Give Students the Lead with Learning Goals and Success Criteria

One of the hardest jobs we have as teachers is assessing student learning. One of the things that has really helped me and my students assess learning this year is the use of learning goals and success criteria.

This is not a new idea or technique, I’ve always used some sort of objective or learning goal in my lessons. However, this year I want my students to truly understand and own the goal. In most lessons, we take time to discuss the goal as a class before beginning a lesson. One question I tend to ask is, “what does that mean?” After discussing the goal, we move onto the success criteria, which help describe how we will know when we have met the learning goal. One of the most powerful ways to get my students to own the criteria is to have them develop the success criteria with my guidance.

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Formative Assessment Practices to Support Student Learning

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an organization of member states committed to providing tools and resources that support teaching and learning. The three core components of the Smarter Balanced Assessment System are summative assessments, interim assessments, and formative assessment practices. The videos in this series demonstrate how teachers implement the intent of the Common Core State Standards using the Formative Assessment Process. They were created as components of interactive modules in the Smarter Balanced Digital Library, but we are pleased to share them with you on Teaching Channel’s website.

Formative assessment is a deliberate process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides actionable feedback used to adjust ongoing teaching and learning strategies to improve students’ attainment of curricular learning targets/goals.

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Celebrating Arts Integration

Getty Museum at night

The stars were out at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California on Saturday, January 24th. Elizabeth Escamilla, acting Assistant Director of Education and Public Programs, along with other dignitaries from the J. Paul Getty Museum, and Pat Wasley, CEO of Teaching Channel, hosted a star-studded screening of the Teaching Channel video series showcasing arts integration. This series was a collaborative effort between the J. Paul Getty Museum, Teaching Channel, and filmmakers Zachary Fink and Alyssa Fedele.

At the screening, the four teachers who took part in the series, Antoinette Pippin, David Cooper, Lindsay Young, and Lorenza Yarnes, were recognized for their efforts in opening their classroom doors and sharing their professional practice through video. The selection of videos received accolades from members of the audience, including educators, students, and community members alike.

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Reflect on Learning with a Portfolio Defense

There are many things that I have waited to confess to my students until the time feels right. Over the years, I’ve told seniors that I chose my major in college because it had no math requirement. I’ve admitted to ninth graders that I was voted Class Procrastinator of my graduating high school class, and that I often finished my English essays in the hallways outside of my classrooms. And for my tenth graders, I confess this:

“I don’t know if I could have done what I am asking you to do right now. And I tell you with absolute conviction that this means you will be more prepared to step into a college lecture hall or a boardroom than I ever was.”

It’s the truth, and often times, this is how we begin to talk about portfolios.

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Ten Teaching Tweaks for New Teachers

New Teacher Survival Guide

To say that the first year of teaching is challenging would be an understatement. There are so many moving parts to manage and so many new things to learn that it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start. Keep it simple and start with these small teaching tweaks.

1. Reset and reteach.

The beginning of the New Year is the perfect time for a new start. Your students will benefit from practicing classroom routines and procedures. This time of year also makes for a natural opportunity to shift routines and practices that haven’t been working. If you discover, for example, that your pencil sharpening procedure isn’t going as well as you’d hoped, reset and create a procedure that works better for you and your students.

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#TchLIVE Book Chat Quick Notes: Leaders of Their Own Learning

What We’re Reading!

Leaders of Their Own LearningTeaching Channel’s Book Club is reading Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools Through Student-Engaged Assessment by Expeditionary Learning’s Ron Berger. He shares a new way of thinking about how we can change the primary role of assessment — from evaluating and ranking students to motivating them to learn.

Join Our Book Club Twitter Chat

Join our book club chat on Thursday, January 29th at 7pm EST. Use the hashtag #TchLIVE.

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Learning from Students’ Productive Struggles

As you think about getting ready for assessments, it’s important to think about the role student work can play — the way you and your students can use their work to learn more about their misconceptions, areas of struggle, progress, and successes. We know that looking at student work is a natural part of a teacher’s day. There is so much we can learn from it, depending on how we look at it. We may be quickly reviewing an exit ticket so we can adjust the next day’s lesson, or we may be looking at their work more deeply during a multi-day formative assessment lesson, such as those seen in our series, “Engaging Students in Productive Struggle.”

In the first part of this series, we stepped inside two middle school classrooms to capture formative assessment in action. We saw teachers Teri Walker and Susie Morehead using resources from the Mathematics Assessment Project (MAP) to reveal and develop their students’ mathematical understanding.

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Critical Friends: Building a Culture of Collaboration

“… a critical friend is someone who is encouraging and supportive, but who also provides honest and often candid feedback that may be uncomfortable or difficult to hear. A critical friend is someone who agrees to speak truthfully, but constructively, about weaknesses, problems, and emotionally charged issues.” — The Glossary of Education Reform

Being critical friends means that we can depend on our colleagues to help us reach our potential. We all serve as critical friends (and really, aren’t these two words synonymous?) who push our practice, help one another see bright spots, and offer resources and a clear path for steps to quality teaching and learning. And while critical friends are who we are for each other, it’s also what we do. Critical Friends is one of many protocols we engage in to provide feedback aimed at improving project design, quality of instruction, and deeper learning experiences for our students.

Why we give feedback

A phrase that I often hear in my work supporting schools is “the culture of the students will never exceed the culture of the adults in a building.” Engaging in the Critical Friends protocol requires a professional culture that is grounded in a shared sense of ownership. It requires a staff that deeply respects one another and can uphold professional norms when engaging with one another. What Critical Friends requires, it also generates — a culture of collaboration. Once a staff is able to successfully collaborate, then they are ready to become a learning organization that can grow together in their practice.

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Planning to Assess: How to Align Your Instruction

For many of us, the new year brings new assessments — and undoubtedly, some anxiety. This can be a great time to reflect on what you and your students have achieved so far, as well as think about what’s ahead. While you obviously need to think about the specific needs of your own students, it often helps to talk things through with colleagues. When I was teaching middle school, my grade level team addressed our worries head on by getting together to review our instructional planning — making sure we were giving our students plenty of opportunities to demonstrate standards. Over the past few months at Teaching Channel, we’ve been trying to help you with this task.

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