Think-Pair-Share Is Overrated!

I teach at the high school level. I have only been teaching for 13 years. But when I entered the profession, pretty much every classroom had students sitting in rows while a teacher stood up front and lectured, gave direct instruction, read from PowerPoint slides, whatever you want to call it.

The picture is unmistakable: an active teacher up front talking while students passively sit and listen in their desks. Almost all classrooms looked like this, and mine was no exception. To get students more engaged, in the 1990s and 2000s, teachers were trained in different strategies, but Think-Pair-Share (TPS) was ubiquitous.

Now, if a teacher only uses direct instruction, and then learns how to use TPS, then that teacher should absolutely use it. But if a teacher has several strategies and some skill for engagement, then it’s time to evolve past TPS. Continue reading “Think-Pair-Share Is Overrated!”

Does Your Rubric Punish Students?

I’m going to make a prediction that you might not like. After reading this post, you’re going to see that you are doing rubrics all wrong.

But that’s okay. I had bad rubrics for years too. In spite of their poor quality, my students were still learning. Yours are too. But maybe our students at that time did not really feel like learners. There was a time when the rubrics I used to score my students’ assignments made them feel like losers. Continue reading “Does Your Rubric Punish Students?”

3 Ways to Wrangle the PIG!

“I have to plan the next unit.”

“What am I going to teach tomorrow? And how am I going to teach it?”

“But I have to grade these papers!”

Planning, instruction, and grading–if you’re like me, these three elements of teaching huddle up and, like specters, follow you around all year long. Each takes its turn whispering in your ear, especially grading.

It seems that right when you get one settled, one of the others crops up, jolting you with guilt, anxiety, or both. It seems never-ending.

Continue reading “3 Ways to Wrangle the PIG!”

3 FREE Tools to Make Writing Assessment Meaningful

Some time ago, I did a few posts (here, here and here) on tools I use for online grading. Since I am in the middle of assessing a big student paper, I thought I would shoot a quick video of how I use in writing assessment.

The three tools are . . .

Continue reading “3 FREE Tools to Make Writing Assessment Meaningful”

Helping You KNOW They Comprehend The Reading

After years of teaching expository text, I have finally stumbled upon a miracle way to assess my students’ ability (or inability) to comprehend a short expository text. It’s not a four step summary, a rhetorical precis, or a well-crafted summary template using They Say/I Say sentence frames. It’s a selected response, multiple choice assessment . . . plus a brief constructed response.

teaching-arguments

First thing’s first. I can’t take credit for this. I found it in Jennifer Fletcher’s Teaching Arguments: Rhetorical Comprehension, Critique, and Response. It is an incredible book! A revelation!

I taught AP English Language and Composition for 10 years and thought I knew how to teach rhetoric and argumentation. Then I read this book and it filled in so many missing pieces for me. I could go on, and perhaps I will in another post, but let’s get back to the topic at hand. Continue reading “Helping You KNOW They Comprehend The Reading”

What Letter Would You Give This Number?

First semester in my district came to a close yesterday. All my students’ grades have been shipped to the front office. Though there is a sense of satisfaction in closing the book on first semester, for me that feeling is mingled with malaise.

Everything I planned, taught, assessed and scored, all those hours communicating with students and parents has been distilled down into one letter. Think about that. A, B, C, D, or F. It all comes down to one of these options.

And this is a powerful letter! One will open doors for students. Another will close them. Continue reading “What Letter Would You Give This Number?”

English Teacher Math

Here’s a pic showing how I convert a 6×6 rubric:

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It makes sense if you don’t think about it.

To me, grading is maddening. Trying to take Language Arts, turn it into a number, and then that number turns into a letter. That letter, to certain degree, presents which opportunities are available to my students and which ones aren’t.

How do you handle grades?