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Five Points for Evaluating Use of Technology in the Classroom

As an instructor, you realize that technology is here to stay. Most likely, technology has helped you with lesson planning and delivery, grading, and reporting.  Yet when software or apps are poorly selected, designed, or understood, when equipment doesn’t work, or when cellphones are abused for non-learning purposes, technology may seem more like a curse than a blessing.  When technology feels overwhelming, it is time to evaluate current practice and …Read More

Extended Learning Time: A Catalyst for Improving Achievement?

 time is necessary, but not sufficient for producing achievement increases and is dependent on how effectively learning time is being used;  extending the school day is more cost effective than increasing the school year due to the fixed cost of a school day;  extended learning time is more effective for disadvantaged students than for middle or high socio-economic status students; extended learning time is more effective in primary and secondary …Read More

Subcommittees for the Subject Area Committees

When subject area committees (SACs) convene to write curriculum, they quickly recognize there are many responsibilities involved with this phase of the process. In an effort to organize and manage the multiple tasks involved, a SAC may decide to make use of subcommittees. Ideally, a SAC has a teacher representative for each grade level/course of the target subject; however, a subcommittee can function well as long as there is a …Read More

Traditional Math Courses vs Integrated Math Courses: How to Decide?

The Common Core State Standards for Math (CCSS) are arranged by specific grade levels in kindergarten through eighth grade. Although the standards are divided into specific strands at the high school level (geometry, algebra, etc.), they are listed as appropriate for ninth through twelfth grade students without designation as to which standards are to be included for each grade. This structure allows school districts to make individual decisions about how …Read More

Implementing a Systems Approach to Meeting Challenges Associated with the Common Core State Standards

School districts must find effective ways to change their academic programs in light of challenges associated with the Common Core State Standards. Instead of participating in, or sponsoring piecemeal improvement projects, districts using the Curriculum Leadership Institute (CLI) Model have a systems approach that includes: (1) state-of-the-art curriculum development, implementation, and management techniques; (2) instructional processes influenced by Robert Marzano, Richard DuFour and others; (3) assessment techniques suggested by FairTest, Rick …Read More

Systems Theory and American Public School Districts

“Line and Staff Management Isn’t Working” American school districts were originally structured around strategies used in industry and the military, applying organizational patterns that work well for those two entities: policy-making boards, individual administrators who implement and oversee policies, and those in the ranks who make policies work on a day-to-day basis. Such line and staff management techniques are so pervasive that any other approach for making decisions and taking …Read More

Why Every District Should Write Local Assessments

The Common Core State Standards are a set of curricular standards, as the name implies, common to all the states participating (45, plus District of Columbia and several territories) and to which all of their students will eventually be held accountable through a new set of statewide assessments.  In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education awarded 330 million dollars to two assessment consortia to create Common Core State Standards (CCSS)-aligned …Read More

E-books v. Paper Textbooks

Technology is an increasingly prevalent factor in the decisions being made by K-12 school districts. Schools have come a long way and many now use different types of technology for things like attendance, grade books, student records, and even classroom resources. One such resource is the student textbook. As book publishers evolve and dip their proverbial toes into new pools, they are beginning to produce increasingly sophisticated online textbooks, or …Read More

Determine Percentages from Varied Component Criteria

When creating assessments, many teachers have difficulty deciding how to score them and then be able to turn that score into a percentage. When creating outcome assessments, all components must be represented; however, it’s possible they will not all be equal in terms of the number of questions posed and/or points awarded. For example, posing two problems and requiring at least one to be correct may be sufficient to indicate …Read More

Questions that Arise When Aligning with the Common Core State Standards

Districts across the nation are in the process of incorporating the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) into their local curriculums. Unlike past sets of “grade-banded” state standards that required districts to decide the grade level where a skill will be taught within a given group of grades (i.e. K-2, 3-5, 6-8), the CCSS identifies a specific grade for placement of each skill. However, even though the question of where the …Read More