Archives for February 2016
Today, I was in Texas for my fifth day at a high school. I have largely focused on the 17 ELA teachers in this VERY large school! We started our work in October with initial drop-in diagnosis. We then moved (from this initial diagnosis) to focusing on Tasking (active student engagement). Next we focused on prioritizing and differentiating core standards. Teachers learned about differentiation in planning and differentiation during the act of teaching. Today our focus was Depth of Knowledge. I then spent time observing in many, many, many classrooms. WOW! I saw HUGE growth in active student engagement! Way less “teacher talk” and way more active student engagement. I saw teachers using proximity not only for behavior and assessment – but also for having DOK 3 (strategic thinking) conversations with individuals and small groups of students.
These teachers are 100% committed to differentiating their teaching to meet the needs of all learners and infusing higher order thinking into strategies for all levels of learners.
Now, I’m at the airport headed to St. George, UT to do demo lessons tomorrow. Yup, the flight layover is the airport closest to my home…
Last week, Paul and I had the opportunity to be in Massachusetts working with a wonderful group of Superintendents, Administrators and Teacher Specialists. This was our first visit and our time was short. We started with an overview of the Big 8 for everyone. Then I kept the teachers with me and took them into the Big 8 – especially Tasking in a much more in-depth way. Paul worked with the superintendents and administrators on using the many tools in ObserverTab to assist with the role of the administrator in formative and summative evaluation.
At the end of the conference, everyone joined back as a whole group for a data (student growth) presentation by one of their superintendents. He presented data and facilitated a great conversation on the big picture of what the data was communicating – the good things and the questions… He then opened up the conversation to solutions – ways to increase scores. Paul and I almost clapped our hands when one teacher stated (with verbal agreement from the rest of the group), “we need to do what we have been taught today – we need to focus on actively engaging students and moving a lot more into greater depth of knowledge!” YEA!
I am working with a faculty at an elementary school in Southern Utah and having a blast!!!!!!!!!!! Why? We are learning to develop common formative assessments for the standards that they had previously unwrapped – a challenging complex task. They have jumped in with both feet! These teachers are collaborating within grade level teams, as well as across grade levels. They have dug deeply into learning and applying the technical aspects of producing a variety of assessment items that are aligned with essential concepts and skills in their curriculum standards. These teachers are chomping at the bit to apply this knowledge to their own curriculum. You might wonder what produced this level of excitement to do this challenging work? I believe that engaging these teachers actively in learning the new knowledge and skills is a major contributor to their level of excitement. They had fun learning and learned at deep levels – a recipe for success!
I was in New Mexico, working with a VERY motivated group of teachers at a small school. Our topic was Depth of Knowledge – what it is and how it affects test scores. One activity that teachers did was to identify the terms in each of the four levels of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge that they use frequently, terms they use synonmys for, terms they may want to use more frequently and terms that would LOVE the grade level preceding them to foot-stomp. Teachers examined their practices and thought about the last round of testing, monitoring students taking the test, watching students give an incorrect answer and knowing that the student did know it – AAAHHH! Is it possible the student missed it because they didn’t know the vocabulary – the test said to cite evidence and the teacher had been using show me in the text? Did it say tabulate and the teacher had been using figure? Had the teacher been using a synonym? Hmmm. Something to ponder. Today (Friday), we will be going back to our December work with our prioritized, differentiated core standards and determining what DOK level is expected by the core and then infusing DOK levels into our Learning Targets. It’s going to be an intense – hard and deep thinking day! Just the kind I really love – with (as I said previously) a VERY motivated group of teaches!