RMS Curriculum Chat

Mathematics and Language Arts News

November 30-December 4, 2015

Mark Your Calendar!

December 1: FIP Analyzing the Standards discussion and work session

December 3: Kevin Raczynski (by grade level) during your planning

December 8: STEM Night

December 16 & 17: District Assessment Semester Finals

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With Gratitude

I am so very thankful for each and every one of you. You have made my first semester at Richards (and as an AP) go so smoothly! I do not know how I could have done it without you!

I hope your Thanksgiving week is filled with family, food, fun, and, of course, rest. This year before I dive into my turkey with cranberry sauce, I will say an extra thank you for my new-found friends and family at Richards Middle School.

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Curriculum Meetings

FIP and Dr. Raczynski's presentation will take the place of your curriculum meetings next week (11/30-12/4).

~Food for Thought~


How do you use feedback with your students? During our conversations about Formative Instructional Practices, we have touched on feedback. We've considered how often we give feedback and in what ways.

I recently read an article entitled, "Seven Keys to Effective Feedback." Over the next few weeks, I will share some of the ideas I've gained from the article. I hope you'll find them as helpful as I have!

While the examples tend to be related to how coaches or leaders provide feedback to teachers, I find the examples to be helpful when considering how I feedback to students. How can you improve your feedback practices?

"Whether feedback is just there to be grasped or is provided by another person, helpful feedback is goal-referenced; tangible and transparent; actionable; user-friendly (specific and personalized); timely; ongoing; and consistent.

Feedback is Goal-Referenced

Note that in everyday situations, goals are often implicit, although fairly obvious to everyone. I don't need to announce when telling [a] joke that my aim is to make you laugh. But in school, learners are often unclear about the specific goal of a task or lesson, so it is crucial to remind them about the goal and the criteria by which they should self-assess. For example, a teacher might say,

  • The point of this writing task is for you to make readers laugh. So, when rereading your draft or getting feedback from peers, ask, How funny is this? Where might it be funnier?
  • As you prepare a table poster to display the findings of your science project, remember that the aim is to interest people in your work as well as to describe the facts you discovered through your experiment. Self-assess your work against those two criteria using these rubrics. The science fair judges will do likewise.

Effective feedback is concrete, specific, and useful; it provides actionable information. Thus, "Good job!" and "You did that wrong" and B+ are not feedback at all. We can easily imagine the learners asking themselves in response to these comments, What specifically should I do more or less of next time, based on this information? No idea. They don't know what was "good" or "wrong" about what they did.

Actionable feedback must also be accepted by the performer. Many so-called feedback situations lead to arguments because the givers are not sufficiently descriptive; they jump to an inference from the data instead of simply presenting the data. For example, a supervisor may make the unfortunate but common mistake of stating that "many students were bored in class." That's a judgment, not an observation. It would have been far more useful and less debatable had the supervisor said something like, "I counted ongoing inattentive behaviors in 12 of the 25 students once the lecture was underway. The behaviors included texting under desks, passing notes, and making eye contact with other students. However, after the small-group exercise began, I saw such behavior in only one student."

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Formative Instructional Practices: December and January

December 1: We will spend time analyzing the standards, creating I Can statements, and beginning development of focus lessons within the gradual release model. If you need to review module 2, please do so.

January 26: Module 3 -- Collecting and Documenting Evidence of Student Learning (FP1003) Please register for the module, view it, and be ready to discuss it during your curriculum planning.

GTES Standards Professional Development

Interested in improving your practice? Want to move from Good to Great?

SD - GTES – Differentiated Instruction Standard 2015-2016 (Online, Self-Paced)

When: All Year, Until you complete. Course # 14985

Where: Online, Self-Paced

Registration open all year

SD - GTES - Academically Challenging Environment Standard 2015-2016 (Online, Self-Paced)

When: All Year, Until you complete. Course # 15250

Where: Online, Self-Paced

Registration open all year

Georgia Milestones

Achievement Indicators

The Georgia Milestones Achievement Level Descriptors provide clear targets of the knowledge and skills required of student performance of the standards expected at each grade level for each of the four core content areas for grades 3-8 and all EOC courses. The standards are clustered and achievement levels are identified for a learner demonstrating mastery at each of the four performance levels: beginning, developing, proficient, and distinguished learner.

Students demonstrating mastery of knowledge and skills as each performance level should also be demonstrating proficiency on each of the previous levels of performance as well. This tool defines the expected level of rigor for instruction, learning and assessment of the AKS and will be instrumental in planning for instruction.

We will discuss the achievement indicators in the coming weeks. Please preview them here:


Richards Middle School

As partners, we the students, staff, parents, and community of Richards Middle School commit to provide a welcoming and superior learning environment that empowers and inspires all students to develop their potential for excellence in academics and success in life.