Free Resources

February 18, 2011 • In This Issue:

  1. What multiple-choice math tests can do for you
  2. Doing Literary Criticism book club on the EC Ning
  3. PD Corner: Document-based questions
  4. A guided video tour of Math Work Stations with Debbie Diller
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1) What multiple-choice math tests can do for you
Beyond the Bubble Teachers can gain valuable insight into students' mathematical thinking by asking just a few carefully chosen questions about their multiple-choice problems. In Beyond the Bubble, Grades 2-3 (and the forthcoming companion book for grades 4-5), Maryann Wickett and Eunice Hendrix-Martin explore students' thinking through 30 sample problems that span five strands: number, measurement, algebra, geometry, and probability.

From actual conversations with hundreds of students about their answer choices, the authors found that both correct and incorrect responses often painted an inaccurate or incomplete picture of students' understanding. But probing with a few additional questions enables teachers to get "beyond the bubble" and make more effective decisions about future instruction.

For each of the 30 sample multiple-choice problems, you'll find:
  • a brief overview of the problem's objective;
  • typical student strategies used to solve the problem;
  • conversation starters;
  • several actual student work samples;
  • student-teacher conversations and teacher insights;
  • suggestions for instructional strategies;
  • reassessment questions.
Beyond the Bubble Grades 2-3 is available now, and you can preview sample sections from each of the five strands online:
(Click on the Table of Contents tab.)

The companion book for grades 4-5 will be available for preview online in early March and start shipping in early April.

Beyond the Bubble
How to Use Multiple-Choice Tests to Improve Math Instruction, Grades 2-3
Maryann Wickett and Eunice Hendrix-Martin
288 pp • $24.00 • Available now

Beyond the Bubble
How to Use Multiple-Choice Tests to Improve Math Instruction, Grades 4-5
304 pp • $24.00 • Available early April

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2) Doing Literary Criticism book club on the EC Ning
Join an online discussion about Tim Gillespie's book, Doing Literary Criticism, at the English Companion Ning (ECN). Hosted by English teacher and author Jim Burke, ECN is an online community with 25,000 members and 200 groups organized by interests such as creative writing, teaching vocabulary, and department chairs.

Doing Literary Criticism Doing Literary Criticism breaks down the dense language of critical theory into clear, lively, and thorough explanations of many schools of critical thought. Each theory has its own chapter with a brief overview, a history of the approach, and an in-depth discussion of its benefits and limitations.

The Doing Literary Criticism book club on ECN will begin at the end of this month and run for three weeks. Each week will focus on a key topic from the book, tied to specific chapter readings. To participate, join ECN and look for an announcement soon:
(Click the "Sign Up" link in the upper-right part of the page.)

In the meantime, if you don't have a copy of the book, order at with code ECDLC and get free shipping:

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3) PD Corner: Document-based questions
The vast majority of our students will not become professional historians. In their careers, however, they will need to know how to find valid information, analyze it from multiple perspectives, and communicate it clearly.
—Sara Cooper, from Making History Mine

Analyzing documents from multiple perspectives and communicating ideas clearly are the essence of a document-based question (DBQ). DBQs challenge students to write and think critically in response to a set of documents. Get the gist of the DBQ process at Peter Pappas's site, Teaching with Documents. Find worksheet organizers to support students' analysis as well several example DBQs:

Want to construct your own questions around a historical theme? Dip into Paula Goldstein's treasure trove of primary source and DBQ resources:

Or discover the interactive National Archives Experience and build a question to support students thinking about American history or literature:

Do your students struggle with analysis? Help them make sense of the evidence with History Matters. Review how to make sense of a variety of text types:

Making History Mine Hone your craft with Making History Mine by Sara Cooper. Chapter 5, "How Historians Think: Writing as a Way of Understanding," builds a foundation for the DBQ process:
(Click on the Table of Contents tab.)

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4) A guided video tour of Math Work Stations with Debbie Diller
Math Work Stations You'll find math work stations everywhere you look, once you get the idea of how to put them together, starting with your great teaching and then moving to independent practice.

In this short video, Debbie Diller takes you on a tour of the key features of her new book, Math Work Stations—including the hundreds of color photos and extensive appendixes with reproducible forms and charts:

Preview Math Work Stations in its entirety:

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Please send comments and questions to Chuck Lerch, Newslinks Editor, at or call (800) 988-9812. Click here to view archives of past issues.
Contributing writer: Lee Ann Spillane

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