“Content Corner” releases second round of instructional improvement articles

The Maine Department of Education is pleased to release the second collections of 2015-2016 articles in the “Content Corner.” These resources are designed to support teaching and learning in Maine classrooms and make connections to classroom applications and research.

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Mathematically speaking, what is fluency?

This is the second in a series of instructional articles to support teachers in implementing the 8 Effective Teaching Practices outlined in the book Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. This article discusses teaching practice 6: Build Procedural Fluency from Conceptual Understanding.

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Assessment strategies for the theatre classroom

Assessment is part of the educational process. However, assessment can become an afterthought in the theatre classroom due to educator concerns that theatre is too subjective to assess successfully or that traditional assessment tools are not applicable to a performance-based discipline. Fortunately, theatre gurus, Susan K. Green and Stephen Gundersheim, have identified the following six sequential steps that educators can use to prioritize and develop effective theatre assessments.

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The why and how of thematic units in the world language classroom

The December 2015 article on the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do statements guided world language educators on using the resource for identifying learning targets relative to proficiency level. This article builds off of that idea, and it looks closer at thematic units in order to understand why and how they best empower educators to teach to language proficiency.

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Instruction in preschool programs

“Instruction” is not a word that rises to the top in a preschool teacher’s vocabulary list. In fact, some teachers hear the word and envision “instruction” as equal to inappropriate practice.  It is a word that often connotes preschool becoming too “academic,” a “push-down curriculum from kindergarten,” or taking the fun out of young children’s curiosity about the world. And, if one mentions the term “direct instruction,” many preschool teachers will end the conversation, running out of the room.

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Social Studies: questions are as important as answers

Humans are naturally inquisitive. Young children tend to ask an abundance of questions, yet the volume of questions posed by students often dwindles in middle and high school. Learners at all grade levels benefit from the opportunity to devise questions and seek answers.  If students are taught how to ask questions they will learn how to learn. Students frequently hear there is no such thing as a bad question, yet some questions are better than others. How do we help students learn how to ask good questions?

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Academically productive talk in science

There is no shortage of talking in classrooms, yet academically productive talk is far different from the standard teacher-directed questioning strategy to elicit singular correct responses. In the academically productive talk classroom, the teacher serves as facilitator for discussions that help the students grapple with concepts and reasoning that will deepen their understanding of topics. There is an element of “letting go” that is difficult for the classroom teacher who has been conditioned to “stand and deliver”; however, students will learn more as they debate and wrestle with the questions that they arrive at after they have had opportunities to observe and manipulate phenomena.

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