22 Jan Focus on the Child: Assessment at Schechter Manhattan

Last Friday, the second grade students showed me the maps of communities that they designed. They explained the needs and values of their imagined communities and pointed to the roads, parks, and buildings on the maps they created. I asked them clarifying questions- Is this a bridge? Can cars park on this area of the road? Why are the markets spread out around the community? The students answered thoughtfully, displaying the deliberation and care they put into their work. Their presentations were powerful expressions of all they had learned about communities, maps, and values. On Tuesday, the first grade students presented their models of sites in Central Park. They explained the location and history of each site and pointed out key features of their models. They also answered my questions- How do seals get to the zoo? Why do you think there is a carousel in the park? How did you figure out how to make this 3D model of the ice-skating rink? Their answers showed what they had learned in their study of Central Park and their design thinking in creating models. The first and second grades shared these presentations of their learning with the larger school community, and other classes of students rotated through the rooms to hear about the work and ask their own questions.

The presentations the students  prepared and shared, and the answers they offered to unseen questions from peers and adults all represent evidence about their learning. The students and teachers will look carefully at this evidence to assess what they have learned and what they are ready to learn next. These are examples of the types of authentic assessments we utilize at Schechter Manhattan.

Assessment is a central part of teaching and learning. Successful teachers use data about student learning to help students approach the next appropriate learning task. And students use data about their progress to take ownership of their learning by setting goals for themselves. For assessment to serve these key functions it has to include many ways for students to show what they know, understand and can do. So teachers incorporate many assessment opportunities into the learning process. Group projects, like the models and maps that first and second grade students completed this week, are particularly rich assessment tools, as are the presentations they shared. Other assessments include student writing, contributions to class discussions, and all sort of products- posters, digital slide shows, songs, skits, and virtually anything that students do to express their understanding of the content they learned.

Another assessment tool we use at Schechter Manhattan is a test. Tests offer some data about student learning and we incorporate testing into the assessment toolbox as students make their way into the upper elementary and middle school grades. This week our 8th grade students are preparing for their mid-term cumulative exams. The exam period affords students a unique opportunity to experience exams, as they will in high school, with the added support and guidance of their teachers. Teachers are working with students to help them review key content, concepts, and skills. Teachers are also helping students to make study plans, so that the students manage their time effectively and do not find themselves “cramming”. It is worth pointing out, that tests are only one in the array of assessments we use. The results of the 8th grade mid-term exams will offer another data point for teachers and students to consider, alongside the other rich and varied assessment information they gather.

So even as they study for exams, at the same time the 8 grade students are preparing their Humanities Exhibitions, and in depth independent study project about different subcultures in America as they relate to conceptions of the American Dream. Exhibitions take place twice a year in each Middle School grades and are extension of the types of presentations that elementary school students complete. The aims of exhibitions are for students to develop their ability to plan, organize, and carry out long-term projects; use judgment and make choices based on their own experiences; do important things; and demonstrate broad mastery in response to warm and cool questioning. The projects involve a written report and a creative expression of learning. The assignments are long-term, structured, and challenging, normally requiring synthesis and some extrapolation from what students have studied in class. Parents and other school community members are invited to a presentation of each student and each presentation involves the student responding to questions posed by the audience.  Exhibition presentations are perennially impressive and offer authentic evidence of student learning.

As students do the work of completing these varied and complex learning tasks, teachers carefully observe the students at work. Teachers focus on each student individually to assess how they interact with content and learning tasks.  This careful observation affords teachers significant insight into their students’ progress and enriches the picture of students’ learning gathered from all of the other assessment data.

It is the rich and nuanced picture of each student that emerges from varied assessments that allows teachers to help students move towards their next level of learning and achievement.

Benjamin Mann

Author’s Chair



Kitah Aleph has been learning about nonfiction writing. In this assignment, students chose a topic of interest and brainstormed facts about those topics. 


Bards have becks. Bards aredffrt callars. sam bards can fliy sam bar doo not fliy wen ther born and the baby bard das not now war her MoM is…(Birds have beaks. Birds are different colors. Some birds can fly. Some birds do not fly when they’re born and the baby bird does not know where her mom is…)



Thar are meny cinds of snakes. Some snakes are puyzonis. Some are Dedly. Some have fanigs. Some snakes can swim.

(There are many kinds of snakes. Some snakes are poisonous. Some are deadly. Some have fangs. Some snakes can swim.)



(On soccer) Stricrs cod go on the ovr sid to get the boll and var sid. Deefadrs stauy in var glas. laft dac stay neer the wol. rit dac stay neer the wol. goley stay awt sid the dox.

(Strikers could go on the other side to get the ball and their side. Defenders stay in their goals. Left backs stay near the wall. Right backs stay near the wall. Goalies stay outside the box.)



(On basketball) You have to jriBul the Ball if You Do Not You sit out it is kold a chravul You Wer a jrsi If You Do Not they Do not no Whut You are (You have to dribble the ball. If you do not, you sit out. It is called a travel. You wear a jersey. If you do not, they do not know what [team] you are.)



