Interactive learning quests, book reviews, lesson plans, teacher tools and technology tips for teachers.
If your school has taken on this academic and mental health school adventure, please tell me of your experience. What worked out, what didn’t? If you have any questions, let me know! Contact Lynn
MAKING THE GRADE will be a regular feature on my blog, highlighting the “take away” ideas from current books, research and readings with the common theme of achieving best practice assessment in our classrooms. Let’s get started with this week’s highlights from the book:
We need to start any learning journey in our classroom by sharing the “big ideas” with our students. Begin with the end in mind. We have to show them the target we want them to hit so they can hit it! Including our students in the process right from the start means they are expected to be and supported as active learners. What does this look like? First we must start with the expect learning outcomes. If you teach younger grades, you will have predetermined these big ideas and have them ready in “kid friendly” language to share with your students. If you teach older grades and time permitting, you can involve your students in the process of organizing them in to bigger topics for the unit, project or lesson. What are the “big ideas” that you want them to understand after participating in these lessons/activities. Making the destination clear from the get go means your students can figure out a way to get there. Going through this process will also help you see how you can group outcomes to teach together.
Second, we need to communicate the expected quality levels with our students at their grade level. This means that prior to the unit, project or lesson, exemplars clearly showing different levels of achievement are shared with students. This is not a passive activity in which students are just “shown” examples of work. Let them explore them, have them work in groups to identify and sort what makes one level superior to another. Have students really dive in and find the qualities that differentiates and demonstrate critical thinking and good work from great work. Use consistent language when creating rubric indicators students clearly know what the expectations are. RUBRICS can help with this if they are crafted to describe what a student can do and what they need to do to move their learning to the next level. However, creating good rubrics is not easy. To help you out with that, I’ve made a FREE poster download for my subscribers. This poster outlines words that you can use at each level. If you’d like your copy and future free teaching resources, then just sign up!
At this stage it is time to decide and communicate to students how they will be expected to show evidence of their learning. Best practice means that to have valid and reliable evidence we must triangulate or collect the evidence from a variety of sources. Our students do not all learn the same, nor should they have to show us evidence of their learning in the same way. We have to plan for that. After all, isn’t the point of assessment and evaluation to really know what they have learned so we can help them to reach their learning goals? As educators, then, we must ask ourselves which products (tests, projects, assignments, etc), interviews/conversations (teacher -student, student-student, etc.), and observations do I need to have so I can make a “no doubt” professional judgement about a student’s level of achievement? This may involve planning several forms of formative assessments throughout a unit of study, gathering data that will inform our direction of assistance with each student, helping them celebrate their learning and address their needs throughout the process. Again, it is best to involve our students in the process of this decision making. Can they actively participate in deciding how to show you that they have learned the outcomes? (More ideas about ways to show evidence of learning in the FREE poster download).
Gathering early evidence of learning is vital to establishing a baseline of achievement. This will establish a helpful reference for both student and teacher to “see” the learning that takes place throughout the course or unit of study. Think of this process as much the same as why a doctor takes your blood pressure and heart rate for your medical records. He or she then has it for referral to monitor your health over time. Having the baseline provides evidence as to whether your health is improving, staying status quo, or declining. In the education process, this baseline can inform our programming choices for a student and help them witness their successes while addressing their needs.
Finally, I can’t stress enough, that the authors of this book make the assertion that best practice assessment is only achieved when evidence is gathered over time and from a variety of sources. Assessment is a process that provides data driven instructional practice, whereas evaluation is the final professional judgement of the process. When approached in this manner, the research clearly shows that higher student learning results. The research of Sandra Herbst and Anne Davies, then, should inspire all of us to evaluate and improve our assessment practices for the good of our students.
Teacher, Author, Assessment Coach, HSD
Herbst-Luedtke, Sandra, and Anne Davies. A Fresh Look at Grading and Reporting in High Schools. Courtenay, BC: Connect21earning., 2014. Print.
Here is a small little classroom with children’s desks all in rows. The teacher’s desk sits prominently in the front of the classroom and lectures might be given at a podium. Most of the student’s daily work is done here, while being seated in this relatively small space. Does this sound something like your classroom? Probably not, as this is a description of The Oldest Wooden School House in Saint Augustine, Florida, which dates back to the early 18th century. This was the daily life of colonial school children. So, what is wrong with that?
Lynn @ TiePlay Educational Resources
TiePlay Educational Resources LLC
Cooperative learning can be so much fun for students and teachers. But, what is cooperative learning, and can it be successful in teaching objectives in the classroom?
Cooperative learning is team work and students working together to complete an assignment. Each team member is expected to do his or her share of the work. Group work in the classroom is known to develop better learning and colleague skills.Students also become better prepared for the work world.
