Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

I’m for: Formative Assessment

Icon hands raisedWho loves formative assessment?! We do!

All teachers engaging in the use of formative assessment are taking some of the best strategies and putting them into play for their students’ learning and growth. Formative assessment is assessment for learning, not of learning, which is more summative in nature. You can also describe Formative Assessment as being as learning – meaning students are directly engaged in their thinking and learning, and making changes and adjustments as they progress.

Recently, I had the pleasure of training at Hayes ES, where teachers learned more about how to use Formative Assessment to improve their instruction as well as to determine next steps for students. We had a superb time engaging in professional discussions about how Hayes uses Formative and new ways to introduce Formative Assessment to students. In Cobb, we’re FOR Formative! Let’s see those hands raised in support!

pdf of the presentation: Formative Assessment Hayes ES 9-14

Here’s our Padlet slate: use Padlet or programs like it to engage students and use technology that prompts them to engage in flipped learning environments and work independently.

Padlet QR and website




Let’s define assessments: Assessment definitions – key sheet

Our training session Graphic Organizer (GO): T-Chart Formative Assessment

Engage younger students in using their senses to determine understanding: Sense-o-Gram

One of my favorites: Quick Write Quick Draw

A great FA strategy: FA GO 2-stars-and-wish

Amazing, free, ready-made strategies: 60FormativeAssessment

More fantastic strategies to plug-in and use right away: Assessment Strategies – Formative t11_providingh3

Looking for research? Here’s a list of elementary-level FA support, click on the hyperlinks within: List of Articles – Elementary Formative Assessment

Coaching for Excellence in Your School: Cobb Keys for Teacher Effectiveness

CobbKeys_iconCoaching for Excellence in Your School: The Cobb Keys for Teacher Effectiveness is a customized training for district instructional and academic coaches. The Cobb Keys for Teacher and Leader Effectiveness is Cobb’s new teacher evaluation system, due to be implemented in the 2014-15 academic year. Please download the presentation and resources to share with colleagues and staff. For more information about Cobb Keys, visit or

Presentation pdf: Gates Keys Training Deck May 9 2014

Graphic Organizer pdf: Gates, J., Agenda Cobb Keys Coaching Excellence 5-9-14

Research: Darling-Hammond Evaluation Spring 2014 one-piece-whole

TAPS Wordle, courtesy of Jamie Pearson, CCSD TISS

Cobb Keys Standards - TAPS - WordlePoll Everywhere @

STEM Conference @ West GA RESA

Stem for the Future West GA STEM Conference iconThe 2014 West Georgia RESA STEM Conference gives educators and STEM supporters in the Southeast an amazing opportunity to share expertise, ideas and resources. STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math!

Held at the Dolce Atlanta-Peachtree Hotel and Resort, it is a fantastic way for everyone involved in STEM education to come together and build a Georgia STEM network that helps students improve their understanding of STEM and its place in tomorrow’s world.

From my session:

Presentation (pdf): Gates, J., Get Your STEM Grant On West GA RESA ppt March 2014

Grant example template: Example 1 & 2

Thank you so much for coming to learn about grant-writing!

GSTA STEMulate Learning!

GSTA Conference 2014 Flyer Macon, GA What an amazing conference in Macon, GA!Dr. Sally Creel - GSTA President & Jennifer Gates - GSTA Elementary Rep.

 Thank you to everyone who attended, all who participated, and the many educators who made  the trip from great distances to extend, enrich and expand their learning and instruction.

  For any sessions I taught, please visit the various tabs for lessons, ideas, activities and resources.  The GSTA All Things Science 4 Teachers offers my conference presentations, Get Your STEM Grant On! and STEAM: Arts in STEM, among others.

For a look at all of the lesson plans, activities, resources and ideas available, stay on this HOME tab and hit Achive or back button below to go back through the pages in time… to see the hundreds of offerings available for free here.

GSTA main @

GSTA Conference program @

J Gates Blog Links:

All Things Science 4 Teachers @

Thanks Coach! @

Scrumptious Soil – For Teachers @ 

Bats @

4 Teachers @

Cobb County School Instructional Specialist Marikaye Travis is all smiles as she plans her day at GSTA  QR codes make registration, feedback and participation super easy  STEAM - supplies to consider  Cobb Teacher, Stacey Duffy, approves of the GSTA Conference & all it offers teachers  GSTA Elementary Rep. Jennifer Gates & GSTA College Rep. Dr. Charlease Kelly-Jackson  GSTA Board Executive make sure all conference attendees have all they need to have a great time in Macon  Registration Desk Day 1  Convention Center  GSTA Registration Desk - a busy place as teacher arrive from across the Southeast

STEMulate Learning All Year!

Flyer West GA RESA STEM flyerUpcoming in March – the West Georgia RESA STEM Conference. Don’t miss an amazing opportunity to learn all there is to know about STEM!

