How peer feedback can improve student writing skills

The art of writing, invented roughly 5,000 years ago, represents a blip in human history. It’s younger than agriculture, music, and construction. And as recently as the Revolutionary War, a majority of Americans couldn’t put pen to paper. In short: Writing remains a new feat of technology. We’re still figuring it out. 

Despite its relative youth, writing has evolved into a vital skill. Today, we broadly recognize that citizenship requires the ability to read and write. As Orwell put it: “If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.”

Perhaps as importantly, writing is a key skill for professional success. Hiring managers, for example, are more likely to cite writing skills as “very important” for new hires, compared to technological and quantitative reasoning skills. If students leave campus without refined writing skills, we’ve done them a great disservice. …Read More

Texthelp Launches WriQ to Automate and Standardize Writing Assessment

Texthelp®, a leading education technology company focused on helping learners of all ages and abilities improve their reading, writing, and math skills, today announced the launch of WriQ®, a cloud-based writing assessment and achievement tool. Using a powerful and proprietary computer algorithm, WriQ automates and standardizes the assessment of student writing against national norms, evaluating each student’s writing across a number of criteria. As a result, teachers are able to quickly assess writing proficiency and provide students with specific and personalized feedback.

In conjunction with the launch of WriQ, Texthelp also released a new report, “Lockdown and beyond: Learning in a changing landscape,” developed with ImpactED. It highlights a number of key challenges for U.S. educators in light of the pandemic, including the scale of disruption; the rapid move to online teaching; the need for teacher support; mass learning loss; and a decrease in student motivation.

The report analyzed U.S. education research, finding that approximately 29 percent of students stated that they were “not engaged” before the COVID-19 lockdown. At the beginning of May 2020, 80 percent of teachers said that student motivation was lower than it had been pre-lockdown. Notably, the report also highlighted the potential for a widening of existing achievement gaps of up to 15-20 percent. It concludes that research-based tools that encourage engagement through real-time feedback and gamification, as well as provide student autonomy, will likely have the best impact on both student outcomes and teacher workloads.…Read More

What Are Students’ Top Interests for 2020?

What do Billie Eilish, Serena Williams, Albert Einstein, and SpongeBob SquarePants have in common? They rank among students’ most popular interests, based on responses collected by NoRedInk from millions of students in grades 5–12.

Top student interests

NoRedInk is an adaptive writing curriculum that engages students by personalizing exercises according to their interests. Below are students’ top choices from the 2019–20 school year across several categories:…Read More

BIOZONE Launches Comprehensive Environmental Science Program

BIOZONE has just published an exciting new AP Environmental Science title (in print and eBook) dedicated to addressing the College Board’s new APES Course & Exam Description (2019).
Using engaging, current, and relevant case studies, this includes activities on:

  • COVID-19 pandemic (snapshot up until July 2020)
  • Increased incidence and severity of wildfires (California, Australia, Brazil, Siberia)
  • Global climate change – latest scientific data (up to 2019 in some cases)
  • Finding and applying solutions to environmental problems

Take a quick look now – you can access an immediate FULL PREVIEW (see every page) by going to the product page and clicking on the Full Preview button at: www.thebiozone.com/apes
“I’d be delighted to receive any feedback about your impression of this resource,” Richard Allan Biozone’s President commented. “Our writing team have put their heart and soul into making it as engaging and as cutting edge as we can get it. We intend to publish a new edition every 2 years to keep it that way. So much is going on in this subject right now and we are super excited to share our passion to inspire better outcomes for our planet through science education!”
BIOZONE’s resources are available in both print and digital formats:

  • Digital version: allows teachers to assign and mark lessons remotely. A low-cost eBook Lite option is now available for budget-constrained districts.
  • Print version: Learning-from-home solutions can also include our print titles. Limited broadband access may be an obstacle for many students. Print titles, used alongside learning
    management tools and teacher coaching can provide effective “learning-from-home” solutions.

About Biozone
BIOZONE International is a world leader in delivering cutting-edge high-quality student instructional materials and teacher resources for high school sciences (grades 9-12). With a 30-year presence in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom, along with a global footprint of dedicated educators, we possess an absolute passion for next generation science.…Read More

CAE Announces Stacey Sparks as Senior Director of Content Design and Development

Council for Aid to Education, Inc. (CAE), a leading provider of performance-based educational assessments measuring 21st century skills, as well as custom assessments, today announced the appointment of Stacey Sparks to senior director of content design and development. In this role, Sparks will lead content development for the services division and manage content experts and CAE’s production team.

