Meta-Reflection Standard 8: Present Professional Practice for the Review of Colleagues

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Action Research: 

Focusing on researching various reading strategies to help my struggling readers was immensely beneficial for me as a teacher and more importantly for my students who needed the support.  I observed many students who were unable to answer literary analysis questions during a test.  They would leave that part blank.  I also noticed students who did not use evidence to support their ideas or used evidence but did not explain the evidence.  I believe the problem was a lack of modeling and a lack of explicitly teaching the step by step process of inferential thinking and text analysis.  I knew I needed to find ways to scaffold inferential thinking for my struggling readers.  I found great articles in the Seattle Pacific University ERIC database.  One article “Using Literature to Teach Inference across the Curriculum” recommended I scaffold inferential thinking with a two column graphic organizer—in one column record the text, in the other column record thoughts (Bintz, 2012).”  “The Main Idea Strategy” recommend students learn how to close read a text and circle words that seem important (Boudah, 2014).  “Searching for Evidence” also recommended teaching students to close read and have students ask the questions: What is the author saying?  How does the author prove it? (Gormley, 2015)  The articles “Detective Question” and “Making Inferences from Texts: Its Vocabulary that Matters” recommended providing explicit vocabulary instruction.  Both articles said poor vocabulary is the number one deficit for reading comprehension. (Jimenez-Fernandez, 2015)  (Lucas, 2015)  I began by having students find synonyms and draw visual for the words: evidence, analysis, and inference.  I gave a baseline assessment with a graphic organizer that had students record text evidence in a separate box.  Only 60% of my students were proficient making inferences.  My first intervention was a graphic organizer that asked students to record direct quotes in one column and analysis in another column.  Students struggled connecting good evidence to a reasonable inference.   My next intervention asked students to write two details and a logical inference in each row of boxes.  The post test results showed the interventions made an impact.  82% of my students were now proficient using text evidence to support inferential thinking.  Moving forward I will continue to model and coach the reading strategies I learned from my research.  Explicit instruction and scaffolding works.  I plan on continuing to develop students’ analytical thinking skills by seeking out more literacy research that helps promote student growth.  At the end of the action research project I presented my findings to colleagues.

Technology Leadership:

I learned about ISTE standards.  These standards ask teachers 1) to use tools to inspire student learning and creativity 2) to design digital age assessments 3) to have students apply digital tools to gather information 4) to have students use critical thinking skills to make informed decisions using appropriate digital resources 5) to have students show understanding of technology systems and 6) to promote lifelong learning by promoting the effective use of technology.

I am interested in Standard 1: Creativity and Innovation, and I’m interested in finding ways to apply newly learned concepts to generate a product using the tools of digital media.  I would like to help students design their own website using teamwork to come up with creative ideas to show and share learning.  Using technology, they could collaborate in groups to synthesize the learned content into interesting images and creative writing.  I like the idea that the digital revolution is allowing kids to refine and apply their knowledge and create a social media product.  At the end of the technology leadership course, I presented to colleagues the ways I apply the ISTE technology in my classroom.

 

Research on Collaboration:

The teacher leadership course helped me be more aware of how principals are evaluated.  Their evaluation framework is very similar to a teacher’s evaluation framework.  This makes sense since principal success is very much tied to teacher success.  I wrote a reflective essay evaluating my strengths and weaknesses in relation to 6 teacher leadership standards.  The standards are: 1. Visionary Leadership, 2. Instructional Improvement, 3. Effective Management, 4. Inclusive Practice, 5. Ethical Leadership, 6. Socio-Political Context.  This exercise helped me understand more clearly the high expectations of being a teacher leader.  After reflecting on these standards I became more aware that my true passion is geared toward instructional improvement.  This is an area that I want to be a teacher leader.  I was given the opportunity to research an area of teacher leadership that I was curious about and I chose to find educational articles on teacher collaboration.  This area of research would be tied to Standard 2: Instructional Improvement.  I learned that collaborative inquiry has proven to be the high yield strategy of professional learning.  School leaders are seen as co-learners in the process and this relationship is the key to making an impact on student outcomes. (Belchetz and Witherow, 2014)  I learned that school leaders need to create consistent, powerful professional learning that helps teachers scaffold rigorous and engaging learning. (Gleason and Gerzon, 2014)  I also learned that bad professional developers jump on the bandwagon of every new trend in education.  There are tried and true methods and the baby should never be thrown out with the bathwater. (Thomas, 2013)  I learned that best practices are doomed to fail when administrators pressure teachers to make quick fixes.  This puts a wedge between teacher and administrator.  Teachers need space and time to engage in authentic learning.  When administrators act as allies and thinking partners, teachers are able to make improvements that enhance student learning. (Van Tassell, 2014)  And I learned that effective collaboration respects individual teachers’ voices. Reflection is integral part of the learning.  The learning is then applied to real life.  All are expected to participate and receive and offer feedback. (Stewart, 2014)  I learned that good leaders set goals, plan activities that will achieve those goals, and show evidence that the goals were achieved.  Moving forward I plan to continue to study Danielson’s framework and brainstorm with my collaboration team creative ways to distinguish ourselves as educators by exceeding the rigorous expectations of teaching and learning.  At the end of course I presented my research findings to colleagues.

Next Steps:

Moving forward I would like to continue conducting research on ways to improve teaching and learning and I plan on sharing research findings with colleagues.  My principal has asked me to co-teach next year with an ELL teacher and we plan to share our experience co-teaching with the faculty.  Leadership is all about sharing with others and helping others become better.  By sharing ideas with others and inquiring as a team on ways to improve, the whole community wins.

Please see my Action Research Presentation, my Leading with Technology Presentation, and my Research on Collaborion Presentation as evidence that I present professional practice for the review of colleagues.

 

References

Belchetz, D., & Witherow, K. (2014). Ontario District Embraces an Evolving Approach to Learning. Journal Of Staff Development35(1), 18-20.

Bintz, W. P., Moran, P. P., Berndt, R., Ritz, E., Skilton, J. A., & Bircher, L. S. (2012). Using Literature to Teach Inference across the Curriculum. Voices From The Middle20(1), 16-24.

Boudah, D. J. (2014). The Main Idea Strategy: A Strategy to Improve Reading Comprehension through Inferential Thinking. Intervention In School And Clinic49(3), 148-155.

Gleason, S. C., & Gerzon, N. (2014). High-Achieving Schools Put Equity Front and Center. Journal Of Staff Development35(1), 24-26.

Gormley, K., & McDermott, P. (2015). Searching for Evidence–Teaching Students to Become Effective Readers by Visualizing Information in Texts. Clearing House: A Journal Of Educational Strategies, Issues And Ideas88(6), 171-177.

Jiménez-Fernández, G. (2015). Detective Questions: A Strategy for Improving Inference-Making in Children With Mild Disabilities. Intervention In School And Clinic51(1), 45-50.

Lucas, R., & Norbury, C. F. (2015). Making Inferences from Text: It’s Vocabulary That Matters. Journal Of Speech, Language, And Hearing Research58(4), 1224-1232.

Stewart, C. (2014). Transforming Professional Development to Professional Learning. Journal Of Adult Education43(1), 28-33.

Thomas, L. R. (2013). 10 Good Ways to Ensure Bad Professional Learning. Journal Of Staff Development34(4), 60-61.

Van Tassell, R. (2014). The Trouble with Top-Down. Educational Leadership71(8), 76-78

 

 

 

 

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Meta-Reflection: Standard 1 Model Ethical and Moral Behavior (Moral Issues in Education)

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Introduction

I really like Frederick Buechner’s ideas when he said religion is, “the area of human experience where people come upon Mystery (Reality beneath the realities of everyday life) as a summons to pilgrimage.”   As a kid I went to Catholic school in Los Angeles, I remember the priests and nuns speaking of the mystery of faith.  As a grown man, I am stilled awed by this deep sense of mystery in life, in the universe, in my heart, and in my relationships. This sense of mystery inspires me and challenges me and stirs within me a search for meaning and truth. I like Buechner’s idea that this awareness is a “summons to pilgrimage.” When I think of a pilgrim, I think of the English pilgrims who sailed to the New World, I think of the Muslims’ call to journey to Mecca, and I think of a pilgrimage as a metaphor for life and action. I am on a journey of birth, growth, decline, and death. This is so mysterious to me! My sense of purpose, religiously and spiritually, is trying to strike a balance between my own selfish desires and my calling to be a person for and with others. Religion helps me focus on what’s truly important in life and provides sign posts along the way. Lord knows I get thrown off balance easily and the wisdom of religion helps me be alert and aware to the sorrows and joys of being alive.

I love reading, art, and the philosophy of ideas, but so often I find myself reading a difficult text and being confused by the text’s language. This is especially true when I try to interpret poetry. Language can be ambiguous and easily misunderstood.   I often find that I need to reread challenging texts multiple times and study the explicit and implicit meaning of the words the author has chosen. I have heard artists say that they don’t want to explain their artwork because they want the viewer, listener, or reader to construct their own meaning.   The more experience I have the better I become at reasoning and analysis. Often when I misinterpret a writer it is because I do not have enough knowledge to fully understand the context and purpose of the material. I know I get it wrong sometimes but, for me, that’s the fun of exploring and being curious about life.

Moral Agency

In The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis brings universal values to the forefront. I remember in college debating with my roommates about morality and ethics, and one of my friends saying that everything is relative. He had learned about Einstein’s theory of relativity and was quick to apply this notion of relativity to all human endeavors. Nothing is right or wrong was his position; it merely depends on your perspective. If your culture believes in cannibalism then who are we to judge? I like that Lewis is reminding us that there are universal values. These values are absolute and are beyond culture and perspective. Justice, courage, moderation, and foresight are all values that are universal regardless of time or place. Lewis writes about experiencing the sublime in nature. Nature is terrible and grand and beautiful with or without a human there to observe it. Humans are not the end all and be all of meaning. Life is full of wonder, and I like the idea of the Tao as an expression of this mystery. Lewis argues that it is the duty of the elders to initiate young ones to be aware the sublime. Once that bedrock is in place reason will come.

In the Book of Genesis, Jacob is a mamma’s boy and is the second son but is his mamma’s favorite son. Jacob is smart, but he reminds me of the serpent who tricks people. Jacob, with the help of his mother, tricks Esau and Isaac into giving Jacob what should rightfully go to Esau. Jacob dresses like Esau and gets his father, who is blind, to give Jacob a blessing of wealth that should have gone to Esau. Jacob reminds me a little bit of King David or a CEO who knows how to outwit others. Jacob also takes on Laban, who is crafty, and outwits him by escaping Laban’s camp and taking with him wealth and wives after being in his service for many years. Later Jacob knows he did wrong to Esau and makes peace with him.

