K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Related pages

  • Formative assessment: This reference article discusses the history, concept, and application of formative assessment.
  • Summative assessment: This article defines summative assessment and lists several examples and common formats.
  • Using anchor activities to recognize special needs: There are a number of reasons why a student with special needs might make it to the high school level without having his or her needs identified and addressed. This article proposes using anchor activities as a way to determine whether a high school student has an unidentified learning disability.

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Formative assessment
This education reference article defines formative assessment and discusses its history, important concepts, and application.

Best practices

Ongoing assessment for reading
Ongoing, informal assessment is crucial to teaching reading. Using audio and visual examples, this edition explains the use of running records and miscue analysis, tools that help a teacher to identify patterns in student reading behaviors and the strategies a reader uses to make sense of text.
Listening while you work: Using informal assessments to inform your instruction
Ongoing classroom assessment can be informal, but it provides invaluable information about what students are actually learning. In this essay, the author shares lessons learned during her first year of teaching about the importance of listening in formative assessment.
Making connections between concepts
In this excerpt from The First Year, the author offers strategies for helping students connect what they’re learning. The essay emphasizes ways for teachers to make their expectations clear and to ask students what they understand and what isn’t working.
Assessing the learning process
Assessment, like instruction, needs to be geared toward various learning styles. In this essay from Math for Multiple Intelligences, the author suggests creating rubrics for ongoing assessment that keep a formal daily record of what students are learning.
Arts of persuasion
This series presents strategies for teaching middle school students to think critically, analyze persuasive arguments, and use speaking and writing to persuade others. When students are given opportunities to openly discuss their insights and opinions on a particular topic, teachers can develop a learning profile of how and what students actually know. Through caucusing, debates, and persuasive speaking and writing, teachers can create spaces for students to demonstrate understanding.


The 4Teachers.org website offers several free, web-based applications that teachers and students alike may use as formative assessment tools. See the “Tools” section of this site to access Rubistar for creating customized rubrics, and “PBL Checklists” for creating custom checklists for multiple projects. Consider allowing students to create the rubrics or the checklists as a technique for fostering ownership and understanding of quality work.