2014 New Year’s Resolutions for Educators

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Last year I posted a list of New Year’s teaching resolutions, and here is my list for 2014. Happy New Year! Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Educators – 2014 1. Check for understanding regularly. While you know how good this and you see how much your students benefit from it (and from your readjusting based on […]

Three Kinds of Models

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I’ve been playing around with using models (a.k.a. exemplars, anchor papers, etc.) for several years now, but more recently I have been using them quite regularly in classroom instruction time. Here’s a recent example: After a recent grade 9 unit on poetry, I wanted to give students a summative assessment that assessed their knowledge of […]

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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It’s been a very hectic start to the school year and I’m just now (in November!) feeling like I am starting to get a handle on my new students and their abilities. First, a little background (feel free to skip ahead to “The Point”): My new school uses the Jane Schaffer Writing Program to teach students a […]

Be Better: Change Is Good

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I’ve been working on an interesting consulting project for the IB, and part of that work has been taking a look at different instructional strategies. Those of us who teach high school and college can easily fall into the trap of using the same instructional strategy over and over again. When I was a student, […]

Be Better: An IB Model for All Education

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I’m in full-on end-of-the-year mode, and this year I’m also an IB examiner for the first time. What that means is that I’m assessing work from IB students from schools all over the world against set criteria established by the IB. For example, IB students in my course, IB English A: Literature, will take two […]

Spider Web FAQs

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A fan of Spider Web Discussion recently asked me some questions about the nuances of the method, and he suggested I start a FAQs page. Excellent idea. I find that I am asked many of the same questions again and again through workshops, email, and Twitter, so it makes great sense to have one place […]

Be Better: The Nightmare Student

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Shortly after having my first child (one of those legendary babies that never slept, ate every two hours, and fussed all the time) I was at my wits end and came across a book on my husband’s bookshelf called A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield. Sometimes the right book has the way of finding […]

Be Better: Spider Web Discussion and Why, Thankfully, Teachers Are Not As Important As We Thought

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If you’ve never heard of Spider Web Discussion, then you probably haven’t spent much time with me. Spider Web Discussion is the single most useful tool in my educational toolbox. When it comes to teaching, I believe in feedback, authentic assessment, putting student learning before teachers’ interests, Essential Questions, fostering an engaging, ethical classroom environment, […]