Week in Class: Week Twelve 2013 – What’s the Question?


06/11/18 12:47:15 BEIJING
My previous post looked at a badly done task via Common Core. To cleanse my palate and focus on the positive, I’d like to share some of the questions that I’ve heard and asked, in my classroom as part of formative assessment. Read the rest of this entry »

Sometimes more is really less


Sample Items | Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

The item above comes from a sample item on the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) website, and it’s supposed to assess the writing  of an argument (what used to be called persuasive writing). Click on the image to get a larger view to read the task.
Read the rest of this entry »

Week in Class: Week Eleven 2013


number 11
About this time of year, I’m feeling as distressed as the paint on this picture. I’m tired. I’m really tired, I’m ready for my first “break”, and thank the gods that we now have the whole week of Thanksgiving off (even if I hate the furlough cut in my pay). Read the rest of this entry »

You can’t ask them to think about text that gives them nothing to think about…


Lately I’ve devoted a lot of blog space to what I’ll refer to as “stupid Common Core tricks” that usually result from being overly attentive to the standards, and not giving enough attention to context. Burkins and Yaris, one of my favorite blogs on the actual nitty-gritty of implementing Common Core, has a really great piece on what you need to do to create a powerful Common Core lesson. Here is an excerpt:

1. Begin with the text.

Great text is central to any great literacy instruction; this is especially true with Common Core aligned instruction. The idea behind the Common Core standards is that students become increasingly more proficient in reading grade level complex text, which means that we need to be very intentional about asking students to interact with texts that are worthy of close reading.  As you select texts for students, remember that Lexile level is but one measure of text complexity.  You are not just looking for “hard” texts with million dollar words, but also for texts that give students something to think about and afford them opportunities to learn new ideas and content.

The humanity of their approach stands in stark contrast to the techno-scientific approach (more like pseudo-scientific) of lexile-based reading being pushed by others. These are guidelines that work, whatever your standards.

Reflecting on Common Core RL Standard 5


Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
- Common Core ELA Anchor Standard 5

Critical Classrooms (Katie Lapham) has a lovely piece on the shortcomings of ReadyGEN Common Core curriculum. Basically, the text on Rachel Carson, had been paired with a reading skill. In this case,  craft and structure,specifically analyzing figurative language and word choice. The post author eschewed the assigned skills, and did a nice lesson focusing on other areas that were more appropriate to the reading at hand. The post is worth a read, and can be found here.   Read the rest of this entry »

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All of Ms. Mercer's work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Howdy! I teach sixth grade at an elementary school in Sacramento, CA. I started my career in Oakland, Ca, and moved here to Sacramento in 2001.

My goals are:

  1. To reflect on how I am teaching, and how effective my practices are;
  2. To reflect on my profession, and how effective various practices are;
  3. To understand the political and cultural context that we teach in; and,
  4. To network with other like-minded educators.

To help me reach my goals, I use this blog as a place for me to reflect on best practices, and the practices I’m (trying to) putting in place in my classroom.

I can be contacted here.


The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not those of Sacramento City Unified School District.