Gaming and the CCSS

"Can we play computer games here?"  It was the first week of school and an eager sixth grade boy showed up in the library at lunch with a bunch of his buddies.  Because I try not to let "no" be the first word out of my mouth and because I'd been reading about the ways that games, could be learning tools in schools, I said, "Show me why I should say yes." He plugged in his flash drive and gave me a quick tour of the world he had created on a popular "sandbox" type game.    His online character … [Read more...]

Rubrics: Not Just a Teacher Tool

It took me a couple years of teaching to realize that rubrics are truly crucial when it comes to fair and accurate grading. I had always viewed them as time consuming and just not necessary, “I know what grade-level looks like!” However, upon incidence after incidence of noticing (unintentional!) inaccuracies in grading throughout my class, I knew it would be necessary to include rubrics in my day-to-day life as an educator. The past few years, however, I’ve taken it a step further. I’ve found … [Read more...]

Writing is Thinking

December first I gave my students a new assignment.  Even though I am a third of the way through the school year I decided to make a change in my daily routine.  I have always been a good rule follower and I do what my bosses tell me to do. One of those things is to put my learning objectives up on the board.  They are there, every day, diligently displayed on my PowerPoint agenda.  I do not however honestly believe that my students gain from seeing them.  They help me a lot.  They help me be … [Read more...]

ELA Standard 3: Comparison at each Grade Level

This post is the last of three posts, it builds upon the ideas found in the Reading Literary Texts and Reading Informational Texts. Unlike previous standard posts, I looked at the comparison between informational and literary reading standards at the same time.   As I mentioned,  I find it interesting how the anchor standard only really uses the language of the informational standard. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text. The … [Read more...]

Vertical Alignment: Reading Standard 3 Informational

This post is the second of 3 posts, it builds upon the ideas found in the Reading Literary Texts, Standard 3 post, and discusses Reading Informational Texts, Standard 3. When looking at Reading Standard 3, I find it interesting how the anchor standard only really uses the language of the informational standard. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text. The literary side of the standard will key in on characters, settings, major events, … [Read more...]

Vertical Alignment: Reading Standard 3 Literary

When looking at Reading Standard 3, I find it interesting how the anchor standard only really uses the language of the informational standard.  Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.  The literary side of the standard will key in on characters, settings, major events, and theme.  The informational side of the standard doesn’t stray much from “individuals, events, and ideas” in its language of details. As I delved into analyzing both … [Read more...]

“Why Are We Here?” – How the College Access Network is meeting the post-grad promise of the Common Core

Last month I attended an open house for the Seattle-area College Access Network (CAN). The CAN is a collaboration between both the community and technical colleges of South King County and Seattle promoting post-secondary success to K-12 students and their families. (Full disclosure – the CAN is run by the PSESD who also produce this blog). As I walked into the conference room I was handed a paper leaf. The leaf asked me in warm friendly black letters “Why am I here?” I wasn’t sure how to … [Read more...]

Better Know a Standard: ELA-Lit.RI.4.1

By Tom White Devotees will remember that I’m writing about all the Common Core Standards one at a time, focusing on the fourth grade standards because that’s what I teach. In my last installment I finished my tour of the reading literature standards. Now it’s time to delve into the Reading Information Text Standards. So let’s get started! First, here’s the standard itself: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when … [Read more...]

Teaching to the Test

"Of course we don't teach to the test."  I've worked for seven principals in the past twenty three years, and every one of them said those words to the staff at some point during each spring testing season.  As a new teacher, I nodded in fervent agreement.  I wanted to be an excellent teacher, so of course I would not teach to the test. "Just teach the curriculum," I was told.  "That's all you're responsible for." Obeying was easy, really.  The tests arrived at our school and were locked … [Read more...]

I Survived my TPEP Observation

You know those survival guides? How to Escape From an Angry Bear; How To Deliver a Baby In a Taxi;  How To Tell if a Spider is Poisonous... This week I had my first official lesson observation in 10 years. I was nervous for the formality of event, but eager to get feedback. I survived. Here’s my survival guide.       1. Find some kids. In my current position, I work with small groups of students in an RTI model and teachers in a coaching capacity. This means I don’t have my own … [Read more...]