“We are thrilled about Stacey guiding the design and development of performance-based assessments and custom solutions for our clients,” said Bob Yayac, president and CEO of CAE. “Great content is critical to effective assessments and her in-depth knowledge and experience in assessment, coupled with her outstanding writing and editing skills, strengthen our mission.”

Sparks has worked closely with clients including state departments of education, large urban school districts, multi-state consortia, and educational publishers to design and develop K-12 assessments, both formative and summative; digital and print curriculum materials; and professional development tools. She has extensive knowledge of educational frameworks and standards and is deeply committed to developing rigorous, engaging, accessible materials that promote equity and diversity. A seasoned writer and editor in English Language Arts and the humanities, Sparks previously served as a Senior Research Analyst at the American Institutes for Research and a Curriculum Writer for Public Consulting Group.…Read More

Hundreds of Educational Resources

Started by a Facebook group and now driven by a nation of teachers, the list at the time of writing contains links to over 800 resources. This expansive list contains activities and resources for both administrators and teachers alike.

You will find resources on every subject and links for administrators to numerous companies offering free services during your time of need.

eSchool News is working to review many items on this list–check back often for updates.…Read More

4 benefits of using Minecraft in the classroom

When I met Grade 5 teacher Mark, he came to me with an exciting idea: He wanted me to work with him to teach creative writing through Minecraft in the classroom. I signed him up as my dissertation student in my Master of Education course, and over the following year we got to work on our project.

Minecraft is a sandbox computer game. It is a game that doesn’t have pre-set linear timelines, missions, or goals for players to follow. I like to think of Minecraft as a digital version of LEGOs. Players use base blocks to build imaginary worlds and characters.

Related content: 7 ways Minecraft can make learning exciting again…Read More

Best practices for developing proficient writers

Too often when teachers say they are teaching writing, they mean that they are assigning writing work to their students, but they aren’t actually helping students master the fundamentals. From grammar and spelling basics to writing thesis statements and revising drafts, every step of the process is essential for developing confident writers who can effectively communicate their ideas. Based on several research reports, Jenny Hamilton, M.Ed., an independent literacy consultant, has identified best practices for writing education, which she shared in the recent edWebinar, “Strategies for Building Proficient K–12 Writers.” Overall, the goal is to break down writing into its essential elements, giving students the opportunity to master them before drafting essays and reports.

First, students should have a strong background in the structures of writing, such as spelling, punctuation, and basic grammar. In addition, teachers should spend time looking at individual sentence and paragraph construction. For example, what makes a good topic sentence? How do you connect the sentences in a paragraph to each other? Which adjectives and adverbs convey which emotions to the reader? Thus, students are able to pay more attention to the content of their writing because they understand the foundations.

Then, students can move on to prewriting. As part of prewriting students need to be able to interpret a writing prompt. They should be able to say in their own words what the teacher is asking them to do. Teachers need to work with their classes to identify the key asks in a prompt and how that narrows the scope of the assignment.…Read More

5 ways to ensure cultural inclusivity

Have you ever wondered what goes into developing a culturally-inclusive curriculum?

The audience that Reading Horizons serves is diverse, and our footprint has grown significantly in the last decade as K–3 teachers and students from all over the country use our product for emerging readers and remediation. Our curriculum has generally met the needs of educators and learners, but a few years ago we learned that we had not spent enough time ensuring that we weren’t unintentionally excluding people or perpetuating stereotypes and biases. If a reader can’t identify with any piece of our material or software, we are doing them a disservice. That’s when we made a company-wide resolution to focus on cultural inclusivity at every step of the writing and publishing process.

Our goal is to make sure that, no matter where a student is from, their age, their ethnicity or religion, they feel like the program was written for them as much as anybody else. Guided by cultural inclusivity, we not only rewrote our existing material, but we set up systems to make us more intentional in how we developed new curriculum. Here are the lessons and steps we took.…Read More

Scholastic News Kid Reporters

The Scholastic News Kids Press Corps is a group of talented young reporters, ages 10–14, from across the country. For more than 17 years, Scholastic News Kid Reporters have covered “news for kids, by kids.” Their stories appear online at the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website and in select issues of Scholastic classroom magazines, which reach more than 25 million students in classrooms nationwide. The Kid Reporters have made news by interviewing journalists, politicians, entertainers, authors, and sports stars. The annual selection of Kid Reporters is based on writing ability, interviewing skills, and attention to detail.

 

…Read More

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