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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


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