Leveraging data for continuous improvement, as you know, can be easier said than done. By working with dozens of school systems around the country, our partners at Schoolzilla have learned best practices to keep any conversation about data positive and productive.

As part of our webinar series focused on using data effectively to drive student growth, the Schoolzilla data gurus will join on Tuesday, December 5th to share their best strategies on how to transform your next data conversation. Whether you’re prepping for a PLC meeting, coaching conversation, or PD session, we’ll help you come away feeling ready to take action for our students!

Sign Up Now!

 
P.S. If you’d like to tune in but aren’t available, please register and we’ll share a recording you can watch at your convenience after.

 

Join us for a two sessions dedicated to building communities for real change

Leading education consultants Tom Hierck and Garth Larson will join MasteryConnect Chief Academic Officer Trenton Goble in a special two-session webinar series in November. These focused webinars, held on November 1st and November 7th, are designed to take administrators on a deep dive into the role culture plays when rolling out new grading, assessment, and learning initiatives. If you are looking to implement change that truly impacts learning, these are two hours you won’t want to miss.

 
PART 1 | November 1st, 10AM MT
Moving Schools Forward, On Purpose with Tom Hierck

A 29-year education of public education, Tom will share his experience in working with schools and districts around the country as it pertains to building a culture of collective responsibility and commitment. He’ll present the can’t-skip steps to building a community that truly promotes “learning for ALL”. Key topics will include leading meaningful collaborative conversations, aligning policy and practice, and planning next steps.

 
PART 2 | November 7th, 10AM MT
Grading for Impact: Raising Achievement through Target-Based Assessment and Grading with Garth Larson

The following week, Garth Larson will join us to discuss target-based grading and how it maximizes learning, increases achievement, and creates a community through honest and accurate results. Join Garth in this interactive webinar to learn more about how target-based assessment, grading, and reporting raises student achievement—and see why it works for ALL schools for ALL students in ALL communities.

Read the full descriptions, learn more about our presenters, and sign up!

KDS Pre-built Assessments

 

Inspect® Prebuilt Assessment Suites for this school year are available within MasteryConnect for Common Core and select states!


 

The Inspect® assessment solution offers thousands of pre-built assessments for ongoing formative assessment throughout the school year, including assessment suites for Classroom Checkpoints, Interim Formative Assessment, Comprehensive / End-of-Year Assessments and more.

These assessment bundles support SBAC, PARCC, and individual state standards. They are included with the Inspect® Item Bank for Common Core standards and the following states:

Alabama
Arizona
Colorado
Florida
Georgia
Indiana

Louisiana
Mississippi
Utah
Tennessee
Pennsylvania
New Jersey

Join MasteryConnect for a live webinar on October 11th as we talk with Kendall Weiser, Inspect® Assessment Director, to learn about the pre-built assessments available with the Inspect® Item Bank.

In this webinar, we will cover

  • The seven different suites of pre-built assessments
  • Evidence-based design principles used to create these rigorous assessments
  • How these assessments benefit students at various levels of cognitive complexity
  • Ways to gain insight into student weaknesses through the different assessments
  • How you may modify the assessments to match your district’s pacing

Learn how the Inspect® assessments can become a powerful tool in your district.

Register for the webinar now!

 
Still want more info? Check out the brochure.

Free Webinar

 

Thursday, July 27th
11AM (MDT)

——

Learn how to use research-based principles to understand and gain actionable information from your formative data. We will identify must-have reports, and we will introduce an instructional strategy that uses higher order thinking as part of the formative assessment process.

You’ll hear

  • The defining features of formative assessment and the formative assessment cycle
  • The garden analogy and why we should think of our students as plants
  • Indicators of what works best in raising student achievement
  • How to make sure teachers are using assessment data

 

Sign up at masteryconnect.com/kdswebinar

Free Webinar

 

Thursday, July 13th
11AM (MDT)

——

When Todd Theobald first entered the halls of his elementary building, he found himself principal of the only failing school in the district. A new state grading system had publically issued an “F” for the Title I school, and he had marching orders to perform what seemed like a miracle.

Join us for a one-hour webinar to hear how Todd and his team embraced the PLC process and boldly dug into data to turn things around in only one year—and how they’ve maintained growth ever since.

You’ll hear

  • The “Guarantee 3” strategy for standards…and why it works
  • Why certain students surprised everyone
  • The experiment that prompted principals to go back in the classroom
  • The recipe for focused collaboration and planning meetings
  • Why all data is good data (really)

 

Sign up at masteryconnect.com/datawebinar

Help Center

 

Roam free in your classroom, capturing more formative data whenever, wherever learning happens.

