How The Teaching Channel can Improve Instruction

A few years ago, a colleague introduced me to The Teaching Channel after I voiced the need for a video about persistence in math class to use with a group of upper elementary teachers, a group frustrated with their students’ lack of skills in persistent problem solving. I was amazed to discover this remarkable resource! Since that time, I’ve often used videos from this site while planning training to provide educators with a visual for a training objective. In coaching sessions, I’ve used this site as a resource to help teachers find excellent videos to use to inform their practice and hone their teaching craft.

Let me tell you what I like best about this resource: these videos show teachers and students sharing their learning in authentic situations. There are over 1100 videos with an excellent filtering system so you can easily look for videos by subject, grade and topic. During training and coaching, I’ve found the list of standards at the top of the video to be invaluable as Continue reading

Shift Happens

Several years ago, the ELA/Literacy Shifts were introduced to teachers in school districts across New York State with the anticipation that all teachers, regardless of grade level and content area, make these shifts in pedagogy in order to develop the necessary literacy skills students need to be successful in college and career. Did the anticipated shifts happen?

Let’s use the following questions as a self-assessment to determine where shift happened – or didn’t: Continue reading

Will Someone Please Just Tell Us What to Do? Curriculum, Core Programs and Collaboration

It is March of the year 2016. It doesn’t seem possible when you really sit down and think about it. It was over four years ago when we first started looking at the Common Core ELA Standards and asking ourselves questions and challenging our understandings of how we make standards come to life in our classrooms. I was in a public school district at the time and we were wrestling with questions like:

  • Are standards and curriculum the same thing? If not, what’s the difference?
  • How do we go about figuring out what stays and what goes from what we currently do?
  • Do we adopt, adapt or ignore the modules?
  • Do we really have the time and level of expertise needed to write our own curriculum?
  • What are other districts doing?

Ultimately, we landed on this one question… Continue reading

From Standards to Students

When planning a lesson or unit of study, the first question we ask ourselves is, “What do we want students to know and be able to do?” Followed shortly by, “How will the students and I know when they are successful?” From there, we plan for instruction; I think of this as creating that pathway that will serve to direct students toward mastery. And we can all agree that when the students follow that pathway, then the learning that results is deep and transferable. Often, once that pathway is created, the teacher tends to lead, but if it is self-direction that we crave for our learners, then we have to start thinking about approaching instruction differently. Continue reading

Attention Content Area Teachers: You Can Help Students Understand Your Content Area While Developing Literacy Skills!

Standards can be found in almost every area of our daily lives, but why do we need them? Imagine if the healthcare industry did not have standards or the food service industry. What would healthcare and food service look like without standards? I dare say the quality and consistency of healthcare and food service would not be the same. Standards provide a common language and set of expectations regardless of the industry.


Watch this video to learn about the creation of the Common Core Learning Standards.

The NYS Common Core Literacy Standards serve this same purpose and requires all teachers, regardless of content area and grade level, to embed literacy into their curriculum. This task does not fall on the shoulders of any one discipline area like English, but all discipline areas. Another way to say this is that all teachers play a role in developing literacy skills so that students are prepared for college and career after high school. Continue reading

Authentic Assessment

Ok, blog readers. We’re going to start this off by playing a little game of Word Association. So, get out a pad of paper or just close your eyes and get ready to make a mental list. I’m going to give you a word.   For one minute, you’re going to write (or think of) all of the words that are, in your mind, associated. Are you ready? The word is: ASSESSMENT.

Keep writing or thinking for one whole minute!

Ding ding ding. Time is up! What words are on your list?

Here is my list:

Test, anxiety, study, multiple choice, guess, fill-in-the-blank, question, answer, recall, state, local, standardized, grade, paper, pencil, write, circle, evaluation, pass, fail, score.

I wonder if we have any of the same word associations! My guess is that we do have at least some commonalities. Continue reading

The Foundation for Fair and Meaningful Grading for Struggling Students

Earlier this month, over 1200 educators gathered at SRC Arena to learn more about grading and reporting student learning. Presenters Tom Guskey and Lee Ann Jung

spoke about standards-based policies and practices that are best for ALL students. My greatest leap of learning was in understanding how to grade exceptional students in a fair and meaningful way using standards-based practices. As a former high school science teacher, with students of all abilities in my Regents classes, I always wondered if I was doing justice by my struggling students with the grading policies I was using. Do I change the mastery bar for students with IEPs and 504s? Do I keep the bar the same and provide more scaffolding support to raise them to those levels? Continue reading