CIA Review

From the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment

Edition 12 March 4, 2016

Spotlight on Strategies

Picture It!

Effective learners know how to organize and classify information they’re learning into meaningful chunks. Robert Marzano identified classification as one of nine high-yield strategies that have a significant effect on student achievement. The Picture It strategy uses images as the basis for classification, providing a visual stimulus and scaffold for students as they analyze and discuss the content being studied.

Provide each group of students a selection of images relating to a topic. Ask students to look carefully at each image, analyzing the details in each. Consider prompting students with visual thinking question such as:

  • What is going on in this picture?
  • How do you know?
  • What more do you see?
  • Who is in this picture?
  • What is happening in the picture?
  • When and where was the picture taken?
  • Why was this picture taken?

Ask student to discuss what they see in the pictures and then determine a way to sort and classify the images into different groups or categories. Ask them to be ready to defend their reasoning for those categories.

Debrief the classifications by having groups present their categories and reasoning to the whole group.

Check out the strategy in action by watching the video below or download a pdf here.

Picture It
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BSMS and Sylvester Elementary Rank 1st and 2nd on Mackinaw Center's Report Card

Berrien Springs Middle School and Sylvester Elementary ranked 1st and 2nd respectively in Berrien County on Mackinac Center's report card. Overall, BSMS ranked 41st and Sylvester ranked 100th across the entire state. Both schools received an A letter grade for the students' achievement.

This is the Mackinac Center’s fourth school report card and covers elementary and middle schools. A unique characteristic of this report card is that takes into consideration the “context” of a school when assessing its performance. Specifically, it controls for differences in the socioeconomic status of students each school serves. Including this factor provides a more accurate assessment of a school’s performance, since research has shown that student backgrounds can have a large impact on academic performance. Report cards that do not consider these differences among schools can understate the performance of schools serving high-poverty students and overstate the performance of schools serving relatively affluent students.

This report card averages several years of student achievement data to create a “Context and Performance” score, or CAP Score. This helps ensure that a school’s grade is not unduly influenced by a single year’s performance. At least six subject test scores from at least two different years of testing were used to calculate a school’s overall CAP Score.

View the full report here or use this site to look-up schools across the state.

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State Testing, Technology and Social Media

We love social media and all of the cool technology that we have at our fingertips, right? We use it daily, and it helps us to form and foster the wonderful communities that we work in and enjoy!

When do we not love social media and the joys of technology? When it's SAT, ACT Workkeys, or M-STEP testing day. Please follow the guidelines below on testing day(s):

1. Cell phones must be turned off and put away, including both proctors in the room and students! No exceptions!

  • Buy quart size ziplock freezer bags and write each tester's name on it with permanent marker. Collect each phone an put it in the bag, and store them in a drawer/cabinet/tote during testing.
  • If a phone goes off, we must complete an irregularity report, and there's a chance that our tests could be considered invalid. Having cell phones out could also put us at risk for testing integrity issues, such as texting, google searches, non-permitted calculators, etc.

2. Computer/tablet/mobile phone use: Neither proctors or students are allowed to use devices while testing is taking place. Proctors are expected to monitor testing the entire time.

3. Social media is not our friend during testing time! Please do not take pictures and post them to social media if the picture contains any testing materials or any students taking tests! Believe it or not the state will be patrolling social media sites during testing windows and the consequences are great!

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M-STEP Resources

M-STEP Prep Webinar: Test Literacy and ELA Curricular Connections (elementary)

recording slides resources

M-STEP Prep Webinar: Test Literacy and ELA Curricular Connections (middle school)

recording slides resources

Reading and Writing Performance Tasks - from Teachers College

Math and ELA Performance Tasks - from MDE

ELA M-STEP Computer Adaptive Test

Math M-STEP Computer Adaptive Test

Math and ELA Crosswalks - claim, target, standards

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Skills for the Future

In this article in Educational Leadership, consultant/author Erik Palmer says there’s a lot of uncertainty about the knowledge and competencies that will be truly useful for today’s students in tomorrow’s world. But he believes that in the decades ahead, some fundamental things will remain. Four predictions:

There will still be an Internet. “It will still be possible to pick up a device, ask a question, and get several million results in less than a second,” says Palmer. The challenge of information overload will only get worse. This means that being able to make sense of an overwhelming amount of information is a crucial skill. It requires:

  • A sense of what the World Wide Web really is.
  • Sophistication in picking the right search engine for specific queries.
  • Ways to formulate queries to get the best information.
  • An awareness of how search results are ranked.
  • Knowledge of domain types (including .com, .gov., .guru, .hr, and .org).
  • Tools to evaluate the people, purpose, and possible bias behind a website.

It’s essential that schools provide direct instruction on these skills, says Palmer.

People will still be trying to sell us things and ideas. “Commercials will bombard us from everywhere,” he says. “To evaluate these sales pitches, students will need an understanding of logic, reasoning, argument, and persuasive techniques.” Specifically:

  • What an argument is – statements leading to a conclusion.
  • How to evaluate an argument: Are the statements true? Do they force us to accept the conclusion?
  • How to support statements – with facts, numbers, quotes, examples, and analogies.
  • How to avoid reasoning errors – for example, confusing causality with correlation, generalizing, derailing the train of thought, stereotyping, and ad hominem attacks.
  • How to recognize persuasive and rhetorical tricks – bandwagon appeals, transference, loaded words, hyperbole, allusion, and euphemism.

Palmer reports that the teachers he’s surveyed say they’ve never been trained in most of these skills. Their students will really need them down the road.

Listening will still be important. There’s more to listening than paying attention, says Palmer: “Messages are not merely oral communication but rather an elaborate mix of words, sounds, music, and images. This means that all students will need to be media literate so they can listen well to different kinds of media” – for example, being sophisticated about the power of a short video based on its image selectivity, visual effects, and music.

People will still be speaking. “Unfortunately, schools have often ignored speaking skills,” says Palmer. These will be vital in a world where the channels for verbal communication will continue to blossom – consider how today’s Facetime, Skype, Periscope for Twitter, cell phone apps, webinars, podcasts, and narrated slideshows will be augmented. His desiderata for an oral communication curriculum:

Building a speech:

  • How to analyze an audience and craft a message with interesting and relevant information.
  • How to use a “grabber” opening, clear transitions, and a powerful closing.
  • How to create effective visual aids.
  • Fine-tuning personal appearance for the audience and the occasion.
  • Appearing poised and avoiding distracting behaviors.

Delivering a speech:

  • Making sure every word is clearly heard.
  • Skillfully using emotion, passion, eye contact, gestures, and pacing.

“Four Predictions for Students’ Tomorrows” by Erik Palmer in Educational Leadership, March 2016 (Vol. 73, #6, p. 18-22),