MasteryConnect supports over 2.5 million teachers with curriculum and assessment tools to drive student growth. And now, with the new Teacher App for iPhone, everything you need for performance-based and formative assessment fits right in your pocket.

 


 

  • Launch assessments right from your phone
  • Record authentic evidence of student learning with notes
  • Scan bubble sheets for instant grading
  • Use rubrics for student performances and projects

 


 


Watch how MasteryConnect Teacher App for iPhone keeps you moving.

Download on the App Store

Help Center

 

Did you know that MasteryConnect is now fully integrated with the Canvas LMS? That means it’s easier than ever to use MasteryConnect curriculum and assessment tools to measure and promote student growth. In addition to single sign-on and automatic data pass back, teachers can launch formative or benchmark assessments created from any of the million standards within the MasteryConnect platform—directly from the Canvas interface.

To highlight this new dynamite combo, we will be hosting a free webinar on Thursday, March 23rd. Canvas fans will see how MasteryConnect can help

  • Supercharge your PLC
  • Support a move to standards-based or mastery grading
  • Expand your formative assessment footprint
  • Align and map your curriculum to standards
  • Integrate benchmark/interim assessments into the formative process

The webinar will be co-hosted by MC Chief Learning Officer Trenton Goble and Regional Sales Leader James Seaman, both veteran K-12 educators.

Sign up at masteryconnect.com/canvaslti

 

PowerOfPriorityStandards

As part of our Client Success series, this is the second of a two-part guide to unpacking and prioritizing standards like a pro. 

In our last article, we shared our tips for unpacking standards, including the process of determining big ideas and writing essential questions. This week we tackle the tricky question: How do you fit everything in?

Regardless of which set of standards you use in your classroom, the sheer volume of material can become daunting. And we’ve all heard the pitfalls of mile-wide-and-inch-deep instruction, which neither saves time nor impacts learning in a meaningful way.

Identifying priority or “power” standards is a process you can use to prioritize the content and skills you’ll need to address with your students. But this process is not about deciding what can be eliminated; rather, it’s designed to help you manage instructional time and determine a clear path for student learning. This prioritization process also brings us full circle back to the need for Big Ideas.

Let’s take a look at the two types of standards we’ll be working with: priority and supporting.

Priority standards are a carefully selected subset of the larger list of standards to be covered in a specific grade level or course that students must know and be able to demonstrate understanding of by the end of the grade-level or course in order to be prepared for the next grade-level or course.
Supporting standards are those standards that support, connect to, or enhance the priority standards. They are taught within the context of the priority standards, but do not receive the same degree of emphasis.

How to Identify Power Standards

Just as you followed a process to unpack standards, you should follow one when selecting priority or power standards. It’s best to prioritize collaboratively to ensure priority standards are identified across the team, so students move onto the next grade-level/course with consistent understanding of content.

Important note: Again, it is critical to remember that prioritizing standards has nothing to do with elimination; it has everything to do with degree of focus placed on standards.

When reviewing each standard you are targeting for instruction, consider the criteria and questions below. If the answers are “yes” for a particular standard, it should be labeled a priority/power standard.

ENDURANCE
Does this standard provide students with knowledge that will benefit them beyond the present?
Will proficiency of this standard help my students gain skills needed in the next grade-level/course or even in real-life situations?

LEVERAGE
Does this standard provide students with knowledge and/or skills that benefit them in other learning situations within the current grade level or course?
Does it have cross-curricular benefit?

READINESS
Does this standard provide students with knowledge and/or skills that are prerequisite concepts and skills needed to be successful in the next grade-level/course?

EXTERNAL EXAMS
Does this standard provide students with knowledge and/or skills that they are most likely to encounter on local, state, and/or national assessments?

Standards you have not identified as priority/power standards may be supporting standards. These standards often scaffold under a priority standard, much as a sub-standard (content or skill) would serve as a stepping stone to the overarching standard.

Start Prioritizing with “I Can” Statements

Once you have identified your priority standards and determined the supporting standards for each, you can begin designing your assessment and instruction. Also, you should now be more prepared to communicate clear learning objectives or targets to your students.

Many schools and districts use “I can” statements to clearly communicate learning objectives developed from priority standards, written in student-friendly language. When used consistently, “I can” statements have a profound effect on the learning of students, because students understand why they are learning the material.

“I can” statements help students:

  • take a more active role in their learning
  • become more reflective of their own work
  • feel more responsible for their learning

Let’s go through this exercise with the standard we unpacked in the last article.

Step 1. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY – RI.6.8
Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.

Let’s say we identified it as a priority standard based on the criteria above, and now we can create “I can” statements to more specifically convey the knowledge and skills tied to this standard.

