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Ariel Sacks

April 28, 2014

Product Placement on State ELA Test?

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While teachers might not be able to review and discuss the tests, it's near impossible to stop adolescents from criticizing something when they have a strong reaction. Remember when the students blew the whistle on the ridiculous use of the Pineapple story, posting on social media about it, to the point that the press and the state responded? Well, this year, my students shared with me their concerns over another unsettling, though less absurd matter: product placement in the reading passages.

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Ariel Sacks

April 23, 2014

Mindmap of Teaching & Learning Forces

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In 2010, before speaking on teacherpreneurship at the Big Ideas Fest, I drew what I was imagining in a mindmap in my notebook.

Sometimes, you just have to draw it out. Tonight, I drew my second ever mindmap. This map is really a follow-up to a post I wrote in 2012 about the competing forces in education: professionalization and standardization. It's raw, and I expect to have forgotten some things and to have oversimplified others. Please comment!

[You might need to zoom in your View to comfortably read it.]

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Renee Moore

April 22, 2014

Reinventing the Classroom

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Reinventing the Classroom logo   The first ever "Reinventing the Classroom Conference: How EdTech is Reshaping the Classroom Experience" takes place online Wed., April 30th and Thurs., May 1st. "This free world-wide conference will be ....a unique chance to participate in a collaborative global conversation on innovative classroom uses of edtech."  

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Jessica Cuthbertson

April 15, 2014

Apples & Oranges: Why This Year's State Test Was a Waste of Students' Time

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Last week a group of CTQ-Colorado teachers attended and offered comments at the State Board of Education meeting. The following post is a written version of my remarks. While the board passed a symbolic resolution (in a 4-3 partyline vote) to withdraw from PARCC, one state board member boldy and publicly supported the standards and advocated for the aligned system our students deserve. If we must insist on a standardized test, I want the best one for my students. Core advocates (and skeptics!) -- I hope you'll park your thoughts on PARCC (& Smarter Balanced) here. 

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Justin Minkel

April 6, 2014

Teachers! Leave Those Kids Alone.

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When most of us were children, we had a lot of unsupervised time to explore. Sometimes we got lost. Sometimes we got hurt. We faced bullies, cranky adults, and aggressive neighborhood dogs. These adventures helped us learn to negotiate risk as we explored the ragged borders of our world.

Our students need exploration, complexity, and the risk of failure. If we spare them from struggle, we might rob them of fulfillment, too.

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Bill Ferriter

April 4, 2014

Ten Tips for Writing Common Formative Assessments

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One of my favorite books about assessing student learning is Common Formative Assessment: A Toolkit for PLCs at Work by Kim Bailey and Chris Jakicic.

In 140 pages, Bailey and Jakicic succeed in making a process that is fundamental to driving student learning -- and yet fundamentally intimidating to teachers -- approachable.  Each chapter is full of essential background knowledge and practical suggestions that helped me to feel more comfortable about what formative assessment should look like in my classroom.

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Ariel Sacks

April 1, 2014

Testing Eve

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I almost didn't write about testing this year at all.  In fact, two reporters from prominent NYC news publications contacted me in the last week to talk about how I'm preparing for the NY State ELA test, which will take place over the next three days.  I didn't respond.  That wasn't because I don't respect the journalists or their need to cover standardized testing as news; I didn't respond because I felt I didn't have anything I wanted to say.  I don't mind tests in general, but I'm sick of this yearly game.

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Jessica Cuthbertson

March 31, 2014

Read the Book First! (Why Every ELA Teacher Should Read THIS Book)

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Spring Break: a perfect time to dive headfirst into a great professional read. If you have travel plans (or if you plan to stay in the comfort of your own home) check out Whole Novels for the Whole Class: A Student-Centered Approach by CTQ Collaboratory blogger and teacher leader Ariel Sacks. Her approach is guaranteed to invigorate your teaching practice and delight your students. 

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Ariel Sacks

March 23, 2014

Chancellor Fariña on the Best ELA Test Prep

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On Friday, NYC School Chancellor Carmen Fariña sent out a message to principals, which a friend shared with me. In it, she recognizes the pressure principals and teachers (not to mention students) are feeling about the upcoming state tests, but urges principals to keep the tests in perspective. She reminds readers that engaging project, trips to historical sites, oral presentations, are what "make students enthusiastic about coming to school" and are still remembered decades later.

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John Holland

March 20, 2014

Questions about Standardized Testing: A Discussion Post

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The testing season is upon us. I can feel the stress tick up a notch and I don’t even test my students. We use anecdotal records to assess our students’ development. However, in my school, we have already had a pep rally for one content area of standardized testing. My students sang our class theme song, “You Can Make It If You Try”, to the students who were going to take the test.

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