Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ocracoke Island and the Last Stand of Blackbeard Video
Price $6.00 This video tells a powerful story about Blackbeard on Ocracoke Island that will capture your attention. Ocracoke Island and the Last Stand of Blackbeard is ideal for students with a 5th grade reading level and above (with a good reading fluency) in the study of colonial history. This over 16 minute captioned fun-to-watch video has informational text, background music and footage of the Outer Banks area.

Student Objectives:

1. Read and comprehend informational text.

2. Develop reading fluency at a moderate pace.

3. Learn the history of a settlement beginning with indigenous cultures.

4. Define quotes from the colonial period.

Values Based Learning Skills

5. Understand one’s own values and consider those of others in beliefs, policies, and behaviors.

6. Reflect on concerns for the common good and practice of social values.

7. Develop an awareness of an issue to include complexities, dilemmas, costs and benefits.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Flash Freebie in May!

Flash Freebie!
May 20th and May 21st for TiePlay Ed. TN followers only.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Now and Then: Immeasurable Qualities of Teacher Effectiveness


    Is an excellent teacher really definable? How can a truly effective teacher be characterized? In the old days of education, there were no "highly qualified" teachers.


   Really? Of course there were... and here are just some of the past teaching greats.

     Confucius (561 B.C) was the first well-know private instructor who also wrote the book, Analects. Confucius believed that a leader needed to be humble. A true leader shows compassion and empathy toward others. He wrote how families and the general public should act. In doing so, Confucius began the basis for educational ideals. A notorious Confucius writing declared,


   "What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others."

  •    The Pilgrims (1635) presented their students with reading, writing and religion in the New World.

             Highly Qualified Teachers Had To...

                             In the 1800's
  •   impress the school board of their moral character
  •    succeed on tests of reading, writing, and arithmetic for a state certificate
  •    triumph on later subject tests added: U.S. history, geography, spelling, and grammar
  •    enroll in Normal schools to prepare for instruction and teaching certificates based on multifarious and disconnected topics
        By the twentieth century, noted education schools fought for school improvement. However, there were no effective teaching practices to mentor new teachers. The debate continued on needed subject matters, teaching methods, assessments and research methods.

Even today, teachers get the impression that the latest in education research may conflict with other well-known and seemingly ideal practices.




   In the heyday of  NCLB,  the most sought after education remedy by the general public, polls and in educational departments was the issue of... teacher quality.

     So, ideally, unqualified teachers are a challenge of the past, right? Educators are now critically examined by multiple state testing and an administrator's sometimes very vauge opinions during occasional drop-ins and evaluations. Perhaps, teaching assessments could even be mainly about "politics" in some school districts. 


    States continue to show how poor and minority children are not (illegally) instructed by "inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers". Unfortunately, research implicates that administrators at high-needs schools gravitate toward hiring the least qualified and the least experienced. So, what can this mean?


                                      Into the Future

       Based on the past history of powerful teachers, teaching efforts, and our present circumstances, high quality teachers should not only acquire and maintain content knowledge and teaching skills. Competent instructors should also focus on :

  •      caring services to students, free of biased and discriminatory practices

  •      holistic development for each student

  •      allowing students to learn to exercise their own judgement 

  •      stressing moral education, so that students understand important interaction guidelines


          In looking towards the future, elected school board members might want to actively search for teachers and administrators who substantiate moral character, which to me (and many others) is a first priority. Teachers should have an aptitude for teaching subject matter, of course, as shown by certification and other tested credentials.

        Yet,  teaching skills and subject matter are acquired professionalisms which are continuously being changed and developed. The teachers that convey moral character will adapt to changes in order to better their skills, such as in technology, mentoring students, and advancing their community away from the tides of poverty and oppression.


         All one has to do is look around the county for real statistics.

    • businesses & employment in the county

    • condition of community facilities

    • crime rates

    • high school drop out rates to include children in middle school (and not just high school)

    • teaching credentials to include unique experiences and assistances within a diverse culture or community

    • be less concerned with teacher multiple choice tests, essays and college grade point averages and be very much concerned about hiring caring professionals with character

    • ratio of students of ethnic backgrounds to teachers of similar ethnic backgrounds (very important) 

    • drug use and abuse issues in townships

    • diverse teachers and administrators from various backgrounds, locations, universities and states 

        There is much more real life statistics not listed, but this kind of information might answer questions and determine how well a school system educates their students. 

