Ideas from the experts.
eTips are brief, only a sentence or two, designed to get your creative juices flowing for improving learning. Generated from CLI consultant experiences and from successes within partner districts, you’re likely to find something you can use to better your classroom practices!
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An important aspect in developing a cohesive curriculum is to plan for vertical alignment among grade levels within a subject area. Thinking about how what students learn in one grade level supports the next, and also looking at what is “new and different” at each level helps to ensure students will not only have a solid foundation for future grade levels, but will also be able to advance their learning from year to year.
Looking to engage your audience and encourage active participation? Assigning roles is a great way to empower leaders and foster a collaborative learning environment. Roles can also encourage individual accountability and build communication skills. Consider assigning roles during group work or discussions such as Facilitator, Presenter, Recorder, or Time Keeper.
When creating assessments, whether formative or summative, be sure to align them to both the content and the verb as outlined in the curriculum. Ask yourself, “What are students supposed to know and be able to do?” We use the content and verbs from the curriculum in our instruction, so matching assessments to that same criteria will help ensure they are being assessed at the same level as they were instructed.
The power of positive relationships can transform the culture and climate of your classroom. Dedicating time to learn about your students as individuals beyond the walls of the classroom sets everyone up for a year of engagement that will ultimately support their learning. What are your favorite ways to build relationships with your students?
Utilize the foundations and strategies found in games to transform engagement and learning in your classroom. After identifying the objective of the lesson, consider games that can easily support the lesson goals. Gamification caters to multiple learning styles, incorporates social skills and teamwork, and can be a hands-on approach to learning concepts.
When preparing to embark on the curriculum writing journey, analyzing the current curriculum will provide you with a foundation to start from. Survey teachers to find out what is currently being taught and then look for patterns, gaps, or missing standards. This will also help to identify locally important components within the district.
Whether working with a team or your students, involving everyone in the norm creation establishes a collaborative culture from the first day. This provides everyone with the opportunity to have their voices heard and ensures that everyone’s values are incorporated while building mutual trust and understanding among all stakeholders.
Whole-group instruction can be differentiated by incorporating a variety of questions for all learners. Using different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy or Depth of Knowledge as question stems can help your engage multiple levels in a whole-group instructional setting while also formatively checking for understanding.
Starting curricular statements from the student perspective, such as “Students will…” ensures learning is student-centered and content is directed toward what students are expected to know and be able to do. This also helps to make sure the content is described in terms of what students are doing during the learning process and helps identify what behaviors should be observed when it comes time to assess.
What resonated with you when you were a student? Did you have a favorite subject or a memorable learning experience? Thinking about our own experiences that have stuck with us throughout the years can spark new ideas we can incorporate into our practice today.
As important as it is to encourage students to complete assessments with accuracy, it is also key to ensure students are aware of what and why they are being assessed. Making sure students know the learning target and putting it in student-friendly language will help them achieve mastery of the skill being assessed. After introducing learning targets to students throughout instruction, consider posting them in the classroom or even on the assessment so students can use them to know why they are doing the activity as well as what is expected of them.
Anchoring lessons to essential questions will act as a catalyst for designing coherent, focused instruction. When developing essential questions, think about what it is you want your students to learn and be able to do as well as the standards that are aligned to the skill. This provides a solid foundation to refer to throughout the lesson or unit. Essential questions are open-ended, allow students to practice and apply higher-order thinking skills, and can inspire additional questions that will guide students in their learning.
A key agent in establishing and maintaining a positive, productive climate and culture is promoting active listening. Whether you are working with students, parents, or colleagues, being an active listener and teaching active listening skills encourages communication, builds strong relationships, and supports a safe learning environment.
Including academic and content vocabulary in the local curriculum will support instructional targets, promote vertical alignment across grade levels by establishing the use of common terminology, and ensure that the terms are both taught and assessed.
Get students up and moving with this quick assessment strategy! At the end of a lesson, make a statement or ask a question regarding content. Students will move to the corresponding corner of the classroom to share their response to the prompt. Responses can be degree of agreement (strongly agree, disagree, not sure), answers to specific questions, or self reflection of content understanding (I’ve got it! or I still need some help!).
Gallery walks involve using higher-order skills such as analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing information while also promoting collaboration and listening skills. Students are actively engaged as they explore texts or images around the room while working with peers to share ideas, respond to meaningful questions, and problem solve. Students are given an opportunity for authentic application of content.