November’s Teacher’s Corner Column: A Guide to Summative and Formative Assessments

Teacher’s Corner is a monthly newsletter from eNotes just for teachers. In it, experienced educator and eNotes contributor Susan Hurn shares her tips, tricks, and insight into the world of teaching. Check out this month’s Teacher’s Corner column below, or sign up to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox at eNotes.com.

Keeping Up with Assessment and Grading

Assessing students’ achievement is an integral part of teaching, and like everything else in the profession, it has become more complicated. The days of giving a chapter test and calling it good are over. That’s not a bad thing though. To really keep tabs on who’s learning what, assessment has to be an ongoing process, and it has to offer kids a variety of ways to show what they know and what they can do.

To be thorough and effective, assessment has to include the three main types of measurement: diagnostic, formative, and summative. Diagnostic assessment is imperative, since it’s impossible to know how much ground students have gained at the end of a study unit unless we know where they were at the beginning. Formative assessment checks their learning along the way and provides an opportunity to adjust lesson plans, if necessary, and to address specific problems a struggling student might be experiencing. Summative assessment at the end of a study unit indicates kids’ overall mastery of new material and gives a clear idea about how to proceed in instruction. A review of all six types of assessment can be found here at edudemic.com. Another good site with information about assessment practices is utexas.edu/teaching.

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October’s Teacher’s Corner Column: How To Be Proactive and Organized Year-Round

Teacher’s Corner is a monthly newsletter from eNotes just for teachers. In it, experienced educator and eNotes contributor Susan Hurn shares her tips, tricks, and insight into the world of teaching. Check out this month’s Teacher’s Corner column below, or sign up to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox at eNotes.com.

Whether you’re a new teacher or a classroom veteran, the school year can feel overwhelming, more so than ever since the demands of standards-based testing and professional development have grown increasingly complex and time consuming. Teaching now seems to require holding down two jobs at once: teaching kids with one hand and meeting a plethora of administrative mandates with the other. It’s tough to carry such a load day after day without sinking under the weight.

According to the old proverb, “A stitch in time saves nine.” It’s true, and it’s still good advice. Being proactive takes a little time, but it saves a lot of work and heads off problems, making a difficult year more manageable and less stressful. Here are a few ways to save yourself in the classroom by acting sooner rather than later:

  • Organize your paperwork, but don’t overdo it:
    • An organizational system shouldn’t be so complicated that it takes hours to create and you have to remember what’s filed where when you’re looking for something.
    • Backing up critical information is a must, but recording the same information in multiple places wastes time.
    • Making lists keeps things on track, but if you have so many lists you need a master list to keep track of them, you’ve overachieved! (I’m speaking from experience here, so trust me.)

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eNotes is on Pinterest!

Check out our first three Pinterest boards as we collect tips and tricks to help you study and teach smarter.

Dorm Room Ideas

College Dorm Decoration/Organization Ideas, futon/lounge under one lofted bed, work/organization (TV too) under another lofted bed

School Binder Organization Tips

Even after graduating college I still use binders and notebooks. It helps me organize all my thoughts, ideas, to-do lists, goals and steps to achieve them, etc. This is a cute decoration idea for my binders - go and do

Teacher Tips and Tricks

I am so excited to try using a teacher binder this semester to help me stay organized! Great tips for making it fit what you need. #teacherbinder

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August’s Teacher’s Corner Column: Schools of the Future—Oh, My

Teacher’s Corner is a monthly newsletter from eNotes just for teachers. In it, experienced educator and eNotes contributor Susan Hurn shares her tips, tricks, and insight into the world of teaching. This month, she’s looking to the future of teaching with a skeptical eye. Check out this month’s Teacher’s Corner column below, or sign up to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox at eNotes.com.

Predictions about how students will be educated one day are intriguing, but a few of them are downright scary when you think of the implications. Some visions of education in the future seem really off-the-wall, but others are not hard to imagine, for better or worse, considering the continuing impact of technology in the classroom and how it has already changed instructional practices. Here are a few highlights from the prognosticators:

  • Schools will consist of interlocking modular pods that can be added to or removed from a basic structure to adjust for the increase or decrease in a school’s population.
  • Modular schools will be portable, easily moved from one location to another as the general population shifts geographically.
  • Students will be micro-chipped to facilitate supervision and safety.
  • Classes will be conducted with robots providing instruction.
  • Traditional schools will cease to exist. Students will complete individual studies on computers at community centers open 24/7, working when it’s most convenient for them and communicating with teachers by voice mail.
  • All field trips will be virtual, and students will attend virtual workshops conducted by recognized authorities in various fields.
  • Hands-on learning will be phased out; students will interact solely with 3-D models, touching only computer keys.
  • Computer keyboards will be phased out. Students will use hand and eye gestures, like playing games on a Wii, to control electronic tablets. Students will write with digi pens.
  • Large multi-national companies will have an increasing influence on curriculums and school resources.

