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Standard 10 Meta-Reflection: Technology March 16, 2013

Becoming more familiar with the National Educational Technology Standards has probably been the most relevant piece of technology information I have learned in our EDTC 6433 class. The ISTE NETS for teachers (NETS-T) and students (NETS-S) provide a defined framework through which I can effectively address the necessary technology standards for myself and my students. Consideration of these standards as well as developing goals for both my students and myself is becoming an integral part of my curriculum planning.

One of our first tasks in EDTC 6433 was to complete a survey evaluating technology integration as it is currently practiced in our classrooms. Through this survey I was able to recognize that I was fairly strong in the NETS-T #4, Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility. Specifically, I am confident that I can address the diverse needs of my kindergarten students by “using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources” (ISTE NETS Survey for Students and Teachers, 2011). Students routinely access a variety of digital tools on a rotating basis to engage in and accomplish tasks such as calendar time, MimioSprout™ Early Reading Individualized Instruction, LWSD technology use student survey, and guided technology exploration with their buddy class.

The technology integration survey also indicated to me that I could do more to strengthen my skills in NETS-T #2, Develop and Design Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments. My technology goal was related to NETS-T #2-a,” …promote student motivation, learning and creativity through relevant learning experiences using digital tools and other technology” (ISTE NETS Survey for Students and Teachers, 2011). I decided that I would like to design more authentic learning experiences that provide motivation for students as they use technology to create and present evidence of their learning. I would also like for them to be responsible for and take ownership of the management of their projects. These goals align with NETS-T #2 (referenced above) and NETS-S #1, “My students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology”. I wanted students to be able to log on to their student accounts with little or no assistance as well as create, save, and later retrieve word documents that show some creativity and familiarity with sight words using font size, style, and/or color variations. In the Artifacts section below I have included links to a written description as well as a PowerPoint presentation that outlines how I integrated this technology in my classroom.

As I continue to critically examine technology integration in my classroom, I feel better equipped to identify areas where I can improve my practice and more effectively provide students with technology experiences that will enhance their learning. I am also more aware of ways that I can use technology to further develop methods of communication to students, families, colleagues and the community at large. Along these lines, I am thinking that my next venture into improving technology integration in my classroom will involve providing a variety of communication forums to students and parents such as Haiku discussion pages and a comprehensive class webpage. I also plan to expand students’ exposure to and use of technology tools that allow them to present their learning in a variety of ways, such as PowerPoint, as well as tools that enhance my own instructional presentations such as Glogster and the use of Voicethread.  So much technology and so little time!

Finally, as a result of this class I am better equipped to search for and evaluate curriculum that supports the technology NETS. One such find is a technology curriculum by Kali Delamagente (2011) that provides a comprehensive scope and sequence for kindergarten technology as well as links each learning experience to one or more relevant NETS. Another useful resource is Jacqui Murray’s article and lesson for kindergartners titled “How to Teach Digital Citizenship in Kindergarten” (2012). This blog entry contains a lesson and links that support NETS-t number 4: “Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility:  Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.” (ISTE, 2012) Effectively crafting and evaluating technology curriculum is a particularly useful skills for educators as it perpetually enhances learning, teaching, and collaboration within the educational community.


Tech Integration Write-Up

Tech Integration PPT


Delamagente, Kali. “Kindergarten Technology: 32 Lessons Every Kindergartner Can Accomplish.” Scribd. Structured Learning, 2011. Web. 10 Feb. 2013. <http://www.scribd.com/doc/16535675/Kindergarten-Technology-32-Lessons-Every-Kindergartner-Can-Accomplish&gt;.

