Finish the Year Strong By Analyzing Student Writing

Setting aside time to discuss student writing can be hugely informative...and a lot of fun!

Setting aside time to discuss student writing can be hugely informative…and a lot of fun!

Every May, I find myself in need of a kickstart….a little shot of something to help me finish the school year strong and to carry the momentum of the mistakes I’ve made and the successes I’ve had into the fall.  Finally, after over a decade of working in schools, I’ve figured out what that kickstart needs to be or least what it should involve.

It needs to involve collaboration, reflection, and a changes in practice that are both quick wins that will affect students before school lets out in June and long term understandings that will affect students to come.  Analyzing student work with a really smart group of peers is the perfect combination of all those things.

And since none of us wants to reinvent the wheel (especially in May) here’s everything you need to know to replicate my favorite student work analysis protocol.  While I most recently used this protocol with network 9th and 10th grade history teachers to look at common DBQ essays, the beauty of it is that with a few tweaks it can be used across grade levels and disciplines. Read more

Explanatory Models: A Highly Effective Way to Support Science Learning, NGSS, and MBI

When you hear the word “model” you might immediately think of the small-scale 3-dimensional replicas of buildings used by architects or the typical animal cell model your teacher had you make when you were a student. In science, the term “model” refers to a siTypes of Models Anchor Chart_Hsiaomplified representation of a system that is used to make predictions or explanations for a phenomenon. Scientific models are “judged on both how simple they are and how well they can be used to explain and predict natural phenomena” (Jadrich & Bruxvoort, 2011, p. 12). Using this definition, the 3D cell model or a drawing of the rock cycle found in so many textbooks are NOT scientific models in and of themselves. They are simply representations (unless they are used to explain or predict). Memorizing the steps in a cycle or the parts of a cell are not the end goal in an NGSS classroom.

According to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), scientific models may include: diagrams, physical replicas, mathematical representations, analogies, and computer simulations (see NGSS Appendix F). But, again, keep in mind that they must be used to predict or explain phenomena.

In this blog, we focus on one specific type of modeling that is particularly helpful for supporting and deepening student learning: “explanatory models.”

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