        Our education status should not be rated solely on how students are doing on any one state or international muliple choice test, as it is now. After all, how does yearly testing impact the adult world of work in most jobs? 

       Children rely on adults to make great teaching happen in their schools. If our kids are not doing well in evaluations or even state and international tests, dropping out, unhappy, not fitting in, being bullied or yelled at, whose fault is it?


                                The problem might not be the children.

        Our educational system supports our economy. If our children have the skills and appropriate moral attitudes after completing high school and/or college, they and others will flourish not only in the work world, but in raising families and in building better communities.

    Tuesday, April 18, 2017

    Sign up for Giveaway & Check Out Spring Sales


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    From: April 21, 2017  To: April 24, 2017

    Sunday, April 2, 2017

    Please Welcome Sharon Skretting & Rubrics Made Easy

    Rubrics Made Easy

       Why don't teachers like to make rubrics? Because it's difficult and time consuming. But that all changes with this tool!

       Wow! I am pumped! I just returned from the Google Summit in Lethbridge and couldn't be more excited about the multitude of new tools available with Google for Education. At the summit I presented a session highlighting new way to use Google sheets to lighten your work load when it comes to making rubrics for any classroom activity! Intrigued? Read on!

       In my role as Assessment Coach for our school division, it's my job to help teachers implement best practices when it comes to assessment. To this end I've been using doing a lot of research and having great conversations with teachers about how to involve kids in their own assessment. Can our students be involved in the process of collecting, organizing and presenting their evidence of learning. Better yet, can they be responsible for it? Yes. Yes. YES!

       How? First of all we have to let them know what their learning goals are. This is where outcome or standards based assessment shines. When we share with our students the targets we want them to hit it gives them confidence to streamline their efforts toward those goals. Clearly identifying those goals and communicating them to your students is the first step to success.

       One way to accomplish such a lofty goal is to break open the rubrics! (And yes, it is just one of our goals, but an important one.) Well built rubrics use specific language that allow students to see clearly defined expectations of work quality and depth of understanding. Rubrics are useful, however, not as an after thought for marking student work. Instead rubrics must be used at the beginning of the learning process as a means to involve the students in identifying their learning goals and being invested in the assessment process. When used in this way, rubrics provide the road map for learning success.

       The challenge? Designing well built rubrics is downright difficult! Time and time again, teachers express to me how difficult it is to come up with the right wording for their rubric. It's a time consuming process that must be repeated and tailored to each new activity, project, unit or lesson. My question is... why keep re-inventing the wheel? What if we could have a bank of rubric descriptors that we could use for a variety of different purposes. What if we could use that descriptor bank in a myriad of combinations to populate and make a custom rubric for each unit or all the performance based activities within a unit. Yes... what if? That was my thinking when I decided to make interactive rubrics.

       These rubrics are: (use slides)

       Interested? Here's how the interactive rubrics work. Watch this:

       Can you see the possibilities? Could this same process be applied to make other useful tools for assessment in the classroom? Absolutely!

       The response from teachers throughout our school division,—to this time-saving tool— has been phenomenal. They love it! It's so good that we can't keep it to ourselves. I' want to pass these helpful tools on to my subscribers. If you are interested then subscribe here to my newsletter and I'll send you a very special access to a pre-built science rubrics for any grade 1 - 9 ( Disclaimer: They are built for the Alberta Curriculum, but I suspect that with some minor tweaking in the wording they can fit your curriculum, too. They are totally editable but not edible.) You'll also get access to a prebuilt blank rubric, and step by step video instructions on how to use them to make your own interactive rubrics for any subject.

       As always, those who sign up will find these language posters included.

       It's my goal to empower all of you with the tools you need to make it easy to implement best practice assessment in the classroom. I'm here to help anytime. Just email me at



       P.S. I'd love to hear how you use these rubrics in your classroom. Respond in the comments below or drop me a line!