The holiday season is upon us and it’s a great time to show your colleagues some love. If you’re struggling to come up with gift ideas (as we all do around this time of year), you’re in luck! We’ve compiled a list of 10 books the MC team and MC Featured Teachers are calling their favorite books on education and leadership.

And in the spirit of giving, MasteryConnect will also be doing a book giveaway for these 10 recommended reads! It’s super easy to enter by following the steps below.

On December 10th we will begin selecting one random winner every day for ten days on. Winners can select the book of their choice from our recommend reading list below.

Our Winter Reading List

  1. Front of the Class by Brad Cohen

    Recommended by: MC Featured Teacher James Mazzarano

    Summary:
    As a child with Tourette syndrome, Brad Cohen was ridiculed, beaten, mocked, and shunned. Brad never stopped striving, and after twenty-four interviews, he landed his dream job: teaching grade school.

  2. The Growth Mindset Coach: A Teacher’s Month-by-Month Handbook for Empowering Students to Achieve by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley

    Recommended by: MC Featured Teacher Jessica Jones

    Summary:
    Created by teachers for teachers, this is the ultimate guide for unleashing students’ potential through creative lessons, empowering messages and innovative teaching.

  3. The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined by Salman Khan

    Recommended by: MC Featured Teacher Nicole Menssen

    Summary:
    A free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere: this is the goal of the Khan Academy, a passion project that grew from an ex-engineer and hedge funder’s online tutoring sessions with his niece, who was struggling with algebra, into a worldwide phenomenon.

  4. Multipliers: How The Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Greg McKeown

    Recommended by: MC Featured Teacher Katherine Karl Anderson

    Summary:
    A thought-provoking, accessible, and essential exploration of why some leaders (“Diminishers”) drain capability and intelligence from their teams, while others (“Multipliers”) amplify it to produce better results.

  5. Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division by Anthony Muhammad

    Recommended by: MasteryConnect Regional Education Team

    Summary:
    Transforming School Culture provides a school improvement plan for leaders to overcome staff division, improve relationships, and transform toxic school cultures into healthy ones.

  6. On Common Ground: The Power of Professional Learning Communities by Roland Barth, Rebecca DuFour, Richard DuFour, Robert Eaker, Barbara Eason-Watkins, Michael Fullan, Lawrence Lezotte, Douglas Reeves, Jonathon Saphier, Mike Schmoker, Dennis Sparks and Rick Stiggins

    Recommended by: MasteryConnect Required Reading

    Summary:
    On Common Ground provides a valuable tool for educators who are doing the hard work of improving their schools. This resource offers teachers and administrators a coherent conceptual framework and specific, practical strategies for moving forward with their improvement efforts.

  7. Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work by Richard DuFour, Rebecca DuFour, Robert Eaker, Thomas W. Many and Mike Mattos

    Recommended by: Noel Gomez, MasteryConnect Regional Sales Leader & Former School & District Administrator

    Summary:
    Discover how to close the knowing-doing gap and transform your school or district into a high-performing professional learning community (PLC).

  8. Grading for Impact: Raising Student Achievement Through a Target-Based Assessment and Learning System by Tom Hierck and Garth L. Larson

    Recommended by: Andrea Mendoza, Regional Sales and Former Teacher

    Summary:
    As grading, assessment, and reporting continue to be a relevant topic of discussion, this book creates a functional plan to move standards-based grading practices forward in schools. Teachers and teacher leaders will learn how to assess, grade, and report against specific learning targets rather than standards as a whole.

  9. Grading Smarter, Not Harder: Assessment Strategies That Motivate Kids and Help Them Learn by Myron Dueck

    Recommended by: Tiffany Hardinger, Regional Education Consultant and Former Teacher

    Summary:
    In this lively and eye-opening book, educator Myron Dueck reveals how many of the assessment policies that teachers adopt can actually prove detrimental to student motivation and achievement and shows how we can tailor policies to address what really matters: student understanding of content.

