06/30/2009

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Opening the Silos of Classrooms with Common Assessments I had the good fortune this past school year of working with Bea Underwood Elementary teachers (Garfield County #16, Colorado) in helping them to create common assessments for their Power Indicators. Throughout the year, a core group of teachers diligently worked through identifying key standards that they wanted to commonly assess, collaborated with their grade-level teams to create activities and rubrics for assessing the students, and began the (sometimes) agonizing process of evaluating student work together so that they were all in agreement on the type of work that would earn a 1, 2, 3, or 4 on the rubric. At our year-end meeting, the most poignant statements that the teachers made about the experience were those that talked about the critical conversations this project had spawned. One teacher remarked that one of her team’s biggest “ah-ha” moments was when they realized that they did not yet have a common language to use with students when administering the assessments. Another remarked on the many conversations she had had that year with her team regarding which skills were MOST important to assess in that particular grade. Most agreed that the experience had forced teachers to come out of their classrooms and have more collaborative conversations on student learning with their colleagues. I believe that this one school is an example of a shift we are seeing in education: no longer are teachers expected or encouraged to do their own thing within the four walls of the classroom. A combination of technology,...
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Disrupting News: How Social Networking is Changing How We Get Our News Whenever I start talking about Twitter with any group of teachers or administrators, I can count on at least one person scoffing at the idea of answering the question, “What are you doing?” Many of us only know Twitter from celebrity-type tweets, which, while may be exciting for some, have little educational value for the rest of us. To explain how I use Twitter in an educational sense, however, I often ask participants if they remember movies and shows from the 1970s such as Cannonball Run, Smokey and the Bandit, or Dukes of Hazzard. During this particular era of American pop culture, there existed a very strong CB radio culture. People would use their “Citizens’ Band” radio to ask where the closest mechanic or gas station was located. Others would warn fellow listeners about traffic jams in an area. An entire virtual community helped and entertained each other using this technology. My Twitter community serves a similar purpose. When I’m trying to figure out a new resource or troubleshoot an issue on a computer, I can send out a Tweet to my “Twitterverse” and will, more often than not, receive several suggestions for solving my problem. When I read an exceptionally good book, news article, or blog post, I’ll Tweet about it to spread the news. If it’s something that other Twitterers also find useful, they will even “ReTweet” it by putting “RT @erhubbell” before their post. What’s even nicer is that Twitter allows you to use hash tags to...

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