Strengthening Lessons with a Student Work Protocol

How to Strengthen Lessons

As the chill in the air gets chillier, and your stacks of student work pile up like fallen leaves, why not pause, take a breath, and take a moment to look at that student work in a new way. Sure, you need to look at the work to assess student progress, provide feedback, and celebrate student successes, but you can also use it to assess, refine, and celebrate your own work. The EQuiP Student Work Protocol is one way to do just that.

In part one of our series with, we introduced you to their work with EQuIP (Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products), an initiative designed to identify high-quality materials aligned to the Common Core. We took a close look at EQuIP’s rubrics and process for evaluating lessons for Common Core alignment, and saw the power of teachers viewing and discussing a lesson together.

In this second part, we introduce you to a complementary process in which teachers analyze student work as an indicator of the strength of instructional materials, and their fit into the larger lesson or unit. This protocol works really well for large collaboration groups, but you could certainly use it independently or with just one colleague.

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Teaching Channel is Every Teacher’s “Couch”

I find myself enduring the after-work traffic with the same internal conversation I have had for 29 years: what should I do tonight? Grade papers? Relax so I’m fresh tomorrow? Study and improve my lesson plan? Or reach out to a colleague who can improve my thinking? My internal struggle is eased when I hear NPR’s Terry Gross greet me from the radio waves.

Reflecting On Our Practice

I am drawn to Terry’s “Fresh Air” program because I am captivated by her famous and noteworthy guests. Terry is known for getting her guests to articulate what drives them, their creative process, and their work, in revelatory ways that even the guests themselves didn’t know was possible. I feel a kinship with her guests — though representing different crafts, we are united by our quest to create. We navigate complexity and external roadblocks beyond our control and in so doing, we develop quirks and processes that help us find our voices and create beauty and purpose.

Enter Teaching Channel. This week, we unveiled a new mission statement. Over 600,000 teachers are making Tch their intellectual community — and saying yes, to getting better together — and we’re here for you. We view videos earnestly to see teachers who provide us with inspiration and conversation. As Terry Gross so aptly understands, we teachers are creators of magic, and we need examples and thought partners along the way to create the best versions of ourselves.

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Key Strategies for Developing Oral Language

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series ELLs and Academic Conversations

Being able to talk and express your thoughts clearly is vital in life. Yet, too many students are graduating without sufficient experience with group discussions, or arguing their ideas effectively, and they are finding themselves unprepared for the communication demands of college and their careers.

How can we prepare our students for these rigors?

To lay a better foundation for this learning, we can do a few things: we can value oral language development, we can value communication of ideas over grammatical correctness, and we can value oral language as a powerful way to learn and remember content.

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Video Playlist: Engaging ELLs in Academic Conversations

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series ELLs and Academic Conversations

In this new series, created in partnership with Oakland Unified School District, we delve into three classrooms where English Language Learners (ELLs) are engaged in academic conversations. From talk moves to participation protocols, these teachers share clear structures that encourage students to talk and learn from each other.

Inspired by Jeff Zweirs and Marie Crawford’s book Academic Conversations, teachers at OUSD are working on building the oral language skills of all students.

It’s clear that academic discussions benefit all students, with particular benefits for ELLs. As Nicole Knight, OUSD’s Executive Director of the English Language Learner and Multilingual Achievement Office says in her blog, “Academic discussion helps all students to develop their reasoning, understand multiple perspectives, and deepen understanding of content.”

Watching students engage in academic conversations can seem mystifying: how did the students get to the point where they could independently hold these types of conversations? By hearing the teachers break down their structures and routines, the process becomes much more understandable.

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Why are Academic Discussions So Important for our ELLs?

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series ELLs and Academic Conversations

One of the many things I love about working for Oakland, California schools is serving a community rich in diversity of culture and language. At the same time, it is no easy task ensuring that our English Language Learners (ELLs) are meeting grade-level content standards while mastering a second language.

Much of ELL instruction has been focused on 30-60 minutes of English Language Development (ELD) each day. Taken alone, this daily block of language instruction, isolated from any grade-level content, is not going to get us the results our students need and deserve. Rather, we need to see language-rich instruction throughout the day, embedded in and woven through the content areas.

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[Archive] #TchLIVE Chat: Making Sense of the Core

This #TchLIVE chat was held on October 23, 2014. Teaching Channel hosted this chat with Sarah Brown Wessling. Our topic for this chat was “Making Sense of the Core.” The chat archive is embedded below.

Want a reminder about future #TchLIVE chats on Twitter? Sign up for our Remind class and receive timely reminders:

For more help with the Common Core, check out these resources on Teaching Channel:

Debunking Five Common Core Myths

10 Common Core Insider Secrets

Talking to Parents About the Common Core: Resources and Tips

See all Teaching Channel videos and blogs on the Common Core.

See the Chat Archive

Sweet Ideas for Halloween-Inspired Learning

Want to hear something frightening? Halloween is approaching. A day filled with candy, costumes, and corny carnival games. A day I loved as a child and loved as a teacher.

Yes, I know there are many teachers out there who absolutely dread the day, including my colleague Lily, a confessed Halloween Grinch. Well, here’s a different perspective: I truly love it.

To me, it’s a day to embrace the goofiness inside all of us, where we let go of regular classroom routines, and offer a chance for some kids who normally don’t embrace school, to shine. Now, I know that not everyone celebrates Halloween, but in most cases, the students who do celebrate it will celebrate it at school no matter what you do. So, even if Halloween is not your cup of witch’s brew, rather than ignore the day completely, think of a way to make it work for your classroom and community.

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The Truth About the Teacher Mindset

New Teacher Survival Guide

I’ve said it again and again, both here and to the beginning teachers I coach: the job of a teacher is never done.

I say it so much because I still find it hard to swallow. I’m the kind of person who likes to make to-do lists and methodically check things off. This was how I spent my first few years of teaching — making endless lists then drowning in them as I collected more and more things to do.

I wondered why no matter how much effort I put into my job, it never got more manageable. As my list grew longer and longer, I developed chronic stomach pain and started clenching my jaw. At a certain point, I realized taking on more wasn’t having positive benefits for my students, and it was negatively impacting my health.

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Tch’s Fall Book Club: We’re Reading “How We Learn”

How We Learn by Benedict Carey

What We’re Reading!

We’re very excited to announce the Fall book for Teaching Channel’s Book Club: How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by The New York Times science reporter, Benedict Carey. He uncovers the fascinating and surprising research on how distractions, repetition, sleep, and even study locations can effect how efficiently the brain learns.

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Common Core Math Playlist: Engaging Students with “Productive Struggle”

Editor’s Note: Math teachers across the country are learning the power of formative assessment in their classrooms. In this video series, we bring you an opportunity to see formative assessment in action, with the help of math consultant Ann Shannon and resources from the Mathematics Assessment Project (MAP). Ann provided the initial training for teachers in Kentucky’s Kenton County on how to implement MAP and frameworks from the Math Design Collaborative. She observed teachers in the classroom, gave real-time feedback, helped facilitate the after school meetings to analyze student work, and helped build capacity in the district so that the work would be sustainable.

When I first read the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematics, I felt overwhelmed. I loved the idea of common standards and a focus on math practice standards as a way for students to interact with the content, but I wasn’t sure how this would look. How would I support teachers and their approach to this content? Soon after Kentucky adopted the CCSS in March of 2010, my district, Kenton County, got involved with the Math Design Collaborative (MDC) as a way to help teachers make sense of the standards and begin shifting instruction toward the Common Core. My work with teachers around MDC has been critical to our students’ success because of the focus on formative assessment and teacher collaboration time.
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