Another Great Video from SoulPancake

By now most of us have watched one of the many viral videos featuring Kid President (If not, you’re missing out! Watch one of my favorites here). What you may not know is that those remarkable videos are produced by SoulPancake, co-founded by Rainn Wilson. You know, Dwight from the show The Office. Yes, that guy! Anyhow, SoulPancake is an entertainment company that features topics that are good for the.. Read More

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

J.K. Rowling on Writing

I was recently working with a talented 5th grade teacher who included a video in her writer’s workshop mini lesson.  The video featured an author who shared how and why she always carries her writer’s notebook – to capture dialogue, jot down a character name, recall a funny incident – in the world around her.  The students had such a positive response to the video, and the teacher and I.. 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

How to Make Grammar Fun!

Grammar instruction is coming back into focus (in some places it never left) since it’s taken hold in the Language section of the Common Core State Standards. We’ve all seen, experienced, or even taught grammar lessons in isolation that students have had success with. Yet, when it comes to transferring those skills to writing, we don’t see the same results. Why is this so? I wish I had the answer… Read More

Real Grammar in Real Time

Say the word “grammar” aloud and you can witness the visceral reactions of different adults around the room: cringing, shrinking, wincing. It’s understandable. Most of us remember grammar lessons in school that involved sentence diagramming or correcting poorly written sentences, and that infamous red pen that every teacher seemed to have fused to their index fingers. But grammar lessons today don’t have to be all bad. In fact, they can.. Read More

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