More details are available through the RESA webpage @

Not sure about STEM? Check here – all things GA STEM:

More great resources and information @ &

Teachers – look here for STEM support: &

Plus – love STEM & your iPad but love STEAM more (add in the Arts) – then head here: (60 amazing apps for STEAM!)

Pinterest loves STEM / STEAM, too! See for yourself@

STEM games for kids @

Don’t forget older students – not just for the young ones, of course! – STEM UP! @

How about a little hands-on science to shake up that learning? @

Technology Summit in West GA

Executive Director Rachel Spates is all smiles at the front doors to welcome everyone to the West GA RESA 1st Annual TECHNOLOGY SUMMIT. What a gorgeous morning in Grantville, GA! The focus is on succeeding in 21st century technology teaching and learning skills for students across Georgia. Spates says “We are beginning to realize the potential of extending the classroom to the virtual world, where the capacity exists to reach all students. At the end of the rainbow is the promise of a better education, but only if teachers and students have the resources and support to do it.” Spates says it’s time as educators to make sure our thinking about technology & instruction & student achievement has made the shift to work at the students’ pace and proficiency level not that of the teachers. “The students in our classrooms are technology natives; they expect to be engaged in relevant performance tasks and real-world problem solving.” 

More than a half-dozen West GA school districts are on site, and educators have come from miles, electronically and literally, to be at the Technology Summit designed to help educators think in the ways of young digital natives – by keeping tech at the front of learning and in every lesson.

In keeping with the tech-based theme, Keynote Speaker Travis Allen was available by video drop speaking about his non-profit organization, iSchool Initiative. Allen began his non-profit when still in high school, by using a YouTube video that basically went viral, inspiring and motivating educators and students to embrace mobile learning. He’s now a student at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia.

He’s been visiting schools and communities across the United States (by video and in person) to share in the excitement about what was at first his passion and now is a personal mission. His Digital Learning Revolution Tour Bus can roll anywhere in the country to bring the best and latest in educational technology. It’s a true model of what a “connected classroom can be,” according to iSchool Initiative. Allen’s non-profit offers professional learning to educators, too, and trains on how to use the latest instructional technology tools and platforms. How cool is that?

More about iSchool Initiative @

Travis Allen’s YouTube appeal for Tech Support for Students @

Travis “Rethinking Learning” @

West GA Tech Summit online @

More about West GA RESA @

Presentations: 50+ Best Blogs & Websites by Jennifer Gates (Session 2) Top 50 Instructional Technology Websites by Jennifer A. Gates FINAL

Flyer with QR code for High Tail download: 50Websites&BlogsQRCodeTechSummit

Director Spates Summit Program: 2013 Technology Summit Program(RTP) FINAL



The Sisters: Gail Boushey & Joan Moser (Daily 5, CAFE)

 As if living their CAFE program, real-life sisters Gail Boushey and Joan Moser came prepared with hot drink cups and wide, energetic smiles to the 

Westin Atlanta for their two-day education conference featuring their Daily 5 and CAFE program of instructional support. The sisters are working teachers from Washington state. They’re well-schooled in the best research on literacy instruction and how to help students become their best readers and writers in the classroom. Their website guides people through the wonder of helping foster elementary student independence in literacy.  

Daily 5 is a research-based set of literacy tasks and strategies the two teachers, Moser & Boushey, have tried and tested in their rooms and the classrooms of thousands over the last 10 years.

The 5 tasks are literacy-based:

  1. reading to self,
  2. reading with someone,
  3. writing,
  4. word work,
  5. listening to reading.

While the engaging lesson plans teachers write use the tasks to help students understand the content and stay on task, teachers meet – or in edupeak ‘confer’ (as in conference) – with students in short meetings (no more than 7-10 minutes per student, Boushey & Moser recommend. The sisters love to share their ‘work smarter, not harder’ tips and tricks for running a smoothly engaging classroom and getting students to see the best of themselves in the literacy realm.

The structure is a hit with thousands of teachers who use it in numerous subject areas, including math and literacy. Because it’s not a program, per se, but a series of tasks that can be applied across content and subject areas with great success, it helps create independent, literate and excited students of life-time learning and independence.

The CAFE Book:

CAFE is an acronym for



 Fluency and

 Expand vocabulary.

There’s goal-setting for students, assessment and ways to help students with focused small-size student groups (no more than 2 or 3 students at a time for best effect of CAFE). (More on goal-setting here from Robert Marzano, famed educator and researcher @

CAFE is a way to meet and talk with students and for students to self-assess and work to full literacy independence. More online @ Teachers can use CAFE to track student growth and achievement as well differentiate – or tailor their individual learning – their learning so they are always working on what’s best for them.