ISTE NETS Survey for Students and Teachers. (2011, September 22). In Haiku Class Overview and Documents. Retrieved January 7, 2013, from https://lms.lwsd.org/rsnyder/edtc6433/cms_file/show/6949138.docx?t=1357161828

The International Society for Technology in Education . (2012). NETS. In ISTE. Retrieved August 12, 2013, from https://www.iste.org/standards

Murray, J. (2012, October 4). How to teach digital citizenship in kindergarten. In Ask a teacher anything. Retrieved June 30, 2013, from http://askatechteacher.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/how-to-teach-digital-citizenship-in-kindergarten/


Week 5-Digital Collaboration February 16, 2013

This week we explored the world of digital collaboration using an online wiki. So often I have used email to collaborate with colleagues and parents which can be cumbersome and difficult to keep up with. Usually, it was simpler to have everyone meet at one location to get the job done (often this was at Starbucks). Using a wiki is a great alternative. If I could introduce wiki’s to the parents of my students, signups for events would be so much easier. Wikis would also make collaborating with teachers across the district and across the globe much more feasible.

I was also able to look into using the Today’s Meet chat space. I am thinking that it may be a good venue for my kindergarteners and their parents to post comments in the evening regarding the school day, similar to Twitter comments. Using the Today’s Meet forum would eliminate the need for “following” a person in order to see their posts as you do in Twitter.  Today’s Meet posts will all be on a chat board that is specific to a day or week. I think it would be insightful to get a peek at the conversations that go on at home about the school day! I imagine that there would need to be clear parameters regarding the purpose of this forum in order to keep the content appropriate and useful.


Vocaroo Sound Recordings for Phonemic Awareness Practice January 22, 2013

During week 2 in our Instructional Technology class we were introduced to a wide variety of technology tools that educators could use to communicate to a variety of audiences. Some of these include posts on Twitter, blogs, podcasts, or posting sound files. As we were exploring Vocaroo and practicing posting a sound file I was impressed with how applicable this was to our kindergarten curriculum! I currently have several students who are in need of support in phonemic awareness. One way to give them practice at home as well as keep them engaged through the novelty of technology would be to record individual phonemes for familiar words and post the Vocaroo link on a blog or website. For example, I would say /f/, /r/, /o/, /g/ separated as distinct phonemes and the student would put them together and say the word to an adult at home.  I could also say a word and have the student write down how many phonemes he/she hears in the word. I have created a sample of what this may sound like and have included the Vocaroo links here:

Putting phonemes together:  http://vocaroo.com/i/s1NQn9QOfsZu

Separating phonemes:  http://vocaroo.com/i/s137uXlxvpP4

As I consider actually using this in my classroom, I know I would have to have them practice with it first in class. Also, I think the recording is a little bit distorted and some of the sounds are not as clear as I would like. This could be a problem with such an activity since the pronunciation is critical in order to detect the phonemes. I would also need to ensure that each child who is to participate has a computer at home. All in all I believe that sound recordings have great potential in my kindergarten classroom!


Standards 6 and 7 Meta-Reflection: Communication and Collaboration June 2, 2012

As I reflect back on this course I notice that much of my most meaningful learning is related to improving collaboration with my colleagues and the school community and communicating the fruits of these collaborations with others in the profession.

Effective collaboration is not possible without sincere trust and transparency amongst educators within a system. Hirsh. & Hord (2010) state that trust and transparency foster a sense of mutual accountability by teachers to all students in a school, rather than just focusing solely on one’s own class for one year. One specific example of fostering a trusting relationship with other educators is establishing a lesson study group to explore a research question. This job embedded learning involves inviting peer teachers to observe teaching techniques and strategies, evaluate the student learning, and give and receive feedback. (Zepeda, 2012) In order for this to be an effective agent for increased teacher learning, educators must take the risk of opening up their classroom doors and letting their colleagues in. Sharing our collective expertise as well as accepting and honoring feedback are powerful tools we can utilize as we work towards school reform and increased student learning.

As a teacher in Texas during the 2006-2007 school year I participated in a lesson study group that included teachers across all grade levels. We focused our study on a series of 4th grade lessons that addressed the genre of biographies. I appreciated the discussions we had as they were from the perspective of many different grade levels. The lessons were rich as a result of our collective input. It was also helpful to engage in lesson planning and analysis for a different grade level.  I was able to gain new learning and apply it to vertical alignment.

