Blog


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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


3 Strikes in Grading Reform

One of the most interesting things about modernizing grading practices is that there is no one-way to go about the work. Sure, there are a few core fundamentals that are non-negotiable (i.e. grades based solely on the achievement of standards), but for the most part, teachers, schools, and districts have much flexibility in going about the business of aligning grading practices to the existing standards-based, criterion-referenced instructional reality. Read more


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Assessment and Emotion

There is something about assessment that provokes strong emotion. You bring up the topic in a room full of teachers and you can feel the energy in the room shift. Similarly, the moment you pull a pile of assessments out of your desk and prepare to return them, students will adjust their posture and conversations halt in readiness for the event. Read more



Diving Into Common Assessment—Does it Work?

Assessment is a messy process. Developing, using and responding to assessment supporting learning requires reflection, trusting relationships and, at times, re-learning and re-assessing. When assessment is simply seen as a test, resulting in points scored and grades assigning, the fundamental learning opportunities of effective assessment practices are lost; and what a tragedy this is. Read more


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When is Assessment Formative?

Formative Assessment is one of the strategies most often talked about by educators in schools today. Type those two words into a Google search and hundreds of thousands of items are identified. Yet the practice is still confusing and unevenly applied within districts, schools, departments, and classrooms. Read more


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A first look at Standards-Based Learning

I have the honor of teaching at a laboratory school and working with many pre-service teachers as they move through their teacher training programs. The mission of our school is to act as a model for educational methods and theory in support of the preparation of future educators. Many of the pre-service teachers that come through my classroom, as well as many of us, went through school with very traditional assessment practices and a traditional mindset when it comes to education, assessment, and grading. Read more


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Do Your Grading Rules Frustrate Achievement?

One of my favorite books is Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. For those who haven’t read it, Gladwell writes of the untold stories of success. Rather than telling the stereotypical story of super intelligence or unabashed ambition, Gladwell argues that the true story of success can found by spending more time looking around those who have succeeded; their family circumstances, where they were born, and even their birth date.   Read more


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Perfection Isn’t the Objective; Clarity Is!

Accurate assessment design can effectively leverage our ability to deeply understand a student’s next steps in their learning. As we gather evidence about what students know and can do, we can utilize that information to better determine what a student does know as well as which areas are still difficult for them to master. Yet talking about and planning for assessment design can be a challenging endeavor, especially when this kind of work was never part of our schooling or training. Read more