An example of what the sisters say is a Strategy for Cross Checking at the Beginning Reader level: look at the word that may not make sense or that isn’t understood, then look at the picture or illustration that goes with it, then look back at the word and the beginning letter/sound. Then, make sure to say a word that not only begins with that letter but makes sense in context with what is being read.

Students can use a kinesthetic or physical representation of cross checking by crossing their right arm over their torso so their right hand touches their left shoulder, then crossing their left arm over their torso so their left hand touches their right shoulder, then as part of their comprehension of the cross check, they drop both hands to their sides and point to the floor. Research, you may recall if you’re stopping by my blog often, shows the more you do a physical representation of a word or phrase or idea, the better you will remember it.

More brain research here:

1. )

and here 2.)

and here 3.)

and here 4.) And that’s just to name a very few!

The Sisters are published by Stenhouse Publishers (Portland, Maine) @ and Pembroke Publishers in Markham, Ontario (online @


Brilliant Bookmarks

We love finding great tools — and iKeepBookmarks is no exception. If you haven’t been using this tool – there’s no time like NOW to start! I keep a great and active list of websites that I use all of the time on iKeepBookmarks.

My page is online @ Please come by and visit! It’s filled with all kinds of subject and content areas, unit names, and folders labeled for specific groups and categories (parents, teachers, science, reading, etc.).

The feature grades are 1-5, but there are many great sites and suggested support links for all grades K-12 and especially for parents and educators whose specialties are differentiation of specific learning groups (ELL/ESOL, Special Education, Coaching, Gifted and Talent, etc.).

If you want to surf other schools you may come across, it’s easy to do:

  1. Go to
  2. Click in the search bar in the upper left-hand corner.
  3. Type in the name of the school for whom you’re looking.
  4. Try it! Type in Powers Ferry and you should see the school folder come up first.
  5. Click on the folder, then go to 3rd, then to Gates to see my main page.

Suggested places to start for great fun:

Brain-based learning @

Graphic organizers & thinking map templates @

Teacher resources @

STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) @

Reading @

Start the year off right!

It’s the start of a new school year – and with that time of year, comes lots of excitement for both the educators and the students. Knowing how to start the school year off on the right path is critical for all involved. The key is Routines and Procedures.

Did you know you can maximize instructional time and gain more room in the day for learning and achievement if all students learn the routines early and understand their purpose? It’s important to give all students an opportunity to learn the ways in which the classroom is most effectively and efficiently run. Research shows (Wong and Wong, 2004) that the better the students are versed in the routines and procedures in the classroom and school, the happier they’ll be about not only using them but about their learning time being valued and appreciated.

Start with EXPECTATIONS. You can begin with your own. What do you want the students to know and do? What is important for them to understand? If you are in a diverse community, make sure to effectively consider what students may or may not know when entering your class this year and make allowances and set routines accordingly.

Such as:

  • the procedure for leaving the room (bathroom, nurse, library, mentors, etc.)
  • acquiring materials (pencils, hall pass, paper, textbooks, etc.)
  • transition(s) from one task to another
  • support or assistance of teacher/classroom adult
  • supplies: do I need any? which ones? what if I can’t afford/find it?

Can’t think of anything? Imagine what would be an obstacle to maintaining instruction; think about what interruptions could be avoided, what breaks the learning vibe and could easily be adjusted to keep everyone on task? Those are areas in which you can establish a routine, procedure or expectation. Start small with a few key ones and build from there as the weeks pass.

Don’t forget the biggies: expectations for affective standards like:

  • Staying positive and persevering on a task
  • Do your best no matter what (then try to better it)
  • Respect people, places and things at all times
  • Kindness and Generosity: they go a long way to making a happy classroom, etc.


These don’t happen without practice. You MUST verbalize and practice, over and over again in a patient and positive (upbeat) way, how you want these routines and procedures established. Students will happily follow your direction but you must give them some to begin with and stick with it! Write down on anchor charts your routines and procedures and refer to them often in the early days of the year; they’re always great items to review after a break (vacations, holidays, etc.) and to use when new students arrive during the year. Have a student ambassador review the charts with the new student(s) to save time and create class leaders and a collaborative atmosphere.

So those suggestions are:

  • practice, practice, practice!
  • write them down!
  • be patient and calm if students need a gentle reminder
  • make sure the routines & procedures align with your expectations
  • allow students to remind and support each other with learning R&P
  • ALWAYS commend proper use and correct improper use

A favorite is “Ask 3 before me.” Encourage students to ask three others in their table groups or class before they approach the teacher with any question. Usually by the third person, the student no longer needs to come to the teacher for answers.

