SBA Reflections

By Tom Last week my fourth graders took the Smarter Balanced Assessment. This was their – and my – second year with this test, although last year didn’t really count, since no one knew what they were doing and the scores didn’t matter. Now they do. Always the learner, and always the minimalist, I’ve condensed my reflections to three. So here they are; three things I learned about the SBA: First of all, not everyone hates standardized tests. Or more accurately, not everyone hates this … [Read more...]

Implementing LDC – One Mini-Task At A Time!

In the last couple of years, I’ve been working on how to integrate LDC modules into my elementary classroom. As a former 4th grade teacher, there was a lot of reason to use this platform for integrating ELA and science and/or social studies standards. LDC allowed me to ask big questions and guide students towards substantial reading and writing goals. The problem I had was in integrating the modules into the complex machine that is my instruction. When I moved to a 2nd grade position, this … [Read more...]

Creating their History

I found myself multi-tasking the other night with my book (Bill Bryson’s Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society) and a movie (Monuments Men) in the background. I was suddenly caught by George Clooney’s character’s comments regarding what they were fighting for: “You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, and you destroy their achievements, then it’s as if they … [Read more...]

Action – the CCSS Make a Movie!

The big idea:  your amazing daughter and her awesome husband want to go out on a date.  Can Grandma and Grandpa help? The cast:  seven year old grandson, five year old grandson, two year old granddaughter, two grandparents. The challenge:  create a time of fun that does not involve empty calories, too much screen time, and/or bodily harm.  And the bonus, working toward meeting some of the CCSS. The action: Grandma: Okay, we're going to make a movie to show Mom and Dad when they get … [Read more...]

The Common Core Canoe Part 3

(Check out Part 1 and Part 2 first!) When we first began this awesome project I told my students that the whole point was to build a canoe and prove that it could float using math. In other words, they had to communicate their conclusion using evidence. After they finished the boat, I invited Joel, the guy from the nearby swimming pool, to come to our classroom and question my students to see if they knew their stuff. Joel was great. He took on a very serious demeanor and made it clear that … [Read more...]

Assessment Worth “Opting in” For

With all the debate going on right now about the Smarter Balanced Assessment and “opting in” or “opting out”, it’s important to think about the role assessment plays in our classrooms. There is a difference between “assessment of learning” versus “assessment for learning.” The Smarter Balanced Assessment, which is a summative assessment, is an example of the first. Its primary purpose is for accountability and measuring competence. The second is exemplified by formative assessment, the purpose … [Read more...]

20% of Instructional Time Reading Aloud – What do you think?

At the Vulnerable Readers Summit held in Seattle on May 1st and 2nd, a keynote speaker was Dr. Richard Allington, researcher and author of hundreds of articles and many books on effective classroom instruction and reading.  Among several, “calls to action,” Dr. Allington recommended READING ALOUD as key to addressing glaring comprehension deficits in North American schools. In fact, he suggested that students K-12 would benefit if 20% of their reading instructional time utilized effective … [Read more...]

Two-fer: Align Existing Assessments to Learn NGSS

Several CORElaborate posts have addressed aspects of the dimensional nature of the Next Generation Science Standards: What Happened to the Scientific Method? (Hallie Mills - Science & Engineering Practices) The Reasoning Problem: NGSS Can Help! (Tom Hathorn - Crosscutting Concepts) The Three Dimensions of the NGSS (Doug Ferguson & Science Cat) A Post about the NGSS for Not Science Teachers (Lindsey Stevens) "OK, I GET IT," you say.  "The NGSS are unique in having three … [Read more...]

Vertical Progression: Reading Informational Standard 5

My freshman year of college, I signed up for a British survey course and the professor announced we would all teach a piece of literature to the class with two other peers.  I dreaded the experience of getting up in front of the class, but I began to dread it even more as group after group presented and the professor said the class still wasn’t getting this “unpacking the text” protocol that he was teaching. So, I found myself assigned a multi-page poem and within my group, it fell to me to lead … [Read more...]

Classroom of the Future Chronicles: Part 2

PowToon…. more like, WOWToon!! Ok, I know that was cheesy. I was introduced to PowToon last November at the ECET2 Puget Sound (Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching) event. The Puget Sound Educational Service District put together the coolest video to promote the Puget Sound Teacher Leader positions that they were seeking applications for. Of course, I assumed that this awesomely effective video was made by some technology professional at the organization, and didn't think … [Read more...]