I love the story of Jacob’s spiritual development. Jacob has a vision of a ladder and God and angels ascending and descending. God promises him land and a tribe of people. When Jacob awakes he is terrified and anoints the land and calls the place of his vision: the House of God. Later Jacob wrestles with an angel all night and in the morning the angel renames Jacob, Israel and the angel says, “for if thou hast been strong against God, how much more shalt thou prevail against men?” Genesis 32:28 And Jacob says, “I have seen God face to face, and my soul has been saved.” Genesis 32:30 Jacob is transformed after this encounter and gives Esau a great gift and says to Esau, “if I have found favor in thy eyes, receive a little present at my hands: for I have seen thy face, as if I should have seen the countenance of God.” Genesis 33:10 To me, this is the heart of Christianity. Jacob sees the face of God in others. I believe that is the transformation Jesus was asking his followers to make.

It is interesting that we are reading C.S.Lewis and the Book of Genesis alongside All the King’s Men. I see both character’s as free agents, free to choose between good and evil, however, I see them stuck in a corrupt, fallen world and no matter how good their intentions are, they become trapped in the machine of politics.   To advance his agenda, Willie chooses to break the rules.  Jack Burden is a sad character. He seems lost. The conversation he has with Anne Stanton reveals his resentments and loss of faith in life and in others.

I feel sorry for Willie because he seems to begin from a pure innocent place. He genuinely wants to help people. He wants to break up the corruption. The narrative shows Willie’s fall from grace. He slowly begins to become a part of the corrupt machine. He thinks he is a savior but his methods become corrupt. For example, when Willie wants to use his political influence to help a man who has murdered another man, he shows he is no better than all the other politicians.

What character issues matter most to me as an educator? I would love for my students to be passionate about justice, courage, moderation, and foresight. I truly believe these are universal values regardless of time and place. All over the world, since the beginning of civilization, people have been wrestling with how to apply this wisdom to their lives. I know I fail, big time, to live out these values, but I am glad that I am aware and try to apply, for better or for worse, the lessons of this wisdom to my life.

Moral Standards

I believe the “Ten Commandments” flows from the Tao. My understanding of the Tao comes from the ancient Chinese religion: Taoism. The Tao is the uncarved block; it is Lightness and Darkness; it is Nature. Chapters 1-19 in the Book of Exodus tell how Moses helped free his people from slavery. The people witness what C.S. Lewis calls the Sublime. God shows the Israelites and the Egyptians the power and terror of Nature. The pharaoh king’s power seems insignificant in comparison to God’s power. The will of the pharaoh pales in comparison to the will of God. All of these events humble the people of Israel and prepare them for when it comes time to submit to God’s laws. By the time God provides laws for the Israelites to follow, they have no doubt that these laws are sacred, and they are warned that there will be suffering if they break the laws. Does the Tao or God’s Law apply to us today? The Capitol building in Washington D.C. has monuments to the great lawgivers of history. A statue of Moses in the Capitol building shows that the framers of the Constitution recognize Moses’ contribution to law, order, and civilization. Certainly the problems the ancient Israelites were wrestling with are problems that every society must wrestle with at some point. The ancients knew that killing fellow humans lead to suffering, therefore it was vital that this warning is codified, and that the following generations are aware of this important wisdom. These ancient laws provided guidance for future generations; the same way our modern laws reflect ancient Judeo ethics. It was interesting to read that God told Moses to choses people who show good judgment to be the leaders of the Israelites. This is so true, now more than ever!

In All the King’s Men, Willie Stark says, “I’m not a lawyer. I know some law. In fact, I know a lot of law. And I made some money out of the law. But I’m not a lawyer. That’s why I can see what the law is like. It’s like a single-bed blanket on a double bed and three folks in the bed and a cold night. There ain’t ever enough blanket to cover the case, no matter how much pulling and hauling, and somebody is always going to nigh catch pneumonia. Hell, the law is like the pants you bought last year for a growing boy, but it is always this year and the seams are popped and the shankbone’s to the breeze. The law is always too short and too tight for growing humankind. The best you can do is do something and then make up some law to fit and by the time the time the law gets on the books you would have done something different.” Willie believes the system is corrupt and chooses to exploit the system by being corrupt, as well. Willie reminds me of a dictator or a king or a Richard Nixon who believes their position makes them above the law. Willie believes that might makes right. Whoever has the power gets to dictate the terms. Hugh Miller, on the other hand, resigns his position as Attorney General because Willie’s actions violate Hugh’s integrity. Hugh Miller knows the law has been broken and refuses to be complicit in the crime.

What is the Tao by which I live? One of my favorite life lessons is from Huckleberry Finn where Huck helps his friend Jim, who is a slave, escape the South. Huck Finn knows that the Southern ethic is that slavery is lawful and proper and those that aid slaves in their escape will burn in hell. After much soul-searching Huck Finn decides that he will help his friend escape even if it means he’ll go to hell. I love Huckleberry Finn’s moral quest and spiritual journey that allows him to come to this realization. Huck Finn knows in his heart that slavery is wrong even though the law of the land says slavery is right. I hope I can have the courage of Huck Finn when I am going through an ordeal and am experiencing an ethical tug-of-war between right and wrong. This is a life lesson that I would like to pass on to my students. It takes courage and wisdom to do what you believe is good.

Moral Philosophy

I am fascinated by Nietzsche, Freud, Marx, Einstein, and Darwin.  Their ideas have had a profound influence on modern thinking.  I love that they question the old way of thinking and challenge the old way of seeing the world, yet they have not changed my view that there is transcendental significance to existence.  I believe the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  I believe there is a truth greater than human understanding and I do not believe science can reduce this truth and boil it down to basic elements.  Truth with a capital T is a form beyond sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste.  It will never be fully measured.  Truth has infinite dimensions, infinite speed, infinite time, and infinite intelligence.   My subjective reality is flawed but I am aware of an objective truth beyond my limited capacity and human society; this Truth informs my evolution.  I do not believe moral behavior depends on the consequence of ones actions.  I think the highest form of ethical behavior is to be good regardless of the consequences.  Machiavelli would think otherwise.   He would argue that might makes right; only the powerful survive, the ends justify the means.  Certainly this behavior can be observed throughout history.  I like Martin Luther King’s ideas about the arc of justice.  He says, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”  Yes!  That is what I believe.

In the Book of Samuel, David sees Bathsheba bathing and arranges to sleep with her even though he knows she is married.  Kingship has gone to his head, and he thinks he is above God’s Law.  To make matters worse, once he finds out she is pregnant king David arranges to have her husband placed on the front lines of battle, so he will be killed.  Bathsheba’s husband is killed and David marries Bathsheba.  I remember reading this story as a kid and loving how David outwits Goliath but them feeling annoyed that the hero does such a terrible thing to Uriah.  How could such a brave person in battle be such a despicable coward at home?  As a consequence to David’s infidelity, the child David and Bathsheba conceived while Bathsheba was married to another man gets sick and dies.  God says to David, “For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing in the sight of all Israel, and in the sight of the sun.” (Samuel 12:12)  When David’s child get sick, David humbles himself before God.  This is so true about human nature.  When humans feel they are on top of the world is when they often become arrogant and commit hubris.  I love the ancient Greek words of wisdom to help keep them aware of the pitfalls of arrogant behavior: know thyself and remember you are mortal.  Was David’s behavior only wrong because of the consequences?  Even if David and Bathsheba had no negative consequences to their actions, I believe it was wrong.  How do I know?  Because I’ve done bad things without experiencing negative consequences.  I am in a process of becoming and hopefully that process will bend toward the arc of justice.

As a consequence of Cass Mastern’s affair with Annabelle Trice, Annabelle’s husband commits suicide.  Annabelle’s guilt overwhelms her and she becomes paranoid that all her servants know the truth about the infidelity and suicide.  She sells one of her slaves, who is married, knowing the slave will be sold into prostitution.  Cass becomes overwhelmed with guilt and chooses unsuccessfully to try and save the slave from the consequences of his actions.  Cass then seeks redemption.  He becomes religious, frees his slaves, and enlists in the army with a death wish.  Jack Burden “could not put down the facts about Cass Mastern’s world because he did not know Cass Mastern….Cass Mastern lived for a few years and in that time he learned that the world is all of one piece.  He learned that the world is like an enormous spider web and if you touch it, however lightly, at any point, the vibrations ripple to the remotest perimeter and the drowsy spider feels the tingle and is drowsy no more but springs out to fling gossamer coils about you who have touched the web and then inject the black, numbing poison under your hide.  It does not matter whether or not you meant to brush the web of things.  Your happy foot or your gay wing may have brushed it ever so lightly, but what happens always happens and there is the spider, bearded black and with his great faceted eyes glittering like mirrors in the sun, or like God’s eye, and the fangs dripping.”  Cass Mastern learned this valuable life lesson; Jack Burden did not.  Jack Burden acts as if the world is a disjointed, meaningless void.  Cass Mastern’s world is one of redemption while Jack Burden’s world is one of moral bankruptcy.  Is Jack Burden capable of guilt, reflection, and redemption?  This remains to be seen.  As a historian Jack must rely on facts to prove the validity of his research.  Cass Mastern’s story, however, is more than factual information.  The facts are not enough; one must be able to evaluate the facts and reflect.  Cass Mastern confronts truth’s antithesis: seduction.  Seduction leads to the downfall of Cass Mastern but when all is said and done, Cass sees the truth and atones for falling into the trap of seduction.

I like that C.S. Lewis refers to magic in his essay on morality.  The human dream is connected to an invisible web; the web vibrates with energy and is simultaneously beautiful and terrible.  The mystery will never end and that is why life is so meaningful.

Moral Issues

Jack Burden concludes that ambition, love, fear, and money are motives that cause people to break the rules.  Jack decides money is Judge Irwin’s Achilles heel.  He believes if he digs deep enough he will find evidence of Judge Irwin’s corruptibility.  Jack starts the search with his father and asks him if Judge Irwin ever needed money.  His father wants nothing to do with the investigation.  Ann Stanton reveals no information, as well.  Finally, Adam Stanton reveals that he overheard that the judge needed money.  Jack concludes that if the judge needed money, he would borrow it.  Jack finally discovers that in exchange for the judge’s complicity over a corrupt government deal the judge would be given a plush corporate job.  As a result, a man named Mortimer L. Littlepaugh would lose his job.  Mortimer tries to be a whistle blower but is shut down by the corrupt system.  In despair, Mortimer commits suicide and mails a letter to his sister detailing the corruption.  Jack Burden eventually finds the elderly sister and bribes her with money to reveal the scandal and hand over her brother’s letter.

In the Prophecy of Amos, God says to Amos, “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, and I will send forth a famine into the land: not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11)  God is telling Amos to tell his people that they will no longer be the chosen people if they continue their misconduct.  God will no longer be present in their hearts if they continue down the path of greed, lust, and pride.   The world the Israelites will experience will be a world absent of God.  This reminds me of Jesus’ keen observation when he is tempted by the devil because he has been fasting for forty days, and he says to the devil, “It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)  Humans need more than bread and water.  Faith, hope, and love is as vital to human needs as bread and water.  Society only works if it is based on justice.  When those in power exploit and corrupt the people, God’s law is ignored.  Amos prophesizes a world absent of God’s mercy.

God tells Amos to tell the Israelites that they no longer are a holy people.  God says, “I hate and have rejected your festivities: and I will not receive the odour of your assemblies.  And if you offer me holocausts, and your gifts, I will not receive them: neither will I regard the vows of your fat beasts.  Take away from me the tumult of thy songs: and I will not hear the canticles of thy harp.”  (Amos 5:21-23)  Worship is meaningless if the people are exploiting and corrupting others.  God says to the Israelites to get their house in order; they no longer are acting like people of God.

