Skill Builders Tip #1 – Engagement & Application

unnamedSkill Builders Engage Students in Application & Practice of Learning

We’re classroom vets and we know that students need those opportunities to hone their learning with a meaningful application and yes, practice. We also know that engaging students in practice can be challenging, so we dreamed up relevant and real-world applications of skills for them. Meet Skill Builders!

A huge plus for classroom teachers is that most Skill Builders will be completely auto-graded for you. 

Choosing Skill Builders for Your Students

Each of the lessons has a real-world inspired focus on the practice of a key skill. They vary in type and length based on grade level and are only created for Math and ELA. To find Skill Builders:

  • Select the orange Browse All Lessons button in the middle of your dashboard 
  • Narrow your search by selecting Type on the left (click More Option to see all)
  • Select Skill Builders and your grade level at the top to see all available
  • Select the Skill Builder to add to your My Lessons library

How to Assign a Skill Builder to Students

  • Be sure that you have created a class in Class Manager
  • Open the Skill Builder to assign to students
  • Click on the Share icon on the right-hand menu tab
  • Select the class to receive this assignment
  • Click on SAVE (scroll down if you have many groups and classes)
  • Students will find the Skill Builder in their My Lessons library

Skill Builder Types

Essentials

Students answer questions and undertake tasks in a real-world scenario or relating to a real-world topic. The focus is on repeated practice of a skill.

Available in Math grades K-3 and ELA grades K-6. Check them out!

Choose Your Own Adventure

Students answer questions focused on a skill in math. After each result, they gain a piece of information to help them determine the location of a mystery country.

Available in Math grades 6-12. Check them out!

Crime Scene Decoders – Whodunnit

Students answer questions focused on a skill in order to piece together clues and solve a crime.

Available in Math grades 3-12 and ELA grades 7-12. Check them out!

Crime Scene Decoders

Students answer challenging questions built around a traditional unit of content. After solving each crime scene, they are able to determine who committed the crime.

Available in Math grades 3-12. Check them out!

Person Puzzles

Students answer questions focused on a skill in order to gather information about an important and influential person.

Available in Math grades 3-12. Check them out!

STEM-ersion

Students encounter a single real-world challenge in which they have to make a decision or recommendation after an analysis of the evidence.

Available in Math grades 9-12. Check them out!

Check out all Skill Builders on NextLesson!

Rank & Reason Tip #1 – Rank, Justify, Discuss

unnamed-1The Power of the Rank & Reason Discussion Tool

The power of a great academic discussion in our classrooms can be such an exciting inspiration when students are passionate, prepared, and justify their thinking with evidence. WOW! These are the moments that remind us why we love teaching.

We’re on a mission to help classroom teachers develop deeper academic discussions and critical thinking with our Rank & Reason discussion tool. To that end, you’ll find Rank & Reason discussions embedded in our Projects and Activities and also as just stand-alone short lessons.

When Rank & Reason academic discussions lead with a thought-provoking question – one with no right answer – we do also want to provide you with a writing prompt or a follow-up activity.   Be sure to look for them.

Getting Started with Rank & Reason 

  • Assign the lesson to the class and have them work side by side with a partner.
  • Best practice tip: Have students use one shared device and project the Rank and Reason challenge for all to see.
  • Ask students to discuss and agree on ranking the list based on the criteria in the lesson.
  • A great strategy to start is to ask them to choose the top 1-2 and bottom 1-2 first. The center of the ranking will generate the richest discussion as items to rank may be more similar.
  • When ranking is complete: ask students to use the speech bubbles to justify their ranking, agreeing as a partnership.
  • Students then submit their results and can view the comparison of their ranking with the ranking of their classmates.
  • Continue your discussion as a class and ask partners who may not agree with the class to share their justifications – or simply share their speech bubble.  
  • What to expect:
      • Rankings in the middle of a list may be similar, but not exact.
      • A good evaluative strategy would be to divide the list in half and ask the class if we agree on the top half, and on then on the bottom half.

Check out more Rank & Reasons on NextLesson!

Performance Tasks Tip #1 – Multiple Editions

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Why Performance Task Editions?

We dreamed up the idea of editions of lessons when our staff was having a vigorous friendly discussion about which football team’s stats we would use for a statistics lesson.  Being a San Francisco Bay Area company, it made sense to choose the 49ers. Still, there were strong arguments for the New England Patriots, the Miami Dolphins, the Seattle Seahawks, and others. Suddenly, a voice said, “Why not all of them?” and editions were born.

Each edition of a lesson has the same structure and content – what changes is the edition data. We pull actual sports statistics, download counts, prices, and much more when creating our Performance Tasks. All data in each lesson is real and relevant to the skills and concepts being applied.

Teachers can have multiple editions going at once in their classrooms, and yet still have a common conversation about the lesson and the math. Only the final answers will vary based upon the data being used. 

Not sure which editions of a Performance Task to download for students? Ask them! Students love and appreciate having choices.

