Our Blog

Closing the Learning with 2 Essential Questions

  • by Kelly Harmon
  • Dec. 12, 2020, 6:04 p.m.

Since learning is a result of thinking, we want to provide frequent opportunities for your learners to summarize their learning and think about how the new information changes thinking.  Watch this 2-1/2 minute PD video to learn more about two great questions exit questions you can use in every lesson. 

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Ann Elise Record's Free Fraction Training for Brainingcamp

  • by Ann-Elise Record
  • Dec. 12, 2020, 5:49 p.m.

By Ann-Elise Record

Did you know that the foundations of fractions are found in the geometry standards in K-2nd grade? Spend an hour with Ann Elise learning how to develop fraction concepts in Kindergarten to third grade using virtual manipulatives.

Fractions- Part 1 from Brainingcamp on Vimeo.

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Building Conceptual Knowledge with Desmos

  • by Ashley Taplin
  • Dec. 12, 2020, 4:53 p.m.

By Ashley Taplin

Desmos is one of my favorite digital platforms for math instruction because their classroom activities, linked here, are rooted in problem solving and inquiry approaches. I have loved using Desmos for several years, but more recently as the need for virtual learning platforms has grown, I started to think about what makes Desmos lessons so effective. Nick Corley, a Desmos fellow, shared a blog post with me describing the pedagogy behind Desmos lessons and I love how it explained the importance of developing conceptual knowledge prior to learning a procedure. Their lessons and activities do this in several unique ways.

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Always, Sometimes, Never

  • by Rachel Mane
  • Dec. 12, 2020, 4:48 p.m.

The "Always, Sometimes, Never" Strategy can be used in any content area as an invitation to classify information about a topic.  Watch this one-minute explanation of the strategy using Google Jamboard.


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One minute PD's

  • by Rachel Mane
  • Dec. 12, 2020, 4:47 p.m.

When the pandemic hit, there was an overabundance of information and technology being shared in the education world and many of us were quickly overwhelmed. As an educator, it is important to model continued learning and reflection upon our craft when we expect our students to do the same, but when does it become too much? As a district math coach, I wanted to support in a meaningful, but less overwhelming way, so I began videoing myself doing a one-minute PD session. You can access my videos on my YouTube channel.

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Prepare to Reconnect Students to Learning after the Holidays

  • by Cindy Jones
  • Dec. 12, 2020, 4:45 p.m.

The COVID pandemic has disrupted many students’ connection to school and learning. Some students depend so much on school for their social interaction, for a lot of resources, and for just the comfort of something consistent. This is a difficult time to be a teacher AND a student. What steps can we employ to help students reconnect and stay connected to school?

Here are ideas that have worked for educators both in the classroom and on-line.

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Engaging Virtual Learners

  • by Kelly Harmon
  • Dec. 12, 2020, 4:44 p.m.

By Kelly Harmon

I was talking to my 8th grade nephew a few weeks ago about his experience with virtual learning. He said Google Meet was better than sitting in the same class all day long, spaced six feet apart. He likes being at home, able to get something to eat or drink anytime he wanted. When I asked him if he turned his camera on and participated in class discussions, he said no because "no one else does." He said he'd do it if others did.

This got me thinking about how to build an online community of learners who feel safe to share their cameras and speak up during discussions. How can we give students a reason to turn on the camera? How can we help students see that they have commonalities with each other? It really boils down to starting each session with the social and emotional connections and then moving into the lesson content.


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Using Formative Assessments to Design Tier 1 and Tier 2 Intervention Groups

  • by Ashley Taplin
  • Nov. 11, 2020, 11:30 a.m.

By Ashley Taplin


As I think about interventions, I am reminded of a quote by Mike Mattos in which he says, “the best intervention is prevention.” When interventions are embedded within daily formative assessments, students can see that learning is an ongoing process. Below are some strategies that can be used virtually or in-person, and give both students and teachers clear next steps for learning.


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5-3-1 Rating System

  • by Kelly Harmon
  • Nov. 11, 2020, 11:25 a.m.

I like to use a rating system with students. I explain that a rating of 5 means you are an expert and you could teach someone else. A rating of a 3 means you are an apprentice. You need more coaching and/or practice to clear up misconceptions or misunderstandings. A rating of 1 means you are a novice. You are just beginning to learn the learning target. There may be vocabulary in the learning target that you don't recognize or understand. At the 1 or 3 level, you can set personal learning goals. This might sound like "I'm a novice and I need to know what character motivations are and how you would describe them."

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Using Success Criteria to Prevent and Plan for Interventions.

  • by Kelly Harmon
  • Nov. 11, 2020, 11:07 a.m.

Impactful instruction is very intentional. From planning the learning targets to planning how students will practice and demonstrate learning, we work to provide clarity for our students. Success criteria brings everything into focus for the learner.


Dr. John Hattie defines success criteria as:

Success criteria are the standards by which the project or performance will be judged at the end to decide whether or not it has been successful. They are often brief, co-constructed with students, aim to remind students those aspects on which they need to focus, and can relate to the surface (content, ideas) and deep (relations, transfer) successes from the lesson(s). 


The effect size of using success criteria is a .88-over 2 years of growth in one year!

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