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About Starr Sackstein
Over 18 years ago, Starr Sackstein started her teaching career in Far Rockaway High School, eager to make a difference. Quickly learning to connect with students and develop rapport, she was able to recognize the most important part of teaching, relationships. Fostering relationships with students and peers, to encourage community growth and a deeper understanding of personal contribution through reflection, Sackstein has continued to elevate her students by putting them at the center of the learning.
In the fall of 2016, Sackstein embarked on the next leg of her educational journey as a UFT Teacher Center Teacher at Long Island City High School where she taught English classes and coached teachers in literacy strategies and technology implementation specifically meant to embed essential tools to improve reading and writing. This prepared her for her last position as the director of humanities in the West Hempstead Union Free School district where she served as team leader, always looking to create the best learning environment for all kids.
Starr Sackstein left her home of nine years at World Journalism Preparatory School in Flushing, NY as a high school English and Journalism teacher where her students run a multi-media news outlet at WJPSnews.com. In 2011, the Dow Jones News Fund honored Sackstein as a Special Recognition Adviser and 2012 Education Updated recognized her as an outstanding educator. Currently, Sackstein has thrown out grades, teaching students that learning isn’t about numbers, but about the development of skills and ability to articulate that growth.
In 2012, Sackstein tackled National Board Certification in an effort to reflect on her practice and grow as an educational English facilitator. After a year of closely looking at her work with students, she achieved the honor. She is also a certified Master Journalism Educator through the Journalism Education Association (JEA). Sackstein also served at the New York State Director to JEA to help serve advisers in New York better grow journalism programs.
Sackstein was named an ASCD Emerging Leader class of 2016 and had the opportunity to give a TEDxTalk about throwing out grades called “A Recovering Perfectionist's Journey To Give Up Grades.”
Author of Teaching Mythology Exposed: Helping Teachers Create Visionary Classroom Perspective, Blogging for Educators, Teaching Students to Self Assess: How do I help Students grow as learners?, The Power of Questioning: Opening up the World of Student Inquiry , Hacking Assessment: 10 Ways to Go Gradeless in a Traditional Grades School and Empower Students to Give Feedback: Teaching Students to Provide Effective Peer Feedback She blogs on Education Week Teacher at “Work in Progress” where she discusses all aspects of being a teacher and education reform. Sackstein co-moderates #sunchat as well as contributes to #NYedChat. She has made the Bammy Awards finals for Secondary High School Educator in 2014 and for blogging in 2015. In speaking engagements, Sackstein speaks about blogging, journalism education, throwing out grades and BYOD, helping people see technology doesn’t have to be feared.
Balancing a busy career of writing, publishing, speaking and consulting with being the mom to her teenage son Logan is a challenging adventure. Seeing the world through his eyes reminds her why education needs to change for every child.
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Books By Starr Sackstein
How to Go Gradeless -- Assessment That Makes Learning Visible
"What's my grade? What's it worth? Is there extra credit? Is this for a mark? " It's time to shift the conversation and make learning visible. Now, you can easily stop reducing students to a number, letter, or any label that misrepresents learning and assessment in education. Now, you can help children see the value in every single assignment. Today, you can make assessment a rich, ongoing conversation that inspires learning for the sake of learning, rather than as a punishment or a reward. All you have to do is go gradeless.
Throw out your grade book tomorrow!
In Hacking Assessment: 10 Ways to Go Gradeless in a Traditional Grades School, award-winning teacher and world-renowned formative assessment expert Starr Sackstein unravels one of education's oldest mysteries: how to assess learning without grades -- even in a school that uses numbers, letters, GPAs, and report cards. While many educators can only muse about the possibility of a world without grades, teachers like Sackstein are reimagining education. In this unique, eagerly-anticipated book, Sackstein shows you exactly how to create a remarkable no-grades classroom like hers, a vibrant place where students grow, share, thrive, and become independent learners who never ask, "What's this worth?"
