Best Practices Blog

This blog features the best commentary, sample learning expeditions, and research from across our network of educators

What If Assessment Was Used to Elevate Learning Rather than to Rank Students?

Chief Academic Officer Ron Berger writes about student-engaged assessment on the Teaching Channel's blog. 

Imagine you are the coach of your daughter’s soccer team. Assessment would be important to you. You would hope that each of your players would have a clear sense of what she does well, what she needs to work on, and a commitment to improvement. It’s doubtful you would regularly give each girl a written test to determine her value as a player, and then sort each player into proficient, needs improvement, and failing categories.

Just as good soccer coaches do, teachers must help their students gain a clear sense of — and high standards for — what they do well, what they need to work on, and how to improve. The most important assessment that takes place in any school is not the end-of-year test; it is the assessment that is going on all day long in the mind of every student. Each student is continually assessing his or her attitude, behavior, understanding, and work — “Is this piece good enough to turn in?” “Do I actually understand this concept?”

Read more here. 

ELNC14: Shooting for the Targets

In this ELNC14 post, Expeditionary Learning Staff Writer Dina Strasser explores the characteristics of effective learning targets and her experience in ELNC14 Master Class A20: Learning Targets, presented by EL School Designers Shyla Kinhal and Jen Wood.

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ELNC14: Coherence and Ownership

Sarah Boddy—guest blogger and Expeditionary Learning Fund for Teachers Coordinator and School Designer—offers a glimpse into ELNC14 Master Class A19: A Bold Experiment in Learning and Leading, presented by Evergreen Community Charter School teachers Susan Gottfried and Carrie Pusey.

ELNC14 Pre-Conference Day 05: Creating Your Best Expedition

Expeditionary Learning Staff Writer, Dina Strasser shares the powerful impressions and useful takeaways from ELNC14 Pre-Conference Day Session 05: A Day in the Life of a Humanities-based Expedition.

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A Moment of Awe, ELNC14 Pre-Conference Day 01: Nurturing the Caterpillar

Expeditionary Learning Fund For Teachers Coordinator and School Designer, Sarah Boddy shares her reflection on ELNC14 Pre-Conference Day 01 Session: What Our Youngest Learners Long For, presented by EL School Designers Romey Pittman and Steven Levy, and special guest and author, Anna Rainville.

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The 'Secret Sauce' of Formative Assessment

This week, in the second part of a two-part blog series featured on Education Week's Classroom Q&A, Libby Woodfin, EL's Director of Publications, answers the question posed by Larry Ferlazzo "What are effective formative assessment techniques?"  

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The Courage to Be College-Bound

In this Education Week Learning Deeply blog post that appeared on November 6th, 2014, Deidre Cuffee-Gray, Guidance and Counseling Department Chair at EL Mentor School Springfield Renaissance School, and EL Director of Publications Libby Woodfin explore a number of ways in which high schools can instill the concepts of "college-bound" and "100% college acceptance as a standard" in students from day one. 

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Intellectual Courage: Making Professional Learning Matter

In this Education Week Learning Deeply blog post that appeared on November 5th, 2014, Cheryl Dobbertin, Director of the Teacher Potential Project at Expeditionary Learning, highlights the importance of intellectual courage not only among students, but among their teachers as well.

Imagine this scene. Several students are huddled up over a workspace, taking steps to solve a real world problem. They are questioning, probing each other's thinking, seeking resources, and using feedback to check their understanding and refine their approach. Is this a high school physics class? Nope, it's a professional development session.

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Is Intellectual Courage the Key to Great Teaching?

In this Education Week Learning Deeply blog post that appeared on November 3, 2014, Chief Academic Officer Ron Berger highlights the importance of intellectual courage not only among students, but among teachers as well.

In Washington, D.C., there is a school, Two Rivers Public Charter School, with a waiting list of over 2,000 families. In addition to having a school culture that celebrates inquiry, and joy in learning, Two Rivers also has remarkable academic results. Math achievement in 2013 was 24 percent above state average, and in every grade from kindergarten through eighth, math scores are strong and have shown consistent and significant growth.

What's going on here? Does this school have a knack for finding and recruiting math-smart teachers, or are they doing something different with the teachers they have - tapping into something new and powerful?

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The Three Dimensions of Student Achievement

In his latest post featured on Education Week's Learning Deeply blog, Ron Berger writes that a three-dimensional view is needed in education today - joining test scores to high-quality student work and character. "This single change could be transformational for education in the U.S.: students and schools would be accountable for the things that actually matter in the world. 'High-achieving' would now mean 'the kind of school I want my kids to attend to prepare them for a great life,' rather than 'a school that currently has good test scores'." READ MORE

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