Priority Standard I Can Statement
Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.
  • I can define argument, claim, and evidence.
  • I can distinguish between supported and unsupported claims.
  • I can trace an argument in a text.

Priority standard identified? Check! Standard clearly communicated to students? Check! You now have a road map for instructional change! You can identify clear targets and enduring understanding, as well as effectively communicate the learning outcomes to students. It’s time to start planning lessons and gathering resources to make a difference in your classroom!


For MasteryConnect Educators

To help you get started with this work in MasteryConnect, we’ve pulled together some resources that will provide detailed instruction on how to add your unpacked standards and “I can” statements into your curriculum maps and trackers and how to flag priority standards.

The resources we’ve provided are for both curriculum maps and trackers. However, if you’re working with a collaborative school or district team, we highly suggest doing this work in curriculum maps, then creating your trackers from the maps.

Help Center Articles
Add Sub-Standards to a Curriculum Map
View and Customize Standards in a Curriculum Map
Set a Power Standards in a Curriculum Map
Add Sub-Standard to a Tracker
Customize or Reword Standards
Set a Power Standard in a Tracker

       Web Professional Development

Mindful Introduction Module: Tracker Basics

For on-site professional development on using curriculum maps for unpacking standards, contact your Client Success Manager. And be sure to check back for the next article in our Client Success Series!


MasteryConnect has Over 1 Million Standards!

Looking for solutions that support state or Common Core standards? Check out our FREE apps for educators or take a tour of the full MasteryConnect platform for school and district-level features.

cx-series-unpacking

As part of our Client Success series, this is the first of a two-part guide to unpacking and prioritizing standards like a pro. 

Have you ever looked at a standard—local, state, or national—and wondered, “What is this? And how am I going to teach it?” If so, you’re not alone!

In the ever-changing world of which standards are we using this year?!, the work of learning and implementing new standards must often happen quickly. Implementing standards effectively requires teachers to dive deep into the standards to fully understand expectations and make them clear to students.

Why “Unpack” Standards?

Because standards are sometimes written as overarching—and often complex—statements that can be interpreted in different ways, it’s important that teachers share a common understanding about the goals and targets of a standard. (You’ve probably been in a PLC conversation and thought, “I had no idea that’s what that standard meant!” or “Whoa, we’re reading the same book, but we’re not on the same page.”)

“Unpacking” is a technique teachers can use to make sense of standards, and then create focused learning targets to make them actionable. This process, also called “deconstructing” or “unwrapping” standards, fosters a collaborative dialogue that supports growth and effectiveness.

Once you have unpacked standards to identify what students should know and be able to do, you can do three important things:

  • Craft your vision of mastery for specific standards.
  • Align lesson plans and accompanying resources to that vision.
  • As you teach and report progress, create student-friendly learning objectives to better communicate required skills to students and community stakeholders.

So what does unpacking look like? Read on as we break down the unpacking process and go through a couple examples to help get you started.

The Unpacking Process

There are four key steps to unpacking standards:

STEP 1: IDENTIFY KEY CONCEPTS & SKILLS

Identify what students need to know and what they need to do. We like to highlight nouns (content) in blue and verbs (skills) in green.

STEP 2: IDENTIFY LEARNING TARGET TYPES

Next, you’ll determine which concepts are content/knowledge targets, reasoning/cognitive targets, skill/performance targets, and product targets.

STEP 3: DETERMINE BIG IDEAS

The next step is to list the conceptual understandings that students discover during the learning process (the ah-ha! moments).

STEP 4: WRITE ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS

To focus and guide classroom instruction and assessment, write open-ended questions to help stimulate student interest and make new connections.

Think of this unpacking process as a journey with a destination in mind. The journey will include packing and preparation, travel arrangements, perhaps some new experiences, and ultimately an endpoint (student learning), which may very well begin a new journey.

An Unpacking Example

With the journey theme in mind, let’s use the analogy of planning a destination trip to help illustrate the process (it’s summertime, after all!). We’ll start with the learning target and break it down with Steps 1 and 2.

DESTINATION TRIP 101.1

Organize and plan for a trip to the beach.

What should I know?

  • Lodging availability
  • Location of area restaurants
  • Day/night temperature at location

What should I be able to do?

  • Swim
  • Locate the surf shop
  • Apply sunscreen evenly

What should I understand?

  • Recognize changes in tide
  • Assess surroundings for safety
  • Devise a plan if stranded at sea on catamaran

This breakdown of the familiar process of planning a trip makes sense: It provides clearly outlined steps and a better vision of the target after unpacking the original standard.

Example 2: Unpacking a Complex Standard

Now let’s take a closer look at examples of Steps 1 through 4 with a more complex, real-world standard. For this demonstration, we’ll use a sixth grade English Language Arts national/state standard.

