UCET 2015

Posted: April 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

I should have announced it earlier, but I’m excited to be presenting this week at UCET again! This year I’m presenting with Alison Keddington about rubrics, how to use them better in K-12 classrooms, and what tools can help teachers with rubrics.

This is a great topic for me because I have really strong feelings about fairness and clarity in assessment and feedback for students at all levels. GOOD rubrics help students . . .

  • understand what’s required and what the teacher expects
  • plan for completing their work
  • see areas in their work that need improvement
  • tie assignments and assessments back to larger educational goals
  • recognize patterns of improvement (or consistent weakness)
  • feel that the grading process is objective and fair

They also help teachers!

  • Rubrics can save tons of time in evaluating, providing feedback, and grading.
  • Good rubrics reduce subjectivity in grading and help teachers avoid feelings of “am I grading the same at the end of the pile as I was at the beginning?”
  • Rubrics are a great communication tool between teachers and students, parents, tutors, administrators, and other teachers.
  • When used consistently, rubrics can inform the teaching methods throughout the term and year-to-year; they can also be evidence of teacher improvement and excellence.

Of course, there are lots of potential pitfalls when people are using rubrics, and there are also plenty of situations in which a rubric is not the best tool. We’ll talk about those in our presentation, and I’ll provide some cheat sheets on this site. 🙂

The goal of this presentation is to give teachers more information (and confidence) so they know they’re using rubrics effectively with their students. I really hope that everyone walks away thinking, “Yes! I can do this! And it’s going to make my life easier and my class better!” It’s gonna be fun!


Presentation at NUTN

Posted: October 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

Last week I had the opportunity to present about competency-based education at the NUTN conference, hear wonderful speakers, and interact with some great people from all over the country. This organization is all about staying on top of, and whenever possible ahead of, the trends and developments in technology that affect education.

I’ve put together my orientation slides and additional resources here, in case you’re interested: Making CBE Work for You

One of the really fabulous things about presenting or teaching is that you have to make sure that you are the expert on a particular topic. You know you’re going to get up there in front of people, and they’re going to expect you to have all the answers to their questions about that topic, so you can’t walk into that unprepared!

My preparation for the presentation included reading a bunch and talking with a lot of different people, mostly about what CBE is or should be, what are the best method for implementing and maintaining it, and who is leading that type of discussion across the country right now. I was somewhat surprised to find that there really aren’t many definitive sources on the topics. There is no clear leader or facilitator of the CBE conversation, but there are lots of people experimenting with it right now. CBE is nascent; it’s growing and maturing every day, and it’s important for people who care about the direction it takes to play an active role in defining it.

I’m really excited to see where this goes in the next few years.

There are lots of theories of learning and education out there, but not many easy-to-read, practical applications of these theories for everyday classroom use. That’s why I love How Learning Works: 7 Research-based Principles for Smart Teaching. The principles outlined in this book are clearly articulated with an obvious connection to both theory and real-world practice:

  1. Students’ prior knowledge can help or hinder learning.
  2. How students organize knowledge influences how they learn and apply what they know.
  3. Students’ motivation determines, directs, and sustains what they do to learn.
  4. To develop mastery, students must acquire component skills, practice integrating them, and know when to apply what they have learned.
  5. Goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback enhances the quality of students’ learning.
  6. Students’ current level of development interacts with the social, emotional, and intellectual climate of the course to impact learning.
  7. To become self-directed learners, students must learn to monitor and adjust their approaches to learning.

Of course, to really know how to apply these in your educational setting, you’ll need to read the book yourself.

I also found a good book review that briefly outlines the 7 principles here.