Room 241: A Blog by

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How Do We Actually Know a Lesson Went Well?

By Jennifer L.M. Gunn October 27, 2017

Sometimes when we say a lesson “went well,” we mean that we managed to “get through the lesson” without a classroom disaster. A lesson that’s “going well” is often equivalent to a classroom where students are working, remaining quiet, or appearing engaged. But how do we really know if students are actually learning in class?… Read More

Instructional Rounds: Not Just for Administrators

By Jennifer L.M. Gunn October 11, 2017

Ever wonder what’s happening in the classroom across the hall? Besides overhearing some Staff Lounge chatter or taking a cursory glance from the hallway while passing by, teaching can often happen in isolation, and we don’t always know what’s really going on in classrooms beyond our own. Why instructional rounds? Teachers get observed and evaluated… Read More

Problem-based learning (PBL): It’s all the rage. PBL is an innovative addition to modern K-12 pedagogy, but it can seem overwhelming for beginners. It doesn’t have to be, though. PBL’s principal goal—meeting students where they are and putting them to work solving real-world problems—marks a significant shift from old educational models. Putting it into action… Read More

6 Ways Students Can Cut Stress Before Big Tests

By Kara Wyman May 16, 2017

Tests help us assess students’ comprehension and skills, but they can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. To help students destress before taking a test, try one or more of the activities below. Whether you work with elementary, middle or high school students, there’s always a way to help them feel even slightly… Read More

Test Anxiety: Reducing Stress on Students

By Monica Fuglei May 10, 2017

Parents and educators alike worry that standardized tests place undue burdens on students, triggering stress and anxiety. In a fast-moving culture full of pressure to accumulate good grades and broad experience portfolios, teen stress and anxiety are moving down the chain and affecting middle and elementary students as well. Sometimes this stress manifests as testing… Read More

For the second year in a row, my daughter launched a full-fledged campaign against standardized testing. About a week before the tests began, she argued they were ineffective and unfair. She echoed the concerns of a variety of students, parents and teachers: It’s a bad measure, it’s stressful, it doesn’t influence grades, it takes too… Read More

Right now, students across the U.S. are registering for next fall’s high school classes — including honors and advanced placement. Traditionally, schools used test scores or previous coursework to place students in AP or honors courses, but lately more students can self-place in these courses. Students getting into high-level courses essentially because they want to… Read More

It’s easy to fall into a routine of assessing students the same way over and over. But letting students choose from a menu of assessments can do them a lot of good — and make you a better teacher. Sure, it takes time to create alternative assessments, but there are tons of resources online that… Read More

In an era of increased standardized testing and a focus on standards and competencies, teachers must use the best methods for measuring student learning. The rote memorization and multiple-choice tests of years past are increasingly incapable of assessing the complex tasks modern students perform. These old testing strategies are too narrow for the high-level benchmarks… Read More

Today’s education models tend to focus on a child’s achievement deficits — if students aren’t reading at grade level, for instance, then teachers try to get them caught up. Mindprint Learning flips this model, using cognitive tests to identify children’s strengths and engage them in ways that compensate for their weaknesses. The goal: Let kids… Read More

The New SAT: What Students and Educators Can Expect

By Caitrin Blake June 22, 2016

High school students preparing to take the SAT will face a whole new landscape. In 2016, the College Board, maker of the SAT, rolled out some of the biggest content changes in the exam’s history. These revisions were designed to better reflect what high school students actually learn and the knowledge they’ll need in college,… Read More

Few things put parents and schools more at odds than standardized tests. Parents see the tests as pointless because they teach little more than how to take a standardized test. Yet schools know these tests can determine their ability to stay afloat: If students fail the test, the school could lose funding, get put on… Read More

There is a perplexing experience that plagues all teachers: After an excellent classroom experience where students seem solid in their understanding and application of content, they leave class, attempt homework, have no idea how to do it, and return the next day with wrong answers or empty papers. How do students lose knowledge the minute… Read More

Summer is a good time to talk about classroom practices worth reconsidering — the stuff we do mainly because of tradition or a perceived lack of better options. Of course there are many tried-and-true teaching choices, but we also do a lot of things more for convenience and familiarity, and less for how they help… Read More

Tips for Teachers in the Middle of Testing Season

By Brian P. Gatens March 2, 2015

Standardized testing has been a mainstay of the educational landscape for decades. Every spring teachers, students and administrators would set aside time to administer state-required tests on a variety of subjects, and then use the results the following year to assist students, measure school success and update the school’s overall approach to learning. This year… Read More