  10. How To Assess Higher-Order Thinking Skills in Your Classroom by Susan M. Brookhart

    Recommended by: MasteryConnect Team

    Summary:
    Educators know it’s important to get students to engage in “higher-order thinking.” But What does higher-order thinking actually look like? And how can K 12 classroom teachers assess it across the disciplines? Author, consultant, and former classroom teacher Susan M. Brookhart answers these questions and more in this straightforward, practical guide to assessment that can help teachers determine if students are actually displaying the kind of complex thinking that current content standards emphasize.

We are always on the hunt for a new read! Have a book that inspires your teaching and leading methods? Enter in our Holiday Book Giveaway by following the instructions above!

 

Beginning next week, you will have a new option for organizing and printing progress reports. You will  be able to print alphabetically by grade, making it easier to create, print, and distribute reports.

To organize and print alphabetically by grade within a school, simply select the checkbox on the Create Progress Report page as shown below.

For more information on creating Progress Reports, visit our Help Center article.

 

Last month we announced an exciting new feature—Teacher Item Authoring— and our partner educators are already loving the functionality. This feature gives teachers the tools to create over 50 item types, while building and sharing their own personal item banks. (Missed the announcement? Read it here.)

The launch of Teacher Item Authoring makes it the perfect time to hold professional development dedicated to implementing, improving, and expanding usage of item authoring in your school or district. Our PD experts have a variety of options to deliver hands-on instruction to ensure maximum effectiveness and best practices when creating and managing items.

Our Item Authoring PD Sessions are right for you if…

  • you recently implemented Teacher Item Authoring.
  • you could use support in creating your own district item bank.
  • you would like a more in-depth look at the specific functionalities within Item Authoring, including all the awesome technology-enhanced item types.
  • you feel confident creating items, but would like some guidance from an MC expert on creating quality assessments with your own item bank.

The best part about these interactive PD sessions is the one-on-one time you’ll get with an MC specialist to help you build your item bank.

Interested in scheduling a session? Please contact your Regional Education Consultant for more information—or fill out the form on this page and we’ll call you! And be sure to ask about our limited-time PD specials that are available now through December 21st.


Want Teacher Item Authoring?

If you’re a school and district administrator and you’re interested in activating Teacher Item Authoring, please contact your Regional Education Consultant for more info or call us at 801.736.0258.

Teachers, if you are interested in authoring your own items, let your in-house MasteryConnect administrator know!

Featured Teacher:
Patti Desmarais

November 30th, 2018

 

Nicole

Each month we share the stories of dynamic educators who are using MasteryConnect in innovative ways to help students be their best! Follow along with our Featured Teacher series and get to know other teachers in the MC community.

Meet Patti Desmarais, she has spent her entire teaching career of 34 years at Acton Elementary School in Texas and feels that every year brings a new, exciting challenge. She decided she wanted to be a teacher in 4th grade and has never looked back! Learn more about what keeps her excited about teaching there.


 

What grades have you taught?
Grades 1, 2, 3 and a multi 1-2 looping with them to 2-3

What is your favorite activity outside of the classroom?
Snowshoeing

How do you avoid burnout?
I walk most days and do a workout every morning to start my day.

What keeps you excited about teaching?
Learning new things. A few years ago, I took a Methods Reading course (which I should have taken years ago) and learned so much. Last summer, I took a Methods Math course in response to the very low test scores. It was amazing to see how much things have changed. I am so much more energized and excited about math now. And seeing the faces of my students when they “get it” is priceless!

Why did you start teaching?
I decided to be a teacher when I was in 4th grade and never changed my mind. I guess it was the influence of teachers that I had.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Don’t overthink things. You know your students, trust yourself.

If you could choose a “walk-on song” to be played every morning, what would it be?
I’m not sure. Not very good with the names of songs. I just know that I sing my way to work every morning…alone…in my car…loudly.

What is your favorite book on education?
The text book from my Methods math class. I keep it handy all the time. Of course, it’s at work right now and I don’t have the name of it.

What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
Don’t let people tell you it’s not worth the hard work because you won’t make any money. There is so much rewarding about this work. One former principal put it into perspective, sort of. He told me to hang in there because it was only 180 days a year. Of course, it’s much more than that. It’s hard work, but good work.

If you weren’t a teacher, what kind of career would you have?
I would work in a plant nursery.