Getting Started with Performance Task Editions:

  • Browse for a Performance Task that meets your need
  • Select it and the Performance Task details will be displayed
  • Use the editions drop-down to choose an edition to add to your My Lessons library
  • Next, go directly to that performance task edition, view your My Lessons library, or continue browsing for more editions
  • Each edition added can now be found in your My Lessons library, grouped within the main lesson name

Assigning/Sharing a Performance Task with Students

Assign to Students (prior to class)

  • Go to My Lessons and look for the Performance Task
  • Open the Performance Task
  • Click the Share icon on the menu tab on the right
  • Select the class or group
  • Click Save

Students will now find the lesson assignment in their own My Lessons library. If this is the first lesson assigned to students in this class or group:

  • Open Class Manager
  • Select the class from your list of classes on the left
  • Display the Join Code (enlarge with the corner arrows)
  • Ask students to go to Class Manager, select Join a Class, and enter the Join Code
  • Assign/Share the lesson following the steps above
  • They will now find the Performance Task edition assigned to them in their My Lessons library

Check out more Performance Tasks on NextLesson!

Projects & Activities Tip # 1 – Assigning to Multiple Classes/Groups

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How Can I Assign the Same Project or Activity to Multiple Classes?

This is one of our most frequent questions from teachers and we completely understand! It was an early feature that was added to make life easier for middle school, high school, and teaming teachers.

First, be sure that you have created all the classes that will be receiving the assignments in Class Manager. For instance, you may want to assign the same project to Period 1 and Period 5. 

  • Create a Period 1 class and a Period 5 class in NextLesson’s Class Manager
  • Select the project to assign and download it to your My Lessons library
  • Open the lesson
  • Click the “Make a Copy” icon in the upper right corner
  • Rename the lesson like this: Lesson Name – Period 5
  • Stay on the current lesson if you want to make another copy
  • Rename the current (original) lesson like this: Lesson Name – Period 1 (upper left corner)
  • When you look for them in your My Lessons library they will be together and look like this:

      • Lesson Name – Period 1
      • Lesson Name – Period 5

Assign to Students (prior to class)

  • Go to My Lessons and look for Lesson Name – Period 1
  • Open the lesson
  • Click the Share icon on the toolbar on the right
  • Select the class or group, in this case, Period 1
  • Click Save
  • Repeat for Period 5

Students will now find the lesson assignment in their own My Lessons library. If this is the first lesson assigned to students in this class or group:

  • Open Class Manager
  • Select the class from your list of classes on the left
  • Display the Join Code (enlarge with the corner arrows)

Check out more Projects and Activities on NextLesson!

Class Manager Tip #1 – Making Classroom Life Easier

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Class Manager Can Save You Valuable Classroom Time!

We all know that spending time on the planning of a lesson pays off with dividends when we teach the lesson with students. It is much the same with setting up your classes in Class Manager. Some questions to ask yourself as you start:

  • How do I plan to assign work to students?
  • Will I want to set up separate classes by subject or period?
  • Will I want to differentiate within those classes and set-up groups?

Class Management Options

Let’s think about the options and how they could work for you.

How do I plan to assign work to students?

If you have a single multiple-subject classroom, this may be simple. Your answer could be to just assign a lesson to the entire class. In that case, setting up a single class will work.

If you have multiple classes, and you’ll want to assign the same lesson to multiple classes, we recommend that you create a class for Period 1, Period 2, Period 3, etc.

Will I want to set up separate classes by subject or period?

Elementary teachers or teachers with self-contained classrooms are most satisfied with creating a class for each subject that they teach. It makes sense, right? It matches our gradebook and makes porting grades painless.

Middle school and high school teachers may name their classes by subject or periods – whichever works – for ease of assigning work.

The secret sauce: Will I want to differentiate within those classes and set-up groups?

  • Use groups when you want to assign different editions of a lesson. For instance, with one of our roller coaster Performance Tasks, you’ll have the option of assigning different roller coasters found in the United States. The lesson structure will be the same, but the data will change for each roller coaster.
  • Use groups when you want to differentiate for students who need more supports or are independent learners or are gifted and talented or have common interests.

Before you move to assign a lesson to groups, set them up in Class Manager. Here’s how.

Setting Up Classes and Groups with Class Manager

  • Click on the Class Manager icon from your NextLesson dashboard or from the orange dropdown menu found on the top right of each page
  • Click +Add a Class
  • Input your class information; all fields are optional
  • Change the class icon by clicking on the default NextLesson arrow icon image
  • Click Save
  • Google Classroom users will see a Sync button at the top of the Class Manager screen. Learn more about syncing with Google Classroom.

Once you have set up your classes in Class Manager, you will want to share the join code with your students and you can then assign or share lessons with them.

Sharing a Class (inviting students)

  1. Click on the Class Manager icon from your NextLesson dashboard or from the orange dropdown menu found on the top right of each page
  2. Select the class you wish to share from the My Classes list
  3. Provide students or co-teachers with the class join code *If your computer is connected to a projector/monitor, you can enlarge the class code so that it can be easily read by students across the room by clicking on the double arrow icon found on the top right corner of the join code
  4. Students will go to their Class Manager and input the code you have provided there. *If this is their first time on NextLesson, they will enter the code you provided as part of the signup process.

You’ve set up your first class! Congratulations!

Explore Class Manager some more on NextLesson!