Spirit plays a huge part in education.   How is spirit a causal factor in education?  In my view, keeping students and staff aware of the importance of school spirit is the most important task the principal must execute.  In my school, my principal frames a culture of positivity, trust, and teamwork.   These core values create a vibrant energy that informs the behavior and actions of teachers and students.  Teachers know that the principal trusts us to be autonomous professionals; this motivates me to work even harder knowing I am free to take ownership of my classroom and be creative with my lesson planning.  My principal frames a culture of positivity and teamwork.  This school spirit brings colleagues together to brainstorm and collaborate without fear of being judged for making a mistake.  Spirit is vital in a school and has the potential to generate massive growth and improvement.

What prophetic word would you say to your learning community?  I would say that spirit matters.  When a community loses its spirit, the physical world suffers.

Moral Wisdom in Action

I am intrigued by Carol Dweck findings on the differences between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.  The central moral issue is the importance of teaching kids the power of believing they can improve.  I will be studying the research behind teaching students the power of the words, “not yet.”  When students are given a difficult problem to deal with, some students show they can cope with the challenge.  These students will often say, “I love a challenge!”  They have a growth mindset.  Other students find a difficult problem to be tragic and view the difficulty as a judgement on their intelligence.  These kids have a fixed mindset and have not grasped the power of yet.  Fixed mindset students are gripped in the tyranny of now.  When faced with difficulty, they are more likely to give up and run from the difficulty.  In one study, students’ brains were measured to monitor the electrical activity of their brains.  Fixed mindset students showed no activity in the brain, while the growth mindset brains were on fire with electrical activity.

Are we raising kids to be obsessed with the now instead of the yet?  Are we raising kids that don’t know how to dream big dreams?  Are we raising kids that are carrying the need for constant validation?  Managers in the work place have noted that they are seeing employees who can’t get through the day without an award.  Dweck stresses the importance of praising wisely.  Don’t praise intelligence; instead praise process, effort, focus, perseverance, and improvement.  As a result this will create kids who are hardy and resilient.  At University of Washington a math game was given to students that rewarded and gave points for effort, strategy, and process rather that getting the answer right.  The words yet or not yet gives kids greater confidence and gives them a path into the future.  The power of “yet” creates persistence. The good news is teachers can change a student’s mind set.  Every time a student pushes out of his or her comfort zone and learns something new and difficult, the brain forms new pathways and connections.  The brain gets smarter.

Teaching all kids the power of a growth mindset creates equality.  In the U.S. certain groups statistically under perform on state tests.  When educators create a growth mindset, equality happens.  In Harlem, after one year of learning about growth mindset, a Kindergarten class achieved 95th percentile on the state test.  In the Bronx a 4th grade class became the number one class on the state math test after learning about a growth mindset.  A class of Native American students living on a reservation in Seattle went from the bottom to the top on the state standardized tests outperforming affluent schools.  All of this happened because the meaning of effort and difficulty was transformed in their minds.  Before effort and difficulty made them feel dumb and made them feel like giving up.  Now these students know that effort and difficulty means that they are getting smarter.

Teaching that abilities are based on a growth mindset becomes a basic human right for all children.  All children should live in places that nurtures a growth mindset and teaches the power of yet.

Religion and Schools

In Taking Religion Seriously, Nord and Haynes stress the importance of teaching religion in the classroom. I like that they ask teachers to remain neutral when teaching religion; they also stress the importance of making religion relevant to 21stcentury learners. I am in a unique situation because I teach ancient civilization, and the birth of the world’s major religions is a big part of my curriculum. Interestingly, my team of five 6th grade social studies teachers decided to skip chapter 1 which explains human evolution from apes. Although I have no problem teaching evolution, my team felt the subject was too controversial of an issue and didn’t want to deal with upset parents. The curriculum covers Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China, Greece, and Rome. Last year we were able to study how Hinduism and Buddhism influenced ancient Indian culture and continues to influence societies all around the world today. In addition, we studied the influence of Taoism and Confucianism on Chinese culture. Next year we would like to add ancient Egypt and the rise of Judaism and ancient Rome and the rise of Christianity to the scope and sequence. When we study world religions, I always ask kids to try to apply some of the religious teachings to their lives. It is fascinating to read 6th graders’ reflections on Karma and Dharma and how it affects them in their lives today. I have never had parents question the teaching of religion in the classroom. I love teaching the subject and am happy students get to learn about the teachings of the Buddha and Lao Tzu and Confucius. It would be great to be able to fit the teachings of Moses and Jesus into next year’s plan. Alas, time is always a factor!

Religion in the Curriculum

Religion should play a more important role in social studies instruction.  Today, in an ever changing world, religion is more important than ever to know about.  My social studies curriculum has religion as part of its core content, but some teachers may be reluctant to teach religion because the United States Constitution codifies the separation of church and state.  Americans seems to be confused; they may ask: Is it okay for my child to learn about religion?  The concept of the separation of church and state is misunderstood.  Most educators agree that in order to understand history students need to understand how various religions have impacted societies.  Without studying religion how can a student understand the crusades, religious persecution, the formation of Pakistan and India, the election of John F. Kennedy, 9/11, and the Israeli-Palestinian dispute?  Religion is in the textbooks, but social studies teachers avoid it.  The challenge is getting teachers to teach it.  There is national confusion over the role of religion in public schools.  Although it may be controversial, it is necessary to teach about religion if society wishes to maintain religious tolerance. (Passe and Wilcox, 2009)

 Conclusion

This course, Moral Issues in Education, has sparked reflection on the novel All the King’s Men, on the writing of C.S. Lewis, on the Bible, on religion in the classroom and on the morality and ethics of education.   Education is a moral and ethical pursuit.  This is probably why I got into teaching in the first place.  I love literature and I love the moral and ethical questions authors ask in great literature.

Robert Penn Warren creates flawed characters that can’t get it right.  Life can feel like this.  No matter how hard I try, there is always a moral flaw that trips me up.  It does take a tremendous amount of will power to stay on the right path.  It is so easy to get thrown off the path of right action.  We want to do good but have so many tendencies that move us to do bad.  I remember a religion teacher telling me that humans are mostly good with tendencies to do evil.  I am sure there are some people that believe humans are mostly evil with tendencies to do good.  The way I see it—I want to lean toward the good knowing I can’t always be there.  Guilt is an interesting feeling with regards to morality and ethics.  What kind of guilt is good guilt and what kind of guilt is bad guilt?  Shouldn’t Willie and Jack felt more guilt over their actions?  Judge Irwin’s suicide was so tragic.  He was a good man but his guilt led him to take his own life.

C.S. Lewis asks us to preserve our humanity and not lose it to progress, technology, and social advances that are supposed to make our life easier.  I have an optimistic vision of the future and do not think humans will ever become drones to the machine.  I think human spirituality is as inseparable to us as the head is to the body.  Will C.S. Lewis’ Christianity be preserved?  Yes and no.  The values of Christianity I believe are universal and will never die.  Although the hierarchy and power of the Church will surely change.  The abolition of man is a scary thought.  I read about artificial intelligence and heard experts say that this technology could be very dangerous to our existence.  I guess it would be like letting a dictator take over for us and make decision for us so we wouldn’t have to do the hard work of thinking.

It was really nice to be able to go back to the Bible and look at passages I haven’t read in a long time.  I need to open up my Bible more often.  The books in the Bible contain some of the greatest words ever written—so much wisdom.  During my reflections on the scripture, I was struck by how human the Bible is.  The people that inhabit the Bible are so flawed, just like me.  I can relate to Adam, Eve, Moses, David, Jesus, Peter, and Paul.  Their problems are my problems.  I truly believe Jesus message is the most radical and revolutionary message in the Bible.  He asks us to love our enemies!  Wow!  This is not easy.  Talk about raising the bar.

Next Steps

As I get ready to return to the classroom and meet my students I want to remember Christ’s message.  Forgiveness is at the heart of love and our relationships are only sustainable if we have the capacity to forgive each other.  Yes, I want to raise the bar and ask students to work hard, but more importantly I want my classroom to be a place of grace and mercy and compassion.  So much of the stories we read repeat these themes.  It seems every act of education is a moral action—the way teachers greet students in the morning, the way teachers interact with colleagues, the way teachers nurture student interaction, the way teachers have mercy on a student who desperately needs some mercy—all of these moments are choices.  A teacher once told me that when all is said and done students will not necessarily remember what their teacher taught them, but they will never forget how you made them feel.  I want my students leaving my classroom feeling good.

Please see my Moral Issues Paper and my  Religion and the Classroom Paper as evidence that I model moral and ethical behavior in the classroom.

References

Dweck, Carol S. 2008. Mindset. New York: Ballantine Books

Holy Bible: Douay Rheims Version. 1989. Tan Books and Publishers: Rockford, Illinois.

Lewis, C. S. The Abolition of Man.  2001 New York: Macmillan

Nord, W. A., & Haynes, C. C. 1998. Taking religion seriously across the curriculum. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the First Amendment Center.

Warren, Robert Penn. 1981. All the King’s Men. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co.

 

 

Meta-Reflection: Standard 12 Evaluate and Use Technology for Teaching and Learning (Teaching with Technology)

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Technology Standards

I learned about ISTE standards.  These standards ask teachers 1) to use tools to inspire student learning and creativity 2) to design digital age assessments 3) to have students apply digital tools to gather information 4) to have students use critical thinking skills to make informed decisions using appropriate digital resources 5) to have students show understanding of technology systems and 6) to promote lifelong learning by promoting the effective use of technology.

I am interested in Standard 1: Creativity and Innovation, and I’m interested in finding ways to apply newly learned concepts to generate a product using the tools of digital media.  I would like to help students design their own website using teamwork to come up with creative ideas to show and share learning.  Using technology, they could collaborate in groups to synthesize the learned content into interesting images and creative writing.  I like the idea that the digital revolution is allowing kids to refine and apply their knowledge and create a social media product.

Telly Stories with Funky Fresh Technology

I learned how to create a narrative using office mix.  Two colleagues and I were assigned two vocabulary words: gusto and malleable.  We wrote sentences attempting to give context clues to the unfamiliar words.  Then we were assigned to write a zombie story using the two vocabulary words.  We were assigned for a setting: the mall.  Now for the funky fresh technology.  Using Office Mix we combined our narratives with internet images to tell a visual spooky story.  We recorded our voices and narrated the story along with the images to create a read aloud comic book!  Fun!  Different groups could share our audio-visual narratives using One Note.