What has been the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
Looking at my students when everything clicks. And having a former student call me and tell me that she was writing a book because I told her that journaling would help her to keep her feelings in perspective.

Tell us one of your goals for this year.
My biggest goal is to help my students understand math and find a way to help it make sense to them.

What is your favorite MC Feature?
I really like being able to author my own items.

What is one thing you want students to take away when they leave your classroom at the end of the year?
Learning is a lifelong skill. Don’t ever stop – I don’t.

What is your dream vacation?
A warm beach for a week with no laundry to do or house cleaning.

Anything else you want to add about yourself?
I have been at the same school for 34 years now. My sister once asked me how I could do that. I told her that every year I get a new set of students and a new challenge. I love what I do even when I get tired and don’t want to bring it home every night.


Check back often to meet other amazing educators in the MasteryConnect community!

Help Center

 

Start 2019 off right with a PD plan for your teachers and leaders. We are offering exclusive pricing on our Mastery Leadership Institute, Teacher Boot Camp and On-site PD if you purchase before December 21st!

 

#1 Save 20% on The Mastery Leadership Institute

Experience our premier PD that’s guaranteed to transform the data culture in your school or district. When you buy a seat to our January session or our special summer event, you’ll save $700 on the all-inclusive MLI retreat!

Choose from two sessions:

  • San Diego, CA | January 16 – 18, 2019
  • Park City, UT | July 9 – 11, 2019

Learn more about MLI!

 

#2 Early Bird Deals on Summer Boot Camps

Designed for teachers, administrators, and coaches looking to take their instruction to the next level, this intensive two-day workshop focuses on improving every step of the instructional cycle—from breaking down standards to planning meaningful interventions.

Choose the Early Bird Deal that’s right for your team:

  • Early Bird Registration – $800
  • Early Bird Registration with Two Nights Lodging – $1,000

Learn more and reserve your seat!

 

#3 Buy 2 Get 1 Free On-Site PD

Customize a plan of three on-site professional development sessions for the price of two! Whether you want to introduce MasteryConnect to new teachers or promote deeper usage among your team, we can build a plan to meet your specific goals.

Ready to learn more about how you can get this limited-time deal? Call us at (801) 736-0258 to learn more.

 

Nicole

Each month we share the stories of dynamic educators who are using MasteryConnect in innovative ways to help students be their best! Follow along with our Featured Teacher series and get to know other teachers in the MC community.

Meet Katherine Karl Anderson, she currently teaches in Cicero School District in Illinois. As a technology resource teacher, she believes that technology in the classroom provides equal opportunities for students. Although she is cutting edge in the classroom, she still likes to throw it back and listen to a good 90s song every once in a while. Keep reading to find out Katherine’s favorite flashback song, and her go-to book on education!


 

What subjects have you taught?
Technology, Biology, Theater, Elementary Subjects

What grades have you taught?
2nd, 3rd, 7th, 8th, 10th

What is your favorite activity outside of the classroom?
I love to dance… or travel, I can’t decide!

How do you avoid burnout?
I make time for my dog and my husband and reading for fun!

What keeps you excited about teaching?
I remind myself that I am doing this for the kids! Thinking about equitable access for students in my district keeps me going. It is a huge goal but we take it one day at a time.

Why did you start teaching?
I really enjoy students. I love seeing them make connections and be excited about learning. I love the challenge of reaching every student and motivating them to be the best they can be! I also love doing theater with students. Students can grow so much from extra-curricular activities that require dedication but have huge rewards. Even with my little ones, Readers’ Theater became a fun project that allowed them to be so proud of their accomplishment.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Do something you love!

If you could choose a “walk-on song” to be played every morning, what would it be?
Smash Mouth – All Star! “Hey now, you’re an all star…” I was a child of the nineties 🙂

What is your favorite book on education?
Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman. Though it is actually a business book, it has really informed my teaching practice. I love the premise: that allowing people to explore and find what interests them, will actually make them engage more, produce more, and learn and grow more. It really sold me on STEAM and the benefits of project-based learning. Students never forget what they did for science fair!

What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
It will get better and so will you! Ask for help, ask for advice, ask to be observed; never be afraid to grow.

