Sunday, January 29, 2017

Let's Take Chunking to the Next Level

Excellence in Education: Let’s Take Chunking to the Next Level
With 85-minute classes, perhaps no instructional strategy is more important than formative assessment. Over those 85-minutes students can make tremendous progress, but without constant feedback they can also flounder.

Undoubtedly, we’ve all gotten lost while driving (well maybe not the youngins who’ve always had GPS), but there’s a big difference between missing a turn and missing a turn and not recognizing it for an hour and ending up in the middle-of-nowhere. During my first year teaching I was invited to a co-worker’s house in rural Virginia. The directions seemed simple enough. A couple of turns off Route 211, one of two or three “major” roads in Rappahannock County, and I’d be there. One hour into what should have been a 45-minute drive turned into two hours, and I had no clue where I was. After several stops at local stores and private residencies provided little help, I eventually found Route 211 and made my way home.

After getting home, I called my friend to explain the 2-hour debacle. On Monday, after making fun of me, he sat down and drew me a map complete with landmarks (You’ll go over a bridge, There’s a barn on the right, Here’s an orchard, You’ll go 2 miles, If you get to the big turn, you’ve gone too far). A couple of weeks later, armed with the map, I made it to his house in 45 minutes!

While I usually have a good sense of direction, Rappahannock County, like most classes for our students, was brand new to me. I clearly benefited from specific directions and landmarks, so I could constantly check my progress.

Similarly, students need immediate feedback on their learning. Struggling learners, like lost drivers, often don’t realize they are struggling. They need immediate feedback. Lessons should include multiple checkpoints where students, sometimes with the help of peers or a teacher, check their progress. This helps students focus their learning into manageable chunks. At each checkpoint students stop and evaluate whether or not they are ready to move to the next component.

Great use of formative assessment and chunking helps student focus their learning and can mean the difference between failure and learning.

Need to Knows:
Golden Apple Nominations, a program designed to honor outstanding educators, are now being accepted. One winner will be selected from each school. Each award recipient will receive a Golden Apple and gift certificates from local businesses. Additionally, eight winners will receive $1,000 Golden Apple Grants, which can be used for classroom materials or to support the recipient’s professional development. To access the information packet and nomination forms, please go the Albemarle County Public Schools website at and you will see the link under the Spotlight section.

Positive Referrals: With the end of the first semester, it’s a great time to recognize students!

Portfolio Assistance If you have a student who needs assistance setting up his/her portfolio, click here

Technology / Website Permission Request Form Please use this form to request use of a website that requires student log-in if the site is not already on the approved list. DART approved list

Calendar and Memo Items
B-A-B-A Week

February 20 and March 31 are NORMAL school days now.

Grades and special education progress reports are due January 25 @9am

Help Save The Next Girl: 9th and 10th grades, Feb 28; 11th and 12th grades, March 1

Jan 28: Todd Rooks
Jan 29: Bert Jacoby and Connie Jenkins

Thanks to all the teachers who attended our Winter Formal and/or Shakespeare Troupe’s The Tempest

ICYMI: Congratulations to Erika Terrell and Chris Stanek our staff member and faculty members of the month, respectively

Worth Your Time
Students Learn Geometry with 3-D Printer A great example of innovation and MakerEd

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