Redesigned SAT – Essential Language Progressive Skills Alert

80dfc343-4711-4bb0-90df-ea0f5de34427A number of weeks ago, I wanted to answer a question related to the SAT Practice Tests – those tests the College Board made available for us to help teachers and students become familiar with the redesigned SAT. I personally wanted to check the alignment between the SAT questions on the Practice Test and the Common Core State Standards. As I worked through every single question on the tests, I discovered an interesting piece: Every single standard on the Language Progressive Skills list in the Common Core State Standards is tested. Every single one.

We need to make sure everyone knows this!

If you’re a curriculum type, you may want to use this information as you tweak curriculum in your district. If you’re an assessment type, maybe you’ll consider talking about this when you’re making connections between the SAT Content Dimensions and the Common Core State Standards. If you’re a principal, perhaps you’ll share this with your teachers because they are likely still learning about the redesigned SAT. If you’re an ISD/RESA person, perhaps you’ll want to include this in some of your training materials.

Download the Progression of Language Skills.

It’s up to teachers in multiple grade levels and content areas to help students learn important language skills, so I do hope you’ll consider sharing this with others.

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

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.

Content Card – Adding Fractions With LIKE Denominators

Fractions, fractions, fractions.  For so many students, these are quite the challenge to learn.  One of the first things that adults should do when students struggle with an area of the curriculum is to make sure we’ve clarified the content that students are to learn.  As you know, one of the ways to do this is through content cards.

Download a full-size pdf of the fraction content card.

As always, please let me know if there’s anything that should be added to the card.

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.

Content Card, Parallel (Elementary Level)

Our younger students learn about parallel lines in different grade levels in different states.  But there is some key content that students need to know related to parallel lines.  This content card provides key content.  (If you see other things that need to be added, please leave a comment and I’ll update this.  All of my content cards are a work in progress.)  DOWNLOAD THE CONTENT CARD FOR PARALLEL.  I’ve included a piece that is not in most elementary programs – and that is how to write a math sentence that shows two lines are parallel.

Remember that in curriculum development world, we still need to work on things students must be able to do with this content at the elementary school level.  Do we want students to identify parallel lines in everyday things?  Do we want students to distinguish between a parallel line and a perpendicular line?  What about explaining what a parallel line is?  What about explaining why a line that is not parallel isn’t?  Do we want students to explain the difference between parallel lines and intersecting lines?  These kinds of things become objectives in your curriculum.

For those of you in charge of developing curriculum, there are a couple of questions you’ll want to answer:  What core content do you want at each grade level in relation to this concept?  What do you want students to do with the content at each grade level?  By the way, content cards are a good way to check vertical and horizontal alignment in a curriculum at the district level.

If your role is that of designing assessments, the content cards are a big plus as well.  When everyone works from the same core content – and the same objectives, you support tight alignment at the classroom level – which is where alignment really happens.

Learning to Count

When teaching students to count, there are a couple of basic tools every teacher needs.  Here’s the great news:  These tools cost almost nothing and are very simple to reproduce and use.  DOWNLOAD MY HUNDREDS CHART and perhaps print one for each of your students.  DOWNLOAD THE NUMBER CARDS and make a number line and/or use the cards in a variety of other ways.

Corresponding Content Card – Counting 1, 2, 3.

Counting Sort With Sentences

This is another sort that I designed when I put together the Content Card for Counting (Kindergarten Level).  In this activity, students practice using sentences that have a number.  DOWNLOAD THIS ACTIVITY and your students will soon be making sentences.

Corresponding Content Card – Counting 1, 2, 3.