Learn what formative assessment really looks like.
Summative assessment is typically an end-of-unit exam or standardized test, but what is formative assessment? Many teachers struggle with the concept. Hacking Assessment not only explains what formative assessment is, it provides blueprints for implementation and examples from educators around the world, who use this strategy successfully every day.
Read It and You Can Take These Actions Immediately:
- Shift everyone's mindset away from grades
- Track student progress without a grade book
- Communicate learning to all stakeholders in real time
- Maximize time while providing meaningful feedback
- Teach students to reflect and "self-grade"
- Deliver feedback in a digital world
- Create e-portfolios and cloud-based learning archives
- Inspire Students to share their work openly
This is not your average assessment book
Hacking Assessment won't bore you with outdated research or unrealistic strategies. In her captivating, conversational style, Sackstein provides practical ideas woven into a user-friendly success guide with actionable steps for creating an amazing conversation about learning that does not require a traditional grade. Each chapter is neatly wrapped in this simple Hack Learning Series formula:
- The Problem (an assessment issue that plagues education)
- The Hack (a ridiculously easy solution that you've likely never considered)
- What You Can Do Tomorrow (no waiting necessary)
- Blueprint for Full Implementation (a step-by-step action plan for capacity building)
- The Hack in Action (yes, someone has actually done this)
The moment is right for critical reflection on what has been assumed to be a core part of schooling. In Ungrading, fifteen educators write about their diverse experiences going gradeless. Some contributors are new to the practice and some have been engaging in it for decades. Some are in humanities and social sciences, some in STEM fields. Some are in higher education, but some are the K–12 pioneers who led the way. Based on rigorous and replicated research, this is the first book to show why and how faculty who wish to focus on learning, rather than sorting or judging, might proceed. It includes honest reflection on what makes ungrading challenging, and testimonials about what makes it transformative.
Susan D. Blum
Cathy N. Davidson
In Peer Feedback in the Classroom, National Board Certified Teacher Starr Sackstein explores the powerful role peer feedback can play in learning and teaching. Peer feedback gives students control over their learning, increases their engagement and self-awareness as learners, and frees up the teacher to provide targeted support where it's needed.
Drawing from the author's successful classroom practices, this compelling book will help you
- Gain a deeper understanding of what meaningful feedback looks like and how it can be used as a tool for learning.
- Establish a respectful, student-led learning environment that supports risk taking and honest sharing.
- Teach students to be adept peer strategists who can pinpoint areas of needed growth and move forward with specific strategies for improvement.
- Develop cooperative student expert groups to help sustain effective peer feedback throughout the year.
- Use technology to enhance collaboration, streamline the learning and revision process, and strengthen students' digital citizenship skills.
The book also includes extended reflections that express, in students' and teachers' own words, the approach's powerful effect on their practice. Invite students to be your partners in learning, and enrich your collective classroom experience.
A learning centers model enhances excellent pedagogy. Learning is a dynamic experience, and students thrive when educators acknowledge individual learners’ needs and interests and inspire them to engage with the content more deeply within personalized middle and high school spaces.
Learning centers create robust thinkers, problem-solvers, and brave leaders. As teachers and administrators, we can build learning structures that include everyone and allow students to collaborate, experiment, reflect, self-assess, and transfer the learning to their lives beyond school.
Hacking Learning Centers in Grades 6–12 shares the “why” along with practical guidance to design and teach with learning centers. Authors and award-winning educators Starr Sackstein and Karen Terwilliger show how to:
- Design small-group instruction centers to foster active learning
- Empower unexpected leaders
- Raise the bar on student accountability
- Activate the fun and bring learning to life
- Inspire students to share ideas and make decisions
In this timely and thoughtful call to action, author and educator Starr Sackstein examines the critical intersection between assessment and social and emotional learning (SEL), particularly as it affects students of color and other marginalized groups. The book addresses the five SEL competencies identified by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)—self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making—and explains how teaching students to develop their abilities in these areas can help them improve their learning and assessment experiences.