As I combine my learning from my lesson study experience in 2007 with what I have learned about lesson study as presented in Zepeda, I believe that this type of professional development can have the greatest impact on teacher learning. In 2004, Lewis et al. (as cited in Zepeda, 2012, pp. 228-229) defined seven pathways to instructional improvement through lesson study as well as their related challenges. Benefits such as increased teacher knowledge in instruction and subject matter, improved collaboration skills, stronger motivation, and improved quality of lessons were referenced and create a strong case in support of lesson study. The challenges included trust, fear of failure, feelings of isolation, identifying oneself as a researcher, time, and resources. Probably the most daunting of these challenges is time and resources, as is the case with many worthwhile practices of professional development. I believe that as we gain momentum in effective teacher learning, such as lesson study, and practice efficient use of money and time, we can realize the full impact of our efforts on the ultimate goal of improving student learning.

There is no doubt that effective collaboration between educators and the greater community is a worthwhile endeavor, to say the least. One aspect of this practice that I had not considered prior to this course is the importance of sharing our collaborative learning with others in the profession. Learning in isolation or in small cohorts can stifle the potential growth of teachers. This was clearly illustrated in 2 case studies we read about in this course. Michelson  (2007) gave an account of a small group of teachers who were undergoing a series of literacy coaching sessions with significant success. This had been going on for two years before efforts were put forth to bring other teachers within the school on board. There was some resistance, mistrust, and resentment from the rest of the staff which was due, in large part, to inadequate communication between the “coached” group of teachers and their peers. Kane (2007) described a situation in which a district math specialist was leading a group of teachers in a process to refine the district math standards. This teacher leader was dismayed that the district curriculum director did not invite more math teacher specialists, who were already in place in area schools, to participate. She did not see the value in allowing all teachers to have a chance to experience this form of professional development, rather than just the “expert” teachers.

In order to achieve the ultimate goal of maximizing student learning, teacher leaders need to not only foster collaboration with other teachers but also help create a system that allows for the communication of these learning experiences to other teachers.  Zepeda (2012) consistently conveys this important step as he describes the culminating activities of professional development groups such as learning circles, lesson study, action research teams, and critical friends groups. These teams can share their learning through publishing findings in a professional journal or magazine, conducting a workshop, or even simply making it an agenda item on a staff meeting. We should not keep our new learning to ourselves.

Facilitating participation by other teachers in various professional development activities, especially those whose voices are not usually heard, is another way teacher leaders can broaden the scope of teacher learning. However, as Moore and Donaldson state (as cited in Hilty, 2011), this can be met with much resistance if teachers are overly concerned with protecting their autonomy, reinforcing their seniority, or ensuring egalitarianism. Moore and Donaldson went on to describe several coping strategies teacher leaders employ to deal with such resistance such as waiting to be asked before offering their expertise, only working with willing colleagues, emphasizing their role as supporter rather than supervisor, and seeking more support for their teacher leader roles. Moore and Donaldson’s essay offered many insights into how teacher leaders can respectfully and tactfully influence other teachers in an effort to further the cause of increased student learning. These strategies will be helpful to me as I continue to work on my role as teacher leader in the ever changing landscape of education.

I have crafted a portfolio that reflects my learning in support of Standards 6 and 7, Communication and Collaboration, and have created links to these artifacts below:

Standard 6 – Communication: Scenes of Educator Learning Exhibit A

Standard 7 – Collaboration: Scenes of Educator Learning Exhibit B


Hilty, E., (2011). Teacher leadership: The “new” foundations of teacher education. (pp. 211-217) New York, New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.

Hirsh, S. & Hord, S. (2010). Building hope, giving affirmation: Learning communities that address social justice issues bring equity to the classroom. Journal of Staff Development, 31(4), 10-17.