Students would love Office Mix.  I see so much potential with creative assessment.  My students are working on vocabulary skills and could do this zombie vocabulary assignment to demonstrate an understanding of context clues.  After reading a novel, students could pick their favorite chapter to summarize, narrate and then retell the story with found images off the internet.  In Social Studies, we are studying a chapter on how Paleolithic hunters evolved into Neolithic farmers.  Students could take different lessons within the chapter to teach to the whole group by combining their own words with newly found images.  One group could office mix stable food supply.  Another group could office mix building permanent shelters.  One group could mix up a retelling of how Paleolithic people invented agricultural communities. Another group could narrate with images the diversification of Paleolithic jobs.  And finally, the last group could show the class how trade evolved and humans began to network and share ideas.  They could take it a step further and analyze how these movements in history still effect modern society today.  Lastly, Office Mix has a feature where you can quiz the class on what was just communicated.  At the end of the presentation, students could quiz each other to see if they learned what was just taught.  So much would be happening with this lesson: student collaboration, creative use of technology, student demonstration of finding the main idea and details to support the main idea, and critical thinking showing how this ancient 10,000 year-old human advance affects us today.

Digital Citizenship Instruction Teaches Students the Rules of the Road for the Information Super Highway

Digital Citizenship Resources: I have been exploring LWSD’s KIT, the knowledgebase resource for integrating technology. I am getting many ideas from the Tech Framework folder on how to integrate digital citizenship into the classroom. One area I want to improve upon, this year, is proper citation when conducting research. I want my students to write more expository research based short essays using Encyclopedia Britannica. To do this, I need to use KIT to help me make sure I teach proper MLA citation and proper paraphrasing skills, along with how to use quotations in research. KIT provides many documents and ideas for note taking and research guidance.

Digital Etiquette Lesson: The “Digital Etiquette Lesson” was useful. It is so important students are aware of good manners when it comes to social media. Cyberbullying is a problem that needs to be addressed in the classroom. Students need to know that what they post has consequences. I need to teach proper social media behavior. The “Digital Etiquette Lesson” gives some good examples of how social media can harm and intimidate others. These lessons help model good social media behavior.

Copyright and Intellectual Property: The “Teaching Copyright” link is interesting. There is a misunderstanding among many digital media users that everything off the internet is free. These lessons would be a good opportunity for teachers to correct the misinformation. I like the curriculum section where students can take a copyright quiz. This would be a good way to verify that students understand the rules of the road.

In the Classroom: Using the lessons of digital citizenship, to teach the correct steps to take when conducting research, makes sense for me to align with my curriculum.  I will use these lessons to integrate into my research unit on Chinese Philosophy and my research unit on Captive Orcas.  I need to do a better job going deeper with proper citation rules.

Innovative Teaching and Learning

In Teaching with Technology, we talked about Innovative Teaching and Learning research that asks teachers to demand more higher level thinking from their students.  The 21st Century Learning Activity Rubrics asks teachers to have students show a greater understanding of collaboration skills, knowledge construction skills, self-regulation skills, problem-solving skills, and communication skills.  We practiced ITL learning in a build your own chariot activity. It was very fun to collaborate on the chariot project. Hanna was a great partner who participated with great ideas, was competitive, and was a helpful problem solving. I like the give and take of brainstorming ideas. Our task was to build a chariot using maker space materials. We didn’t know where to start; slowly but surely, we formed a plan and put together the framework of a chariot. The chariots engine was a Spero ball that was controlled by a cell phone app. We attached our first creation to the Spero ball. The chariot moved okay but not great. We went back to the drawing board and made modifications to our harness.  And then it was time to race our chariots with other people’s creations.  We came in second place.  The time felt like play.

I am inspired to redesign my lessons in a way that allows my students to think deeper and more creatively about newly learned concepts.  I want to weave my lessons with more student collaboration and creative thinking activities. The ITL model also works when applied to teacher collaboration!

21st Century Research on Technology For the Classroom

I watched a best websites of 2015 webinar created by Heather Moorefield-Lang, past-chair, and Lucy Santos Green, current chair of the Best Websites committee for the ALA. The webinar provides a quick summary of 16 websites that are useful to teachers. Also, they offer ideas for how teachers can use these websites in the classroom.

A recommended site is Touchcast which allows users to add written questions and comments to video. This would be a great way for student to interact with assigned videos. Peardeck is a sharing tool. Students can write questions and slide interactive draggables using google docs. It is a great way to get all students to participate in a lesson. Soundtrap is a music collaboration website where students can create music and use sound samples to compose music. Storyboardthat is a website where students can create their own comics. Students can create comic book versions of whatever book they are reading! Booktrack Classroom helps students create soundtracks for narratives they are reading. Students can embellish a story they have written with sound effects just like the radio dramas of the 1930’s. Flipquiz is a jeopardy style quiz game where students can earn points answering trivia questions. This can be used for pre-assessments or for lesson review. Bookapolis is a kids social networking site for the books they are reading. It allows children to take ownership of the books they are reading by writing book reviews and they can track their reading progress. Answerables is a virtual space that has apps, simulators, tutoring, class portals, and social networking. Kids will like the video game feel of the website. DIY.org is social networking for makerspace. Kids can plan projects, build it, make it, and share it. It’s like Pinterest for kids. Goorulearning is designed for teacher collaboration. Teachers can collect, remix, mash-up, and share ideas with other teachers. You can pick lessons based subject, grade level, CCSS standards. Ms. Moorehead says this is a robust tool. Hstry is a site where students can discover, learn, and create audio and video timelines. This is great for biography reporting. Engineering is Elementary is site that gives teachers idea for integrating curricula into all academic fields. It promotes STEM literacy. Whatwasthere combines images with google maps. Students can look a what was there now and then find out what was there then. Code.org promotes coding in the classroom and gives teachers plans for helping students write computer code. Biodigitalhuman presents amazing visuals of the human body. Finally, Interactivesimulations helps students build science and math simulations. All of these websites would be useful tools to amplify the learning in my LA/SS classroom.

Also, the ALA lists the best education apps of 2015 along with tips on how to use them in your classroom. Notable apps include: Seesaw, Skitch, Spiderscribe, Amazing World Atlas, Digital Public Library of America, Adobe Voice, Glogster, Lego Movie Maker, and Pixel Press Floors.

I would use Seesaw to help students make digital portfolios of their classwork which would allow for more student reflection. Students could use Skitch to communicate visual with the classroom. We could create diagrams and fill them in together. Spiderscribe is a brainstorming tool. Before a big project students could organize their ideas by connecting their notes and images. Amazing World Atlas would be great for geography games and quizzes. Digital Public Library of America would be useful for project based learning. Students could access America’s libraries, archives, and museums. Adobe Voice is a tool for recording voice over images. This would be good for creative writing and reporting. Glogster is an interactive poster app which would be an innovative assessment tool for end of unit review. Students would love Lego Movie Maker for telling stories or summarizing learning. Finally, Pixel Press Floors would allow kids to draw and share video games. Kids could make video game narratives as a form of storytelling.

Bethany Petty is an Edtech blogger for edutopia. In her article, “3 Classroom Tools to Measure Student Learning,” Ms. Petty recommends three tech tools that will help teachers quickly measure student learning. The 21st century tech tools are: Kahoot, Formative, and Padlet. Kahoot is a game based website where teachers can write questions and students can log in to play the game and compete to answer questions. Formative is another websites that allows teachers to see student results in real time. This would be a perfect tool to use as an exit slip. The last tech tool she recommends is Padlet. This is a collaboration website that allows students to post questions, or thoughts that the whole group can see. This would be a great interactive tool for students to use while reading a novel or to post thoughts or questions while watching a classroom video. And guess what–the websites are free!

Kahoot is a game based website where teachers can write questions and students can log in to play the game and compete to answer questions. Formative is another websites that allows teachers to see student results in real time. This would be a perfect tool to use as an exit slip. The last tech tool she recommends is Padlet. This is a collaboration website that allows students to post questions, or thoughts that the whole group can see. This would be a great interactive tool for students to use while reading a novel or to post thoughts or questions while watching a classroom video.

Kelly Walsh’s blog, emergingedtech.com, gives teachers ideas for how to integrate technology into the classroom. Recently he listed to hot tech tool trends emerging in the classroom right now.   He writes about augmented reality apps like Augthat which allows students to create virtual reality learning experiences. Adaptive learning and competency based education. These websites allow students to learn at their own pace. Mobymax is a popular example of math and language skills that can be mastered at a student’s self-directed pace. The flipped classroom is huge in education. Teachers make videos of direct instruction which allows for more classroom time to apply the lessons from videos. Social learning in online courses is big right now. 3D printing is a great tech tool which amplifies a maker space. Interactive collaboration spaces like Wikispaces and twitter are becoming popular tools to harness learning. Video collaboration tools like Movenote help students and teacher add video and audio to their documents. Finally there are tools that help teachers embed questions in videos. Zaption is a site where teachers can write questions and embed them in videos so students must respond while watching the video.

I like the idea of students using wikispace to collaborate on a research project. Mobymax would be great for vocabulary and grammar enrichment. Movenote would be fun to try. I could record a direct instruction video, have students watch for homework, and have them apply the lessons the next day.

Collaboration

In SPU Edtech we learned about using technology to leverage both student and teacher learning through collaboration. After researching technology ideas, SPU cohorts collaborated on a group PowerPoint to share technology ideas.  Fellow teachers had great research to share and much was learned.  We also connected with a school in Australia using Skype to play 20 questions about where in the world you are skyping from.  Skype has so much potential for collaborative learning.  I want to Skype with authors!

In the classroom, collaboration is so important.  Mainly because we are social animals who need to share and learn from others.  The tech tool that I love in my classroom is Haiku.  I love the social media connection students get with discussion posts.  In the past, students would submit all writing to me, for me to grade, for my eyes only.  Now students share their thoughts with their peers, This, I believe, increases a student’s desire to write well and express themselves well because all of their classmates will read it!  Also, students who struggle are able to look at a model of other student’s work and can get a better picture of what is expected. In my class, students blog about the books they are reading.  This improves literacy because they are choosing their own books, they are creating meaningful writing about their reading, they are discussing what they’re reading with their peers, and as result they are increasing their understanding of the reading through reflection.  I would like to continue to explore collaboration through technology because I see how students love this kind of learning.

Edcamp Combines Collaboration and Professional Development with a Technology Focus

I attended Edcamp and learned a lot!  There were various meeting opportunities and I chose Creating and Culture of Learning and Choice meeting. The first idea was the advice to stop giving test and focus more on project based learning.  Instead of a test, a student could write an expository essay and create info graphics to go with the writing.  Socrative was mentioned as a useful website.  The main idea for creating a culture of learning is: you turn the kids into the teachers.  Activities like seminar projects where students practice self-directed research skills and turn the learning into a presentation, would create this culture.  Other ideas mentioned were: have students help create the rubrics, make sure students take ownership of the learning targets, personalizing learning creates purpose, give them a choice to increase their engagement with the standards.  Have them create ads, newspapers, brochures.  Powtoons was mentioned as a good website.  Read Write Think was mentioned as a good web source.  Google docs was brought up many times as a student centered forum.  Someone talked about RSA time lapse videos that kids can post on youtube.  Someone recommended an app called Stopmotion which helps students create flipbook animation.  One teacher said that instructional strategies are paramount; without good strategies, tech tools may fail to do the job. Then the discussion shifted to: How do teachers meld technology with sound instruction.  Some said its important to front load basic technology lessons, like how to use excel, before you dive into the content.  A culture of learning is created when you establish a purpose, then let them have a choice, let them collaborate.  Someone said to let them create their own podcasts.  How do you create a culture of learning?  Pull away the curtain, expose the targets and standards, let them choose to show you how they know it.  Give them a choice; they can use Prezi or Sway, or Powerpoint or create their own website.  Teachers need a learning management system, like Haiku, to leverage learning.  Design small quick 50 minute projects.  Let them explore.  Someone said to look at Google classrooms.  Have student write their own learning goals.  Establish the learning target, find the right tool, and work backwards.  Be open minded!

