Diagnostic, Formative, and Summative, Oh My!

Why so many assessments? Sometimes, it seems like all we’re doing is assessing our students.  This is especially true during testing seasons (fall, winter, spring), and it can be overwhelming for students and teachers.  There are many schools of thought in regards to assessment, but my goal here is to help simplify the three main types of assessments.  Each type of assessment serves a very different purpose, and the more we understand the purpose of an assessment, the better we can use the


Get comfortable with dirty words!

Writing.  It’s not a dirty word, but in many classrooms, staff meetings, and teacher’s lounges it carries a negative connotation.  Why?  I would argue it is because it makes us uncomfortable.  How many of us are accomplished writers?  I know I’m not.  Even as I work on writing this blog, I’m continuously looping through the writing cycle of drafting, critiquing, revising, and so on. So much so, that I constantly doubt whether or not I have any business dabbling in this blog writing


Six Textbook Tips for Students (and Teachers!)

A Textbook is a Tool.  Repeat after me, “A textbook is a tool!”  Just like a microscope or protractor, you can’t just hand over a textbook to a student and expect them to know what to do with it.  I know what you’re thinking, “But, my students have been using textbooks for years.” WRONG!  They’ve probably been reading textbooks for years, likely with little success, but they’ve never used the textbook from your class.   First of all, not all textbooks are created equally.


Purposeful Peer Editing and Revision

In the writing process, editing and revision are difficult phases for any author, especially young, novice writers like our students.  Editing and revision require an author to look back at the work and creativity they’ve invested in their writing and, essentially, fix any problems. Thinking of words, combining them into phrases and sentences, and doing so in an artful way that relays meaning is a deeply personal experience and opens an author up to vulnerability.  For kids, or anyone for


Grading: Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

Without a doubt, the most valuable commodity in education is time. Just ask any teacher.  There’s never enough and too much is wasted on mundane tasks.  Think of all the things teachers have to ‘waste’ their time doing in a single day: passing out papers, collecting papers, taking attendance, taking lunch count, making sure everyone has their gym shoes on the correct feet… the list goes on and on! For many teachers, especially those at the middle level, grading is the number one time


Teaching Vocabulary Without Saying a Word

Anyone who has ever tried to teach vocabulary knows that it’s a tough job.  Nobody, students or teachers, wants to listen to someone tell them what a word means. Think about this; if you were having a conversation with a friend, and they randomly interjected a new word and gave you the definition, not only would that be socially awkward, but it wouldn’t inspire you to commit to learning that new word. So, what’s a better approach? Authentic Vocabulary Instruction Try thinking about this