Sackstein also raises important considerations for educators, urging them to
* Examine their implicit biases to improve their relationships with students.
* Deepen their understanding of the impact of grades and assessments on students' self-image and their ability to reach their full potential as learners.
* Develop personalized assessment systems that ensure an accurate, fair, and equitable portrayal of what students know and can do.
In addition to presenting the relevant research, Sackstein draws from personal experience and the reflections of students, teachers, and administrators to present a compelling case for approaching assessment through the SEL lens. Educators at all levels who have witnessed the devasting effects that testing can have on students' beliefs in themselves as learners will find Assessing with Respect to be an invaluable guide to ensuring better outcomes—and better emotional health—for all students.
In this essential guide, Starr Sackstein—a National Board Certified Teacher—explains how teachers can use reflection to help students decipher their own learning needs and engage in deep, thought-provoking discourse about progress. She explains how to help students set actionable learning goals, teach students to reflect on and chart their learning progress, and use student reflections and self-assessment to develop targeted learning plans and determine student mastery. Filled with practical tips, innovative ideas, and sample reflections from real students, this book shows you how to incorporate self-assessment and reflection in ways that encourage students to grow into mindful, receptive learners, ready to explore a fast-changing world.
How do great educators bring about real change to make a difference in students’ lives? In this first volume of the Routledge Great Educators Series, 10 of education’s most inspiring thought-leaders come together to share their top suggestions you need right now to innovate in your school or classroom. You will gain fresh insights and practical strategies on these essential topics:
- Personalizing professional learning (Jeffrey Zoul)
- Promoting a positive school culture (Todd Whitaker)
- Improving our hiring practices (Jimmy Casas)
- Designing spaces that maximize learning (Thomas C. Murray)
- Empowering students in their learning and assessments (Starr Sackstein)
- Flipping the classroom to reach each student (Kirk Humphreys)
- Positioning libraries as learning hubs (Shannon McClintock Miller)
- Helping others embrace technology changes (Katrina Keene)
- Developing personal, not just professional, skills (Dwight Carter)
- Embracing each student's passions and strengths (LaVonna Roth)
Filled with inspiring stories throughout, the book will leave you feeling motivated to take risks and try new things in your own school or classroom. As the authors say, if we want to make a real difference, it’s not enough to do the things we do better; we must also do new and better things!
In this innovative new series Education Write Now, ten of education’s most inspiring thought-leaders meet for a three-day retreat to think and write collaboratively, and then bring you the top takeaways you need right now to improve your school or classroom. This first volume, edited by Jeff Zoul and Joe Mazza, focuses on the all-important but often uncomfortable concept of change. Each concise chapter addresses how teachers and leaders can do the hard work of enacting change so more students succeed—academically and emotionally.
You’ll gain practical insights and strategies for changing how we think about...
- Embracing Change (Jeff Zoul)
- Learning (Tony Sinanis)
- Assessment (Starr Sackstein)
- Relationships (Kayla Delzer)
- Mental Health (Joe Mazza)
- Educational Technology (Thomas Murray)
- Teacher Engagement (Sanée Bell)
- Leadership (Amber Teamann)
- Partnerships (Bob Dillon)
- Communication (Joe Sanfelippo)
The royalties generated from this book will support the Will to Live Foundation, a nonprofit foundation working to prevent teen suicide.
Dr. Jeffrey Zoul (@jeff_zoul) is a lifelong teacher, learner, and leader. During Jeff’s distinguished career in education he has served in a variety of roles, most recently as Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning with Deerfield Public Schools District 109 in Illinois. Jeff also served as a teacher and coach in Georgia before moving into school administration. He has authored many books, including What Connected Educators Do Differently.
