Marcus Matters


Strategic Design Spotlight: Taking Risks with Assessment

In order to review and assess learning from last year, Mel Santos wanted to try a different approach with her Latin 3 students. Instead of the tried and true review activities and traditional test format, Ms. Santos shifted the responsibility for learning and self-assessment to her students. Students were given the content expectations - this is what you must learn and know. However, students were given relative freedom to design how they would demonstrate their mastery while also providing effective assessment options for each other. Students could use any platform or medium to design their assessment covering the required content. They also had to engage in two activities designed by classmates. Ms. Santos described her fears going into the learning, " I was scared this would be a flop the entire time we worked on it. I think teachers, including myself, are scared to be seen as not completely on top of things."

Varied student learning styles and creative thinking were immediately apparent in the diverse products that included a student who wrote programming code to create a unique assessment, original movies, Prezis, traditional quizzes, websites, Google Docs and Forms, and a dozen different online applications. When given the freedom to choose how to create and share their learning, the students went in a many different directions, driven by their interests and strengths. Ms. Santos noted that it was rewarding to not only hear students correct each other's work, but to also explain why, observing, "Since they had to create their own reviews with original examples they were forced to dig deeper into the material than they would have with just me teaching in the front of the room."

Ms. Santos invited her students to share their honest and reflective feedback on the learning experience. It was clearly evident that this is a safe learning environment as students felt comfortable sharing both positive comments and constructive suggestions with Ms. Santos (even with an administrator present!). Students talked about enjoying the freedom to choose how to complete the assignment and reflected on what they learned from each other in the process. A few students shared that they prefer a traditional test to this type of alternative assessment, noting that this type of learning does require more work. Students reflected with Ms. Santos about different ways the assignment could be structured to be even more effective.

At the end of this experience, Ms. Santos offered this reflection, "Don't be afraid to fail. We all learn from our mistakes. That is true for both students and teachers. We should consider ourselves life long learners right along with our students."

If you would like to see some of the products created by Ms. Santos' students, here is the link to that part of her SchoolWeb page.

Kuddos to Mel Santos as a true risk-taker, innovator, and life-long learner!

Meaningful & Relevant Learning Happening Everyday...

Reflecting on 9/11
Mr. Weaver's World Geo students choose a local memorial as the best place to learn about and reflect on the events of 9/11

MHS Teachers Awarded with LEF Grants for Innovative Classroom Learning - Congratulations!

Professional Learning Opportunities

A shout out to all the staff members already engaging in the professional learning opportunities, both as learners and teachers. The ideas and experiences being shared show how committed our staff is to life-long learning, innovation, and transformation.

Marcus High School is truly a learning organization!

Check out the great opportunities coming up:

  • Tuesday 9/17: Intermediate Google Sites D110 (after school)
  • Wednesday 9/18: iPad Instructional Integration Part 2 D110 (each period)
  • Thursday 9/19: Beginner Google Apps (Windows based or Mac) Library (each period)
  • Wednesday 9/25: iPad Instructional Integration Part 3 D110 (each period)
  • Thursday 9/26: Beginner Google Apps (Windows based or Mac) Library (each period)
  • Friday 10/4: Mac Academy Part 2 D110 (each period)
  • Monday 10/7: Discussion Group: Working with G/T Kids D110 (after school)

Remember that you can find many more details about professional learning opportunities (agenda, time, duration, presenters) on the MHS Professional Learning site calendar (don't forget to log in to your LISD Google account):

Lunchtime Tech Help

On Mondays, StuCo officers will be available during all lunches in D110. They are looking forward to helpIng with your technology questions. Trying to figure out your Mac or iPad? Questions about using new features? Maybe they can help...

Teacher Tech Talk

Chad Taylor recommends Show Me. This is a great iPad app that allows students to explain concepts with pictures, text, and audio. Teachers can use it to create whiteboard presentations. Lots of possibilities. Click here to learn more about this app!

Do you have a great new app, computer program, technology integration strategy, or innovative way for students to access, share, or create information?

Please email Rebecca Clark at

We can't wait to hear from you!