Trying Out Mastery Grading

What I Was Thinking Pretty much anyone who has been teaching a long time has figured out that traditional grading systems don’t work. Last spring, during my nineteenth year teaching 7th and 8th grade English, I decided to do something about it. Without getting too deep into my disillusionment with traditional letter grades, I’ll just […]

Not Another Poster Project

What I’m Thinking About: Students need to do research. They need a way to report the facts they’ve learned. Posters are a time honored way for students to show what they’ve learned with a little bit of artistic panache. That said, how many poster projects does the typical junior high student complete in a year? […]

4 EASY Digital Tools for Starters and Exit Tickets

When it comes to entry routines—whether we call them starters, bell ringers, or do nows—I have tried every system you can think of. Now that my students have iPads, there are even more options. Over the past year, I’ve experimented quite a bit with different digital tools for formative assessment and engagement.  This blog will […]

Writing for Authentic Audiences #5: Multimedia Compositions

This year I tried an experiment: Instead of asking for traditional essays at the end of our final two units, I asked my students to create multimedia compositions. They still had to draft scripts to outline what they wanted to say or show. They still had to meet specific standards-based requirements. BUT their final products could […]

Making Sense of (In)Formative Assessment

photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc I’ve been thinking about the phrase formative assessment a lot lately. It’s on my mind because my school district recently changed the term “quarterly benchmark” to “common formative assessment” or CFA. Yes, that’s one more acronym to remember. The change to CFAs has sparked a lot of conversation in the English department. We […]