Join Deb at ASCD in April 2016!

2015-10-03_20-10-59I’ve got some great news; I’ll be presenting again at ASCD’s Annual Conference! If you’re coming to the ASCD Conference in April 2016, I hope you’ll consider attending my session: Protocols for Using Data in Instructional Learning Cycles.  Built around ASCD’s theme, “Learn, Teach, Lead“, this session will provide friendly tools and protocols for working with instructional learning cycles.  If you’re a teacher, you’ll find some great ideas here – ideas that come your way in a teacher-friendly way.  If you’re a principal, you’ll also find some terrific ideas, as I’ll have tools that will help you when working with your teachers.  If you’re in the central office, this is a strong session for getting additional ideas for working with your staff, too.

ASCD Annual Conference 2016

Write to the Text

 I am a fan of Kelly Gallagher’s Article of the Week.  His website is loaded with weekly articles you can use to give students interesting topics to which they can write.

I recently read an article in Education Week and asked the author, Anothy Cody, for permission to turn his article, Color Coded High School ID Cards Sort Students by Test Performance, into an assignment for students.

I set up the assignment in a modified version of Article of the Week.  I modified the directions and numbered each of the lines in the text.   The numbered lines support students in citing the text during classroom discussions.

Download the assignment:  Assignment:  Argumentative Paper

The assignment includes a Writing Checklist, which you can download separately.

Motor Mouth Review

 Motor Mouth is simply an engaging strategy for students to review important vocabulary.  This can be used in any class at any grade level.  Did I mention that this is also fun?

I’ve included the PowerPoint with directions and a template that is ready to modify for your own use.

Click here for the Powerpoint!

Content Card – Solving Algebraic Expressions

Another one completed!

Click here to get the pdf.  Don’t forget to run this on one sheet of paper for a one-pager (front and back) content card.

Reading for Meaning – Chile Mine Rescue

There are so many times we can help students learn to read for meaning – and using an advanced organizer is just one simple strategy we can use.

Here’s one way to use the technique, with a reading from the Chile mine rescue.

Download the activity which includes directions, the advanced organizer, and the reading.


Write About Data in Graphs – Elementary

Writing is a tool for thinking and learning.  It doesn’t matter what content area you teach, you’ll find many opportunities to help students think through writing.

This quick overview gives a couple of ideas for having students write about data from a line graph.

Download the overview sheet and examples of having elementary students write about data.

Analysis Questions – Line Graphs

In this pdf, I’ve included examples of analysis questions for two different line graphs.  Both of these are for the elementary level.  For each set of questions, I’ve also included a large size of the graph that you can project and/or give students as they work to answer these questions.

Download the pdf of the Analysis Questions for a Line Graph.

Remember the Success Sequence:  Draw, Talk, Write.  Have the students use the visual and talk about the answers – preferably in a structured way as you call out the question.  Then have students write about the graph.

Analysis Questions – Bar Graphs

One of the simplest things you can do to help students think deeply about visual material is to write analysis questions for the different types of visuals you use with students.  This example is for bar graphs – and I’ve included two examples to give you an idea of how these questions might look.  (I’ll be adding a whole series of analysis questions for different types of visuals, so be sure to check back often and/or subscribe to this blog.)

Overview Sheet – Analysis Questions, Bar Graphs

Analysis Questions, Bar Graph, Band Instrument Choices

Analysis Questions, Bar Graph, 3D Movies

After students talk about the information in the graphs, based on the guiding questions you provide, have them write a summary of what the graph says.  You can make this a short and sweet summary that uses bullet statements or you can have students write a full paragraph.  When you give students a chance to talk about the questions BEFORE having them write, they’ll do a much better job with the summary.

Use the graphs.  Get students talking about the information in the graphs.  Watch them develop deeper understanding because you guided them through deeper thinking of the material.  And as always, don’t forget to add your own good questions.  You may even want to add some here!

Know Data, Know Answers

I want to share a piece I wrote a number of years ago.  I love the rubrics designed by the fine folks at Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, but I wanted to unpack the rubrics.  By unpacking the rubrics, I can get to data that allows me  to see the specific parts of the problem-solving process in mathematics for which students need help.  I hope you’ll read the article and add an idea or two to your assessment toolkit.  Download the article here.

Download a copy of Northwest’s Mathematics Problem Solving Grid.

Using Data to Form Flex Groups – Kindergarten Writing

You’ve likely heard about using data to inform student achievement.  You’ve also likely used assessment data from your state tests to try and do that.  There are many ways to use data, including the kinds of data you collect in your classroom.  This short piece describes how to use data from a rubric to form flexible groups for instruction.  Download the pdf to learn more about how to use this data strategy.

You may also want to download a copy of the kindergarten rubric that is used in this strategy.