I have always enjoyed word games. Free Rice is just that a simple word game that has been around since 2007. Free Rice is a non-profit website that is owned by and supports the United Nations World Food Program. It is made possible by the generosity of the sponsors who advertise on this site.

Free Rice has two goals:
• Provide education to everyone for free.
• Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

If you haven’t visited the Free Rice website lately you will want to check out some new categories that are great for your students when they need a few minutes of filler time. At the top of the vocabulary box look for the words CHANGE SUBJECTS with an arrow pointing right. Click on the arrow to find a broad listing of …


Wednesday, 14 May 2014 by

Kahoot! is an awesome tool teachers and students are falling in love with! This game based system motivates our classrooms and is backed by academic research in blended learning. Used as a hybrid of face to face and traditional learning, Kahoot! brings a great learning platform to classrooms that helps educators motivate and involve students in questioning, discussing, and surveying! It is one of the most user friendly platforms I have run across in some time. The snapshots and long term tracking help educators make just in time adjustments in teaching. This is a super digital tool for formative assessment. Kahoot! has also recently released a way for teachers to instantly “kick” inappropriate student nicknames from the lobby screen. Kahoot! is committed to providing a safe and enjoyable learning environment.…

Newsela is a free web-based program that offers daily relevant nonfiction news stories for your students. Each article has five adaptable Lexile levels for easy differentiation. Students can read interesting news articles, take quizzes, and monitor their progress. Aligned with Common Core the teacher can drill down to see specific standards each article offers.

The Pro ($) version allows teachers and students to annotate articles to give personalized learning experiences. With a variety of topics teachers can easily differentiate based on students interests as well as reading level. Newsela stands out as an exemplary web tool that offers high interest and relevant news stories and works well for grades 4-12, but I use it for 3rd graders too! Whether you have one classroom computer or thirty, Newsela should and can be easily integrated into your classroom instruction.…

Formative Assessment

Monday, 16 September 2013 by

The goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning. More specifically, formative assessments:

  • help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work
  • help faculty recognize where students are struggling and address problems immediately

Formative assessments are generally low stakes, which means that they have low or no point value. Examples of formative assessments include asking students to:

  • draw a concept map in class to represent their understanding of a topic
  • submit one or two sentences identifying the main point of a lecture
  • turn in a research proposal for early feedback

If technology is limited at your school Signal Pinch Cards are a great quick response for Formative Assessments. Made quickly on card stock and

Common Core Confusion

Tuesday, 13 November 2012 by

Many schools have been left scrambling to roll out Common Core to teachers in the past couple of years. Many systems used a train the trainer model to do so. Though we are educators, not every teacher is a teacher trainer. In turn, training of the Common Core model was not always delivered with fidelity. I have been asked time and time again what is the best training available for Common Core? How do we pull off understanding and transferring such an enormous transition from our state objectives to this new model?

These questions have been at the forefront of reflection for me this first semester of school. In Ron Clark's book The End of Molasses Classes, he says "Figure out a solution. Find a way to create success. Make it happen. If you are taking the time to make …

Upcoming Webinars

Friday, 19 October 2012 by

The Alliance for Excellent Education
Invites You to Attend a Webinar on

Digital Strategies for Increasing
Access and Opportunity in Rural Schools

Thursday, October 25, 2012
2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. (ET)

Alison Dwier-Selden, Principal, Walton Middle School (Charlottesville, Virginia)
Scott McLeod, PhD, Director of Innovation, Prairie Lakes AEA 8 (Pocahontas, Iowa)
Pamela Moran, EdD, Superintendent, Albemarle County Public Schools (Charlottesville, Virginia)
Terri Schwartzbeck, Senior Policy Associate, Alliance for Excellent Education
Chip Slaven, Senior Advocacy Associate, Alliance for Excellent Education

Rural youth continue to be less likely than their urban counterparts to reach their educational goals, and evidence indicates that they continue to be disadvantaged in terms of school resources to prepare them for college and a career. Some of the most promising efforts around improving rural education are taking place in schools where …