I then walked over to the Collaboration meeting.  Someone said they wanted to discuss collaboration because it is highly regarded as an important 21st century skill.  Before students collaborate, teachers need to give clear expectations.  What tech tools support collaboration? Some of the tech tools mentioned were: Powerpoint 365, Sway, Google docs, Padlet, Moviemaker, Plikers, Kahoot and Myfavoritewronganswer.com.  Someone said to checkout the author, Stephanie Harvey, who wrote Comprehension and Collaboration.  She is the guru of collaboration.  One of her ideas is to teach students how to disagree agreeably.  Someone said it’s important to assign a facilitator, record keeper, and timekeeper when students are collaborating.  Have students assess themselves and grade each other.  When you give them a choice you get buy in.  Someone said they like to let the students organically figure out individual roles within the group.  Give them a choice what to research and what to create.  The teacher needs to create a culture of trust where the high, middle, and low students can work together.  The table group is a collaboration team that may change throughout the year.  One teacher likes collaboration on the work process, but then each student creates their own product to turn in. They share ideas but then break off to create independently.  Challenge based learning was mentioned as a good collaboration strategy.  Give student real world challenges to brainstorm, research, find solutions for, and present.  Depart form the five paragraph essay and have them make a video.  Have them find images that connect to the writing.  Jig Saw learning. Each group research a part of the chapter and teach to the class.  Let them choose the top three topics they are interested in. Have students be the experts, search together, and share with the class.  Think, pair, and share ideas.  Share your partners idea with the class. Get them used to public speaking and teamwork.  The teacher should model collaboration.  What does it look like?  Provide thinking prompts.  Guide the sharing of ideas.  Instill the value that each person’s thoughts matter.  Have them defend their ideas, choices, opinions.

I am very excited to bring these thoughts, ideas, tech tools and learning strategies to my classroom.  I really liked the energy and camaraderie of EDcamp. And I think EDcamp models what a 21st century classroom should look like.  I want my classroom to be like EDcamp!

Next Steps

I need to cut back on paperwork and think of more creative ways to assess. The current amount of work drains a lot of time and prevents me from spending more time planning and lesson designing. Slowing down and freeing up time is the secret ingredient to creative thought.

Being in school requires that I reflect and rethink what I do. Graduate school is helping me change and grow. Moving forward, I want to worry less about the grade book and worry more about engaging learning in artful and rigorous thinking activities.

The way I can be a technology leader is to embrace new tools and ideas and model and share these new advances with teammates. I tend to stay in my Hobbit hole and focus on grading and planning for next week’s lessons. I need to get in the habit of trying new things and then taking the risk of sharing ideas with others. Trust is important when sharing with others. I want to help foster with my collaboration team a culture of risk taking and inquiry and experimentation.

It is exciting to be a part of the digital revolution. New technologies are disrupting every area of our society. Education is undergoing a revolution along with this seismic change in our culture. I like the motto: adapt or die. Technology helps stimulate progress, it leverages and amplifies communication with others, and it is fun! Everything is happening so quickly; it’s hard to keep up!

Please see my Annotated Bibliography, my Leading with Technology Presentation, and my Lesson Plan for 21st Century Learning as evidence that I evaluate and use technology for teaching and learning.

References

AASL Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2015″, American Library Association, August 26, 2015.http://www.ala.org/aasl/ecollab/2015-bestwebsites (Accessed November 1, 2015)

“Best Apps for Teaching & Learning 2015”, American Library Association, June 19, 2015.http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards-guidelines/best-apps/2015 (Accessed November 1, 2015)

Petty, Bethany. “Classroom Tools Measure Student Learning.” Edutopia. N.p., 7 Sept. 2015. Web.

Walsh, Kelly. “12 Emerging Educational Uses of Technology That Are the Most Exciting Right Now.” Emerging Edtech. N.p., 14 Sept. 2015. Web.

 

Meta-reflection Standard 6: Communicates and Collaborates with a Variety of Stakeholders (Engaging Communities)

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Reflecting on SPU’s Engaged Communities course, I learned the importance of reaching out to parents, students, and fellow teachers.  In the past, I have found myself responding to parents, students, and fellow teachers when there is a need or a request for help.  In the future, I want to be more proactive communicating with parents, especially in positive, uplifting ways.  It was interesting to learn that student achievement increases when both students and parents are more engaged.  I once believed that parent and student involvement was up to the individual.  If they weren’t participating, too bad for them.  Now I feel more inspired to promote and teach engagement.  I would like to create more dialogue with fellow colleagues, parents, and students about the importance of engagement.    The course readings were very inspirational.   I realize how important it is to be aware, alert, and engaged with culturally diverse learners, parents, and colleagues.  I learned how challenging it can be to build engaged relationships with reluctant parents.  I learned that culturally diverse learners are often targeted for unfair punishment and too much punishment creates a feeling of hopelessness.  I learned about useful tools to help children reflect on disruptive behavior rather than merely doling out meaningless punishment.   I learned that white teachers are often blind to systematic racism and oppression, and often do not have the proper mind set to address the needs of multicultural education.  I learned how white teachers, teaching on a Native American reservation, found ways to build community by embracing native American culture and building positive relationship with parents.  I learned about African American families that are home schooling their children to teach a more well-rounded African American history and protect their children from institutional racism.  I learned that I can be blind by my prejudices and biases and that I need to attempt to better understand other point of view and seek out the needs, wishes, and hopes of diverse learners and their families.  Moving forward, I plan to reach out to colleagues and share the research with others that increasing teacher, parent and student engagement makes a huge impact on student learning.  Quite possibly the most effective intervention to help struggling learners is reaching out to parents and communicating and collaborating with them to help their child grow.

Please see my Communiation Criteria Analysis, my School-to-Prison Pipeline Research, and my Community Engagement Paper as evidence that I communicate and collaborate with a variety of stakeholders.

References

Bolea, P. S. (2012). Cross-Cultural Service Learning with Native Americans: Pedagogy for Building Cultural Competence. Journal Of Teaching In Social Work32(3), 284-299.

Danielson, Charlotte. “Danielson Group » The Framework.” Danielson Group The Framework Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2017.

Elias, M. (2013). The School-to-Prison Pipeline. Teaching Tolerance52(43), 39-40.

Legislation, Education. “Teacher/Principal Evaluation Program.” Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. N.p., 17 Apr. 2017. Web. 13 May 2017.

Mazama, A., & Lundy, G. (2015). African American Homeschooling and the Quest for a Quality Education. Education And Urban Society47(2), 160-181.

Meta-reflection Standard 2: Analyze Learning to Promote Student Growth (Accomplished Teaching and Action Research)

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I really enjoyed the research process of Accomplished Teaching.  We were assigned to research and share an article on teaching and learning with a fellow cohort.  I found a great article on teacher leadership.   The article “High Impact Leadership” by John Hattie showed that instructional leaders who focus mainly on student growth achieve the greatest impact on teaching and learning. Effective teacher leaders have high-impact mind frames that “believe that success and failure in student learning is about what they, as teachers or leaders, did or didn’t do.”  Effective instructional leaders ask four questions based on learning impact: Is the impact valid? Is the impact equitable? How great an impact are you seeking to achieve? What teacher practices are most related to student learning?  Hattie’s research shows that effective leaders “get everyone in the school working together to know and evaluate their impact.”  Hattie goes on to say, “The high-impact leader creates a school climate in which everybody learns, learning is shared, and critique isn’t just tolerated, but welcomed.” The article reinforced the lessons learned in this course.  The lesson being: reflective practice shows teachers and students how and where to achieve growth.  A fellow cohort, Cindy Burt, shared a great article called “Fostering Reflection.”  I was fascinated by the idea of dialectical reflection.  It was interesting to read that there are multiple levels of reflective thought, and dialectical thought is the highest form of reflective thinking.  When a teacher has the capacity to question without judgment and the flexibility to try different strategies, they can achieve a higher level of reflective practice and are able to change their old practice and adapt to a new and better form of instruction.  Dialectical reflection is problem solving.  (Danielson, 2009)  I think it would be great if fellow teachers shared articles like these during teacher collaboration time.

Focusing on researching various reading strategies for my Action Research Project was immensely beneficial for me as a teacher and more importantly for my students who needed the support.  I observed many students who were unable to answer literary analysis questions during a test.  They would leave that part blank.  I also noticed students who did not use evidence to support their ideas or used evidence but did not explain the evidence.  I believe the problem was a lack of modeling and a lack of explicitly teaching the step by step process of inferential thinking and text analysis.  I knew I needed to find ways to scaffold inferential thinking for my struggling readers.  I found great articles in the Seattle Pacific University ERIC database.  One article “Using Literature to Teach Inference across the Curriculum” recommended I scaffold inferential thinking with a two column graphic organizer—in one column record the text, in the other column record thoughts (Bintz, 2012).”  “The Main Idea Strategy” recommend students learn how to close read a text and circle words that seem important (Boudah, 2014).  “Searching for Evidence” also recommended teaching students to close read and have students ask the questions: What is the author saying?  How does the author prove it? (Gormley, 2015)  The articles “Detective Question” and “Making Inferences from Texts: Its Vocabulary that Matters” recommended providing explicit vocabulary instruction.  Both articles said poor vocabulary is the number one deficit for reading comprehension. (Jimenez-Fernandez, 2015)  (Lucas, 2015)  I began by having students find synonyms and draw visual for the words: evidence, analysis, and inference.  I gave a baseline assessment with a graphic organizer that had students record text evidence in a separate box.  Only 60% of my students were proficient making inferences.  My first intervention was a graphic organizer that asked students to record direct quotes in one column and analysis in another column.  Students struggled connecting good evidence to reasonable inferencing.   My next intervention asked students to write two details and a logical inference in each row of boxes.  The post test results showed the interventions made an impact.  82% of my students were now proficient using text evidence to support inferential thinking.

My future growth goals are to continue reflective practice individually and with colleagues.  I want to share what I’ve learned with my building team.  I would like for my team to share further research and new discoveries on best practices to promote student growth.  We could use protocols like “Peeling the Onion” to dig deeper with thoughtful questions and responses.  A true leader establishes principles and then forms a consensus around a vision for the future.  The lessons learned in Accomplished Teaching help instill good principles.  Now my task is to bring these ideas to my team and try to implement reflective practice techniques at my school.  Moving forward I will continue to model and coach the reading strategies I learned from Action Research.  Explicit instruction and scaffolding works.  I plan on continuing to develop students’ analytical thinking skill by seeking out more literacy research that helps promote student growth.

