Do You Have What it Takes to Create a Performance Task? Yes You Do!

Performance Tasks play an important role in next-generation assessments of Common Core State Standards.  This leaves teachers wondering: What defines a quality Performance Task?  How do Performance Tasks used in on-demand assessments compare with those used in the classroom?  What is a Performance Task anyway? The answers to these and many more questions can be found in the professional learning experience I’ve created here at  It’s easy to follow,.. Read More

Mindset and Today’s Teacher

I came across this post today and instantly connected to it.  This post from Wayfaring Path really resonated with me because it’s about dreaming, believing, and having faith in the learning process, in our students, and in ourselves as educators.  How many of these habits of mind do you possess?  Which habits do you need to work on?  Are there any that your school or district need to adopt in.. Read More

Looking at Student Work – NWP Webinar Resources

I hope you were able to view the webinar I participated in for the National Writing Project last month.  Here’s the link in case you’d like to take a look.  During the webinar we spoke about long-term work we’ve been engaged in at school sites on the east and west coast, specifically looking at student work as a way to guide and reinforce professional development for educators. I’m including some.. Read More

Common Core 2nd Grade ELA Unit – Incredible!

I am so fortunate to work with some incredible educators, many of whom I consider Common Core experts. They have worked with the new standards for several years, deconstructing each one, analyzing student work, collaborating to design new units, and learning new instructional strategies to meet their students’ needs. Pretty remarkable. One such educator I work with is a talented second grade teacher in a high-needs school. We worked together.. Read More

Wrapping Up a Year Full of Writing: Reflecting On Fourth Grade Writer’s Workshop

This afternoon I collaborated with a dedicated group of 4th grade teachers who were wondering how to wrap up their writer’s workshop for the year.  They reflected on the fact that they spent a lot of time establishing their writing community in the fall, but that their year seemed to end abruptly and without any closure for them or their students.  They wanted to design a reflective experience for their.. Read More

Common Core Planning Template – This One Really is Useful!

I have seen many a planning template in my day. I’m sure you have too. They are made by well-intentioned folks who want to be sure that the standards are being addressed with fidelity (“fidelity” – such a popular term in education these days). But what I’ve noticed about these tools is… 1. They have some great components. 2. They have too many great components. Templates are meant to be.. Read More

Planning an Integrated Unit – CCSS Style!

Fellow teachers often ask me how I am able to fit in so much teaching and so many learning experiences into each day and across the year. The truth is, we will never have enough time to give every topic its due. But I am able to do a lot with the time I have by organizing my instruction into units. Teaching a unit of study is certainly not a.. Read More

Writer’s Workshop Lesson Planning

I was lucky enough to spend another day recently at Oak Ridge Elementary working with their fabulous teachers! We spent the day considering how Writer’s Workshop might take shape in classrooms for the upcoming school year. One of the documents I shared is a planning tool that has helped me prepare for writing mini lessons with my students. The template is short and sweet (my kind of tool!) with places.. Read More

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