If you weren’t a teacher, what kind of career would you have?
I would want to direct theater or maybe act!

What has been the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
My most memorable moment this year was when a 2nd grade boy who wouldn’t take a test on paper, actually thanked me for letting him take a test on a computer through MasteryConnect. And he mastered the content!

What is your favorite quote?
You are your limit!

Tell us one of your goals for this year.
One of my goals this year is to become ISTE certified.

What is your favorite MC Feature?
I love the Compare feature (and not just because it looks cool). I love that it can show a teacher how rigorous their instruction and formative assessments are. Teachers sometimes think content is too hard for students but we cannot challenge them enough! They will rise to our expectations.

What is one thing you want students to take away when they leave your classroom at the end of the year?
Since I am a technology resource teacher, I will tell you a wish for the teachers I work with- I want them to not be afraid of technology. I want them to see how technology is the way that we can provide equal opportunities for our students. I want them to know that they can’t “break it”!

What is your dream vacation?
My dream vacation is a safari, which I got to experience for my honeymoon two years ago. I would go again!

Anything else you want to add about yourself?
I work with an awesome team of instructional technology resource teachers!


A big thanks to our Featured Teachers! Visit our blog regularly to meet other rockstars in the MasteryConnect community.

Tech Tip: Check your core!

November 15th, 2018

Help Center

 

We picked the brains of the MasteryConnect Support Team gurus to share tips on some of the most commonly seen support issues reported by MC Users.

Today we’ll cover why it’s important that assessments are aligned to the same standards found within your Tracker. Most users see this mismatch issue when they can’t upload an assessment. Read on to learn about why this happens—and how to fix it.

Why can’t I add my assessment to my tracker?

If you are having trouble adding an assessment to your Tracker, it’s a safe bet that the standards that are aligned to it don’t match the standards built into the Tracker. In order for an assessment to be visible in a tracker, all standards that the assessment covers must be present in the Tracker.

What’s an example of why this would happen?

Below are three scenarios MC Support Specialists commonly see educators experiencing.

  1. Let’s say you are a fourth grade teacher and you want to see what knowledge your students have retained about the properties of multiplication (which they learned last year). You may choose to create and deliver a short formative assessment built on the third grade standards, but might have trouble adding it to your Tracker. That’s because your Tracker was built using only fourth grade standards.
  2. Another common example of when this might happen is when the wrong set of standards are chosen for either the assessment or the tracker. Let’s imagine you teach science in Utah. You choose the UT state standards for science to create your tracker, you find an assessment in the community covering Rocks and Minerals, but then discover it is aligned to the science standards in Tennessee. You will not be able to add the assessment to your tracker as it is.
  3. A third common occurrence is that you want to use an assessment you have used from the past, but your state adopted an updated set of standards for your course. If your tracker is created with the newly updated standards, your previously used assessment will not add to your tracker because of the standard mismatch.

If you find yourself in one of the situations described above, there are two easy ways to resolve the issue. (Click on the links below for Help Center articles that will walk you through each process.)

Note: If your standards DO match, another common reason is that your assessment and trackers were creating with differing mastery scales. Read more here.

How can I prevent this in the future?

The best way to prevent this issue is to carefully check which standards you are using for an assessment and preemptively change them to the ones that match your tracker. Another good tip is to set your default core when creating an assessment. Visit the link below for step-by-step instructions on how to do this.

We hope this tip will help you avoid any headaches in the future. Check our blog regularly for more tech tips, and be sure to visit the MasteryConnect Help Center and Online PD video library or support anytime.


 

Teachers will soon have yet another great tool to build better assessments faster with Teacher Item Authoring in MasteryConnect. Learn more about this exciting new functionality and how you can be one of the first to get it!

 

 

Why You’ll Love Teacher Item Authoring

With the MasteryConnect Teacher Item Authoring tool, teachers will soon be able to author their own items to meet specific standards, DOK, and skills. Quickly create formative assessments using published items by accessing your own item bank.

The ability to share these items with colleagues makes the process of collaborating around and building common formative assessments (CFAs) using MasteryConnect even easier. District administrators can also choose to publish a District Teacher Bank, so teachers can quickly search and add standards-aligned items built by others.

