Assignments Matter: Making the Connections That Help Students Meet Standards

Assignments Matter: Making the Connections That Help Students Meet Standards

Assignments Matter: Making the Connections That Help Students Meet Standards

Assignments Matter: Making the Connections That Help Students Meet Standards


What exactly is an "assignment," and why does it matter? How can educators ensure that their teaching meets the rigorous demands of the Common Core State Standards, so that all students are well prepared for college or careers? Drawing from her extensive experience as a teacher coach, author Eleanor Dougherty answers these questions and many more, with two aims in mind: (1) to guide teachers and administrators in crafting high-quality assignments, and (2) to help educators understand the powerful impact that assignments can have on teaching and learning.

The book explains the critical differences among "assignments," "activities," and "assessments" and thoroughly describes the key elements of an assignment: prompts, rubrics, products, and instructional plans. Readers will learn how to

• Follow a seven-step process for crafting effective assignments;

• Link assignments to units and courses;

• Devise "Anchor" assignments for collaboration and consistency across grades;

• Tap into instructional "touchstones" that can enrich any assignment;

• Create classroom and school environments that support assignment-making; and

• Use assignments as a source of data about teaching and learning.

Equipped with the knowledge and expertise gained from Assignments Matter, readers will be able to create meaningful learning experiences for their students and come to appreciate the author's belief that "assignments may well be the missing link in school reform efforts to improve student achievement."


Assignments Matter evolved over more than a decade of coaching and working with teachers across the country in an effort to make classroom instruction more effective and manageable. It draws on this experience and focuses on teaching literacy practices by employing assignments in the late-elementary through the secondary years.

Teaching that challenges students to meet expectations is hard work. It takes thoughtful planning and skill to deliver instruction effectively. One way teachers can make their work more challenging for students and manageable for themselves is to insert assignments into their coursework.

As described in this book, an assignment is a recipe for teaching and learning. Like a good recipe, an assignment is a written statement specifying a charge and a process for accomplishing something. In the classroom, this “something” is a product that demonstrates learning: an essay, a science exhibit, a debate, a readers theater, or a proposal to the school board. And, like a good recipe, assignments produce results.

Assignments Matter has two aims. The first is to guide educators— teachers and administrators—in the craft of creating quality assignments by articulating a design process that demystifies and streamlines assignmentmaking, which is often a time-consuming, after-hours project for teachers. The approach outlined in these pages is part procedural and part metacognitive, prompting you to think about how and why you are making decisions while you follow the seven steps of assignment-making. The book’s second aim is to help educators become more aware of assignments’ impact . . .

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