Category Archives: best practice

“You’re starting to make me cranky.”

Glenn Wiebe was digging around the vault over at History Tech looking for some resources centered around the Kansans Can school redesign and ran across this rant written just after the 2013 state standards went live. With those standards currently in the revision process and the state of Kansas deep into conversations about changing how we do school, it seems appropriate to re-post it here. Basically, it boils down to:

How much are we willing to change so that our kids are prepared for their future?

It’s been a fun couple of months since the holiday break. I’ve had the chance to spend time with a variety of folks doing all sorts of cool stuff. A group of us have been struggling to write questions for the social studies state assessment pilot due out this spring.

I’ve spent time with teachers discussing social studies best practices that are aligned to the state’s recently adopted state standards. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of teachers as we shared ideas and discussed ways to integrate technology into instruction.

It’s all part of what is perhaps the best job in the world. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy themselves spending time with dedicated, amazing people who are literally changing the world?

But . . . sometimes I walk away feeling a little uncomfortable after spending time with teachers. Once in a great while, I leave a group angry. And while I honestly think I do a good job of hiding my feelings, I’m starting to think those feelings need to be a bit more obvious.

Change is difficult. I understand that. And society already asks teachers to be superheroes. But it still bothers me when I hear teachers say things like: Continue reading “You’re starting to make me cranky.”

Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part 4 – “The Classroom Based State Assessment”

gifford

Today’s guest post is from Don Gifford. Don is the Education Program Consultant for History/Government, Social Studies, and Career Standards and Assessment Services for the Kansas State Department of Education.

(This is the final installment of a four part series. Get Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.)


Commissioner Randy Watson has approved a project to bring the History, Government, and Social Studies state assessment out of the box and to embed the state assessment into what good teachers are doing in their classrooms every day.  

This is an ambitious undertaking and a bit frightful but in the KSDE spirit of redesign and the moon shot goal of “leading the world in the success of each student,” we’re moving forward. We have already enlisted more than 30 educators to help us through this difficult work. (If you are interested in helping with this process, e-mail me.)  

We’ve been working on performance level descriptions (PLDs) which describe what a student should know and be able to do at the end of elementary, middle, and high school. We have just started to work on rigorous task rubrics for the assessment and will begin soon to write sample tasks. The goal will be to pilot the sample tasks this semester so that we will have examples, student work, and exemplars for scoring available for teachers.  

What will the assessment work?  Continue reading Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part 4 – “The Classroom Based State Assessment”

Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part 3 – “The Quality of Classroom Based State Assessment”

gifford

Today’s guest post is from Don Gifford. Don is the Education Program Consultant for History/Government, Social Studies, and Career Standards and Assessment Services for the Kansas State Department of Education.


So in Part One, we recognized that the state HGSS assessment wasn’t aligned with good instruction and in Part Two, we identified that the feedback came too late to inform that instruction.

In Part One, we imagined an assessment that was aligned to the instructional strategies already being employed in good social studies classrooms.  What if we took what teachers were already doing and made those rigorous lessons work as the state HGSS assessment? In Part Two, we talked about how the state HGSS assessment could be used by teachers and students to actually inform teaching and learning. In Part Three, Continue reading Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part 3 – “The Quality of Classroom Based State Assessment”

Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part 2 – “The Use of Classroom Based State Assessment”

gifford

Today’s guest post is from Don Gifford. Don is the Education Program Consultant for History/Government, Social Studies, and Career Standards and Assessment Services for the Kansas State Department of Education.


So in Part One, we suggested that the current HGSS assessment is different than anything that good teachers do in the classroom.  We implied that in many cases learning stops for two days while we take the assessment, and that schools, teachers, or students gain little from the assessment or its results. Also we imagined a different kind of state assessment, one based in the classroom where teachers and student could collaborate on what the assessment looks like.

In Part Two, we will be talking about how a classroom based state assessment might be used. Continue reading Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part 2 – “The Use of Classroom Based State Assessment”

Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part One

gifford

Today’s guest post is from Don Gifford. Don is the Education Program Consultant for History/Government, Social Studies, and Career Standards and Assessment Services for the Kansas State Department of Education.


I just left a meeting where one of the frustrated participants complained that the state Kansas-Can-blue_white-gold-starassessments “exist in a box.”  She meant that the assessment isn’t really like anything else that a good teacher does in their classroom.  I think most educators would agree. It is more often true that teaching and learning stop as we prepare for the assessment and that neither teaching nor learning is affected in a positive way by the state assessment.

What if that was different?  Continue reading Getting The State Assessment Out Of The Box: Part One