Formative? Summative? What kinds of assessments are you giving and how should you use them? Plan lessons more effectively by using the right assessment at the right time. This post includes a freebie to help you do just that!

Making Sense of Formative and Summative Assessments

You need assessments — how you get them and what you do with them matters!  Here are some tips to making sense of formative and summative assessments — without the overwhelm! Wouldn’t it be great to live in a world that didn’t require grades?  Where emojis were real currency?!  Unfortunately, we don’t live in that […] Read more…

how to create custom rubrics for any assignments

How to Create Custom Rubrics for Any Assignment

Rubrics will save you time, help your students improve their skills, and provide fair, balanced assessments.  Here are some ways to create and use them. What’s a rubric, anyway? Here’s your etymological lesson for the day:  waaaay back in the 14th century, the word rubric referred to the red lettering that manuscript writers used to […] Read more…

How to plan writing projects for your students

How to Plan Writing Projects

Do you plan writing projects and provide students with an assignment sheet?  Doing so can help you focus instruction and improve student outcomes. Here are some quick steps help you plan your own projects: First, you get a great idea… You are driving home from school, listening to the radio, and daydreaming…suddenly an amazing idea […] Read more…

How to write unit plans that you'll actually use

Unit Planning (for units you’ll actually use)

Teaching with a unit plan makes your weekly lesson planning a snap.  It also helps you organize and plan your year.  Here are some quick steps to unit planning that will really work! If you’ve already created a year long plan, you’ll use that to pick the unit you want to create.  If your yearlong plan […] Read more…

how to improve student conferences

8 Ways to Improve Student Writing Conferences

One of the most rewarding and impactful aspects of writing workshop is the writing conferences your students will have with you and their peers. How can you make the most of this time?  Here are some ideas for you: Start with the Ideas Ever collect a stack of completed essays, sit down with your giant […] Read more…

easy assessments that won't bog you down

Assessments for Writing Workshop that Won’t Bog You Down

Your writing workshop is humming along beautifully.  Students are working, you are conferencing, life is grand…until you look in your grade book.  Gotta get those grades, right?  But where are those assessments going to come from? You might not want to wait until the final draft or essay is turned in.  Parents and administrators can […] Read more…

How to manage your class during writing workshop

Optimizing Writing Workshop Expectations

You’re ready to get started with writing workshop, but you have one nagging question looming in the back of your mind:  What is the rest of the class doing while you’re holding student conferences?  Fear not!  Here are some ideas for how to manage your class during writing workshop. Teach routines Students should understand completely […] Read more…

What does writing workshop look like in middle school

What does Writing Workshop Look Like?

If you’re thinking about structuring your class to include writing workshop, you might be wondering what the writing workshop format looks like. What does writing workshop look like? The most important part of writing workshop is to make it YOURS.  There isn’t a “one size fits all” method.  Adapt and adopt ideas that work for […] Read more…

7 common questions about using writing workshop

7 Common Questions about Writing Workshop in Middle School

If you’ve decided to teach writing using the workshop method, you probably have some questions.  Here are seven questions and answers to help you get started. 1.  What exactly is a workshop class? Remember the story of the elves and the shoemaker?  I think of that story when I think of a workshop class.  The […] Read more…

How to get started with writing workshop

How to Get Started with Writing Workshop

Congratulations!  You’ve decided to adopt a writing workshop class!  Now, you might be wondering:  now what?  Here are some tips to get you headed in the right direction! How Are Your Class Management Skills? Let’s be honest.  One of the most important skills for a teacher is to know how to effectively manage her/his class.  […] Read more…

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