Yes, studies indicate that cooperative learning can be very effective. But, there are methods that teachers should follow in order to develop the maximum student achievement.
Cooperative learning involves may types of skill sets.Group interaction, accountability, social skills, and positive interdependence abilities are encouraged. The teacher is able to see how group members
interact.The instructor is also able to talk to the group or individuals about any difficulties that they are having with the material.
Learners of all ages enjoy cooperative learning. How about your class? For more resources, and a list of cooperative learning how-to’s read on!
For task cards, a form of cooperative learning, visit my store at
by Lynn Horn
Tie-Play Educational Resources
A healthy school climate is needed for most students to achieve academic success. What is a healthy school climate? A healthy school climate is where all school employees are friendly, kind and considerate. A healthy school climate is where community members feel welcomed into the school. A healthy school climate is where students believe that they are an important member of their class, and are able to contribute in their own way. And more.
Okay, but why should school employees not act indifferently, like in other professions? The fact is education is not a business. The way persons interact within a school district is known to greatly affect students’ academic achievement, emotional well-being and even physical condition (Blum, 2007). When school district professionals are warm, caring, and encourage student triumphs, students are very likely to do well. On the other hand, negative attitudes are known to gravely impact effective teaching and learning, which often results in an overall low staff and student morale (Blum, 2007).
Students need to feel socially united and be of the opinion that they can achieve the academic standards set forth for them (Blum, 2007). Yet a great school environment not only also focuses on the well-being of the whole child but also the community and staff members. An educational system is important for all community members and therefore, should unite the population and encompass equal opportunity for all. In other words, a successful school is one big and happy family.
16 = Awesome school!
14 = Getting there, but needs some work
12 = Really, really, really needs work
Below 12 = Needs a new agenda!
Blum, R.. (2007). Best practice: Building blocks for enhancing a school environment. Retrieved from http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/military-child-initiative/resources/Best_Practices_monograph.pdf
Imagery supplied by Thinkstock.com
Written by Lynn @Tieplay Educational Resources, LLC, on May 1st, 2016.
I wanted a project that would help reinforce the concept of symmetry with my students. I thought Mandala art would be the perfect project and with the coloring-book craze right now, Mandala is all the rage! Now you can have your class do it with this easy template. I can’t wait to try it out with my class.
“Mandala” is a Sanskrit word meaning “circle” or “completion”. It is often recognized to represent wholeness.Which shapes and colors will you use to express your whole self? The best thing about creating your own Mandala art is that you can choose any shapes and colors you want. Make one or more than one, but the important thing is to have fun!
Here’s how you can have your students create their very own Mandala art in class using this template that I made for you. Good luck! Come back and send me some pictures of your class creations. I’ll post them on the site. It’s fun to share!
Here are the steps:
1. Cut out along the black square lines.
2. Fold in half along the center vertical line and then open and refold along the center horizontal line.
3. Now fold along each straight diagonal line and unfold again.
4. Starting from center make a design in only one “pie-shaped” piece of the circle.
5. Now repeat that same pattern in every other section either by folding the paper and tracing over the original design,
or use a Mirra board along each dotted line and try to duplicate the original design in each section.
6. Once your finished drawing, add colors. Remember to color each section with the same color scheme. Look at the examples
to help you.
Now how do you get the template? Easy. If you are a subscriber to my newsletter, then you get my fabulous freebies. It’s totally free and I promise not to share your email with anyone else. I respect your privacy and I hate spam, too, so I won’t do that to you. The best part about signing up is that you’ll also get all the FUTURE FREEBIES that will come to your inbox with the Quest Teaching Newsletter! I can’t wait to hear from you!
Today we’re going to dive into Google classroom! Let’s take a good look at how to set up your Google classroom and get started with the powerful tools it offers.
What is Google Classroom? Google Classroom allows you to set up an on-line virtual classroom complete with the ability to set up assignments, grade assignments and provide feedback and send out announcements to your students via the internet. No more taking home suitcases full of assignments as your students’ work will be literally at your keyboard “fingertips”.
How do you set up your very own Google Class?
4. Next you can put in some information about your class. Just go to the ABOUT button and tell your students about your class with information like where the class takes place, a description, etc.
5. Now your ready to add some assignments. It’s easy to do . Just watch this tutorial to get you started.
6. Finally, Let’s take a look at what your students will get and how they can open and complete assignments.
First they can attach almost any kind of work to hand in: file, google doc, or link to their work on the web. Here’s how:
If they’re working with a google doc or form that was teacher created, then they can simply complete their copy and hit the “turn in” button. Here’s a good student tutorial to show your students how:
So there you have it, you are ready to set up your google class and get googlin! Have fun, and enjoy the learning journey.