EDU6978: Week 07: Due 2012-08-12

Only one more week of this course, and then our projects are due on 8/24!
Time is flying and classes will be starting soon enough after that…

Common Core
I had a mini-breakthrough this week with the Common Core State Standards in Math (CCSI, 2009).  It came while I was developing some flashcards (via to drill myself on the abbreviations of the Domains used in the Standards.  For example, when I see CC.9-12.G.MG.3, I want to be able to quickly say “Common Core, High School, Geometry, Modeling with Geometry, Standard #3.”  If I want to be really insane, I could eventually learn that Standard #3 in that Cluster is:

CC.9-12.G.MG.3 Apply geometric concepts in modeling situations. Apply geometric methods to solve design problems (e.g., designing an object or structure to satisfy physical constraints or minimize cost; working with typographic grid systems based on ratios).*

The next breakthrough was doing an internet search on that string verbatim “CC.9-12.G.MG.3” and finding some really cool resources for lessons on that topic.  This is the power of having shared standards, and it suddenly dawned on me.  The other thing that dawned on me is that by drilling through 495 standards, I was getting more familiar on what topics are there and where there is more emphasis.  That was a total bonus.

Of course, this wild romp through the Standards means I am late in getting my PBL Final Project to my classmates.  (Please accept my apologies Cohort 10 A!)

Our discussion question this week was whether, in our view, the new Common Core  or Next Generation Science were moving toward or away from STEM.  Most folks felt that NGSS was definitely moving toward STEM, since Crosscutting ideas mention engineering, and technology.


(Verbatim from source unless italic)

Embedded Formative Assessment (Wiliam, 2011)

Chapter 6
Activating Students As Instructional Resources for One Another


Even though there is a substantial body of research that demonstrates the extraordinary power of collaborative and cooperative learning, it is rarely deployed effectively in classrooms. This chapter explores the role that learners can play in improving the learning of their peers and concludes with a number of specific classroom techniques that can be used to put these principles into practice.

Wiliam, Dylan (2011-05-01). Embedded Formative Assessment (Kindle Locations 2685-2688). Ingram Distribution. Kindle Edition. 

Wiliam (2011) describes some great techniques for getting students to act as instructional resources for each other. The author also makes a compelling argument for why this is necessary by citing his personal experience with both boys and girls who readily admitted to have "pretended that they understood something [the teacher had said in a 1-1 conversation] when in fact they didn’t."

After cautioning that collaborative work is often not structured to demand both group and individual accountability at the same time, Wiliam describes some practical techniques for fostering true collaboration.

C3B4ME: is a strategy where the teacher reminds the students that he/she is not the only teacher in the classroom.

Peer Evaluation of Homework: a good trick for doing formative feedback from student to student, with a side-effect of getting students to do their homework both more consistently and more legibly. (Huge pet peeve of mine!)

Homework Help Board: provides a means of hooking those who need help up with those that might be able to provide help.

Two Stars and a Wish: encourages giving both positive and constructive feedback between peers on tasks and assignments.

End-of-Topic Questions: Uses groups to break through the "I don’t want to look silly" barrier, and also helps in literacy skills if questions need to be presented in written format.

Error Classification: When errors can be grouped easily, allows strong students to be paired with weaker students very readily.

What Did We Learn Today? Another group gets together and forms consensus on what was clear and what wasn’t clear at the end of the day.

Student Reporter: One student is selected each day to summarize the day, or answer any remaining questions.

Preflight Checklist: a great way to get higher quality work and to build in accountability in students, is having a checklist that they must go through before work is submitted.

I-You-We Checklist: is good for assessing how group dynamics are working and contributing to the learning process.

Reporter at Random: Ahh, this is the POGIL-style collaborative model, where each member of the group has a particular role, but in this case you don’t pick a reporter until they are needed so students don’t tune out when they aren’t the reporter.

Group-Based Test Prep: By asking each member to prepare for a section of material that is on the test and then present it to the group, you build in some review skills, help peers give feedback on learning and find some good questions for the test.

If You’ve Learned It, Help Someone Who Hasn’t: Wiliam saves the best for last, since this is a criticism often leveled at collaborative learning. Namely, that the bright kids are held back and the kids who struggle aren’t helped. We are reminded that an efficient group pairs those who know with those who don’t and in the process both are well served.

This was a good chapter with a lot of practical techniques that I think I will try.


In this chapter, we have seen that activating students as learning resources for one another produces tangible and substantial increases in students’ learning. Every teacher I have ever met has acknowledged that you never really understand something until you try to teach it to someone else. And yet, despite this knowledge, we often fail to harness the power of peer tutoring and other forms of collaborative learning in our classrooms. This chapter has presented a number of classroom techniques that can be used with students of almost any age and that can readily be incorporated into practice. Many of these techniques focus specifically on peer assessment, which, provided it is geared toward improvement rather than evaluation, can be especially powerful—students tend to be much more direct with each other than any teacher would dare to be. However, it is important to realize that peer assessment is also beneficial for the individual who gives help. When students provide feedback to each other, they are forced to internalize the learning intentions and success criteria but in the context of someone else’s work, which is much less emotionally charged. Activating students as learning resources for one another can, therefore, be seen as a stepping-stone to students becoming owners of their own learning—the subject of the next chapter.

Wiliam, Dylan (2011-05-01). Embedded Formative Assessment (Kindle Locations 2898-2908). Ingram Distribution. Kindle Edition.


[NOTE:  I like to keep PDFs with my own annotations in Mendeley which is a client that roams your PDFs, supports deep search, and keeps track of bibliographic information for each file.  You might want to check it out.]

They are listed in References, but here are some pretty accepted abbreviations of each with the most current dates for the governing documents.

CCSS-Math (2009):  Common Core State Standards-Math
CCSS-ELA (2010):  Common Core State Standards-English Language Arts
EdTech-WA (2008) :  Washington State Educational Technology Standards
NGSS (May 2012):  Next Generation Science Standards (May 2012 Draft)
ITEA-STL (2007):  Or maybe just STL, Standards for Technological Literacy

[No real significant Engineering Standards??]

Commentaries on Standards

I like to think of booklets such as “A Framework for K-12 Science Education” (NRC, 2012) as guides to help you interpret or apply the standards.  That souce is listed below but in addition we had some others in our Optional Readings for this week.

This is just to give you a flavor for what is out there.  I didn’t have time to digest all of these.  The titles are fairly descriptive, when I have time I will put my experiences with these in the comments.


Common Core State Standards Initiative [CCSI]. (2009). Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. National Governors Association. Retrieved June 24, 2012 from

Common Core State Standards Initiative [CCSI]. (2010). Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. National Governors Association. Retrieved August 7, 2012 from

International Technology Education Association [ITEA]. (2007).  Standards for Technological Literacy:  Content for the Study of Technology.  (3d ed.).  Reston, VA:  ITEA.  Retrieved August 9, 2012 from

National Research Council [NRC]. (2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press  Retrieved August 11, 2012 from

Next Generation Science Standards [NGSS].  (2012, May) [DRAFT]  Next Generation Science Standards.  Retrieved August 7, 2012 from

Talbert, G. (2008). Washington State K-12 Educational Technology Learning Standards December 2008. Olympia, WA:  Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Retrieved August 8, 2012 from

Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded Formative Assessment. Bloomington, Indiana: Solution Tree Press.

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