When building TEIs with the Teacher Item Authoring tool, authors can choose from over 50 item types that best fit grade-level and subject. Item types include drag and drop, math formula, image highlight, graph plotting, ordering, and more—all representative of the TEIs students may see on district benchmark or end-of-level assessments.

The perfect complement to integrated third-party and district-created item banks, Teacher Item Authoring helps save both time and energy when building high-quality formative assessments.

 

 

Get Teacher Item Authoring Now

Are you interested in getting Teacher Item Authoring now for your teachers? We are releasing it to select MasteryConnect partners who want to be early adopters of the technology.

School and district MasteryConnect administrators may contact their Regional Education Consultant to learn more about how they can have this functionality activated for educators in their school or district.

Teachers, if you are interested in authoring your own items, contact your school or district’s in-house MasteryConnect administrator and let them know!

 

 

 

Featured Teacher:
Kristen Jones

October 31st, 2018

 

Nicole

Each month we share the stories of dynamic educators who are using MasteryConnect in innovative ways to help students be their best! Follow along with our Featured Teacher series and get to know other teachers in the MC community.

Meet Kristen Jones, she’s been an educator for 15 years and is currently an Instructional Coach for Enid Public Schools. Kristen always wanted to be able to share her love for books with others, so she spent the first 8 years of her teaching career as a Reading Specialist. She sees herself as a ‘lifelong learner’ and loves to see growth in the students and teachers around her.


 

What grades have you taught?
K-3

What is your favorite activity outside of the classroom?
I love to read, work puzzles, and travel.

How do you avoid burnout?
I avoid burnout by traveling and spending time with my family.

What keeps you excited about teaching?
Seeing growth in students and teachers keeps me excited about teaching. I’m a lifelong learner, so I like to learn about new strategies and then try them out in classrooms.

Why did you start teaching?
I’ve always been an avid reader and I wanted to be in a profession where I could share my love of books with others, so I became a reading specialist.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Don’t ask anyone to do something that you yourself are not willing to do.

If you could choose a “walk-on song” to be played every morning, what would it be?
My walk-on song would be “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys.

What is your favorite book on education?
There are too many to choose from! Unlocking Literacy by Marcia Henry is a really good one.

What advice would you give a first-year teacher?
Grant yourself grace. You won’t get everything right your first year, and that’s okay. Everyone has room to grow!

If you weren’t a teacher, what kind of career would you have?
I would probably be a librarian so that I could be around books.

What has been the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
The most memorable moment in my career so far was when I made the transition from teaching students to being an instructional coach. I now get to visit many classrooms and support the great work that teachers are doing.

What is your favorite quote?
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou

Tell us one of your goals for this year.
One of my goals for this school year is to further data conversations in my district. Whether that’s from the assessment side — making sure our assessments measure what we’re aiming for, or it’s on the results side — analyzing data to plan future instruction. Data is a powerful tool that should be maximized and leveraged to show students’ success.

What is your favorite MC Feature?
My favorite MasteryConnect feature is the district item bank. We’ve worked throughout this last year to establish an item bank specific to our state standards and the options there are endless!

What is one thing you want students to take away when they leave your classroom at the end of the year?
I want my students to leave my classroom knowing they are a valued contributor to our school. I strive to do the same thing with teachers. I want the teachers in my district to know they are valued contributors to our school district.

What is your dream vacation?
I would love to visit Alaska!

Anything else you want to add about yourself?
I am blessed to come to work and do a job that I love every day. I work with and for amazing educators who encourage and challenge me to be the best version of me.


A big thanks to our Featured Teachers! Visit our blog regularly to meet other rockstars in the MasteryConnect community.

We have launched another exciting feature for MasteryConnect partners who are using item-based assessments. Students can now view passages and corresponding questions side-by-side, improving the overall user experience. This familiar layout is also similar to what they will see on most end-of-level state assessments.

This new side-by-side user experience is available for all devices with a resolution of 1356 or more, which is perfect for laptops and tablets—including Chromebooks!

Jump into your item-based assessments and give it a try.

 

Not using an item bank in MasteryConnect? Ask us how it can make building better assessments faster than ever.