Please see my  Accomplished Teaching Paper and my Action Research Presentation as evidence that I analyze learning to promote student growth

References

Bintz, W. P., Moran, P. P., Berndt, R., Ritz, E., Skilton, J. A., & Bircher, L. S. (2012). Using Literature to Teach Inference across the Curriculum. Voices From The Middle, 20(1), 16-24.

Boudah, D. J. (2014). The Main Idea Strategy: A Strategy to Improve Reading Comprehension through Inferential Thinking. Intervention In School And Clinic, 49(3), 148-155.

Ghere, G.S., Montie, J., Sommers, W.A., & York-Barr, J. (2006). Reflective practice to improve schools: An action guide for educators (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.

Gormley, K., & McDermott, P. (2015). Searching for Evidence–Teaching Students to Become Effective Readers by Visualizing Information in Texts. Clearing House: A Journal Of Educational Strategies, Issues And Ideas, 88(6), 171-177.

Hattie. J. (2015). High Impact Leadership. Educational Leadership, 37-40

Jiménez-Fernández, G. (2015). Detective Questions: A Strategy for Improving Inference-Making in Children With Mild Disabilities. Intervention In School And Clinic, 51(1), 45-50.

Lucas, R., & Norbury, C. F. (2015). Making Inferences from Text: It’s Vocabulary That Matters. Journal Of Speech, Language, And Hearing Research, 58(4), 1224-1232.

Meta-reflection Standard 10: Understands Effective Use of Research Based Instructional Practices (Survey of Instructional Practices)

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I learned a massive amount of useful instructional strategies that I can use in my classroom and promote in my building.  Before this course my knowledge was much more limited.  John Hattie’s Visible Learning opened my eyes to ways of practicing teaching and learning that caused me to shift my thinking.  My old mind set is still in place, so I need to reread Hattie to fully understand the implications of what he is saying.  His ideas are logical and common sense but he goes deeper and provides overwhelming evidence for what truly works.

In Hattie’s Visible Learning for Teachers, “Preparing the Lesson,” I learned that there are four critical parts of a lesson.  The critical parts are prior achievements, targeted learning, the rate of progress, and collaboration and critique.  It is critical teachers have a clear understanding of a student’s current knowledge before moving forward (d=0.67).  Children think differently from adults and it is the teacher’s role to create interventions that will help students attain a higher level of thinking.  Equally important, teachers must assess the cognitive demands of each lesson.  The mind develops in response to challenges and instructional interventions must provide cognitive conflict.  As students learn to become aware of the learning process, they learn that they can control the learning process.  Hattie researches how students see themselves and recommends teachers develops the students’ confidence in tackling challenging assignments.  Teachers can develop high self-efficacy in their students when students start to see failure as a portal to growth.  Teachers must be clear about what is to be learned and must have a way of knowing the learning has been achieved.  The learning targets and success criteria must be taught explicitly.  Students should reflect on their own learning and ask questions like: how much do I know? And did I achieve the goal?  It was interesting to learn that student must know 95-99% of the vocabulary in the text to be engaged and enjoy the task, however the task must be challenging.  When students experience success with difficulty, their sense of self-efficacy increases. Teachers need to ask student to think deeply and extend their thinking from one idea to many ideas to relational ideas to abstract thought.  Teachers need to reflect, critique and collaborate with fellow teachers.  Collaboration creates unity and collaboration helps all ships rise with the tide.

In Visible Learning, “Starting the Lesson,” John Hattie writes about the importance of creating a climate of trust in a classroom.  Students and staff need to feel challenged, yet feel safe to make mistakes.  Hattie stresses the importance of dialogue in a classroom and staff room.  Teachers tend to talk and talk and talk which limits opportunities for students to be dialoguing with peers, critically thinking, and reflecting on learning.  In most classrooms, teachers tend to do the questioning while students answer questions.  Hattie emphasizes the importance of student questioning the learning, questioning themselves, and questioning others.  There should be a balance between surface leaning and deep, conceptual learning.  Teachers need to be aware of the importance of peer interaction and the social support students need to be engaged in the learning process.  The aim of school is to help learners excel beyond their present level of knowledge to do this expectation must be high for every single learner (high, middle, and low).   Students should be taught strategies to help them be aware of their learning.  Teachers need to be able to adapt their methods and strategies based on the evidence the data shows.  It is important to understand the reasons for implementing a specific strategy.  It is important for students to be aware of learning strategies.  The teacher’s basic role is to evaluate the impact his or her strategies make on student learning.  Teachers should evaluate and modify their lessons to ensure intellectual rigor, cultural relevance, student-centeredness, and responsiveness to various needs.

In Visible Learning, “The Flow of the Lesson: Learning,” Hattie analyzes the various phases of learning and says to be aware of students’ cognitive stage and his or her movement through different levels of thinking.  The mind develops in response to challenges and teachers must encourage students to be metacognitive and in control of their own learning.  Teacher intervention must encourage a social process promoted by high quality discussion among peers mediated by the teacher.  Students need access to varied learning strategies that target both surface and deep understanding.  Teachers need to be experts at pivoting and adapting to learning needs as the learner changes and grows or does not change or is not grow.  Students need to be explicitly taught how to process learning, and learners need an opportunity to practice skills in a variety of ways.  Concentration should be nurtured and developed.  Teachers and students should be fully aware of the final criteria of success.  What is the final outcome?  Each learning target in a unit should be a stepping stone to toward final destination.  Rubrics make this outcome transparent to the teacher and learner.  What is going on in the mind of a student?  Hattie says part of the skill in developing awareness is “learning what not to attend to, and thus developing the skills of scanning, identifying opportunities and barriers to learning, categorizing and evaluating student behavior, and interpreting the situation relative to the instructional decisions and not to classroom management issues (Hattie, 125).  Ultimately students must provide teachers with evidence of how they are thinking and learning.

In Hattie’s chapter on “The Flow of the Lesson: The Place of Feedback,” Hattie says effective feedback is one of the top ten influences on achievement.  Effective feedback should address three questions: Where am I going?  How am I going there?  And where to next?  The question “where am I going?” means that teachers need to communicate the learning goals and rubrics for success.  The question “how am I going to get there?” means the teacher needs to communicate student progress.  The question “where to next?” means students need to be able to reflect on the learning and make deeper connections to the learning.  The frequency of the feedback needs to be just right for the student for where they are at in the learning process.  Teachers should seek evidence that students are receptive to the feedback.  The five types of effective feedback are: disconfirmation, welcoming errors, assessment for teachers, rapid formatives, and prompts as a precursor to feedback.  Disconfirmation corrects an erroneous idea and improves performance when learners receive feedback on incorrect answers.    Feedback is effective when students do not have mastery and there is error and room for growth.  Error should be welcomed.  Assessments are a way for the teacher to see what he or she has or has not taught well.  This type of feedback allows the teacher to adjust based on students’ needs.  Rapid formative assessments help teachers and students focus key decisions like: Should I relearn, practice again, or move forward?   Prompts can help one reflect on task: Does the answer meet the success criteria?  Prompts can help one reflect on process: What is wrong and why?  Prompt can help one self-regulate: How can my student monitor his or her own work?  The three attributes of students and feedback are: student culture, asking students about feedback, and peer power.  The student’s cultural background influences feedback effects.  For instance, collectivist cultures prefer indirect feedback and individualist cultures prefer more direct feedback.  Teachers need to ask students about feedback and misconceptions need to be explained and improvement suggested.  Finally, peer feedback is an effective classroom tool.  Teacher need to explicitly coach students how to give effective feedback.

In addition, Classroom Instruction that Works by Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone was a valuable resource.  I learned that learning objectives should not be restrictive.  The learning objective should be communicated to both students and parents.  The learning objective should connect to previous and future learning, and students should set their own personal learning objectives.  Feedback should address what is correct and should elaborate on what is next.  Feedback should be given in time to meet the learner’s needs.  Feedback should be based on a criterion and students should be engaged in the feedback process.

In Classroom Instruction that Works, I learned about the importance of cues, questions, and advance organizers.  Why are cues, questions, and advance organizers important?  Cues and questions help students access prior knowledge and use that knowledge to learn new information.  Be direct and explicit with a preview of to be learned information.  Cues help students bring forward relevant personal experiences that relate to the topic.  Examples of cues would be: pictures, a list of questions, or a discussion of the learning objective.  Teachers should ask student to make inferences about events, things, people, action, or states of being that is being studied.    Teachers should ask analytical questions.  Analytical questions help students think more deeply and critically about the topic being discussed.  Teachers should use expository advance organizers to help explain the new content students are about to learn.  Pictures and text can help clarify complex information.  Teachers can use narrative advance organizers to activate prior knowledge.  For example, teachers read a short story or poem from the time period being studied or teachers tells a personal story that relates to the learning or shows a video clip.  Finally, teachers should use the reading strategy of skimming as an advance organizer to help students retain information.

In Classroom Instruction that Works, I learned about the importance of cooperative learning.

Why is cooperative learning important? Cooperative learning provides opportunities for students to interact in ways that deepen their learning.  Cooperative learning requires careful planning.  Group sizes should be no larger than five students per group.  It is important for students to learn the life skill of positive interdependence which helps them develop a sense that they sink or swim together.  Cooperative learning needs to be balanced with individual accountability where students demonstrate their understanding of the learning goal.  Cooperative should be the dominant strategy in a classroom and should be used consistently and systematically, but should be balanced with competition an individual work.   Cooperative learning is a 21st Century life skill and prepares students for modern working environments.  “By giving students opportunities to learn and lead in cooperative groups, we are helping them develop those essential skills for higher education and the workplace.” (Dean, 46)

In Classroom Instruction that Works, I learned about the importance of nonlinguistic representations.  Why is this strategy important?  When teachers use nonlinguistic representation strategies, they help students represent knowledge as imagery.  These strategies are important because they tap into student’s natural tendency for visual image processing, which helps them construct meaning of relevant content and skills and have better capacity to recall it later.  The five recommendations for classroom practice with nonlinguistic representations are: use graphic organizers, make physical models, generate mental pictures, create pictures, and engage in kinesthetic learning.  Graphic organizer combine linguistic and nonlinguistic forms of information.  Physical models are concrete representations of academic content or concepts.  Generating mental pictures helps students make sense of information and store learning for future use.  Pictures provide opportunities for students to present their learning in a personalized manner.  Kinesthetic activities help students create neural activities in their brains and the learning stays with them longer.  21st century learners must move beyond a text-based society to one in which all forms of communication have equal value.

In Classroom Instruction that Works, I learned about the importance of summarizing and note taking.  Why is this strategy important?  Summarizing is the process of distilling information to its most essential points to help in understanding, memorizing, and learning relevant material.  Note taking refers to the process of capturing key ideas (writing, drawing, and oral) for later review.  The three practices recommended for helping students deal with the confusing task of summarizing are:  the rules of summarizing, use summary frames, and engage in reciprocal teaching. The summarizing rules are: take out unimportant material, omit repetition, replace list of things with the category (i.e. trees), and find the topic sentence.  A summary frame is a series of questions designed to highlight the critical elements of a specific text.  The student’s response creates a summary of important information.   Reciprocal teaching is: summarizing, questioning, clarifying and predicting.  At first the teacher should model this strategy then gradually give student control of this technique.  Students assume one of the four roles.  The summarizer reads a short passage and summarizes the reading.  The questioner asks questions that are designed to help identify important information.  The clarifier clarifies new vocabulary the group may not know.  The predictor asks for predictions and records the group’s predictions.  Be generating predictions students will have a purpose for continued reading.  Effective note taking requires students to determine what is most important in a condensed form.  To help students learn this strategy teachers should:  give students teacher-prepared notes, teach students a variety of note-taking formats, and provide opportunities for students to revise their notes and use them for review.  21st century learners in the age of the internet must know how to summarize and take notes on a huge amount of information and be able to determine key points and ideas.

