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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession

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September 17, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Round II: Another top teacher explains more of jargon you hate

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Spencer Olmsted

In our quest to illuminate some of the education jargon you’ve said confuses and confounds you, today we offer plain-spoken definitions of five more terms, provided by National Board Certified teacher Spencer Olmsted from Olympia. Thanks, Spencer!

He follows Mark Gardner, a Camas high-school teacher (also nationally certified) who tackled three terms last week.

Both Olmsted and Gardner write for the Stories from School blog, a project of the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession, a Washington nonprofit.

Olmsted teaches fifth grade in Olympia. His full bio is below.

He chose to define manipulatives, formative assessment, constructivist, scaffolding and number sentence.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession, jargon, Spencer Olmsted

September 9, 2014 at 5:00 AM

What does data-driven mean? Maybe not what you think

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Mark Gardner

A few weeks back, we asked you to tell us what education jargon frustrates, exasperates or confuses you — and we got a long list, everything from alignment to value-added.

Then we asked some of our state’s most talented educators  ones who have earned the prestigious National Board Certification  to come up with some plain-spoken definitions.

Today, we feature responses from one of them: Mark Gardner, a high school English teacher from the Camas School District in southwest Washington and a blogger for Stories from School, a project of the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession, a nonprofit dedicated to building a strong teaching force in Washington state.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession, jargon, Mark Gardner

June 25, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Eight teachers, eight struggles with measuring student growth

Take eight certified teachers, all with a prestigious advanced teaching credential, and ask them to tell stories about how they measure student growth in their classrooms  a requirement of the state’s new teacher evaluation system.

These are some of our most accomplished instructors  teachers who care a lot about how much their students learn. Yet most admit that, at first, they tried to game the system or find an easy, if meaningless, way to show growth.

As Lindsey Stevens, a high school teacher in Sumner, put it:

Teachers were literally joking (I hope) about grading everything ridiculously hard the first time, and then just being easier on the kids the next time. They would say, write your goal in a way you can’t go wrong, then no matter what happens you look like a rock star.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession, student growth, teacher evaluation