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eNotes Teacher’s Corner: To Teach or Not to Teach—That is the Question

Teacher’s Corner is a monthly newsletter from eNotes just for teachers. In it, experienced educator and eNotes contributor Susan Hurn shares her tips, tricks, and insight into the world of teaching. Check out this month’s Teacher’s Corner column below, or sign up to receive the complete newsletter in your inbox at eNotes.com.

Recently over lunch, a dedicated career teacher told me that she could no longer advise anyone to go into teaching; the joy is gone, she said, with teachers now locked into regimented lesson plans and required to spend all their time chasing test scores. She also worried about what we’re doing to kids in the classroom—demanding more and more of them at younger and younger ages. There’s no time now to let them be kids, she said, or color outside the lines, if they get to color at all. It was a depressing lunch.

I drove home with a lot to think about, especially since I had encouraged my own daughter when she decided several years ago to change careers, earn a second college degree, and go into the classroom. Had I steered her wrong? Remembering our animated conversations after she began teaching, however, I don’t think so. Teaching may be different today—the demands greater and the stressors more intense, but it still engages the heart and the mind in ways unlike those of any other profession. No two days are alike, and every day is a fresh opportunity to achieve something glorious, even for one unforgettable moment.

Students aside—and that’s a big aside—it’s true that our profession is less respected in some quarters than it once was, for reasons that seem to be bound up in politics and publicity. If a teacher is arrested for some terrible offense in any part of the country, it becomes national news; a steady drumbeat of these stories erodes confidence, creating the impression that teachers somehow have degenerated into an immoral lot, not to be trusted. On the positive side, however, every time teachers risk their lives or lose them trying to protect their students, which seems to be happening more and more frequently, their actions make the news, too. Ask the parents of those students if teachers can be trusted.

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Check Out the New Teacher Resources in eNotes’ Study Guides!

All of the helpful tools for your classes are now available in one place: find the Teacher Resources you need in eNotes’ study guides.

Plus, grab a discount to the eNotes Teacher’s Edition with the 15% off coupon included in this post! Read on for more details.

Recently, we received feedback from an eNotes customer to let us know that teachers needed an easier way to find the resources they were looking for on the site – items such as lesson plans, response journals, and quizzes in the given titles they teach. So, we listened! eNotes’ study guides now contain an area devoted just to teachers, meaning it’s easier than ever to find exactly what you’re looking for to help you teach smarter.

An English teacher covering To Kill a Mockingbird, for example, can now find lesson plans and a variety of quizzes listed in one place.

tkamThis gives quick and easy access to two kinds of lesson plans: eNotes’ original documents, which include our own lesson plans and extensive response journals, and lesson plans available from other publishers in eNotes’ document store, many of which are free.

Download unlimited lesson plans for one discounted rate

eNotes’ lesson plans are expert, teacher-created resources that can be purchased individually or downloaded for free by subscribers to the eNotes Teacher’s Edition all-access pass. And now you can grab that special edition pass with a great discount!

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One Teacher’s Most Important Lesson: How to Save a Life

In a common core world where teaching is sometimes more concerned with evaluating pupils’ aptitudes for test-taking than with evaluating their well-being, one teacher has developed an ingenious method of tracking her children’s thoughts and feelings, and possibly saving lives in the process.

lonely child

On Glennon Doyle Merton’s “Momastery” blog, she writes of her son’s math teacher, an unnamed, unsung hero. What makes her so? One afternoon, Merton dropped by her son’s fifth-grade classroom for help on how to better guide him with his homework, and she and his teacher got to talking. After some time they moved on from methods of long division to philosophies of teaching, both agreeing that “subjects like math and reading are the least important things that are learned in a classroom,” that we owe it to students to instill in them kindness, compassion, and bravery above all. And that’s when this teacher shared a secret method with Merton.

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