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ESSA Updates

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 3.40.28 PM.pngIt has been a year since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, ESSA, replaced No Child Left Behind, NCLB, as the nation’s new K-12 federal law. States are working to implement their plans so that classroom teachers will be prepared for the changes that will become effective in the 2017-2018 academic school year. In a letter to all state schools, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos provided clarity to ESSA implementation instructing states to continue to move forward and that the Department will work to ensure that state education leaders have the state and local flexibility that Congress intended. States should continue to follow the timeline for developing and submitting their plans for review and approval and those are due on or about March 2017.

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Activities for National Opposite Day

nrm3.jpgI love quirky holidays and celebrations! On January 25th, set your sights on a day filled with National Opposite Day activities. Research done by Robert Marzano, Debra Pickering, and Jane Pollock (2001) have created discussions on the benefits of comparing and contrasting. This concept provides the basis for effective instruction. I have included fun activities to boost students reading and writing skills in the classroom for National Opposite Day while still meeting the demands of your standards.

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Making Assessments Fun, and Low Stress for Students

Screen Shot 2016-11-27 at 2.40.51 PM.pngWhen incorporated into classroom practice, the formative assessment process provides information needed to adjust teaching and learning while they are still happening. The formative assessment process guides teachers in making decisions about future instruction.  Here are a few examples that may be used in the classroom during the formative assessment process to collect evidence of student learning. Observations, Questioning, Discussion, Exit/Admit Slips, Learning/Response Logs, Graphic Organizers, Peer/Self Assessments, Practice Presentations, Visual Representations, Individual Whiteboards, and Constructive Quizzes.

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Being Passionate about Reading

bigstock-Young-smiling-student-using-he-48119156.jpgReading can evoke many different feelings in people. For some, it is a delight. For others, a horror. Teaching reading skills is a requirement in any education system. There is research available that will support most of the ways we teach these skills. How do we instill in students a passion for reading though? I believe it starts at a young age before students become disillusioned over standardized testing. Some of my fondest memories of school involve the school library and teachers that took the opportunity to engage us in reading for the simple joy of it. I know of some local schools that are taking the last fifteen minutes of school to “Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.).” I support this fully. The students are only asked to maintain a reading log. No other expectations. I know some people would want to encourage formative or summative assessments to prove that students are truly engaged in the reading. I would ask that you envision fifteen minutes at your own job where you were only asked to read something of your choosing during that time. Would that not be a refresher? Here are some ideas on how to encourage students to be passionate about reading:

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ESSA: Chiefs For Change in School Improvement

Screen Shot 2016-11-27 at 2.51.31 PM.pngIn May 2016, Chiefs for Change addressed school improvement strategies under ESSA in a booklet titled: Implementing Change: Rethinking School Improvement Strategies and Funding Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA requires that seven (7) percent of Title I funds is set aside as a school improvement innovation fund.

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Formative Assessments

Laptop Work-3.jpgPart of a teacher’s responsibilities are assessing student learning. This can occur before instruction, during instruction, and as the finale to instruction. Formative assessment focuses on the DURING instruction part. Formative assessment allows you to determine a student’s understanding of content and adjust as needed. If their understanding is on point, you may continue with current plans or even give higher level critical thinking activities. If some students are struggling, this is an opportunity to determine their weak areas and address it NOW rather than having to reteach. For me, formative assessments focus on choice and learning style. Summative assessments (the finale!) tend to be similar to standardized testing. Some students will always experience test anxiety and it may not always be a correct reflection of their ability or knowledge. For this reason, formative assessments should vary.  It should take into account a student’s strengths and interest. Examples of formative assessments are:

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