May 2024
Vol 21 No 5

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About Effective Teaching

The most important factor in improved student learning is an effective teacher.  Written ten times a year, Harry and Rosemary Wong's columns feature effective teachers and administrators and their techniques for enhancing student learning.  An archive of past articles can be found at the end of every column.

Harry and Rosemary Wong are happy to share with the profession the strategies and techniques of effective teachers.  If you have an effective technique that works, please share this by sending it to The Wongs will consider it for sharing in future Effective Teaching columns.

About Harry and Rosemary Wong...

Harry and Rosemary Wong are teachers.  Harry is a native of San Francisco and taught middle school and high school science.  Rosemary is a native of New Orleans and taught K-8, including working as the school media coordinator and student activity director.

Harry Wong has been awarded the Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award, the Science Teacher Achievement Recognition Award, the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award, and the Valley Forge Teacher's Medal.  He was selected as one of the most admired people in the world of education by readers of Instructor magazine.  Rosemary was chosen as one of California's first mentor teachers and has been awarded the Silicon Valley Distinguished Woman of the Year Award.

Harry Wong is the most sought after speaker in education today.  He has been called "Mr. Practicality" for his common sense, user-friendly, no-cost approach to managing a classroom for high-level student success.

Nearly a million teachers worldwide have heard his message.  Because he is fully booked for two years, he has agreed to and has invited his wife to join him in doing a monthly column for so that more people can hear their message.

About Their Work...

Harry and Rosemary Wong are committed to bringing quality and dignity to the materials they produce. For this, they have formed their own publishing company, of which Rosemary is the CEO.  They have dedicated their lives to leaving a legacy in education and making a difference in the lives of teachers and students.

Their latest contribution to helping teachers succeed is an eLearning course, Classroom Management with Harry and Rosemary Wong.  The course can be taken in private at the learner's convenience.  The outcome of the course is a 2 inch binder with a personalized Classroom Management Action Plan.

This Action Plan is similar to the organized and structured plan used by all successful teachers.  Details for the classroom management course can be seen at

The Wongs have written The First Days of School, the best-selling book ever in education.  Over 3 million copies have been sold.

The third edition of The First Days of School includes an added bonus, an Enhanced CD featuring Harry Wong. The Enhanced CD, Never Cease to Learn, is dedicated to those teachers who know that the more they learn, the more effective they become.

The Wongs have also produced the DVD series, The Effective Teacher, winner of the Telly Award for the best educational video of the past twenty years and awarded the 1st place Gold Award in the International Film and Video Festival.

You can hear Harry Wong LIVE on a set of CDs,, called How to Improve Student Achievement, recorded at one of his many presentations.  He is the most sought after speaker in education and his presentations are legendary.

When the book, video series, CD, and eLearning course are used together, they form the most effective staff training tool for developing effective teachers. Staff developers and administrators who would like to know how to implement the aforementioned book, video series, and CD are encouraged to consult the book, New Teacher Induction: How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers. Information about these products can be found by visiting the publisher's website at or

Best Sellers

The First Days of School with Enhanced CD, Never Cease to Learn
by Harry & Rosemary Wong
$23.96 from
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The Effective Teacher (Video Set)
Presented by Harry Wong

8 DVDs, with Facilitator's Handbook in PDF, book The First Days of School, and storage case, $695.00 from (volume discounts available)
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Classroom Management with Harry and Rosemary Wong
eLearning course for individual use, CEUs available Preview the course and order at $124.95 (Group discounts available.)


How to Improve Student Achievement
Hear Harry Wong Live! in this 2 CD set
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New Teacher Induction:  How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers
by Annette L. Breaux, Harry K. Wong
$24.05 from
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Pathways: A Guide for Energizing & Enriching Band, Orchestra, & Choral Programs
by Joseph Alsobrook

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Results : The Key to Continuous School Improvement
by Mike Schmoker

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Improving Schools from Within : Teachers, Parents, and Principals Can Make the Difference
by Roland Sawyer Barth

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A First-Year Teacher's Guidebook, 2nd Ed.
by Bonnie Williamson, Marilyn Pribus (Editor), Kathy Hoff, Sandy Thornton (Illustrator)

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Schools That Learn: A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education
by Peter M. Senge (Editor), Nelda H. Cambron McCabe, Timothy Lucas, Art Kleiner, Janis Dutton, Bryan Smith

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The Courage to Teach : Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life
by Parker J. Palmer

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If You Don't Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students : Guide to Success for Administrators and Teachers
by Neila A. Connors

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Effective Teaching...
by Harry and Rosemary Wong

October 2007

Taking the Bite Out of Assessment
—Using Scoring Guides

Last month you saw a picture of us playing Mexican Train.  This month we’re eating hamburgers…and scoring them!  We’re using a rubric or scoring guide to rate the quality of the hamburgers.

