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Assessing Readers and Writers: What’s the Point? / A Virtual Full-Day Workshop

Presented by Sarah M. Zerwin

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Date and Time

One, full-day workshop from 9:30am to 4:30pm Eastern Time (ET).

  • Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Please note that this virtual full-day workshop is scheduled for Eastern Time (ET). If you are in a different time zone, please plan your schedule accordingly.


Depending on how our school districts have asked us to teach in this pandemic, we're working in a teaching context that is challenging, possibly frustrating, and cuts us off from much of what we typically rely on to build the strong relationships where classroom learning flourishes. Students get a lot of informal feedback wrapped up in our usual daily, in-person classroom interactions. That informal feedback can bolster student capacity to dig into the tough thinking required to read challenging texts. It can cultivate the confidence students need to write to express what they want to say from the depths of who they are.

Points, numbers, scores, evaluation rank, sort, and measures create an atmosphere of judgment, competition, and individualism. Governed by high-stakes grades and distanced from the support embedded in a strong, in-person classroom community, readers and writers may be unwilling to take the risks necessary for growth. Teaching in these times requires us to emphasize feedback over evaluation and cater assessment to the unique needs of each student, else it will be difficult to design the classroom space our students need to do truly authentic work.

In this workshop, we'll imagine how to differentiate assessment practices to engage readers and writers powerfully, being mindful of what we can learn now to carry forward with us in our classroom practices.

Learning Objectives

  • Create a clear, concise list of powerful learning goals to make differentiated assessment possible
  • Invite students to design their own learning goals and track their own learning and growth
  • Cultivate a classroom culture of feedback where students are free to take risks
  • Invite engagement rather than using points and grades to force compliance or emphasize accountability
  • Focus grades on students' stories of their learning and growth
  • Consider that these may be shifts we should embrace for good

About the Presenter

Sarah M. Zerwin, PhD, is author of the 2020 Heinemann book Point-Less: An English Teacher’s Guide to More Meaningful Grading. She teaches high school writers and readers in Boulder, Colorado, where she's making her way through an unprecedented school year and trying to pay attention to what she's learning along the way. It's her twenty-fifth year as an educator, but she feels like a first-year teacher again. In a large, comprehensive, public high school, Sarah has worked for the last several years to find grading practices that humanize her classroom, encouraging her students to be readers, writers, and thinkers rather than point collectors. Sarah earned a PhD in secondary literacy curriculum and instruction from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. She is a teacher consultant for the Colorado Writing Project.

Who Should Participate

Classroom teachers of grades 6-12, literacy coaches, curriculum coordinators, and administrators.

Special 2021 Tuition Fee

The cost of this virtual full-day workshop is $125.00 per person. Tuition also includes access to the recorded workshop for 60 days.

Related Book

To support your learning in this workshop, we highly recommend Point-Less: An English Teacher’s Guide to More Meaningful Grading.


Registrants will receive multiple emails from Heinemann, including enrollment confirmation, which also serves as your tuition receipt and contains some basic instructions. If you have not received your confirmation email within 48 hours of your registration, please contact us at or 800-541-2086, ext. 1151. Approximately two days prior to the event date you will receive an email with the PD event's Zoom link and log-in instructions.

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If your computer needs any software upgrades, Zoom will walk you through the updates.

Note: We encourage group participation; however, we require that each person be registered and provide a unique email address.

Registration Form

Our Registration Form is now standardized to be used for any Heinemann PD Services open-enrollment event. Download our new PD Event Registration Form here.

Upcoming Dates & Locations

03/09/2021 - Eastern Time, ET

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Availability: Available When: 03/09/2021 Where:
Virtual Workshop

Eastern Time, ET

2020-21 Heinemann PD Catalog-Journal
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