standards into assessment. —Latario A via Twitter

Planboard by is so good for teacher planning. I’ve been using it for a few weeks and regret not having found it a few years ago. Highly recommended. —Mr. J via Twitter

I’d be lost without the planning tool of Planboard! So useful to track what I’m doing with multiple classes, and having the app on my phone I can see on the move too! I’d recommend to any teacher. —Mr. Russell via Twitter

I love Planboard. It is designed for teachers, including semester or full year settings and multiple sections, colour coded. I can bump a lesson to a future block when “surprise events” occur and even generate a slick PDF for a sub. —Jessica McDonnell via Twitter

I have been using [Planboard] for four years and will never go back to paper planners again. It’s permanently pinned in Chrome and super easy to use. Does everything I need it to and more. —Ryan McDonald via Twitter

My favorite edtech tool this year is Markboard. I love how easy it is to print out feedback on assessments for students! —Samantha Meza via Twitter

Curriculum mapping doesn’t seem practical. How does Chalk change that?

Curriculum mapping, while worthwhile, can be time-consuming when done via traditional methods. By providing a framework and an expert support team to work with you, Chalk makes it much more approachable.

A typical approach requires the use of word processor documents or spreadsheets to track your curriculum at the school or district level, which is a high-effort process; and when you later find out these maps aren’t being used by teachers, it is disheartening. If you’ve had this experience before, it can create an impediment to getting started anew. A partnership between Chalk and your district removes the mental barriers to getting started, as well as the practical barriers to sustaining your curriculum and achieving success.

Chalk enables you to leverage technology to create active maps and gain data throughout the process, so you can support teachers in using the curriculum and aligning instruction accordingly. You’re not only creating curriculum, but also iterating, so you are evolving and improving each year. Rather than curriculum mapping being a process that takes place over multiple years, the time is cut to a matter of months.

Further, we provide a helpful curriculum mapping guide that shows you how to create, implement, and sustain a guaranteed viable curriculum, along with a curriculum mapping tool that allows you to create units around the standards. State and Common Core standards are uploaded directly into the platform, making it easier to ensure alignment as you plan.

How is Chalk an improvement on my existing tools and/or processes?

If you already have good processes for curriculum, instruction, and assessment, Chalk is the perfect tool to augment these processes by bringing them into one integrated system, providing more timely insights and actionable data, and saving teachers time so they can focus efforts on the classroom.

If, like many districts, you’re not yet satisfied with your processes, Chalk gives you a refined process for designing curriculum and developing instructional practices. The platform integrates siloed, non-user-friendly processes into one functional system. It amplifies the value of each individual component by bringing them into one system, in full alignment, where everything works together seamlessly and previously invisible gaps are identified and closed.

Stephanie Bechtol, Assistant Principal of Trinity Catholic School, has a concise and helpful explanation of how her school deployed Chalk to increase cohesiveness and alignment:

“We knew that we needed a framework for teachers to use that was consistent across grade levels and subject areas that would align to the standards.”

At the district level, Chalk will help you answer the following persistent questions that are present even when you have good processes in place:

  • How do we ensure that curriculum, instruction, and assessment are all in alignment, and remain in alignment, with each other and with the standards?
  • How can we improve the year-to-year transition, so teachers know what was taught and how well students learned it?
  • As an administrator, how can I understand how my teachers are teaching the curriculum, and how can I get the insights to deliver timely feedback when needed?
  • How can we understand what we aren’t doing well or anticipate what we won’t do well, so teachers can make adjustments now?
  • How can we get teachers involved with the planning process without adding more work to their plate, and also give them more time to deliver instruction that helps all students succeed?

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