Engaging ELL students in Academic Conversations

posted Nov 18, 2014, 6:32 AM by   [ updated Nov 18, 2014, 6:33 AM ]

A video playlist from the Teaching Channel: Watch an overview video of this series.

From these videos, we learn five tips for engaging students in academic conversations:

1. Talk Moves: Middle School English Language Development (ELD) teacher Tamica Groves has her students learn and practice various “talk moves” as a way of engaging in academic conversations. In this video, we see students practicing talk moves like adding on to each others’ responses, asking questions, and agreeing with what others say.

2. Using and Adapting Socratic Seminars: High School ELA teacher Johanna Paraiso has been using the Socratic Seminar format with her students all year long. After holding numerous Socratic Seminars as a way to discuss complex texts, Johannaadapts the format to have students discuss their senior research projects. It’s inspiring to see students reflecting on their performances through discussion with each other.

3. Participation Protocol: Middle School ELA teacher Viet-ly Nguyen uses a participation protocol to structure her students’ discussions. This protocol encourages students to actively listen, add onto each others’ ideas, and cite evidence for their thinking. In this lesson, students read a chapter from the book One Crazy Summer, and then engage in an academic conversation to analyze characters’ actions. The participation protocol helps encourage active participation from every student.

4. Reflecting on Discussions: Using video and scribing helps Johanna Paraiso and her students reflect on their academic conversations. Jo takes video of her students’ discussions and then transcribes what they say. By sharing her videos and notes, students are able to think about how they participated and how they can improve their participation. Jo is also able to use these videos to reflect on her teaching and how it impacted student learning: a win-win!

Lessons learned from a failed competency-based school

posted Oct 20, 2014, 9:31 AM by   [ updated Oct 20, 2014, 10:23 AM ]

Cool Infographic Tool

posted Oct 7, 2014, 12:59 PM by

Performance task, anyone?

Check out - a free(mium) online software tool to help you or your students build really cool and elegant infographics! 

Help us Improve the Continua!

posted Sep 17, 2014, 7:15 AM by   [ updated Sep 17, 2014, 7:20 AM ]

Quick note to share that we've created a Google Form where you can at any time submit recommended edits for our Continua - or propose new language for levels that we have not yet developed!  Thank you in advance for your insight and contributions.  Here is a quick link to the Form, which can be found in the drop down menu under "Continua:" Recommend Edits or New Language.

Stanford's Free Online Course: How to Develop Performance Tasks for the Common Core

posted Sep 15, 2014, 12:05 PM by   [ updated Sep 15, 2014, 12:05 PM ]

It just started September 8th, 2014 - and it's not too late to join!  Check out this free online course from Stanford on the development of high quality performance tasks:  Here's the scoop:

This nine-week course will focus on building educators’ capacity to use, develop, and implement curriculum-embedded performance assessments that fit local contexts. Course activities include evaluating sample performance tasks and developing and implementing a performance task that is aligned with a specific curricular unit and performance outcomes. We will use a learning-centered approach where assessments are not only about measuring learning, but are also events for learning.

This MOOC is designed for grade 6-12 teachers working in the core disciplines of mathematics, language arts, history/social studies, and science. It is recommended that participants currently teach or have access to a classroom for which they can design a performance assessment and then implement that assessment. Participants will work collaboratively with other educators in their discipline to accomplish course learning goals and assignments.

The four main objectives of this course are for participants to:
  • Understand and identify features of high quality performance assessments;
  • Develop a grade-level, course-specific, practical, performance task that is aligned with (and embedded within) a curricular unit of study;
  • Begin to use data from performance tasks to tailor and improve instruction and curriculum;
  • Contribute to building an online community of educators focused on using performance-based assessments to identify and develop students’ abilities.


posted Sep 8, 2014, 3:48 AM by   [ updated Sep 8, 2014, 3:48 AM ]

Welcome to the competency education site!  Stay tuned for more resources, tools, and information...

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