Teacher Showcase: More Achieve3000 Success with Reading, Physical Education, and Financial Management

The spring round of Achieve3000 model lesson professional development showcased literacy in reading, physical education, and business classes.

Following on the success of January’s model lesson professional development, more teachers had the opportunity to watch their peers deliver authentic lessons using Achieve3000 as a resource. These models followed the basic principles of solid Achieve lesson planning: student collaboration and engagement, teacher ownership of the resource, and authentic standards alignment. Read about the lessons and check out the plans the detail their flow!


Brittany Robbins

Integrated Physical Education, Grade 7 at McCord Junior High School

Abbey Stephens, co-teaching with Brittany Robbins, discusses step goals with a group of students.

Brittany wanted her seventh graders to learn how fitness goals create an impact on physical activity. The approach? Gather the students in the gym, give them goals and pedometers, make them walk, and then make them reflect on the results. Achieve3000 added a literacy level to the lesson when the students read an article regarding adult use of pedometers, thus providing an authentic connection to non-school behavior. The lesson was not only a model in embedding literacy smoothly, but also showed incredible ability to keep students on task and reflecting with no re-direction.

A student takes a moment’s break from walking to read about others using pedometers.

Check out Brittany’s lesson plan and materials here!

Focus Article: “Steps to Good Health”

Jerry Bascuk

Financial Management, Grade 11 at Southview High School

Jerry Bascuk discusses a student’s work in comparing article and text.

Jerry had recently completed the instruction of a unit in sensible and responsible financial behavior, including considerations like saving vs. spending, balancing wants and needs, and planning for the future. To review this material, students read an article in Achieve3000 that addressed those issues, and then Jerry asked them to make explicit connections between the article’s statements and the textbook’s statements. Students compiled compared evidence on a chart and then discussed the concept’s impact on their personal lives and behavior. Collaborative discussion led to easy review and an effective reflection on the concepts Jerry wanted to teach.

Jerry’s students partner to explore the text for supporting evidence.

Check out Jerry’s lesson plan and materials here!

Focus Article: “Money Saving Tips for Teens”

Jamie Holley

Reading Enrichment, Grades 7 and 8 at Arbor Hills Junior High School

Jamie Holley’s student practice a partnered reading strategy they often use to support each other in literacy.

Jamie had noticed that her students were not quite mastering the skills of making inferences or citing evidence, so she designed an Achieve-based lesson to support that skill. Students selected a pair of articles exploring the importance of certain historical figures, such as Mahatma Ghandi. Then, they completed a simple Venn diagram with article evidence. Finally, they made predictions on how these historical figures would address today’s challenges, with the prediction supported by evidence from the article.

A student completes a Venn diagram to analyze historical figures in two Achieve articles.

Check out Jamie’s lesson plan and materials here!

Focus Article: Several selections possible; see lesson plan above for the list

Teacher Showcase: Students explore the past at their own pace with Dave Budas!

Join Dave Budas’ 8th grade social studies class for independent exploration into the history of slavery.

At McCord Junior High School, Dave Budas looks at his eighth graders exactly as one should look at history: as a series of diverse voices and experiences. Just as no one person or group should define a nation’s identity, no one student defines this social studies class. Because of that, Dave has worked for years to refine a teaching approach that allows for students to explore information at their own pace, either individually or collaboratively. He has left the history lecture in the past to create a workshop environment where students explore the periods of American history and the experiences they offer. Today, that experience is the tragedy of slavery.

Today’s content standard reads, “Trace and explain the history of slavery in America.” Over the course of the year, Dave hopes that his students will come to understand the slave experience through the literary genre of slave narrative. It’s a pretty common approach, as teachers feature slave narratives in their curricula at many levels, but instead of merely asking students to read these narratives, Dave is asking them to write their own.

Dave Budas opens with brief instructions.

The class begins with Dave’s foundational Google Slides presentation, which he has designed as not only a set of instructions, but a library of resource links and examples for students to use as they proceed. This presentation appears teacher-centered, but it is functionally student-centered. Students have access to it on their Chromebooks, and they will use the presentation to review and understand concepts, research facts, and begin their narrative. Dave takes little time in running through the presentation file before he turns the work over to his class.