Kane, D., (2007) Considering all voices. Leadership Cases 2007 School Level Reform, Retrieved from https://learn.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-755044-dt-content-rid-671379_1/courses/EDU6600_45677201123/CSTP.ConsideringAllVoices.pdf

Michelson, J, (2007) Filling a leadership vacuum. Leadership Cases 2007 School Level Reform, Retrieved from https://learn.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-755044-dt-content-rid-671378_1/courses/EDU6600_45677201123/CSTP.FillingLeadershipVacuum.pdf

Zepeda, S.J. (2012) Professional development: What works. Larchmont, New York: Eye on Education.


Scenes of Educator Learning – Exhibit B May 30, 2012

Scenes of Educator Learning

Exhibit B

C&I Program Standard 7 – Collaboration


School A is located in Sammamish, Washington and currently has 612 students enrolled. Our school has been named one of Washington State’s High Achieving Award Winning schools and this year has received the School of Distinction Award. School A staff enjoys a high level of involvement from parents and our school consistently reports 100% PTSA membership. School A also houses the district’s QUEST program for highly capable students.

School A staff strives to meet and exceed district and community expectations as well as our own expectations. A main component of our Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP) is to focus on the following guiding questions as we plan instruction:

  1. 1.      What do we want students to know and be able to do?
  2. 2.      How will we know when students understand?
  3. 3.      What will we do when students don’t understand?
  4. 4.      How do we best support students who already understand?

Maintaining a firm focus on these questions will help to ensure that the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) at the grade, school, community, and district levels work together towards the same goal and, therefore, more effectively impact student learning. (DuFour, et al., 2006.)

These exhibits will specifically address collaborative strategies to improve student learning that engage the community outside of the students and staff in our school. Our district is made up of 4 learning communities. School A is part of a learning community that has 6 elementary schools, one junior high school and one high school. In support of our school CIP, I will describe how my team plans to collaborate with and utilize the talents and expertise of educators across our learning community, as well as our parent community, to address guiding question #1 referenced above; What do we want students to know and be able to do? The second part of this exhibit will describe how we further incorporate our community of parents to help us address the fourth guiding question: How do we best support students who already understand?


Exhibit B: Part 1 – Goal Setting


Goal setting is a strategy that most educators employ when planning instruction. Districts have provided professional development on this subject for many years and research supports the positive impact that goal setting makes on student achievement. Schmoker (as cited in Sullo, 2007, p. 16) goes so far as to say that “setting goals may be the most significant act in the school improvement process, greatly increasing the odds of success.” Furthermore, Bandura & Schunk, (as cited in Northwest Regional Educational Library, 2005) state that learning increases if students personalize the learning goals presented by the teacher. Students who take part in setting their own goals are more successful in attaining these goals. Additionally, our district recently implemented a revised fall conference process that is focused mainly on communicating student learning goals to parents. These research findings, as well as the district’s new goal setting process, have led my grade level to seek effective strategies to engage kindergarteners in goal setting. Such strategies support question #1 in the guiding questions referenced in our CIP: What do we want students to know and be able to do?

Our peer kindergarten teachers in our district Learning Community also recognize the value of goal setting strategies and how goals are communicated to parents during fall conferences. We decided to make conferences an agenda item in our March, 2012 LEAP PLC meeting. (See artifact # 1 below.) As a result of this meeting, our kindergarten team obtained some useful resources that will help us implement a goal setting process at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year and communicate these goals during conferences.

One such resource is a collection of goal setting sheets designed with young learners in mind. (See artifact #2 below.) This goal setting tool is one way teachers can inform students of specific learning goals they will be working towards in the early part of the year. Students also engage in personalizing their goals as they select the ones they want to work on. These goals are shared with parents during fall conferences and are re-evaluated and revised during winter conferences.


Following is a timeline to further define our work towards incorporating goal setting into our curriculum and communicating these goals to the parent community:

(artifacts are noted in bold)

Date Action Resources
January, 2012 School A Kindergarten team identifies goal setting as a focus for improvement. Research data, district mandates
March 9, 2012 Establish parent conferences as an agenda item for an upcoming   district PLC meeting. (Fall conferences are “goal setting” conferences.) (Artifact #1) Communications via email
March 16, 2012 Share resources with district kindergarten PLC members. District kindergarten PLC members, Goal setting sheets for semester 1   and 2(Artifact #2)
August, 2012 Revise content goals as needed to align with current district   standards.Establish lesson plans to introduce goal setting to students in   September, 2012.

