CIA Review

From the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment

Edition 17 May 13, 2016

Spotlight on Strategies

Save the Last Word for Me


Save the Last Word for Me is a discussion strategy that requires all students to participate as active speakers and listeners. Its clearly defined structure helps shy students share their ideas and ensures that frequent speakers practice being quiet. It can be used as a way to help student debrief a video or reading passage.


This activity gives each student an opportunity to discuss his or her viewpoint in a small and safe group. It is a good exercise in learning how to politely disagree with partners (if viewpoints differ) and to be able to voice an opinion after a discussion has happened. All members of the group feel validated and multiple viewpoints are shared.


Click here to download the pdf instructions or watch the strategy in action below.

Save The Last Word For Me

The Timespan and Impact of Empowerment


“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” Michelangelo



The word “engagement” has been one that has been a focus of schools for as long as I can remember, as both a student and educator. It is often written in goals, plans, and objectives of all that we want to do in education. But is it truly enough?


Bill Ferriter really pushed my thinking years ago with his thinking on the notion of focusing more on “empowering students”, over simply finding ways for them to be engaged. Here is some of his thinking below:



Do phrases like ” we need to engage our students” and “the first step towards motivating kids is building buy in” hint at dysfunctional power relationship between students and teachers? Are they just further evidence of our reluctance to give students the chance to own their own learning? When we see engaging students as our ultimate goal, are we somehow suggesting that teachers are the only ones that can determine topics worth exploring?


I have also been thinking about the potential impact of each word and the “shelf-life” of each. When I think of the word “engagement”, it seems to connect more to the moment you or the learner is in at that time. Yet when I think of “empowerment”, it feels that this could last long after your time with students. The student that is passionate about a cause, exploring an idea, or sharing their voice is not only engaged, but something much more.


If we want to think about our impact long-term with students, engagement just seems to be a lower bar than what we should be trying to achieve. A student does not have to feel empowered if they are engaged, but if they are empowered, engagement will also be evident and more likely to create a deeper sense of “flow”. The learning that goes along with empowerment will be so much deeper and longer lasting.


Empowered learners are the ones more likely to change the world.


Source: Couros, George. "The Timespan and Impact of Empowerment." The Principal of Change. 11 May 2016. Web. 12 May 2016. <http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/6302>.

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GRACE Project

GRACE (GIS Resources and Applications for Career Education) is a project sponsored by the National Science Foundation that was developed by Eastern


Michigan University and its partners, including MVU. Its goal is to enable teachers and students to develop new STEM skills and competencies.


The project goals include establishing a three-stage process that encourages a large number of middle and high school students and teachers to engage in learning through GIS/T experiences across the State of Michigan.


The Explorer level introduces students to GIS/T through ArcGIS Online Portal and through demonstrations developed with online GIS/T tools to build students’ basic understanding of GIS/T as well as pique student curiosity.

The Investigator level leverages students’ curiosity and interest and prepares them to work with GIS/T lesson modules that are designed to enhance the science and engineering practices and align with the Next Generation Science Standards.

The Intern level provides students with professional GIS/T training and with opportunities to gain work experiences in local organizations as Interns.


The professional development activities for teachers are tightly integrated with this progressive learning process so that adequate instructional and technical mentoring and support will be provided to support students at each level.


The project will also provide workplace and college experiences to students from underrepresented and rural communities.


GIS/T are in demand for STEM careers
Instructionally, GIS/T has long been recognized as an interdisciplinary educational technology, supporting high-level thinking and spatial reasoning. Spatial reasoning and visualization have been demonstrated to be foundational to STEM. The GRACE project brings geospatial tools to classroom teachers and students. Geospatial technologies (GIS, GPS - global positioning system, and RS - remote sensing), and the analytical tools for using these systems wisely, now play a fundamental role in the provision of emergency services, transportation and urban planning, environmental hazard management, resource exploitation, military operations, and the conduct of relief operations. In the future, geographical tools and techniques will be of vital importance to the effort to monitor, analyze, and confront the unprecedented changes that are unfolding on Earth’s surface. Because the uses for GIS/T are so widespread, the market is growing almost 35 percent annually, with the commercial subsection expanding at the rate of 100 percent each year.


Teacher benefits
The benefits of teacher participation include access to insertable GIS-enabled adaptable lessons that are easily integrated into STEM classes, 60 hours of professional development, tech support from GIS/T professional mentors and pedagogy support from GIS Ed-community, plus a stipend.


For more information, contact Frances Saroki, Senior Manager of Quality Educational Services at MVU at fsaroki@mivu.org or visit the project's website.

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End of Year Celebrations

Balloon Countdown

Hang a string across the front of your classroom and blow up a balloon for each day that remains in the school year. Before you tie off the balloon, insert a slip of paper that has a fun activity written on it. Allow a student to pop a balloon each morning and then have the students do the fun activity sometime during the day.


Summer Sunglasses

Students are asked to write about a summer trip they have taken already or plan on taking. After editing the rough draft, students write the final copy of the essay on sunglasses. Students glue glasses on large white construction paper and draw a picture around the glasses.


The Best Part of Me

Read this book by Wendy Ewald, then have students share what they believe is their "best part." Have students use supporting details that explain why it is their best part. Take a picture and attach to their writing. (handouts provided at the website).


Beach Ball Signatures

Give an inflatable beach ball to each student and a sharpie. Give students time to sign each other's beach ball.

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