STEP 1: IDENTIFY KEY CONCEPTS & SKILLS

We’ll start by highlighting the nouns (concepts) in green and the verbs (skills) in blue, just like we did in the destination trip example.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY – RI.6.8

Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.

STEP 2: IDENTIFY LEARNING TARGET TYPES

Next, we’ll identify the types of targets the standard represents. You may benefit by using a graphic organizer like the one below.

Knowledge Targets Reasoning Targets
Define argument

Define claim

Define evidence

Evaluate an argument

Distinguish between supported and unsupported claims

Skill/Performance Targets Product Targets
Trace an argument in a text Not applicable for this standard

Identifying specific targets within a standard provides clear direction for instructional planning. It helps to not only focus on important content students should know, but also what skills they should develop. This is a critical balance that can easily get a little lopsided if there’s too much on content and not enough the skills.

STEP 3: DETERMINE BIG IDEAS

You’re halfway there! Determining Big Ideas is next, and it’s one of the most important parts of the learning process. This is where we help students to make connections and attach relevance to new information.

We want student thinking to extend beyond fact retention, because, let’s face it, facts alone aren’t going to get you where you need to go unless you’re a contestant on Jeopardy!

Below are some examples of Big Ideas for our standard:

  • Presenting an argument with evidence is more persuasive than sharing an opinion.
  • Unsupported claims can lead to an invalid argument.
  • Identifying a claim supported with evidence is a skill applicable to all areas of life.

These Big Ideas go beyond one standard, unit of study, or even a class. They are the key learnings that move with students to new targets, new applications, and new connections.

STEP 4

In our opinion, the real fun begins in Step 4. As teachers, our favorite moments were those that allowed us to watch a student learn, grow in understanding, or have an ah-ha! Moment. Essential Questions can get you there every time!

These questions are open-ended opportunities to stimulate interest, stretch thinking, make connections that haven’t been made before, and much more. They can be used at the beginning of the instruction on a learning target or during instruction to advance the thinking process.

Examples of Essential Questions for our standard include:

  • Why is evidence important?
  • Why do we need to be able to recognize an argument that has support versus one that does not?
  • When do we use argumentation in daily life?

One important point to remember when using Essential Questions is to keep them truly open-ended. Craft questions to have more than one possible response or to generate discussion when different or conflicting ideas are presented. As teachers, our role in this process is to facilitate thinking and discussion, not to validate. Be wary of responding with, “I agree with you” or “That’s correct”; other students may not speak up if their thinking is different than the answer you’ve identified as “right”.

Get Unpacking!

Congrats! You’ve now gone through the unpacking process. By unpacking this standard, you now have a clear path forward. This process will enable you to plan effectively and ultimately save you time to focus on your students. Not only will you have a deeper understanding of the standards you teach, but your students will be more engaged in their learning. Sounds like a win-win for everyone!

Be sure to check back in a few weeks for Part 2 of Unpacking Standards – Moving from Content Standards to Student-Friendly Learning Targets. We’ll explore priority standards and student-friendly “I Can” statements.


MasteryConnect has Every Standard for Every State!

Looking for solutions that support state or Common Core standards? Check out our FREE apps for educators or take a tour of the full MasteryConnect platform for school and district-level features.

Formative Assessment Guide

You may have noticed that we are BIG fans of formative assessment around here. And as we meet with educators around the country, we continually find ourselves in (very) good company.

More and more teachers are using formative assessment in their classrooms everyday to answer important questions about student growth:

  • What do my students know?
  • What do they still need to learn?
  • How should I adapt my instruction?

Unlike it’s more traditional cousin, summative assessment, the formative process embeds checks for understanding into the learning cycle, so teachers can provide personalized learning opportunities based on students’ unique needs. It also helps students track their progress and take greater ownership of their learning. Both super sweet wins in our book.

Over the past few months, we’ve shared a series of articles on the ins and outs of formative assessment and strategies to put it to integrate it into your instruction. But we thought it’d be nice to have all that formative know-how in one handy, comprehensive guide.

Now you can become the hot-footed, whiz-bang, undisputed champion of formative assessment by downloading The Definitive K-12 Guide to Formative Assessment, a free 20-page resource designed specifically for K-12 teachers and administrators. 

What’s inside?

  • An overview of formative assessment and its benefits for students and teachers
  • The difference between formative and summative assessment
  • The three must-haves for meaningful formative assessments
  • Ideas to start using in your own classroom

Whether you’re new to formative assessment or you’re already a diehard believer, there’s something for you in this guide. 

Download now!  


Looking for a formative assessment solution? MasteryConnect can help you collect more formative data more frequently. View our online demo to see how we may be able to help in your school or district.