The CIA Review

Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

Edition 7 December 18, 2015

Spotlight on Strategies

Snowball Fight

Snowball Fight is a teaching strategy that uses a lively game to encourage students to determine and communicate the big ideas from a selected digital resource. Students write the big ideas on paper and, in a most fun and engaging way, trade ideas and add more of their own.

Download the directions or view the strategy below.

Snowball Fight

Asking the Right Questions in PLCs

In this article in Educational Leadership, Jason Brasel, Brette Garner, Britnie Kane, and Ilana Horn (Vanderbilt University) say that ideally, teacher teams analyzing interim assessment results should answer four questions:

  • What do we need to re-teach?
  • To whom do we need to re-teach it?
  • Why did students struggle with this?
  • How do we re-teach it?

The problem, say the authors, is that many PLCs focus only on the first two and don’t think carefully about why students did poorly in certain areas, what went wrong instructionally, problems with the assessment itself, and what strategies will improve results. Here are some of questions that effective lead teachers and instructional coaches ask to get their colleagues thinking deeply about assessment data:

  • What do you think made some items difficult for students?
  • What are some possible sources of confusion?
  • What do students’ wrong answer choices tell us about their errors and misconceptions?
  • How did we originally teach this concept? What worked? What didn’t work?
  • What are the best strategies for addressing the misconceptions?
  • What are the best curriculum resources?
  • How do you think students will respond to an alternative instructional approach?


Brasel, Jason, Britnie Kane, and Ilana Horn. "Getting to the Why and How." Educational Leadership 1 Nov. 2015. Print.

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Problem Solvers or Problem Finders?

We all want our students to be able to problem solve on their own. So we give them problems to solve. Teachers, for too long, have actually been doing the richest work of learning for their students. Teachers find problems, frame them and the resources young people can use to solve them. Students get a sliver of learning from coming up with ideas, based on some basic principles upon which the teacher has briefed them.

What if we took it to the next level and asked the students to find their own problems to solve? Instead of problem solvers, we now have problem finders.

Watch Ewan McIntosh's TED Talk on Problem Finders below. If you are looking for ways to guide students to find problems, visit The Lab.

TEDxLondon - Ewan McIntosh

H&R Block Budget Challenge

Everyone knows money doesn't grow on trees. At least they will if H&R Block has any say in it. By learning strong budgeting skills and fiscal discipline early, kids can gain the knowledge and confidence to manage their own financial future. H&R Block's Budget Challenge encourages students to learn personal finance in a fun, engaging way while competing against other classrooms and students for $3 million in classroom grants and student scholarships.

It's fun. It's free. And students love it. Participants encounter real-world personal budgeting situations, problem-solving, and decision-making through an online simulation and accompanying lessons that meet national standards.

Visit this site for more information.
Adding Class Materials in Google Classroom