Kitah Gimmel has been working on nonfiction writing in preparation for writing our own nonfiction books

Have you ever wanted to build something from your imagination? Legos are the perfect toy for you! Lego is a type of building block. They are good for all ages and kids across America love them. You can buy Lego merchandise and figurines to put on what you build.

There are many different types of Legos. Legos come in different shapes, sizes and colors. Depending on what you decide to build, you will choose a different lego type. Legos come in different sizes for different aged children. Duplo is the easiest type of  Lego to build because it uses very large pieces. They are the size of building blocks. Lego Jr. was created for kids who think Duplo is too easy for them. Regular Legos bricks would be too small for them to use, so these blocks are the right size for them. Regular is the hardest type of Lego set to build, because of the small size of the bricks they can easily get lost.

There are many different types of Lego figurines. Superheroes are a type of Lego character. Superman is one superhero Lego that is popular. Lego Ninjago is also a Lego figure. Lots of people like Sensei Wu. Lego Star Wars figures are very popular. Yoda is a favorite.

There are many types of Lego merchandise. Lego video games are fun to play. You can watch Lego movies or shows. Lots of people like the series Lego Ninjago. Lego books can be very interesting. You might want to read a Lego book because the movie of that book hasn’t yet come out.

Kids love Legos because they are fun. Choose the right Lego set and you’ll have a great day!



Have you ever wondered about the ancient Greeks and what they believed in? Well, if you have, this book will answer your questions. Gods are the most well known figures in Greek mythology. Goddesses also play an important role in Greek myths. Demi-gods are the final characters of Greek mythology. Let’s start exploring!



Have you ever sewn before? There are many steps you need to follow when sewing. Most people think about clothes when they hear the word “sew”. There are also many things besides clothes that you can sew. A skirt is really difficult to sew but it’s not impossible.



There are lots of ways to get around NYC. You can take a bus, but you will need a Metrocard. What is sometimes annoying is that you have to go to all the stops before your stop. You can walk. You can go almost everywhere you want to go to by walking. Sometimes it takes the longest to arrive if you walk. You can take a taxi, but they cost the most money.Most people take a subway because it is the fastest and you can go to a lot of places, but you need a Metrocard to get on it like the bus. Try out all the ways to get around the city.



There are a lot of positions in baseball. The infield has a lot of positions. First base, second base, and third base are all part of the infield. The outfield consists of center field, left field and right field.Finally, there is the pitcher and the catcher. The pitcher pitches on a mound. The mound is a mound of dirt used for the pitcher to pitch to the catcher. These are all the positions on a baseball field.





Kitah Heh has been working on a unit entitled Mastering the Media and Crafting Editorials. In this unit students are learning how to provide a clear opinion as well as fine tune their research strategies and abilities. The following work is their first draft of their arguments and the valid factual sources they have found to support their stance.


My opinion is …

I believe that gum chewing should be allowed in school and or the classroom. I think it would benefit teachers and students. For example, gum chewing can help you focus so that would benefit students. Also, chewing gum gives your mouth something to do so you don’t call out and that would benefit teachers because there wouldn’t be as many interruptions the lesson wouldn’t have to be stopped as much.

Fact: People who chew gum get better grades in school than those who don’t.

Fact: Gum chewing can help you focus.



My opinion is …

That police officers have too much power to tell people what to do.  I’ll tell you this, most cops use power way too much and in the wrong way. They feel like they can break the law.  They use too much violence as a way to force people to do what they want. I mean guns, tasers, and handcuffs. They don’t think before they act. There have been shootings that were mistaken which is really the big problem here.

When was the last time you heard of police who were breaking the law? Probably not so long ago.  If the police department did not have as much power, it would be easier for police to not break the law.


  • in 2014 there have been over 8 illegal police instance
  • there have been over 1k people on strike about the police department


  • most police say “they just try to protect people”
  • more than half the people that get attacked are black



My opinion is …

That guns should only be used by, Police, US Marshals, F.B.I, Army, C.I.A, Secret Service, and people over a certain age that have a valid gun license after having a background check. People have, misused guns, shot others on purpose or by accident, and guns help criminals do bad things. If a child got hold of a gun and shoots it accidentally it can cause fatalities.  If a person with a mental illness got hold of a gun can shoot themselves or other people. People use guns for terrorist acts, and hurt hundreds of people, which should not happen. Guns, in the wrong hands can be dangerous to everybody. We NEED more  gun control!

Fact: 31,537 people die a year from gun violence 11,583 people are murdered. 18,783 people commit suicide. 584 people are killed accidentally. 334 people are killed by a police intervention. 252 people die but the intent is not known.

Fact: To get a gun is too easy. To get a gun you just have to fill out a form and then have a very quick background check then you get a gun.




Kitah Zayin completed their first drafts of their abstracts on the Federalist position on the political issue they are researching in The Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers.


Click here to read Ariela W’s abstract on the separation of powers.

Click here to read Henry H’s abstract on the separation of powers.

Click here to read Raphy J’s abstract on checks and balances.