February 26, 2015

Supporting Classroom Instruction: Keep It or Junk It for a Biology Classroom

Carol Healy at Inspire Academy and I collaborated today to build a Keep It or Junk It Lesson with a National Geographic article, "Europeans Less Genetically Diverse Than Africans". We read the article, discussed it's content & purpose, and drafted a focus question. Guided by our knowledge of students, other texts in the Human Genetics Unit, and Student Achievement Partners' Academic Word Finder, we also added definitions of key terms above grade level. Engaging in the lesson as learners we were able to draft a key with a possible evidence lists and categories for kept words and phrases. Carol will use the lesson next week & I cannot wait to see the student work. You can find the edited text here and the lesson handout here.

Shifting Instruction to the Core, ELA Session II: Writing to Sources

English Language Arts teachers and their administrators gathered this morning for the second session of Shifting Instruction to the Core. Participants continued their focus  Instructional Shift 2 and Core Action 2 from their previous session, this time with an emphasis on writing to sources. The session included a reflection on teacher's classroom use of Keep It or Junk It, a review of Core Action Two and Argumentative Writing, a careful annotation of "The Writing Revolution", engagement in a lesson model for ranking evidence, and time to apply the lesson to their future lessons. Materials for the session are linked below.

February 19, 2015

Supporting Classroom Instruction: Preparing for Written Assessments

In my recent collaboration with history teachers at Innovations High School we have been exploring ways to support students to prepare for their written assessments course. We started by discussing the importance of students' ability to understand the writing prompt, have a focused answer to the prompt (either a claim or topic statement), and sufficient evidence and reasoning to support a written response. Together Condell Williams, Andrew Protz, and I created a lesson to support students in this work. Condell and Andrew tried the lesson out last week in advance of their Geography course mid-term, and Andrew and I did the same this week so students might prepare for their Modern World History midterm. The lesson without content questions and pictures of students engaged in a carousel activity with the lesson materials follow this post.
Student posters while evidence gathering.

Students evaluating a list of evidence to find what best addresses the prompt.

Students working to gather evidence to a prompt.

February 18, 2015

UNR Educational Leadership Students Explore the EQuIP ELA/Literacy Rubrics

This week University of Nevada Education Leadership students enrolled in EL 703 Curriculum and Instruction continued their exploration of resources to inform curriculum support. Already familiar with the Common Core, Instructional Shifts , and Instructional Practice Guides & Core Actions , graduate students spent this session determining how to use the EQuIP rubrics to recognize what works fits within the ELA/Literacy Common Core Standards. All session resources are linked below.

Common Core and Social Emotional Learning: Session III

Educators at Inspire Academy continued their work exploring how to embed Social Emotional Learning competencies into their CCSS-aligned instruction.  Participants reflected on implementation of previous classroom activities, worked through materials in 'Activators: Classroom Strategies for Engaging Students' by Nicole Frazier and Donna Mehle, and planned for the implementation of new engagement strategies in the coming weeks. Materials for the session are linked below.

February 12, 2015

Shifting Instruction to the Core - Core Action Two for Mathematics

Math teachers and school administrators in the Options Area gathered Thursday morning for their first group session as part of Shifting Instruction to the Core. Participants engaged in materials to support their instructional alignment to Core Action Two - Instructional practices that allow students master the content of the lesson: the Instructional Practice Guides, a Teaching Chanel video 'Conjecturing about Functions', and the instructional move multiple representations. Materials for this session can be found below.

February 6, 2015

CCRS Project Resources Now Available Online

The professional development materials used  during the 2014 College and Career Readiness Implementation Institutes are now available freely online. These professional development materials are made to support adult educators seeking to better align instruction and materials to the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education. The materials were developed by OCTAE and StandardsWork and are available through LINCS here.

February 5, 2015

Shifting Instruction to the Core: Text Dependent Tasks for Science Teachers

As part of the Options Area professional learning sessions, Shifting Instruction to the Core, science teachers and administrators gathered Thursday morning to engage with materials that support all students to engage with text dependent and text specific tasks. Teachers reviewed reading comprehension research by David Pearson, shared strategies they use to engage students in complex text, explored in the instructional move 'Keep It or Junk It', and planned for continued instructional alignment to Core Action Two. Materials for the session are linked below

  • Deck in PDF 
  • 'Footprints in the Air'  text and lesson handouts (text adapted from the American Museum of Natural History's Earth Systems Evolution lesson)

February 4, 2015

EQuIP Call to Action

EQuIPEducators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products, is an initiative of Achieve that works to identify high-quality materials aligned to the Common Core.  Recently, EQuIP has issued a new Call to Action in for CCSS-aligned materials. The press release is excerpted below and more details can be found here. If you have designed and used highly CCSS-aligned lessons or units, please consider submitting them to EQuIP.

New EQuIP Call to Action Seeks High-Quality Materials Aligned to the Common Core Washington, D.C. -  February 4, 2015 - Achieve today announced a call to action for educators to submit high-quality units aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). As part of an effort to study and strengthen resources to meet teachers' needs, Achieve partnered with Student Achievement Partners and a group of education content experts to identify a number of K-8 high priority standards in English Language Arts (ELA) / literacy and in mathematics for which the need for high-quality and aligned instructional materials is particularly critical.  
"As teachers have worked diligently to implement the Common Core in their classrooms, we have heard their need for quality instructional materials that will enable them to help all students," said Alissa Peltzman, Vice President of State Policy and Implementation Support at Achieve. "Educators represent an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience; the identification and dissemination of high-quality units they've designed benefits the entire educator community. One of the hallmarks of EQuIP has been the ongoing commitment to building capacity and elevating the expertise of educators." 
As part of Achieve's Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) initiative, units will be evaluated for quality and alignment to the specified standards by a panel of peer reviewers representing more than 1,000 years of teaching expertise. 
Developers of units submitted through this process, aligned to the high priority standards, and identified as Exemplars by the EQuIP quality review process will receive an award of $1,500 as well as wide dissemination and recognition of their efforts. All Exemplar units will be made freely available for download and use by educators across the country. 
 The submission process is open to everyone. The developers of successful submissions will possess deep understanding of the instructional shifts found in the CCSS, instructional materials development experience, and content area expertise. 
 Interested individuals or organizations must register and submit materials online at There will be two review cycles through which prizes will be awarded; the first deadline for submitting units is March 20, 2015 and the second is June 3, 2015. Full details about the submission process are available in the call to action. 

Common Core and Social Emotional Learning: Session II

Today was the second professional learning session focused on bridging the Instructional Shifts of the CCSS and Social Emotional Learning at Inspire Academy. Teachers gathered in the afternoon to reflect on the existing integration of SEL in their core classes, review three new activators (turn and talk, idea wave, and popcorn share), and plan for the implementation of these activators in their classes. Materials for the session include the deck in Keynote and PDF.