Another is “Question chip.” Use a palm-sized template or uniform-shape chip of some kind as a question chip. Each table grouping or pair gets how ever many ‘chips’ you feel is appropriate to handle questions for that day. Once the chips are gone, they can no longer ask questions of the teacher or of others in the class. They MUST solve their problems or answer their questions themselves. Use in the early days of the school year, they cut down substantially on students who like to wander or those who need more support listening to initial instructions. ;)

CHECKLIST: Use a checklist to help students remember your expectations for smooth classroom operation and to help follow the routines and procedures. You can put them on simply 8.5×11″ computer paper, and divide the page into 4 quadrants, then on each sheet make 4 check-lists. It saves paper, makes the check-list less intimidating and easy to use, and you can even laminate them so students can use whiteboard markers to self-assess their progress daily.


Teaching Classroom Routines

Routines and Procedures to Start the Year Right

Routines and Procedures

The Well-Managed Classroom by Harry Wong

Harry Wong Classroom Management

NEA (National Education Association) Classroom Management

Routines and Procedures for Managing Your Classroom

Pinterest for Routines and Procedure suggestions

20 Things You Can Do in 10 Minutes for a Smoother Running Classroom

Stars shine on Smyrna Elementary

A packed house and hundreds of happy faces greeted the staff and students of Smyrna Elementary at the school’s dedication ceremony and open house (more photos below). A gorgeous, brand-new facility now stands on land purchased from 3 former owners in the community. The two-story school can hold more than 900 young learners and has 61 rooms that span more than 143 thousand square feet. It’s an awesome space and is even LEED certified; that means it’s a Leader in Energy and Environment Design, basically that it was designed and built with the future of our young Smryna Stars and everyone else in mind and a focus on keeping them healthy through ‘green’ construction and use. How fantastic is that?

The dedication ceremony was an exciting and uplifting one; many board members and staff were on hand to celebrate the school’s opening. Area Assistant Superintendent Dale Gaddis remarked to the packed crowd in the cafeteria that the school’s addition to the community is enormous. Principal Brett Ward and Assistant Principal Melissa Rone looked proudly on as performers, speakers and community partners praised the efforts of all to get the school built and ready for students to start their year in the best of educational surroundings.

Many in attendance remembered with fondness the former Brown Elementary which they recently attended until plans to build Smyrna as a replacement were cemented. One such person was 10 year old Annabelle T. The 5th grader gave an outstanding and inspiring speech to the crowd which she wrote to express her thoughts about the transition from Brown to Smyrna. Annabelle shared her memories of Brown stretch all the way back to Kindergarten and that those “really great memories… I will keep in my heart forever.” It was a family affair for Annabelle; her great-uncle Pat T. performed as a guest musician. She credits much of her love of learning with her teachers – especially her love of reading, which is somewhat legendary. She said the “teachers called library day “Operation Annabelle” to encourage the other kids to love reading, too.”

The school offers many activities, clubs and events for its students to join and enjoy; Annabelle’s one of the hundreds who take advantage of what the Smryna school has to offer – everything from Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl to student council, morning television news crew, student ambassadors, peer mentoring, Science Olympiad, and many more. Teachers at Smyrna also encourage their ‘Stars’ to write every day as part of goal-oriented literacy development.

Annabelle’s favorite teacher is her 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Dollar. Dollar not only brought out the best in everyone, she nurtured young learners into embracing strengths they didn’t even know they had. Such is the case with Annabelle, who learned in 2nd grade to “write, and write, and write some more! It was the year I realized I loved writing. I even won the writing contest for my grade and got second place for my grade in the entire county! I wrote over 15 stories in 2nd grade and was proud of it! Mrs. Dollar loved my stories so much that she told me to put all of them into one big book with a Table of Contents and everything! Next, we took one of my storeis and turned it into a children’s book. I typed it up and illustrated all the pictures. I even dedicated the book to Mrs. Dollar and gave it to her as a gift. Now she asks me to come in every year to read that story to her class. And last year, I won the Golden K Kiwanis Silver Pen Writing Contest. It was a huge honor and I thank Mrs. Dollar for introducing this gift that God gave me. I am heart-broken that this year is her last year teaching. Great teachers are hard to find.”

Teachers themselves are very excited and appreciative of the opportunity to work in such a great facility and for leadership they say is the ‘best in the county.’ Fourth grade teacher Anne Quagliana is looking very much forward to all that a new school year brings, and this year, it brings a new grade level for her, too. Previously, she taught Kindergarten and is making the jump to fourth grade. “I’m so excited for it! It’s going to be such a great year and the school is amazing! I am so happy to meet the parents, families and especially the students.”

Annabelle T. has some advice for the teachers at her new school and all of the members of the Smyrna community who helped to make Smyrna Elementary happen: “I’d just like to thank the school board, the partners in education, and the parents for donating their time and resources to our school. All of you are great mentors and leaders to kids big and small. You are a magnificent community and I’d like to thank you for that. When you work together to support the local schools and the children in it, you make the community stronger and happier!”

Smyrna Elementary @

Pat Terry, musician @ 

About Smyrna Elementary @

CCSD Cobb County School District @