Mrs. Cook's Corner

Using Smarter Balanced Library:

A tool to aid teachers with formative assessments, finding quality lessons, and search out professional learning opportunities to help your practice grow

This week, I am referring to ISTE Coaching Standard 2: Teaching Learning and Assessments.

2e- Coach teachers in and model design and implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences using differentiation, including adjusting content, process, product and learning environment based on student readiness levels, learning styles, interests and personal goals.

Last year, I took a class through SPU and was introduced to the Smarter Balanced Library. This tool really helped me understand how Formative Assessments informs your teaching practice. I used to think that you gave a mini-check up (exit tickets) on what you are teaching and then pull back small groups. While that is a part of formative assessment, I learned that to intentionally move learning forward, there are four attributes to actively consider that round out the cycle of formative assessment. Below is a video that explains the process:

Formative Assessment:

A breakdown of the cycle of Formative Assessment using the four attributes.

Step 1: Clarify Intended Learning

This step helps teachers and students understand the expectations and goals of a lesson. The learning target must focus on what they learn, and not on what they do. Success criteria are observable and measurable behaviors that let both the teacher and students know that the learning target has been met.

Step 2: Elicit Evidence

Teachers are able to elicit evidence in a variety of ways. The teacher can create questions ahead of teaching the lesson, as well as in the moment. The teacher should visit groups to listen and observe student understanding. Other ways to gather evidence is student reflection and exit tickets. These are just a few ways that teachers and students can make sure that learning is occurring.

Step 3: Interpret Evidence

This step can be done by the teacher, as well as by the individual student, or in peer groups. This step is important because you are figuring out if there is a gap in understanding, minor calculation error, or a need for additional supports. In my class, I like to engage my students in this process. Often I will team students up (after I have looked at the work) and ask them to work together to compare work and analyze their results.

Step 4: Act on Evidence

Since our goal is to move students learning forward, it is important that this step is implemented in a timely manner. The specific feedback that is provided to the student should help them develop strategies to meet their learning goals. Building of the information we learned in step 3, we need to engage in the material a new way, strengthen background knowledge, or in the case of student achievement; enrich.

To support formative assessment, the Digital Library is an online collection of high-quality instructional and professional learning resources contributed by educators for educators. These resources are aligned to college- and career-ready standards [sic] and help educators implement the formative assessment process to improve teaching and learning.


The Smarter Balance Library offers so much more!

Now that we have addressed formative assessment, I would like to show you some of my favorite features of the Smarter Balance Library that will assist you further in your teaching practice! Think of the Library as a coach at your fingertips, all you need is wi-fi and a device, although registering for an account will be necessary. (If you would like to register for a Digital Library account click here.)

The Library is made up of three parts: Instructional Resources, Professional Learning, and my personal favorite, the Playlist. All of the resources can be searched by grade level, subject, topic, standard, and by formative assessment attributes. This way you can find exactly what you need. I’m going to walk you through the library through the lens of a 6th grade teacher looking for Geometry resources:

Instructional Resources:

This content is focused on the content found on the Interim Assessment Blocks (IAB). Here is a lesson that addresses surface area and volume in finding nets. (CCSS 6-G.A 1-4)

This lesson follows the 6-phase Poster problem. This poster task is a collaborative problem solving experience designed to provide teachers with diagnostic evidence around student understanding of geometry and to activate students thinking about the subject and provide an anchoring experience in the content.

Summary from Smarter Balanced Library

Professional Learning:

Professional Learning is a place that teachers/and or their PLC can search for resources in order to aid them in their teaching. In this case, I have searched for geometry. I have selected a video that has been created by the Teaching Channel and curated by the library to show a CCSS lesson in action. This particular lesson is showing students learning the difference between area and perimeter. One aspect of watching a video in action is that you get to see how the students engage with each other and with the material.

This is an example of some of the resources that you will find when searching for 6th grade geometry content. (Retrieved from

The topic covered in this resource is perimeter and surface area. The students need to seat twenty-two people and find the largest and smallest area. The resource may be used as a PLCs or for an individual teacher that would like to see an example of a math Common Core lesson. (summary)

Summary from Smarter Balanced Library


The Playlists are probably one of my favorite tools in the Library. Often we have students that arrive at our class with different levels of understanding. Some are needing enrichment, others are on grade level and others can be multiple grades behind. This tool gives you a snapshot of what students are able to do at each of these stages and gives you options for resources that would be appropriate to their zone of proximal development.

6th grade geometry Playlist (Retrieved from

Connections Playlists are intended to assist educators in advancing student learning and growth. By considering interim assessment results along with other classroom assessment and professional judgment, educators can decide how to use Digital Library resources to support their instruction. Digital Library Connections provide just a small sample of educator-recommended Digital Library resources that can supplement curriculum and other classroom activities – they are not meant to replace curriculum or define an instructional sequence. Many of the resources can be implemented “as-is”; however, others will likely need to be adapted to suit unique classrooms and individual students.

Summary from Smarter Balanced Library

The Smarter Balanced Library is a digital tool that applies directly to the ISTE Coaching Standard that asks coaches and teachers to use “technology-enhanced learning experiences” that provides a “learning environment based on student readiness levels, learning styles, interests and personal goals.” (ISTE Coaching Standard 2)


  • ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2019, from
  • Time-saving, teacher-created tools. (n.d.). Retrieved May 25, 2019, from
  • Smarter, A. (2013, September 09). The Four Attributes of the Formative Assessment Process. Retrieved May 25, 2019, from
  • (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2019, from

4 thoughts on “Using Smarter Balanced Library:

  1. Liz, this is such a helpful post – thank you! I will definitely use this resource and I am glad you called out the Play List – great feature.

  2. Melissa, this is awesome. How did I have no idea about it? What subjects do you use this for? I could see my PLC referring to some resources and the playlist in here. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wow, there are so many great resources, ideas and next steps in this post, Melissa! I just signed up for an account and can’t wait to dig around and find what my students and I need support with. I love the connection to PD and PLC work that you made. This is truly a very helpful post and huge thanks for sharing so many resources that will be helpful for me and my students!

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