In Classroom Instruction that Works, I learned about the importance of assigning homework and providing practice.  Why is this strategy important? Homework refers to opportunities for students to learn or review skills outside of the regular school day.  Practice is the act of repeating a specific skill or reviewing small amounts of information to increase recall, speed, and accuracy.   The three recommendations for assigning homework to improve students’ achievement are: communicate school homework policy, design assignments that support learning targets, provide feedback.  The three recommendations for students practice are: clearly communicate the purpose of practice activities, design practice sessions that are short and focused, and provide feedback.

I read an article by Robert Marzano called “Setting the Record Straight on High Yield Strategies.”  Marzano recommends not focusing on a narrow range of strategies.  He says not to underestimate the importance of solid classroom management strategies and formative assessment is a good place to start when trying to make an impact on learning.  He says not to assume teachers need to use high yield strategies in every lesson.  For example, notetaking makes sense to use at the beginning of learning new content and not at the end.  Marzano’s strategies fit in the criteria of a. learning new content b. practice c. complex tasks d. communicating learning goals and tracking progress e. maintain procedures f. student engagement g. recognizing adherence or lack of adherence to procedure h. maintaining effective relationships and i. communicating high expectations.  The ultimate criteria for an instructional strategy is student knowledge gain.

In When Kids Can’t Read, Kylene Beers I learned that dependent readers are dependent readers because of their passive reading.  Teachers should get students thinking about the text and about how they will read the selection before they begin the text.  There are several pre-reading approaches that helps students engage with texts prior to reading.  Pre-reading strategies help students: access their prior knowledge, interact with portions of the text prior to reading, make inferences, draw comparisons, predict, identify challenging vocabulary, and construct meaning.

Finally, in “The Feedback Process” by Joellen Killion I learned there are four misconceptions about feedback.  The four misconceptions are: 1. Feedback occurs only in performance evaluation. 2. People are feedback averse. 3. The feedback sandwich softens critical feedback.  4. People prefer positive to negative feedback.  When people understand expectations, have clear goals, can self-direct, and continue to improve, they feel more engaged.  The positive feedback sandwich can lessen the learner’s motivation to act on the negative feedback.  Learners want to grow and want to be a part of the process that helps them improve.

Amazingly during this course I was able to practice and teach these highly effective instructional strategies.  I will surely use these strategies for the rest of my career, and I believe it will be a challenge refining and improving my ability to execute the strategies that I learned in this course.  My next steps are to spread the news to my collaboration team, department, and building.  Researched based instructional practices make a big impact on student learning and could transform a school if teacher leaders share these ideas.   This course was a challenge.  After conducting research on effective instructional strategies, I now realize how important it is to create cognitive conflict within the mind of the learner.  My brain surely has grown from all this heavy lifting!

Please see my Collaborative Inquiry Paper, my Collaborative Inquiry Project, my Instructional Strategies Cooperative Learning Lesson Plan , Instructional Strategies Cite Text Evidence to Support Analysis Lesson Plan, Instructional Strategies Advance Organizer Lesson Plan , Instructional Strategies Nonlinguistic Representations Lesson PLan , Instuctional Strategies Note Taking. Lesson Plan , and my Nonfiction Innovation Configuration Map as evidence that I understand the effective use of research based instructional practices.

References

Beers, Kylene. When Kids Can’t Read: What Teaches Can Do. Porstmouth, NH, 2003.

Dean, C., Hubble, E., Pitler, H., and Stone, B. (2012). Classroom Instruction that Works

Hattie, John. Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800-Meta- Analyses Relating to Achievement. New York: Routledge, 2009.

Killion, Joellen. The Feedback Process: Transforming Feedback for Professional Learning, 2015.

Marzano, R. J. (2009). Setting the Record Straight on “High-Yield” Strategies. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(1), 30-37.

 

 

Meta-reflection Standard 9: Evaluate and Use Effective Curriculum Design (Curriculum Design)

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Curriculum needs to adapt to new technologies and advances in pedagogy.  We live in a world where students will need to be able to adapt to global and societal changes.  The Common Core State Standards is a great example of how outside forces affect curricula.  Schools all over the country are trying to tailor their scope and sequence to ensure that these standards are being taught.  Although I think it is vital that schools remain progressive and competitive, I also think there are core values in education that never change.  Students will always need to master the art of language and the science of mathematical thinking.  I believe society has become more progressive and democratic in passing on these essential life skills.  The education system is more expansive and more complex, now more than ever.  Curriculum developers should never be satisfied with the status quo.  A scope and sequence can always be improved.  One frustrating aspect of teaching, however, is the politics of teaching.  I think teaching can feel like riding a pendulum at times.  The process of teaching and learning is so complex that even a veteran teacher is constantly learning and adapting lessons to fit the needs of the current generation.

I have been a curriculum leader with my 6th grade LA/SS collaboration team.  We recently rewrote our entire scope and sequence.  We met at the Resource Center with all the 6th grade LA/SS teachers because the district adopted Language Arts curriculum was not being taught in depth.  6th grade teaches agreed to teach at least two units form the Prentice Hall curriculum.  My collaboration team decided to shelve one of the two novels we teach and focus more on teaching the difference between fiction and nonfiction and more specifically nonfiction reading strategies.  In the future, I would like to collaborate more with 7th and 8th grade LA/SS teachers and vertically align our scope and sequences.  It would be great to get a sense of what 6th grade writers should be able to do in comparison to 7th and 8th grade writers.  After I get my master’s in education, I want to continue to seek professional development within LWSD and bring whatever advances in pedagogy I learn to my team and my colleagues.  The LA/SS department at my school is trying to improve our research lessons and we are trying to be on the same page when it comes to digital citizenship.  I’ve had great discussions with my collaboration team about multicultural education and the need to make sure our lessons are not solely from a Eurocentric point of view. Leadership style is important when it comes to collaborating with teachers.  I have noticed that teachers are much more responsive to direction when the process is democratic and colleagues are able to form a consensus.

In the article, “Inviting All Students to Learn” Hillary Dack and Carol Ann Tomlinson emphasize the importance of recognizing individual students learning patterns.  Teachers’ cultural lenses can cause cultural blindness which may lead to a student being labeled by the teacher as disrespectful, deficit, defiant, and disinterested, however, the real problem may be that the teacher misunderstand the child’s leaning needs.  The question to ask is: how can teachers become better attuned to cultural variance and help all students build positive, productive lives?  1.) Appreciate cultural variance.   Excellent teachers are students of their students.  2.) Look for culturally influenced learning patterns.  Excellent teachers develop an awareness of a range of students’ perspectives in a classroom.  3.)  See the student as a unique individuals.  No cultural pattern applies to all individuals.  4.) Plan inviting curriculum.  Create curriculum that engages students and leads toward understanding.  Ask students to connect new ideas with their own experiences.  Explore content through a universal lends and make the content relevant to students lives.  Help students reflect and be aware of students’ varied points of readiness.

In the article, “How to Implement Differentiated Instruction” Sylvia Lens and Kelly Banks emphasize the importance of being able to adjust content, adjust process, and adjust product to meet the needs of various learning needs.  Some examples of differentiated instruction are: flexibility grouping, learning centers, adjusting questioning, and independent learning contracts.  Flexibility grouping means groups are not static and students are moved around as often as necessary.  In learning centers small groups rotate from center to center with different levels of complexity or students who have completed an assignment may move to a center of choice while others are receiving instruction.  Adjusting questions is being aware of bloom’s taxonomy of thinking and adjusting question for various learning needs.  Learning contracts help students self-regulate and goal set.  When students complete a learning contract, they practice critical and reflective thinking.  Assessment is key.  Teachers should be consistently monitoring and adjusting based on the needs of his or her learners.  Whether it be adjusting teaching strategies or group configuration or learning criteria or student choices, assessment is the pathway toward a more differentiated classroom.

These articles helped me plan my unit by making sure I varied reading complexity depending on my students’ needs.  If students struggle with a more complex text, I will have students read a simpler text with the same learning targets in mind.  I will be very mindful in the beginning of the year when students get to know each other.  I will pay attention to unique personalities and different cultures and adjust curriculum based on this knowledge.  Lastly, I will adjust teaching strategies throughout the unit based on what I learn from daily formative assessment.

I have learned that effective curricular units of study begin with responsive formative assessment that are tied to clear learning targets.  Students should be given an opportunity to reflect on where they believe they are in relation to the learning targets.  Each formative assessment is like a building block.  Teachers and students need to be aware of the learning at each building block and should be ready to adjust based on the evidence of learning.  Feedback should be timely and meaningful and directed toward specific growth targets.  Curriculum needs to be leveled for higher order thinking and should build toward a more complex curricular aim.  Curriculum needs to be scaffolded and modified for students who struggle to meet various building blocks of learning.

Please see my Unit Plan and my Unit Analysis as evidence of my ability to evaluate, design, and use effective curriculum.

References

Ainsworth, Larry. (2010). Rigorous Curriculum Design. Colorado: Lead and Learn Press.

Dack, H. & Tomlinson, C.A. (2015). Inviting all students to learn. Educational Leadership, 11-15.

Guskey, Thomas R, Jung, Lee Ann (2013) Answers to Essential Questions About Standards, Assessments, Grading, and Reporting.

Marzano, R. J. (2010) Formative Assessment and Standards-Based Grading.

Lewis, S. and Batts, K. (205). How to Implement Differentiated Instruction: North Carolina Project, 26, 26-31.

Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded Formative Assessment. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.

 

 

 

Meta-reflection Standard 11: Utilize formative and summative assessment in a standards-based environment (Standards Based Assessment)

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I once thought as formative assessments as practice for a summative assessment.  If I was testing students on theme, new vocabulary, nouns and making predictions in a short story that they were reading, I would be sure to provide practice on these various learning targets before a test. I now think of a reading test as a formative assessment because a unit on short stories will have numerous reading and writing assessments that will inform me and my students of their learning.  I would like to streamline timely feedback by designing shorter formatives based on one learning target that I or my students can evaluate quickly.  Currently I spend so much time grading student work and am unable to return the work quickly; especially if the assignment involves writing.

I need to rethink formatives as something that should be quick and easy to assess so students and I can pivot to the needed direction quickly.  Parents and students have a portal to my grade book, so I need to make sure I have meaningful assessments in the grade book that provide important information to the parents and students of whether the learning is below, at, or above standard.  Moving forward, I would like to be more intentional about designing more engaging discussions, simulations, and activities that motivate and excite learners. Too often I rely on graded work as my main focus for formative assessment.  I need to mix it up and be more creative with my lesson design.  I am starting to think that the only summative my students take is the state test.  My grade book has different categories for low stakes assignments and high stakes tests or projects.   I need to rethink my grade book’s categories.