And when that work begins, student energy takes over. Some students work in partnerships. Others work in larger groups. Some partnerships separate themselves to work without distraction, other groups connect into mega-groups. An initial criticism of this approach may focus on the time off task generated by the loose framework, but continued observation shows that not to be the case. The jokes and smiles shared by students in slight distractions always give way to conversation about the ideas themselves. Some students debate the name to give to their protagonist, using resources to find appropriate ones. Others discuss the plot development. Some examine maps to find their grounding a real-world setting. The class is a bundle of collaborative energy, and what’s beautiful about the energy is that work combines with fun. These students are enjoying themselves.

Students have gathered into partnerships and groups of their choosing.

The balance of work and fun is accomplished through Dave’s careful work. Even though he takes a step back during the development process, his work to develop the environment for learning is clear. Student learning in a 21st century world happens when an educator creates an environment for students to explore content guided by a clear task, a problem or product. That educator then steps back and lets students explore with the assistance of Internet resources and peers. He or she steps in to provide formative feedback and answer questions, but the energy comes from the student. In that way, the learning experience is meaningful, authentic, and effective. Daily access to the Internet makes this environment possible in a way not possible before, and students working together with Chromebooks can be guided by Dave’s framework and appeal to help on their own terms. Dave is working hard to create that environment, and his students are bouncing through it playfully.

The slave narrative project will continue over the coming weeks. On workshop days, students will share what they’ve developed for Dave’s feedback and continue to refine the product until the due date. By the time the project has concluded, students will have experienced a small amount of the ownership and pride historical slaves felt over their own narrative works.

TS Sequence Slide-Budas.jpg

Check out these links for more information!

Dave’s Folder of Materials

Student Narrative Example #1

Student Narrative Example #2

Student Narrative Example #3

Student Narrative Example #4

Project Rubric


Teacher Showcase: Solving Problems through Achieve3000 with Jamie Holley

Learn how Achieve3000 becomes a collaborative, authentic learning experience in the hands of Arbor Hills’ Jamie Holley!

Someone at a party introduces you to your mother’s only sister’s husband’s sister-in-law. He has no brothers. What do you call this lady?

That’s the question that greets Arbor Hills students walking into Jamie Holley’s fourth period Reading 7 class. It’s a bell ringer that gives the students something to focus on and be entertained by as they set up for class, and it works remarkably well. I find myself focused in the time it takes me to work out the problem. Jamie’s students glance at the problem on the SmartBoard as they gather their materials and ready themselves for the lesson.

Today, Jamie is moving students from that little bell ringer problem to the exploration of problem/solution as a mode of writing and discussion. Having jumped enthusiastically into Achieve3000 last year during its piloting at Arbor Hills, Jamie is an expert at using its data to understand the needs of her students. In this case, she has seen that they do not perform well when tasked with understanding problem/solution writings. The data has driven her to develop a small project on the thinking mode, relying on material from Achieve to form the basis. That material, however, does not dominate the assignment. Jamie’s expert teaching does.

The class starts as many do these days. Students see a Google Slides presentation on the board, and they follow along through simultaneous access on their Chromebooks. Students sit in partnerships as they follow along, and they soon rely on those partners for a warm-up activity. The warm-up requires them to read a short paragraph describing a problem with eel populations. The partners work together to answer some simple problem/solution questions, such as signal words and responsible parties. Student collaboration gets going, and Jamie de-briefs their work after a few minutes.

Students collaborate on the warm-up activity exploring a problem with eels.

The next stage brings Achieve into the equation, but in a way that truly unlocks the resource’s potential. Partnerships are assigned one of two articles: “No Land? No Problem!” or “No Water? No Problem!” The students read the article to each other aloud, trading off paragraph to paragraph. We all know that these readings are leveled, but Jamie has partnered students according to reading proficiency, ensuring that they are reading identical or nearly-identical articles to each other. As they read, students use the “Setting the Purpose” annotation blanks offered in Achieve (referred to in class as the “circle things”) to note the problem and solution in each article. Finally, they answer the activity questions. This process of partnered reading leads to an environment of high productivity and low stress. Students gain strength from the partnered collaboration, but never draw off task in any significant way. Jamie’s lack of controlling direction throughout the process demonstrates her skill in setting the tone in her classroom.

