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Posts tagged ‘Standards Based Instruction’


Standards and Mastery

TN-Protocol-200x183Our District Leadership Team recently took a deep dive into the first element of Marzano’s Instructional Framework, “Providing Rigorous Learning Goals and Performance Scales (Rubrics).”  As we participated in instructional rounds and discussed what clear goals and performance scales should look like according to the protocol provided in the framework, it became clear that we have much work to do.  This first element, with the biggest effect size on student achievement, may also be the hardest to implement with fidelity across every grade and content area!! Read more


What are Instructional Rounds?

TN-Protocol-200x183Today was an exciting and challenging day full of great learning work in #ISD186.  Six of our teacher leaders opened their classroom doors to a team of colleagues and administrators so we could take a deep dive into the Marzano Instructional Framework.  Using just 1 of the 61 elements in the framework, our learning was focused on what to look for, how to ask good coaching questions, and how to facilitate peer observations in a safe and trust-building manner.  The learning discussions were rich and the willingness of the team to take risks and dive into learning together was admirable.   Read more »


How Do You Make Rigorous Instruction Relevant?

351x301xblooms_new.png.pagespeed.ic.aGecvMechvAs a junior high principal 5 years ago I worked with some great teachers who took it upon themselves to make sure their students understood Bloom’s Taxonomy and how it applies to the activities each day in the classroom.  Students were asked to hold the teacher accountable for making sure that homework and assessment activities applied to the top 3 layers of the taxonomy.  Action phrases and verbs for each layer created a huge wall display of the taxonomy in classrooms, and conversations about why each activity in the classroom was planned for took place in the regular ebb and flow of routine.  Did you hear that?!!  I can honestly say that students understood the why!!  You know… the “why are we doing this???” question that frustrates many-a-teacher?  A commitment to being able to answer that question for every pedagogical decision we make – a true commitment to being disciplined in thought and action – is an authentic commitment to being a true professional… A real Professional Learning Community.

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Rick Wormeli on Formative Assessment

Fair Isn't Always EqualThis is the sixth post in a series of short YouTube videos by Rick Wormeli, author of the book Fair Isn’t Always Equal.  This episode focuses on the power of frequent formative assessments and tying that into a standards based grading system.  I wish I had learned about the power of formative assessments and a standards based approach to grading when I was teaching…  Might you take what @RickWormeli has to offer and implement it in your classroom tomorrow??

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Gradebooks… by Rick Wormeli

So I’m asking some questions in #isd186…   Do we count late work?  How much is homework part of a grade? Do we average points out of points possible to determine a grade?  Is it better if we categorize grades into assessments, homework, projects, etc…?   At some point in a career every teacher struggles with the sacred cow – the GRADE BOOK…  How do we record points – or better rather – how do we record the level at which a student has demonstrated mastery of a standard in order to communicate those results and use them for instructional planning?

These are thought-provoking questions and not ones that our college courses prepared us well for.  So… Here are a few thoughts from respected expert @RickWormeli on grading:

So how do you calculate grades?  Does your software get in the way?  How can you work around that?  Guskey says – if there is one thing he would get rid of it’s using averages.  How will you get rid of averages in your grade calculations?  How do you define what a grade actually is?


Educating Students to Wait in Line?

Our Future Experts of Waiting in LineSitting at a twelve team wrestling tournament today prompted me to dig out a post from several years ago about the assembly line system of education that has dominated our classrooms for the past 100+ years.  Even with nine mats being used continuously and a remarkable effort to run an efficient and well-organized tournament, each student was engaged in competition for a total of 2 – 6 minutes in a 4 hour time frame.  Spread around the gym was several hundred boys — 9 were engaged and the other 99% were bored silly.   They were participating in a beautifully designed lesson for learning how to wait in line and deal with boredom.   

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Rick Wormeli on Redos, Retakes, and Do-Overs

Fair Isn't Always EqualThis is the fourth post in a series of short YouTube videos by Rick Wormeli, author of the book Fair Isn’t Always Equal.  If you’re willing to ask honest questions about your practices and rules about late work – you’re golden and will love the questions posed by @RickWormeli.  If you aren’t courageous enough to ask honest questions, this one might not be for you.  My expectation: anyone teaching our children must be able to soundly defend all decisions about practice, resources, and delivery with research and evidence.  So…  What are your answers to Rick’s questions?  Do you provide opportunities for redos?  Late work?  Do-Overs?  How does this calculate into a quarter or semester or final grade?  I encourage a deep dive into Wormeli and Guskey’s work and some reflection on how to make it happen in your classroom!

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Rick Wormeli on Standards-Based Grading

Fair Isn't Always EqualThis is the third post in a series of short YouTube videos by Rick Wormeli, author of the book Fair Isn’t Always Equal.  It begins to dig into the core of Rick’s work on differentiation and standards based instruction.  Do you average your students’ grades?  Warning: Rick calls that out as wrong practice in this video.  His argument is well supported by other differentiation and grading experts such as Guskey and Tomlinson.  So what to do to grade student work?  Don’t worry – Rick has solutions too in his book.  Just keep listening, thinking, asking,  debating, and reading.  After all, it makes sense in sports or an orchestra.  We simply don’t learn at the same pace and it really is performance against the standard that matters…  So how do we enter that in a grade book?  Read more »


Rick Wormeli on Homework and Grading

Series Post #2:

How much should homework count in a student’s grade for a class?  As a young teacher I Fair Isn't Always Equalproudly professed that a student could earn F’s on all of my tests/assessments and still pull off a B in the class if they completed their homework and did it well.  As I’ve learned more about standards based instruction, differentiation, and standards based grading I’ve become quite ashamed of those early declarations.  I was missing a fundamental understanding of the role of homework, the role of assessments, and the definition of what a grade in a class actually is.

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Rick Wormeli on Late Work

Fair Isn't Always EqualSo I’m half way into my first year as superintendent of #isd186 in Pequot Lakes, MN and I’ve landed on a theme for a series of much-needed posts to cultivate authentic, meaningful dialogue in our collaborative teams.  Last night I pulled an olde but a goodie off the shelf –  Rick Wormeli’s book Fair Isn’t Always Equal.  The messages in this book – and the core arguments of @RickWormeli – are ones we need to read, understand, and wrestle with in the schools we are so proud of.  The opportunity I had on MLK day to address the entire teaching staff about aligning our work to our mission – student achievement – rekindled a passion in me to be frustrated with mediocrity and to intentionally question the practices we engage in that compromise on best serving students.  Wormeli gets it and we have much to learn from him.  I just can’t settle for mediocrity…  My children and your children deserve better.  I’m guessing we can all agree on that much…  Read more »