As a birthday gift, we received an invitation to go to three restaurants that had reputations for serving good hamburgers.  A scoring guide had to be devised so we could score each hamburger fairly.  Click here to see the hamburger scoring guide.

Scoring guides are familiar to students, as they use scoring guides in the many games they play.  By developing their own scoring guides, your students will see the value of having a scoring guide to assess their work.

Students can be involved in developing their own scoring guides.  They will see that a scoring guide

  • specifies the level of performance achieved for a specific category or task.
  • can help them and their teachers define “quality.”
  • can help them judge and revise their own work before handing in assignments.
  • communicates to them and their parents what is expected of an assignment.
  • is focused on producing good work, not on grading.

Picture your students with a study guideline in one hand with the objectives for the lesson.  With objectives, they know what they are responsible for learning.  For information on structuring a lesson with objectives, see The First Days of School, Unit D and our August 2003 column, “How to Start a Lesson Plan.”

Now picture your students with a scoring guide in the other hand that spells out how their assignment will be scored, graded, or assessed.

Just think.  Yes, just think what would happen to student learning
if the students knew what they were to learn,
and how they would be scored or graded?
They would know how to reach success and achievement.

Students fail when some teachers cover chapters, do activities to entertain the students, or show videos that have no purpose to a lesson.  These teachers are more concerned with what they put into a lesson, rather than what learning outcomes result from the students.  The students, thus, have no idea what they are responsible for learning and how they will be assessed for the quality of their work.

Scoring Guide for Listening

In our February 2007 column, “Students Want a Sense of Direction,” we shared a scoring guide used by Karen Rogers for determining how well students listen in class to a presentation.

Just think how much more students will listen to a presentation if they had a role in helping to develop this scoring guide?

Multimedia Is Everywhere

Starting in the fall of 2007, the University of Chicago’s School of Business will begin requiring prospective students to submit four pages of PowerPoint-like slides with their applications.  The purpose is to allow students to show off a creative side that might not reveal itself in test scores, recommendations, and even essays.

Rather than having the university dictate what is to be said with a set of questions or outline, the applicant is given four blank sheets of paper to be creative—a fact needed for success in life.

Undergraduates already submit art work and videos with their applications.  Why not allow graduates the same latitude to better identify the students with a creative spark.

First graders are more often computer savvy and are helping to solve the high tech glitches in the classroom.  Children are brought up and surrounded by various forms of media.  They are motivated by and learn from media.  Thus, teachers must have knowledge of the use of media to be able to teach specific standards.

The Etiwanda School District in Southern California has a set of technology standards for its classes.  The basic standard is as follows:

Presentation provides students with an understanding of how to
effectively use information technology tools to communicate ideas
and information using a variety of media.

To meet this standard, objectives have been formulated for each grade level.

Kindergarten and Grade 1

The students will
  • present ideas using electronic documents.
Grades 2 and 3
The students will
  • present ideas using a variety of information technology tools.
  • describe the components of electronic presentations.
Grade 4
The students will
  • apply information technology to present information to intended audiences.
  • create multimedia documents.
  • demonstrate their knowledge of the protocol for crediting sources of information.
Grade 5
The students will
  • demonstrate an understanding of how special effects can be used to influence messages.
  • create and present multimedia documents.
  • use a variety of information technology tools in presentation.
    demonstrate an understanding of how hypertext can enhance presentations.
Grade 6
The students will
  • demonstrate an understanding of how information technology tools can be used to influence presentations.
  • create and present multimedia documents for intended audiences.
Grade 7
The students will
  • synthesize information from a variety of electronic sources for their presentations.
  • apply the principles of good design when developing electronic documents.
  • develop interactive hypertext documents for presentation.
  • produce multimedia presentation.
  • analyze the impact of presentations on the intended audiences.
Grade 8
The students will
  • identify and consider ethical and legal issues when presenting information.
  • use a variety of software to present messages.
  • demonstrate the ability to arrange information in different forms to create new meaning.
  • analyze the effects of information technology on presentations.
  • describe the effect of multimedia presentations on intended audiences.

Scoring Guide for a Multimedia Presentation

We have shared Norm Dannen in past columns.  The most recent was in October 2006, “Assessing Student Progress With a Rubric.”

