Teacher Core Revolution

Last month, I spent two days at the National Teacher Voice Convening in Washington DC. I still feel a buzz of excitement. Every time I have an opportunity to meet with educators from across the country, I am more and more convinced that American education is remarkable. And now that the Common Core connects all teachers, our collective brilliance, creativity, and student empowerment will only amplify. I attended the conference to present an innovative project – The Teacher Core Revolution, which will use the power of teacher voice to help garner nationwide parental support of the Core in a series

Online Essay Scoring That Really Works

Hate grading long compositions for hours? Not anymore, my friends. My district, Chelmsford Public Schools, adopted the Holt McDougal Literature series aligned to the Common Core, and with it comes the most fabulous invention known to man (move over, Thomas Edison!): “Holt Online Essay Scoring.” For all you English teachers out there, it’s a dream come true. In the past, I’ve taken days (or weeks) to correct papers to give feedback to students. By that time, they have lost interest in the prompt, and the collective groan is enough to make me want to put a pencil in my eye. It’s not that I

UDL Can Help Transition to the Core

The more I learn about the future of education, the more convinced I am that Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is the most effective way to transition to the Common Core. The Common Core was built on a core belief that “it should be clear to every student, parent, and teacher what the standards of success are in every school.” That is a principle I wholeheartedly stand behind. All citizens in this country have a right to know what students are learning and why they are learning it. Although this may seem progressive, it’s not. Freedom isn’t innovation – every

How LDC will Help you Align to CCSS

Gone are the days of free writing. The Common Core and the PARRC are pushing students to “cite several pieces of textual evidence” when responding to reading, and they don’t just mean in informational writing. In the PARRC, students will be expected to write narrative, argument, and informative pieces in response to text. That’s a huge shift for many teachers, especially in the earlier grades, but with the right tools, the transition will be smooth for both students and teachers. One great tool is the The Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC). LDC is a project funded by the Bill & Melinda

What Does UDL Look Like?

I’ve had so many questions about what a UDL assessments look like. There is really not one answer, as UDL assessments allow for educator creativity, but here’s one example – the choice assignment, which is aligned to Common Core standards and includes choices for students to show their understanding of point of view in various ways.  Check out an exemplar, to the right. Narrative Point of View Assignment- Shark’s Tooth Beach  RL 7.1: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. RL 7.6: Analyze how

UDL Delivers Writing Too!

Think of UDL as a super-charged vehicle to deliver rigorous, standards-based curriculum. Last week, I noted the alignment between the Common Core (CCSS) anchor standards in reading and the UDL Representation Guidelines. To see post, click here. Today, I’d like to review the Expression Guidelines and how they will help you to teach the CCSS anchor standards for writing (view standards here). It’s just more evidence that UDL is best practice and can help you transition to the Common Core while still challenging and engaging students. II. Provide Multiple Means of Expression How UDL Can Help  4. Provide options for

Even the PARCC Does UDL

Standardized assessments are finally catching up with UDL! The PARCC Draft Accommodations Manual was just released, and although it is “pre-decisional” (p.2), it includes “universally designed” (p.5) supports that will help all students demonstrate their knowledge and skills on the assessment.   The PARRC, a standardized test aligned to the Common Core, includes embedded scaffolds and accessibility features “allowable for all students” (p.20) in addition to accommodations for students with disabilities. Taken together, these supports ensure the test is universally designed for everyone, which leaves no one behind.   Embedded supports include audio amplification, the ability for test directions to

Share Standards with Students

One of the UDL guidelines encourages teachers to heighten the salience of goals and objectives with all students (Guideline 8.1). Although it’s scary to be transparent and share standards with students, it sends them a powerful message that you value them as learners, that you trust them to keep you accountable, and that you believe they deserve to know about their education. At the beginning of the every school year, I provide my students with a copy of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). After each unit, we take out the CCSS, I make my argument about which standards we’ve

Why I Stand for the Common Core

Recently I worked with the Teaching Channel on a series of short videos highlighting the nation’s shift to Common Core. One video, “Sharing Common Core Language with Students,” was received positively by many but not by everyone.  Usually, those who viewed it negatively misinterpreted exactly what we were doing in class which only strengthened my conviction in the importance of the Common Core. In the video, I was teaching about the biblical allusions in Old Man and the Sea (CCSS-L-7.5a). In a 4 second clip, I asked a student to act out a line from the text, “He [Santiago] pulled