Educator Services

Teachers' Top Three from ESE — October 5, 2017

  1. New Resource: Quick Reference Guides to the 2017 Mathematics Curriculum Framework
    We recently released two two-page quick reference guides (QRGs) to the 2017 Curriculum Framework for Mathematics: "Fractions Learning Progression in Grades 3-5," which describes the learning trajectory from the conceptual foundations of fractions to fluency with fractional operations, and "Standard Algorithms for Addition and Subtraction," which summarizes the progression of standards related to developing a conceptual understanding of the standard algorithms for addition and subtraction. You might find them useful summaries both for yourself and for explaining the math progressions to parents. We hope to release additional quick reference guides throughout the school year.

    In the meantime, we've also released grade-by-grade explanations for the 2017 ELA/Literacy and Mathematics frameworks that provide detailed descriptions of the revisions made to the 2010 frameworks for each grade level. Each document presents the 2010 standard next to the revised 2017 standard, with changes noted in red, along with a brief rationale for the change. These detailed documents supplement the previously released "Highlights" documents (available at the same link), which list some of the key changes for each grade level. Each grade-by-grade document was previously available on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education site as part of the 2017 frameworks revisions process but has now been republished to support teachers and administrators with the transition to the 2017 frameworks.

  2. The Buzz: Personalized Learning
    Personalized learning can mean many things to many people. At the end of the summer, Ken Klau, a former teacher who is director of ESE's Office of Digital Learning, published an essay in EdSurge called "Personalized Learning Is the Answer. (I Forgot the Question.)" about personalized learning and what people should be asking about it. The following is excerpted from that piece.

    The excitement shared by proponents of personalized learning eclipses any universal agreement about what it actually means.…

    If we distill the many definitions of personalized learning, we are usually left with at least two common elements: (a) students have a say in the learning process, and (b) students' learning experiences are determined in part by their individual strengths and needs. Defined this way, there is much to like about personalized learning. Not only does it empower young learners; it prepares them for success in school and life…

    Personalized learning's all-inclusiveness, usually a good thing, in fact puts it at risk. Educators and others interested in the future of personalized learning must clarify, to a profounder extent than done now, the specific problems in public education that one or more of the tenets of personalized learning are supposed to solve…

    Michael Horn, a colleague of mine, spends a lot of time in schools. I asked him once to tell me about the most powerful example of personalized learning he ever saw. The answer I anticipated included plenty of technology, lots of real-time data about students, creative projects, different grouping strategies, and a vibrant, flexible space in which all of this happens.

    Instead, I was surprised by the pragmatism of his response. He described a school whose teachers learned, after a very reflective and deliberate process of discovery, that they didn't know their students well enough: what their students have achieved, what they want to achieve, what's holding them back. Following this process, school leadership modified the schedule to provide 15 minutes of uninterrupted time for students to confer with their teacher, one-on-one, about their academic and non-academic goals on a regular basis.

    As any school administrator will tell you, changing the master schedule is not a light undertaking. But making time for conversations was only the starting point. To use it well, other aspects of school life had to be rethought, including developing a deeper understanding of the relationship between student engagement and performance.

    Education initiatives can alter things in fundamental ways, or change the words we use to describe the status quo. When we hear about schools that are making the shift to personalized learning, we should not hesitate to ask why and what it will look like. Otherwise, personalized learning becomes the answer in search of a question.

  3. FYI: Mentoring and Induction Report, South Shore Forum, Statistics Professional Development
    A few short items for your consideration:

    • We recently released the 2017 Massachusetts Statewide Induction and Mentoring Report, which provides data, resources, and strategies from 276 school districts, charter schools, and educational collaboratives. The report includes information on how districts work to retain educators, what mentors and mentees do with their time together, and the amount districts spend on mentor stipends.
    • Acting Commissioner Jeff Wulfson will speak at a regional community forum on K-12 education hosted by Abington Superintendent Peter Schafer from 6:30-8 p.m. on Oct. 11 at Abington High School, 201 Gliniewicz Way. Registration will start at 6 p.m., the commissioner's presentation will start at 6:30 p.m., and a question-and-answer session will follow. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees are asked to register online in advance.
    • The Boston Chapter of the American Statistical Association is holding a workshop for K-12 math and science teachers who use or teach statistics in their classes. The workshop, called "Making Sense of Data in Context: Learning & Teaching Statistics in K-12", will run from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 at Simmons College. No prior knowledge of statistics is required. Space is limited to 30 participants. The $20 fee covers breakfast, lunch, and parking. For more information on the workshop's content, email Sharon Hessney. For information on any other aspect of the workshop, email Robert Carver.

Help us reach more teachers — Share this email with your colleagues and encourage them to sign up! To subscribe, go to Teachers' Top Three subscription form. We also invite you to connect with other teachers across the state and ESE staff on Twitter. Find us at @MASchoolsK12 and use #Top3fromESE to discuss items from this newsletter or suggest new topics. If you have suggestions for content or questions or comments, you can reach a member of our staff at

Last Updated: October 19, 2017

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