Session Descriptions

Advocating for Effective and Reflective Policies – Michelle Accardi
Educators must inform education policy. We know that building a pipeline for teachers from teacher preparation through Board certification will enhance student learning and elevate our profession. Transformative growth in our profession requires the support of those who create and fund education policies that impact us every day. Join this session to learn simple and effective techniques to build support among decision makers at all levels including school, district, and state levels.

Getting “Behavior” out of the Gradebook: Implementing Social and Emotional Learning and Trauma-Sensitive Practices in the Classroom – Greg Benner
The purpose of this presentation is to build your capacity to integrate and infuse trauma-sensitive social and emotional learning strategies into your classroom. Strategies for building youth social and emotional learning competencies while maintaining an engaging classroom learning environment will be demonstrated. Techniques for ending power struggles and responding effectively to disruptive behavior will be modeled. In this session, you will get an engaging, user-friendly approach for implementing and sustaining classroom SEL. In this context, the two primary goals of this presentation are: 1) To learn how to build youth SEL competencies through sustained positive interactions; and 2) to enhance your own SEL competencies and end the use of power struggles.

Grading with a Purpose – Jill Edwards
There are many opinions on whether to use traditional letter grades or standards based grades. This session will focus on how to use traditional grading on the report card aligned to standards mastery. We will look at elementary examples and discuss how to use the subjective practice of grading in an objective conversation of standards mastery.

Better Grading Practices in a Middle/High School Classroom – Amber Emerson
Do you get frustrated when a kid makes 100s on homework and classwork but fails the test? Do you wonder how to help those few students who simply don’t get a standard but it is “time” to move on to the next one? Have you been guilty of giving that participation grade out just to “fluff” up a grade? What do you do when a student has a zero in the grade book? Come join the discussion as we work through these and other important decisions that have to be made in the classroom pertaining to grades. We will work through ethical grading techniques and how to have equity in the grade book.

No More Red Ink: Using Grading to Foster Creativity and Community in the Writing Classroom – Brooke Fuller
Nothing can be more stress-inducing for students than receiving back essays covered in red ink. Traditional means of grading student writing have been proven to crush student creativity and to deeply affect confidence in writing. How do we effectively grade writing, especially for students with severe mistakes, without silencing students’ voices? This session will examine means of grading writing without the traditional red pen. Participants will learn about collaborative conferencing and incorporating grading into the writing process.  

Making the Case for Standards-Based Grading – Reeivice Girtman and Jeremy Suchman
This session will begin with an examination of core beliefs related to student learning followed by an honest analysis of current grading practices. We will pose the following questions. Are school grading practices aligned with core beliefs about student learning? If not, then why not? Furthermore, this session will dive into confronting change and overcoming current obstacles that might attempt to thwart the process. Other topics that will be discussed include a review of current research of SBG, defining mastery, growth mindset, educating parents and co-workers, school culture, and much more. This session will explore making the case for SBG from a building principal and district leadership perspective. The session will also include engaging partner and group discussions and culminate with a Q&A period.

Grading, Asssessment, and Evaluation: Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic – Adam Kilcrease
At the onset of school closures, the pandemic opened the door for new learning opportunities for teachers, students, and parents. As doors shut, the school’s purpose remained the same. Continued learning experiences were at the forefront of educators’ and guardians’ minds as they prepared to navigate unfamiliar roads. Procedures related to assessment and grading, two major factors affected by COVID-19, were in immediate need of restructuring nationwide. Russell County, a school district in east central Alabama could be looked at as a model district when it comes to the improvement of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and improvement during the COVID-19 era. As public health orders are being lifted and a new school year is under way, it is important to reflect on the experience teachers, students, and stakeholders had during the first half of 2020. That experience will prepare schools and systems for the road ahead as the focus on virtual instruction and resources is at an all-time high. This presentation will give other educators relevant research and strategies that any student, teacher, school, or system could benefit from.

Streamlining Hybrid and Distance Learning through Google Suites – Jennifer Martinez and Lindsey Schoeneck
Hybrid/Distance Learning is a challenge for most teachers. How can you juggle virtual students and those in your face to face classroom? Remote students not completing assignments or turning assignments late? While this style of teaching is very difficult for many, this session will provide some “hacks” for teachers during these unprecedented times using the Google Classroom platform. We will use books, “Shake It Up Learning” by Casey Bell and “The Distance Learning Playbook” by Fisher, Frey, and Hattie.

Why Should I be Thinking About Grading During a Pandemic? – Andrew Maxey
If there was ever a year when teachers should be allowed to stay the course and carry on, isn’t this that year? Great point; counterpoint: if there was ever a time when grading practices exacerbated obstacles to learning, isn’t this that year? Let’s talk about why students desperately need us to attend to this issue right now, and a few places we can start.

Yeah, but…! Responses and Rebuttals for the Most Common Objections to Grading Reform – Andrew Maxey
Few educational cows are more sacred that grading practices; messing with them is the best way to offend almost everyone. Educators gathering the courage to tackle this issue need to be prepared for the laundry list of objections and concerns that are frequently raised. Join a discussion of a few of these objections and at least one idea for addressing each.

Green Means Go – Pressing the Pedal on Meaningful Lesson Design and Grading – Melissa Shields
Grades K-12. Are you considering a more equitable approach to grading? Dr. Shields will share insights regarding the shift to standards-based lesson planning, grading, and/or reporting (why and how). She will also share many resources, including tools, book studies, and K-12 samples (core and non-core), to inform these practices. Session website link:

Own It! Student Self-Assessment that Works – Amy Tilford and Rachel Hill
Student self-assessment is proven to be a powerful learning tool. Come learn more about how we can implement practices to support students as they evaluate and monitor their own progress towards mastery. Participants will gain insights on classroom strategies, including strategies for ELs, and technology supports for student self assessment.

It’s Not Cheating, It’s Collaboration: Providing Effective Feedback to Student Partnerships and Groups – Charlsie Wigley
For some students, the term “Group Project” invites groans and the occasional eye roll. Similarly the grading and feedback components of group tasks have become a source of frustration and confusion for many students, families, and teachers alike. This session will address methods for providing effective feedback and grading to students navigating collaboration through partner or group tasks. Intended for secondary teachers and those who support them (administrators, specialists, coaches, etc.), this session will provide insight on ways to streamline group feedback across departments and schools through clearly outlined communication strategies.