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A Profound and Lasting Influence

Have you ever done a quick Google search of the word “formative”? I was inspired when I recently did and read, “serving to form something, especially having a profound and lasting influence on a person’s development.” What exactly is it that we are trying to form through our formative assessment processes? In my classroom, I hope to develop strong, capable learners who take charge of their learning, learn from mistakes, and develop a growth mindset. My hope is that they view assessments as a method of communication between us and see the value in making mistakes and growing from them. Read more



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Their world is real!

Almost every conversation about moving from traditional grading practices to sound grading practices (even standards-based grading) seems to end up with discussions and debates about when students get out into the real world. While I understand the intent of this sentiment and the concern it expresses, this real world conversation can devolve into an overly cynical perspective from which to examine the experiences of our students and seems only to serve as a justification for punitive practices along a very narrow set of circumstances. Read more


Engaging Students in Dialogue

One of the most powerful aspects of effective assessment practice resides in engaging students in dialogue about their learning as a result of the information gathered during the assessment phase. Formative assessments are check-ins throughout a unit of instruction to see how students are progressing. The more engaged our students become in conversations with teachers about their learning, the greater the likelihood that they will experience success. Read more


Running Out of Time

I have long asserted that one of my favorite things about working in education is the ability to experience a new beginning and a consistent end to each academic year. In the span of one year, we have the privilege of traveling alongside groups of students as they experience new content, new contexts, and new relationships each year. We structure environments that support learning over time and we have the opportunity to capture and celebrate each moment of growth through purposeful observations, conversations, and performance tasks. Read more


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My Journey to Standards-Based Learning

Early on in my career I was a very traditional grader. Homework was scored, retakes weren’t allowed, and I even gave extra credit. I’m not proud of this, but it’s the truth and helped shape the educator I am today. I realize now that I was teaching my students to play the game of school. They were to accumulate the desired amount of points to be rewarded with the grade they were working towards.

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The Road to Achievement and Confidence

Confident, excited teachers make for confident and excited students. Jim Knight (2007), an expert on instructional coaching, suggests, “When people talk about learning, the experience should be exciting, energizing, and empowering” (p. ix). Assessment has the potential to generate all three of these conditions when designed and used in the service of learning. Read more


Repacking Standards

By now the process of analyzing and unpacking standards is familiar to most educators. In this era of standards-based instruction, unpacking standards to identify specific learning targets and underpinnings, then organizing those targets and underpinnings into a purposeful learning progression is almost ubiquitous. Read more


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Embracing and Encouraging the Power of Reflection

“We do not learn from experiences…we learn from reflecting on experiences.” -John Dewey

Perhaps it is because as educators we are flooded with “end of the year” events like final concerts, awards convocations, sports championships, and spring dances at this time of year, but reflection has certainly been on my mind lately. Read more


Zeroing the scale

As an instructional coach, I have the fortunate opportunity to work with a wide variety of teachers and in various classrooms and content areas. Recently, I worked with a sixth grade science teacher to create and implement a classroom experience that required students to use their problem solving and critical thinking skills. Read more