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Assignments Matter: Making the Connections That Help Students Meet Standards

Eleanor Dougherty

Reviews  |  Video  |  About the Author  |  Comments

About This Book

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 between "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 into 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."

See the book's table of contents and read excerpts.

Assignments Matter

Book Details

Table of Contents

Study Guide

Related Resources

Product No: 


September 2012

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"In this important book, Eleanor Dougherty reminds us that wise, evocative assignments can make our classrooms both challenging and relevant. During the transition to an era of the Common Core State Standards, this is a book that all thoughtful teachers need to read and reread! It brings literacy to life across the curriculum."

—Terry Roberts, director of the National Paideia Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.

"Assignments Matter is a fabulous read. It offers teachers a high-power recipe for success and can be used by school administrators as a key lever for improving schools. I highly recommend it!"

—Marilyn Crawford, owner of TimeWise Schools, Paducah, Ky.

"Eleanor Dougherty provides a practical process for designing quality classroom assignments. Assignments Matter is filled with classroom examples and templatesa gold mine for teachers and school leaders looking for resources to improve student outcomes and align efforts with the common core.”

—Barbara Ann Smith, staff development and training specialist, LDC Site Lead,
Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13, Lancaster, Pa.

"A powerful how-to manual that challenges the way we think about creating effective and rigorous student assignments. It provides suggestions on how to combine reading and writing in the content areas of social studies and science based on the Common Core State Standards."

—Robert Slamp, teacher at Carter and MacRae Elementary School, Lancaster, Pa.

"Teachers and administrators will be able to use this book to create the well-crafted assignments that not only produce evidence of learning, but also promote critical thinking for students. This text is especially timely given the rigorous demands of the Common Core State Standards and will guide practitioners as we ratchet up the tasks for students."

—Jennifer Frentress, Principal, Washington, D.C.

"With Eleanor’s book, a teacher can create units of instruction with meaningful assignments that incorporate the new CCSS, provide a means for evaluating student growth as the assignments can definitely serve as models of formative assessment, and highlight teacher effectiveness when aligned to state evaluation rubrics."

—Jeri Crispe, Integration District Director, Colorado Legacy Foundation, Denver, Colo.

"Dougherty adds to the canon of research-based practices that encourage teachers to be more intentional about the work they assign. This work is a must-read for practicing teachers, instructional coaches, curriculum directors and anyone else that has made a stake in the work students actually complete in the classroom."

—Jania Hoover, D.Ed., Atlanta, Ga.


About the Author

ELEANOR DOUGHERTY is a consultant with education foundations and agencies on curriculum and professional development. Her work over the last two decades has focused on literacy and its role in the larger curriculum, particularly in the core subjects. She is the author of two previous books and articles addressing the challenge of transforming standards into practice.

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language arts | lesson plans | student assessment | writing | writing in the content areas



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