Dr. Joe Mazza (@joe_mazza) is Lecturer at The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. He is the Founder/CEO of MakerDads, a new father and family engagement initiative bringing dads, grand-dads and other male role models together to support student learning through innovation. Joe’s innovative work has been featured in 15 books dating back to 2005. Most recently, he co-authored Lead Learners: Creating a Culture of Empathy, Innovation, and Empowerment with Derek McCoy (Routledge, 2018).
What happens when students actually choose to learn outside the classroom?
They become independent, lifelong learners, who never need to be told: "do your work."
It's easy when you say Goodbye to traditional homework
The research is done, the results are in, the debate is over. Kids hate homework, most parents hate homework, and many teachers only assign homework because administrators say it's school policy. Now, traditional homework is being hacked. Learning outside the classroom is being reimagined, and student engagement is better than ever.
A new vision of out-of-school learning
World-renowned author/educator Starr Sackstein has changed how teachers around the world look at traditional grades. Now she's teaming with veteran educator, curriculum director, and national presenter Connie Hamilton to bring you 10 powerful strategies for teachers and parents that promise to inspire independent learning at home, without punishments or low grades.
In Hacking Homework, Sackstein and Hamilton show you how to:
- Work around the policies and Break Up With Daily Homework
- Teach Organization and Responsibility in Class so it translates to home
- Ramp up accountability and time management skillsEstablish positive relationships to motivate learning
- Establish positive relationships to motivate learning
- Customize Assignments to Meet Student NeedsBe flexible with timelines
- Be flexible with timelines
- Encourage Students to Play, so they'll want to work
- Support innovation and creativity
- Spark Curiosity Before the Lesson
- Make connections that generate interest in learning outside the classroom
- Use the Digital Playground and harness social media for learning
- Amplify Student Voice and Incorporate choice in how kids learn at home
- Team Up With Families and model instructional strategies for parents
- Display Growth and empower students to track their improvement and display their progress
Expert educators love Hacking Homework
"Starr Sackstein and Connie Hamilton have assembled a book full of great answers to the question, 'How can we make homework engaging and meaningful?'"
-Doug Fisher & Nancy Frey, authors/presenters
"I hope this book finds its way into the professional library of every classroom teacher and that it is also read carefully by administrators, policymakers and parents."
-Ken O'Connor, author/presenter
Are you ready to say Goodbye to traditional homework?
Start Hacking Homework today.
Join the education blogosphere with this easy, go-to guide!
This engaging, all-in-one resource from expert blogger Starr Sackstein takes educators by the hand and guides them through the easy, step-by-step process of blogging. You’ll quickly turn snippets of writing time into a tool for reflective and collaborative professional growth. With instructive sample blog posts from sites like Blogger and Wordpress and generous examples and resource listings, this guide helps busy educators learn:
- The value of blogging for professional learning
- Best practices for safe digital citizenship
- How to deal with the technical aspects of blogging
- Platform-building tips and writing ideas
The Corwin Connected Educators series is your key to unlocking the greatest resource available to all educators: other educators. Being a Connected Educator is more than a set of actions: it’s a belief in the potential of technology to fuel lifelong learning. To explore the other books in this series, visit the Corwin Connected Educators website.
Check out the Connected Educator Series matrix to find out which book is right for you.
"Sackstein writes with a fresh voice on her popular blog, and that voice comes through clearly in her first book. Written like a personal coach for novice bloggers, Sackstein offers practical experience and invaluable insight into the whys, whens, hows and whos of building your very own professional learning network (PLN). This is a must-read for educators of all levels ready to expand their professional repertoire by taking the plunge into social media."
—Walter McKenzie, Education Technology Author, Speaker, and Consultant
"Starr gives great advice on making blogging meaningful and answers the all-important question of ‘Why should I blog?’ when time is so precious. Clear and concise, this book will empower readers to write for an authentic audience and open a reflective conversation that facilitates growth."
—Garnet Hillman, Instructional Coach
Deerfield Public School District 109