Making sense of the enormous amount of student data in any classroom or school is probably the biggest challenge we face individually and in our school communities. Here you'll find everything from one-page templates created by teachers for use in their classrooms to videos of staff teams poring over large data sets. We don't have all the answers, but we do provide tools to help you ask better questions as you evaluate students and talk about assessments with your colleagues.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills explain why short-term writing goals can help students reset expectations for their writing on a daily basis, and how they make these goals an integral part of their writing workshops.
Christy Rush-Levine finds her students sometimes need to stop and be challenged to think in more positive ways about their reading abilities. She describes how she designs minilessons for impromptu resets in her middle school classroom.
When students set intentions, reflection and celebration go hand in hand. Melanie Meehan explains how teachers can help students become more explicit about intentions with practical cues from bulletin boards and index cards.
Jen Schwanke gets berated by a tire shop repair guy for ignoring routine maintenance needs on her bike. That gets her thinking about what needs routine maintenance in elementary classrooms.
It's May, and teachers everywhere are preparing for final assessments of students. Jennifer Schwanke explains why it might be time to rethink or even ditch some of those plans.
Melanie Meehan uses reflective questions and video to build a library of materials at the end of the year to use with next year's class.
How do you know an assignment is authentic and worthy of your students' time? Suzy Kaback explains why you need to try it out yourself first.
Reading logs have fallen out of favor in many classrooms because they often become a rote activity for recording pages read. Tara Barnett and Kate Mills find authenticity with the logs comes when they move from emphasizing recording to goals and reflection.
Ruth Ayres explains how data can make students and teachers feel empowered or deflated — so much depends on what you are looking for and how you present it.
Asking students to assess and grade their own work cements learning and deepens understanding for many students, but only if it is done in a thoughtful, collaborative way. Melanie Meehan takes you step-by-step through the process in a fifth-grade classroom.
Benchmark assessments can be incredibly time-consuming for teachers to complete. Tara Barnett and Kate Mills describe how they leverage the time spent by using the assessments in strategy conferences with students.
Students are always watching us, whether we realize it or not. Jennifer Schwanke explains how we can capitalize on that interest to build independent reading and writing habits.
Melanie Meehan uses independence bulletin boards to provide students with options when working on their own during units of study.
Gigi McAllister is disappointed by the shallow and unexpected responses by her fourth graders to literacy rubrics at the end of the year. The experience sends her on a quest to do a better job of helping her students learn to set goals and understand what measurable progress looks like over time.
Bitsy Parks finds goals aren't enough for her first-grade students — real growth requires that the goals eventually become habits. She develops a process mid-year to help children refine their goals step-by-step.
Setting small-group goals can be tricky, and the complexity is compounded when you are working with English language learners. Kate Mills explains her goal-setting process with K-3 ELLs, and gives examples of how it works.
Bitsy Parks discovers the best way to relaunch literacy workshops in January after holiday break is to have her first graders reflect upon and celebrate what they learned in the fall with personal anchor charts.
Christy Rush-Levine considers how her rubrics do not acknowledge different levels of support some students need to accomplish tasks. She rethinks her rubric design to include support, and in the process fosters more independence and reflection in students.
Matt Renwick explains why sometimes the best way to grow reading abilities in students is to resist rubrics.
Mark Levine always has a few students each year in his middle school classroom who are stunned by their poor grades, even when they clearly aren't meeting expectations. He develops a rubric to enable students to monitor and reflect on their learning behaviors daily.
Stephanie Affinito explains how to use student checklists in literacy intervention.
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills combine an engagement inventory and an on-demand writing assessment to get a full picture of skills and habits in their classroom community.
Mary Lee Hahn tries to be super teacher while she confers — juggling goals, assessments, notices and notes . . . and then it all comes crashing down. She shares what she learns from trying to do too much at once and failing.
Stephanie Affinito tells everyone at a staff meeting to write their weights and ages on sticky notes so that she can post the numbers for the group to view. When teachers balk at the request, she has the perfect opening to discuss why focusing on levels in classrooms is a bad idea.
Kate Mills and Tara Barnett provide some practical tips for connecting students and goals.
Melanie Meehan finds that student-designed development cards are a great way to get students invested in literacy goals.
Melanie Meehan shares the value of assessing what students know first, and then tapping into this knowledge in new units.
Carly Ullmer assesses how she can give consistent and meaningful feedback to every one of her many middle school students at least once a week.
Christy Rush-Levine uses a quick assessment during writing workshop conferences to connect expert students with peers who might need assistance. She includes a video example of the practice.
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