Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Cushman, K. (1996). Looking collaboratively at student work: An essential toolkit. Horace, 13 (2), 1-12.

Cushman describes a strategy used by teachers in Essential Schools. The teachers come together to examine student work and use specific protocols to focus their discussion on the qualities of the work and what they can learn from it about their students and themselves. Cushman describes this "tuning protocol" that creates a ritual of presentation and response, and provides structure for conversations among teachers. She describes strategies used by groups of teachers to reflect on the authenticity of the learning tasks, thus allowing teachers to consider the quality of the assignments they are giving. Other strategies provide teachers with new ways of thinking about the child as a learner, including development of portfolios, exhibitions, descriptive reviews, and student learning records. These also provide opportunities for reflecting on curriculum and practice. Cushman reports that teachers say the examination of student work has had far-reaching impact on their practices.

Note: This publication was updated in 2001. It is now titled "Looking Collaboratively at Student and Teacher Work." This new document is available in pdf at

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