Norm designed a lesson to teach some short stories by Ernest Hemingway.  To see his lesson plan, click here.

In the story, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, he had his students prepare a multimedia presentation.

The small group projects had the following structure all centered around developing and marketing a vacation package to Africa:

Students could select from these ideas for presenting the vacation package:
  • a brochure (2-4 pages)
  • a booklet (2-4 pages)
  • a PowerPoint presentation (2-6 slides)
Other criteria included the following:
  • Students will work in groups with four or five people.
  • All will receive the same grade.
  • Projects will be presented to the class.
Students will consider the following in preparing their vacation packages:
  • How long will the trip last?
  • What is the order of the sites visited?
  • What is the cost of your trip?
  • What is the name of the tour?
  • What is the geography/history of the site?
  • What is the climate?
  • What are the local customs?
  • Why are you going to each of those places? (i.e., location’s relationship to the short stories read).

To guide the students in their preparation of their multimedia presentations, he gave them each a scoring guide. To see this scoring guide, click here.

Both Karen Rogers’ guide for listening and Norm Dannen’s scoring guide on multimedia presentations can be applied to all classes.

To see the multimedia presentation a group of his students prepared, click here.

A Career Choice He Would Not Hesitate to Make

Norm Dannen just started his third year as a teacher.  He worked for AT&T for 25 years and when they downsized, he decided that he needed a new direction in his life.

Earlier in his career, he had taught high school English as a way to pay for graduate school.  He liked it so much that he resolved to return to it one day.  So, with this juncture in his life, he enrolled in an alternative certification program, New Pathways to Teaching in New Jersey (NPTNJ).

His first job was as a maternity leave replacement at Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, New Jersey.  While he was there, Norm attended an Alternative Path conference where we (Harry) spoke.  Norm shared his work with us.  Norm credits Dr. Tom Vona of the Alternate Path Program for teaching him this work.  What he shared became the subject of two related articles on dealing with lesson plans and assessment strategies. (May 2006 and October 2006)

At the end of his first year of teaching, Norm was named the 2005-2006 First Year Teacher of the Year by the Southern Regional High School District.  He returned to Southern for the 2006-2007 school year.  In the spring of 2007, a tenure-track teaching position much closer to home became available and he applied for it.

Within a month, he was offered a position teaching freshman English at a newly opened career academy called Biotechnology High School, run by the Monmouth County Vocational School District, which is where he is now.

The reason the brief teaching career of Norm Dannen has been shared with you is to show that new teachers can succeed rather quickly.  Our articles are full of examples of first year teachers who succeeded, literally, on their first day as teachers.  They began by knowing what to do.

Check the archive in the latest June column and scroll through to read about these teachers.  Use them as examples for your success.

As Norm says, “Although my return to the classroom has not been without hurdles, it has provided me with some of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  It has been a career choice I would not hesitate to make again.”

The Taste of Success

Whether you are scoring hamburgers or multimedia presentations, a guide to how content will be rated is essential.  While we did not share our scoring guide with the cook at our burger joints, the restaurant was blind in knowing what we deemed to be a good hamburger.

Students, on the other hand, need to know before the assignment begins what is quality and what is not quality.  Does the bun matter or not?  What demonstrates mastery of an objective—achievement of the goal?

Students can’t be working without the ability to savor success.

To introduce your class to a scoring guide, select something appropriate for the ages of students and do an assignment with them.  For instance, ask the question who makes the best bubble gum, brand A or brand B?  Have input as to what constitutes good bubble gum.  Taste, quality of bubbles, chewiness, and so on.  Assign values to the degree of each quality.  (Of course, if chewing bubble gum for 15 minutes as a class project is not going to work in your setting, select something to suit your students and their limitations.)

Distribute the gum and let them chew away and assess the outcome.

They will come to understand how they can apply this to their own assignments by looking at the quality of their work and knowing where they need to improve.  In their bubble gum ratings, all criteria will not get the highest mark, but in a simple glance of the scoring guide, students, teachers, and parents can easily identity where the need for improvement lies.

As for our hamburger quest, we have one more to score.  If you want to know our winner for the best hamburger in the San Francisco bay area, write and ask us at the end of the month.  We’ll be happy to let you know.

With a scoring guide, assessing for achievement becomes a palatable task for all.  No more heartburn and indigestion waiting for grades.  A scoring guide lists all the ingredients for student success.  Invite your students to taste achievement.  Bon appétit and Happy Halloween!

For a printable version of this article click here.

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