Communicating the learning target is something that I am trying to perfect and improve upon.  For me, it is challenge taking a large Common Core Standard and breaking that into smaller more specific learning targets.  One big learning target that my students focused on all year was: I can cite text evidence to support my analysis of the text.  Students would do some academic vocabulary work on words like evidence and analysis.  They would draw a picture, brainstorm synonyms, and make personal connections to the academic vocabulary.  In addition, I would, depending on the complexity of the lesson, pass out a rubric, and we would discuss and I would show models of below standard, at standard, and above standard work.  Sometimes I would pass out an exit slip and ask students to write the learning target in their own words and rate themselves on a scale of 1-10 measuring their understanding of the target.  Moving forward, I would like to have my students reflecting more on the learning target and self-assessing their learning on a more consistent basis.

I try to measure formative learning every day.  One of my favorite formatives is think-pair-share.  Students love to be social; hopefully this allows them to focus on the learning and talk to each other at the same time.  I love whole group discussion especially if it is about an interesting theme in the literature we are reading.  Often after a large chunk of reading, I will have student write on discussion posts (just like this one!).  They love to read each other’s written response and are required to give constructive feedback to each other.  I use multiple choice questions quite a bit to quickly assess reading comprehension.  One of the most important formatives I use is extended response writing that is leveled for higher order thinking.  Although this type of formative takes a lot of time to grade and give feedback, I want to give students as many opportunities as possible to practice analytical and critical thinking in the form of writing.   I would like to bring more theater type activities into the classroom because students love to be social.  I also would like to give kids opportunities to do more cooperative learning in small groups.  I am curious about finding ways to get kids to be proactive in self-regulating their learning.  Goal setting is so important and I do not have students do that nearly enough.   Often I get so passion about the content that I forget to slow down and have students reflect on learning strategies and whether they feel confident they have achieved the learning target.

After reading the chapter “Providing Feedback That Moves Learning Forward” from Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan Williams, I realize how backwards the grading system is.  It was fascinating to learn that types of feedback can do more harm than help.  I like the idea that the teacher should be more of a coach and less of a judge.  Students feel judged by the teacher and develop negative emotions about the learning process.  Moving forward, I need to rethink how I give feedback.  I give feedback through a rubric that is tied to the learning target, but often students only care about the grade.  I am beginning to think that some of my most effective feedback is when I’m circulating around the room and giving feedback orally, in the moment and watching the student adjust.  Feedback should cause students to reflect, feedback should help students grow, and feedback “should be more work for the recipient than the donor.” (pg. 127)

I like the peer-assessment video from Success at the Core, from The Teaching Channel about peer conferencing.  It was fun to see students interact and socialize while at the same time help each other improve their writing skills.  I think this gets to the heart of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.  In this book the writer describes artists and athletes who experience “flow” when they are at the top of their game.  In the video students looked absorbed in the activities.  Their task was interesting to them because it was social, and they were capable of the task but also because they were challenged to critically think and give feedback to each other.  If students do not feel challenged, they do not feel “flow.”  If students do not feel capable they do not feel “flow.”  When challenge and capability are high, people experience a psychological state Csikszemtmihalyi calls: flow.  William says this approach to teaching is radical because it unlocks the mystery of motivation.  The problem of motivation is not the teacher and the learner, but the need to match challenge and capability.  If the student isn’t motivated, the student and teacher need to try something different.  What the teacher does can make a difference.  A study found that “students provided with positive constructive feedback by their teachers were more likely to focus on learning rather than performance.”  (William, page 151) What does William recommend to get students to focus on learning rather than performance?  1.) Share learning goals so students can monitor progress.  2.) Promote a growth mind-set.  3.) Make it difficult for students to compare themselves with their peers.  4.) Provide students an action plan rather than a review of failures.  5.) Transfer the control of learning from the teacher to the student to support their development as autonomous learners.

One component that I like about formative assessments is that it need not overwhelm the teacher with massive amounts of grading.  One way I plan to be a leader next year is spreading the news about quick formative assessments that build on learning and allow the teacher to get quick information about learners, so the teacher can respond quickly to meet the immediate needs of individual learners.  I would like to convince my collaboration team that our Common Formative Assessments can be short if it targets the necessary building block effectively.  Teachers in my building are not crazy about required CFA’s, but if they see that a formative assessment can be a quick 3 question formative, they may be more enthusiastic about collaborating on CFA’s.  Another idea that has inspired me in this class is learning to create useful rubrics that communicates to students clear levels of learning and proficiency.  I have used rubrics in the past, but I would like to get my collaboration team to work together to create and share more rubrics that align with the unit’s building blocks and build in complexity toward a more complex target curricular aim.  Also, self-assessment and peer assessment are great formative tools and I want to share this type of formative assessment with my team.  Of course, I am still learning how to refine and execute effective standards based assessment, so I would make it clear to my team that we would learn about and improve upon the formative assessment process together.

My Assessment in Action research paper focused on the need for standards based grading in middle school even though middle school and high school report cards are based on traditional omnibus percentage grades.  I found a great resource in the book Answers to Essential Questions about Standards, Assessments, Grading, and Reporting by Thomas R. Guskey and Lee Ann Jung.  This book is great for the teacher leader who is trying to convince middle school or high school teachers about the merits of standard based grading.  The bottom line is standards based assessment is about communication and growth.  Standards based assessment communicates to parents and students where they are in regards to a specific clearly defined learning standard; as opposed to one grade that may or may not reflect mastery of a specific skill.  Too many times students are punished for late work, incomplete work, and by high stakes testing.  Grades should reflect formative growth and students should be allowed to feel like school is a safe place to grow.  So much of the old way of grading demotivates, punishes, and shames students.  Standards based grading is about communicating learning in relation to clear learning goals.

I found a great self-assessment formative in the book Formative Assessment and Standards- Based Grading by Robert Marzano.  The self-assessment is called a Student Progress Chart.  The purpose of the chart is for individual students to keep track of their own learning.  On the assessment, students record the learning target in their own words.  They record their formative score at the beginning of the unit. They record the score they wish to be at by the end of unit.  They record specific things they are going to do to improve.  As the unit progress, they create a line graph that tracks growth.  This is a great way to motivate students to keep a transparent score card so they can be more aware of their own learning.

Theme Spark is a great resource for creating standards based rubrics: https://www.themespark.net/rubric/54fdd7f26a298b7303afa1b8 (Links to an external site.)  Rubrics are such an important component to standards based assessment, and communicating a well-defined success criteria explicitly defines learning target levels.  Also, rubrics make providing feedback so much easier!

Please see my Learning Progression Building Block Rubric, my Learning Progression Formative Assessment Plan, my Misconceptions and Feedback template and my Assessment in Action Standards Based Grading Research Paper as evidence that I utilize formative and summative assessments in a standards based environment.

References

Brookhart, S. M. (2011). Starting the Conversation about Grading. Educational Leadership69(3), 10-14.

Guskey, Thomas R, Jung, Lee Ann (2013) Answers to Essential Questions About Standards, Assessments, Grading, and Reporting.

Marzano, R. J. (2010) Formative Assessment and Standards-Based Grading.

Marzano, R. J., & Heflebower, T. (2011). Grades That Show What Students Know. Educational Leadership69(3), 34-39.

Schmoker, M., & Marzano, R. J. (1999). Realizing the Promise of Standards-Based Education. Educational Leadership56(6), 17-21.

Scriffiny, P. L. (2008). Seven Reasons for Standards-Based Grading. Educational Leadership66(2), 70-74.

Shippy, N., Washer, B. A., & Perrin, B. (2013). Teaching with the End in Mind: The Role of Standards-Based Grading. Journal Of Family And Consumer Sciences105(2), 14-16.

William, D. (2011). Embedded Formative Assessment. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.

 

Meta-Reflection Standard 7: Utilize Instructional Framework for Teaching to Improve Teaching (Teacher Leadership)

solidarity

The teacher leadership course helped me be more aware of how principals are evaluated.  Their evaluation framework is very similar to a teacher’s evaluation framework.  This makes sense since principal success is very much tied to teacher success.  I wrote a reflective essay evaluating my strengths and weaknesses in relation to 6 teacher leadership standards.  The standards are: 1. Visionary Leadership, 2. Instructional Improvement, 3. Effective Management, 4. Inclusive Practice, 5. Ethical Leadership, 6. Socio-Political Context.  This exercise helped me understand more clearly the high expectations of being a teacher leader.  After reflecting on these standards I became more aware that my true passion is geared toward instructional improvement.  This is an area that I want to be a teacher leader.  I was given the opportunity to research an area of teacher leadership that I was curious about and I chose to find educational articles on teacher collaboration.  This area of research would be tied to Standard 2: Instructional Improvement.  I learned that collaborative inquiry has proven to be the high yield strategy of professional learning.  School leaders are seen as co-learners in the process and this relationship is the key to making an impact on student outcomes. (Belchetz and Witherow, 2014)  I learned that school leaders need to create consistent, powerful professional learning that helps teachers scaffold rigorous and engaging learning. (Gleason and Gerzon, 2014)  I also learned that bad professional developers jump on the bandwagon of every new trend in education.  There are tried and true methods and the baby should never be thrown out with the bathwater. (Thomas, 2013)  I learned that best practices are doomed to fail when administrators pressure teachers to make quick fixes.  This puts a wedge between teacher and administrator.  Teachers need space and time to engage in authentic learning.  When administrators act as allies and thinking partners, teachers are able to make improvements that enhance student learning. (Van Tassell, 2014)  And I learned that effective collaboration respects individual teachers’ voices. Reflection is integral part of the learning.  The learning is then applied to real life.  All are expected to participate and receive and offer feedback. (Stewart, 2014)  Please see my Annotated Bibliography as evidence of researching ways to become a better teacher leader. I learned that good leaders set goals, plan activities that will achieve those goals, and show evidence that the goals were achieved.  Please see the Standards Based Goals, Activities, and Evidence Template as evidence of a teacher leader that works toward closing the achievement gap, makes plans based on data, and creates a culture of learning.  Moving forward I plan to continue to study Danielson’s framework and brainstorm with my collaboration team creative ways to distinguish ourselves as educators by exceeding the rigorous expectations of teaching and learning.

References

Belchetz, D., & Witherow, K. (2014). Ontario District Embraces an Evolving Approach to Learning. Journal Of Staff Development35(1), 18-20.

Gleason, S. C., & Gerzon, N. (2014). High-Achieving Schools Put Equity Front and Center. Journal Of Staff Development35(1), 24-26.

Stewart, C. (2014). Transforming Professional Development to Professional Learning. Journal Of Adult Education43(1), 28-33.

Thomas, L. R. (2013). 10 Good Ways to Ensure Bad Professional Learning. Journal Of Staff Development34(4), 60-61.

Van Tassell, R. (2014). The Trouble with Top-Down. Educational Leadership71(8), 76-78