The next stage of the process further capitalizes on collaboration. Partnerships that have explored the “No Land?” article “teach” it to the “No Water?” group, and then that group teaches the first their article. All along, Jamie’s direction focuses students on key concepts in text structure, such as signal words and paragraph structure. Throughout this step, and all others, Jamie reassures students that they can master the concepts and reminds them that “It’s okay to be confused.”

Student partnerships teach each other the content of their assigned articles in Achieve3000.

After this engaging and collaborative use of Achieve to explore the text structure, Jamie pushes her seventh graders one step further. She asks them to conduct informal research on problems affecting the Sylvania community for a short report. This work is still partnered as students read about algae blooms or drug abuse. They’re building not simply to a report, but to a problem/solution discussion that will be recorded through MoveNote and shared with fellow students. This opportunity excites students, and on the day of the recording, the time flies as students spend 100% time on task excitedly developing their newscast-style discussion of a community problem and their proposed solution.

Jamie provides help throughout the process.

Two of Jamie’s students, Lexus and Salma, decided to explore the puppy mill problem affecting the community through the store at the Franklin Park Mall. The girls enjoyed the assignment, stating that they “liked picking the problem.” And, “It was fun. We got to work in partners.” The girls understand the puppy mill problem, and their solution focuses on the buyer. They suggest that if you’re looking for a puppy, “You can adopt from a trusted owner or a shelter that you trust.” When asked why they focused their solution on the buyer, rather than the seller, they respond, ”The articles did not talk much about the stores,” showing how their work has depended on the research they read. It demonstrates the success of the reading instruction.

A partnership develops their presentation for the MoveNote recording.

Achieve3000 has been established to run automatically. Students could plug into the system and work independently on developing reading skills. Unfortunately, that will not work. Isolating students does not support them in their learning, and using Achieve to push that isolation will not lead to success. Jamie knows that and knows how to avoid the problem. Her project relies on the differentiation power of Achieve, but never once do students find themselves alone in the system. They use it as an organic part of a collaborative, authentic, and engaging exploration of problems and their solutions. These seventh graders will learn and grow through this mode of instruction to become the problem solvers of tomorrow, thanks to Jamie.


TS Sequence Slide-Holley.jpg

Check out these links for more information!

Jamie’s Problem and Solution Slides Presentation

Jamie’s MoveNote Rubric

SDL Introduction on MoveNote

PD Session: Differentiation with Digital Resources

Differentiation with Digital Resources is designed to help you create activities that differentiate learning so all students are supported and challenged.

Presented by David Budas

Presenting last on October 19, 2015 as part of the Sylvania Fall Inservice Day. Next presentation to be announced!

From the ad: “Do you have students with different abilities, learning styles, or skills? Do you look at your students while you teach and feel bad because some of the students understand what you’re talking about right away while others need multiple examples and more detailed instruction? If you answered yes to any of these questions then this session is for you. Differentiation with Digital Resources is designed to help you create activities that differentiate learning so all students are supported and challenged.”

This session is for any teacher that has students with different learning styles, skills, or abilities. Dave Budas will demonstrate how he differentiates his students’ learning. This will allow you to challenge high performing students while, still providing support. Teachers will develop an assessment or activity in this session and then create differentiated instructional resources for their students.

Couldn’t make the session?  Check out this video from David Budas on how to differentiate using Google Draw!

Session Materials

Session Presentation

PD Session: Fostering Independence in Learners

Create a classroom environment where students become responsible for their learning and are taught the skills to learn independently.

Presented by Dave Budas

Presenting last on October 19, 2015 as part of the Sylvania Fall Inservice Day. Next presentation to be announced!

From the ad: “Tired feet? Sore throat? Lower back pain from standing all day. Join Dave Budas to learn the cure for these minor ailments. Create a classroom environment where students become responsible for their learning and are taught the skills to learn independently. Creating a classroom that fosters student independence will free you up to target individual or groups of students needs. It’ll also do wonders for that sore throat and achy back. Side effects may include increased satisfaction from you and your students, increased learning, and a positive attitude.”

This session is designed to be a workshop on independent learning. Teachers will leave this workshop with lesson ideas for their classroom. Dave Budas will share examples of lessons that foster independent learning. These examples will cover a wide range of skills, activities, and subjects. Teachers will then begin to develop a lesson they can use in their classroom.

Couldn’t make the session?  Check out this video from David Budas on creating an independent learning lesson!

Session Materials

Session Presentation