Category Archives: Elementary

Does Your Writing Assessment Help Writers or Pac-Mans?

Reimagining Writing Assessment Maja Wilson book cover

The following is adapted from Reimaging Writing Assessment: From Scales to Stories by Maja Wilson.

I was mostly disinterested in the Atari that my brother got for Christmas in the late 1970s; the excruciatingly slow back-and-forth of Pong bored me. But when Pac-Man was released in 1982, I was intrigued; fleeing a ghost made sense to me. Still, I was confused by Pac-Man’s motivation when it came all to those wafers. One after another, screen after screen, he just kept gobbling them up.

“Why is Pac-Man always so hungry?” I asked my brother while awaiting my turn at the joystick.

His explanation was offered with an exasperated eye roll, “He isn’t hungry. You get a point for each one.”

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Looking Ahead to the ELA Exams: What We Have Already Mastered & Developing Next Steps, 3-8

ELA Exams

Written By Anna Gratz Cockerille

Probably the greatest advice we ever hear about preparing kids for high-stakes tests is that a strong curriculum is the best test prep there is. When children are reading and writing daily for long stretches of time, they are far more likely to be successful on an exam that tests reading and writing. There are two key considerations when planning a curriculum that supports success with ELA exams: time and level of text complexity. 

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Rethinking Math Homework, a Twitter Chat with Sue O’Connell

Math Homework

 


In order to better determine how people really feel about math homework, Math in Practice lead author Sue O'Connell hosted an #elemmathchat Twitter chat in order to open up the discussion on math homework. In this Twitter Chat, O'Connell encouraged educators from across the country to let their memories associated with math homework be heard, fond or otherwise. Below, you can follow along with the conversation. 

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Developing Robust If…Then… Units in Reading, K-5

Developing Robust If/Then Units in Reading K-5

Written By Anna Gratz Cockerille

The Units of Study in Reading is a comprehensive curriculum designed to provide a years’ worth of instruction in reading. Each kit contains four fully fleshed-out units that together provide a balance of foundational skills, nonfiction and fiction. Each unit represents about six to eight weeks of instruction, so there is space for some additional teaching to round out a school year. Hence, the If…Then…Curriculum: Assessment-Based Instruction book that is part of every kit. 

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Helping Struggling Learners to Show Understanding

Supporting Struggling Learners book cover

Allowing students to show understanding in multiple forms plays off of one of three universal design for learning principles — incorporating multiple means of expression. For a variety of reasons, expressing understanding is hard for many struggling learners. Sometimes, a learner has trouble putting thoughts to words and is unclear of what he or she wants to say. Other times, the learner knows what he or she wants to say but has trouble expressing it clearly and succinctly. And in other cases, a learner is taking time to process input and just needs time to express understanding. Regardless, we serve all our learners well when we provide students with multiple ways to demonstrate understanding. 

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Tom Newkirk on The Emotional Complexities of Teaching

Tom Newkirk Embarrassment book cover

"I'll go first", says Thomas Newkirk in his new book, Embarrassment and the Emotional Underlife of Learning. Through sharing his own stories of frustration and the performative anxieties of teaching, Newkirk sheds light on his emotional journey as an educator. He opens a discussion about the emotional realities of teaching by delving into a newfound discussion space. 

Here, Newkirk discusses how teachers can create this new space with students by giving them time, and how allowing time to listen invites the opportunity to discuss and solve problems more slowly in order to overcome roadblocks within their own work.

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