Best Enchilada Sauce

4Tbs (1/4 cup) vegetable or olive oil

2Tbs flour

4Tbs (1/4 cup) chili powder

1tsp cumin

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp oregano

6oz tomato paste

2 cup vegetable broth

This sauce comes together quickly once you get started, so measure the dry ingredients (the flour, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt and optional cinnamon) into a small bowl and place it near the stove. Place the tomato paste and broth near the stove as well.

Warm the oil until it’s it’s hot enough that a light sprinkle of the flour/spice mixture sizzles on contact. Once it’s ready, pour in the flour and spice mixture. While whisking constantly, cook until fragrant and slightly deepened in color, about 1 minute.

Whisk the tomato paste into the mixture.

Slowly pour in 1.5 cups of the broth while whisking constantly to remove any lumps and to control thickness.

Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.

Continue adding broth/water until perfect consistency.

Cook, whisking often, for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the sauce has thickened a bit and a spoon encounters some resistance as you stir it. (The sauce will thicken some more as it cools.)

Haven’t Tried This — (Remove from heat, then whisk in the vinegar and season to taste with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Add more salt, if necessary (I usually add another pinch or two).)

Pre-Assessment for Differentiation

Rob Carey, Cohort 14

General Science Pre-Assessment Quiz about the Water Cycle

This pre-assessment precedes the water cycle unit.  The water cycle teaches students about how water moves in, on, and above the earth.  It touches on concepts of evaporation, precipitation, transpiration, and water’s ability to change matter states from liquid to gas, gas to liquid, and liquid to solid.  Students have most likely been introduced to the concepts in previous grades. This is a project based unit that culminates with the students creating a model of the local area’s water cycle.

The pre-assessment will help determine the student’s level of understanding prior to the unit and allow me to differentiate and modify corresponding lessons accordingly.  The pre-assessment is a quiz that can be performed on Kahoot. Click the following link to view and try the Kahoot assessment:

After the pre-assessment, I will review the data and create differentiation plans to target three performance levels: high, average, low.  Click the following link to view the Coggle flowchart that demonstrates how students performed on the pre-assessment, how they will be differentiated, and what activities will be used to track performance:

Assessing Project Based Learning

by Rob Carey
TeachNOW Cohort 14

Project Objective:

The Project Unit is titled Adventure Challenge. It is Project Based Learning Unit that I adapted from the ‘Adventure Challenge Planner’ by Andrew Vasily. Understanding that solving problems with others involves communication, perseverance, teamwork, and an open mind.

Grade Level:

Upper Elementary School Physical Education Class (Grade 5 or 6)

Project Description:

Adventure Challenge is a 6-week project where students work together in small and large teams to solve physical challenges.  Students will be challenged individually with their own communication and open mindedness.  Students will also be challenged as a group to complete adventures and compete against each other.

Students will need to demonstrate teamwork skills, as they will always be working in groups.  Conflict is sure to arise and they will develop plans to communicate and share ideas.  In order to successfully complete the adventure challenges, students must persevere through difficult moments.

Several of the adventure challenge games/activities require one or more team members to be blind folded. Another teammate is only allowed to speak to them to help accomplish the challenge.  No touching is allowed.  For example: Untangle Rope Activity.  In this activity, there is a team of four students and everyone is blindfolded.  A rope is tangled up in the center of the gym.  Students must find the rope, untangle it, and form it in the shape of a square.  Once they think they have completed the challenge, they call over a teacher.  The teacher asks one person to remove their blindfold and assess if the formation on the ground is a square or not.  If not, then that un-blindfolded person verbally guides their team to complete the challenge.

Over the 6-week project students solve a variety of adventure challenges and for each challenge there are discussions before and after to reflect on what worked and what didn’t.  Students are asked about their communication, open mindedness, teamwork and perseverance.

Project Rubric

Monitoring and Feedback Plan


Vasily, A. (n.d.). An Example PYP PE Planner. Retrieved January 11, 2020, from

Formative Assessment Strategy

by Rob Carey
TeachNOW Cohort 14

Formative assessments is a bit of a buzzword in the education field, but the data from many independent studies all show that student learning increases when formative assessments are utilized.  The days of simple lecture and test are long gone and formative assessments are a current and excellent way for teachers and students to learn.

My formative assessment strategy is rooted in involving students in the assessment process as much as possible.  I want students to understand why assessments are important, how they relate to the required curriculum, and how self-assessment is a critical thinking skill that adds value throughout their educational career.

I think teachers need to use a variety of formative assessments.  Teachers have associated names with different types of assessments to make them easy to remember and discuss. Regardless of the name, there should be a mixture of technology, quick verbal assessments, and more traditional paper handouts.

Don’t forget that observation is another cornerstone to proper assessment.  Observation is done all the time and can also be more structured. For example, a teacher walks around the classroom during a group work activity and has an assessment document with them (on clipboard or tablet device) and consciously assess and makes notes about students.

Only one assessment is never the perfect measurement of student learning.  The assessment used could have poor or confusing wording that might through off students answers.  And on any given day, a student could be having a bad day and won’t give their best answers.  Also consider that some students do better at writing a response to a question that demonstrates their thinking; compared to a multiple choice quiz.

That’s why it’s important to have many formative assessments given in various ways.  Once teachers have the assessment data, then it’s time to digest it and decide what to do with the information.

Since my goal is to involve students in the process, I will always strive to return that assessment data to them so they can see and understand where they are on their learning curve.  It’s not so much about getting a letter grade than it is about learning and helping the student understand how best they learn.  With this information, I can come up with better ways to teach the content and the students can come up with better ways to learn the content.

As a future teacher of middle school students, another deeply rooted strategy for formative assessments is to make it engaging and interesting (along with my lessons, haha).  Middle school students are easily bored and no student is interested in learning if they are bored.

Getting students to work collabratively by assessing each other and providing feedback to each other can provide them the little push needed to keep it interesting.  The side benefit is that students may walk away with a better idea of what they know and don’t yet know.

One last tip on formative assessments is to consider them in three categories:

  • Where is the learning going
  • Where is the learner right now
  • How will the learner get there

(Andersson and Palm, 2017)

Teachers can consider these groupings when preparing formative assessments and in doing so they can more accurately measure student learning.  For example, a formative assessment could be like throwing out a big net in the sea and catching all kinds of sea creatures verses using a specific type of lure to catch a swordfish.


Andersson, C., & Palm, T. (2017, January 6). Characteristics of improved formative assessment practice. Retrieved January 8, 2020, from