Revise semester 1 goal setting sheets as needed.

Current district power standards,School A kindergarten PLC members,

Semester 1 goal setting sheets

Sept. 10-28, 2012 Conduct beginning of year assessments Math CDSA, Reading and writing beginning of year assessments
September 24-28, 2012 Implement goal setting lessons, students complete semester 1 goal   setting sheets. Goal lessons established in August, revised semester 1 goal setting   sheets for students
October 1-4, 2012 Conduct Goal Setting Conferences with parents and students,   communicate current goals as established by student and teacher Completed student goal setting sheets
October, 2012 – January, 2013 Deliver differentiated instruction; link to established student   goals; assess, monitor and adjust instruction as needed Student goals, assessment data
December, 2012 Revise semester 2 goal setting sheets as necessary District math, reading and writing standards; assessment data,   semester 1 and 2 goal sheets
Jan. 22 – 25, 2013 Review goal setting with students, students complete semester 2 goal   setting sheets Goal lessons established in August, revised semester 2 goal setting   sheets for students
January 29 – Feb. 1, 2013 Conduct Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences, review year beginning   goals, review current assessment data, and revise goals as necessary. Semester 1 and 2 goal sheets, student performance data
February, 2013 Reflect on and analyze the effectiveness of the kindergarten goal   setting process. Compare conferences from 2011-12 to conferences from   2012-13. Set new timeline and goals to incorporate improvements. Notes and data from 2011-12 conferences and from 2012-13 conferences



It is clear that we are only part way through the process of implementing an effective goal setting component to our kindergarten curriculum. It is likely that the timetable above will be revised along the way and will continue to evolve as we gain new teacher learning. Some hurdles we may encounter include new and revised district mandates, a changing kindergarten team, increased work load, or decreased parent interest in collaboration, just to name a few.  One thing that will remain constant, however, is my continuing quest to deepen my understanding of effective collaboration with experts in student learning both inside and outside of my school community.


#1- District Learning Community agenda email      #1agenda email

#2 – Semester 1 goal sheets; Semester 2 goal sheets     1st semester goal sheets  2nd semester goal sheets


Exhibit B: Part 2 – Learning Enrichment in Reading


The 4th guiding question from our school CIP – How do we best support students who already understand? – is of particular interest to our school community. We are fortunate to have families in our community that are deeply committed to providing students with ample tools, opportunities, and resources to help them achieve learning at a high level. Much of this support is offered to children before they enter through our kindergarten doors. Early exposure to and interaction with print, language, and other meaningful experiences often send students to kindergarten with advanced reading skills and a desire to continue to grow in this area. It is these students on which we focus as we address guiding question #4.

A report by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2000), states that increased fluency in reading positively impacts comprehension. The report went on to say that reading fluency develops over time and with practice, rather than occurring in a predictable stage of development. For this reason, once students have mastered emergent skills in reading, it would be prudent to engage students in reading experiences that foster fluency.

The Read Naturally program is one such reading program that uses teacher modeling, repeated reading, and progress monitoring to foster fluency skills in students. The Florida Center for Reading Research (2003) found that, while Read Naturally focuses mainly on fluency development, it also addresses other components of reading instruction such as phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension. As a grade level, our PLC decided to offer Read Naturally to our kindergarten students who were reading at a Grade Level Equivalent of 1.0 or higher ( or Guided Reading Level D or higher).

Read Naturally, while a beneficial program for enrichment in kindergarten, is also a time intensive program. It requires trained adults to administer the sessions, a frequency of 2-3 sessions per week per student, and detailed record keeping. As demonstrated by other grade levels, this provides the ideal opportunity to collaborate with our parent community and bring in trained parent volunteers to conduct the sessions. Early in second semester, I consulted with our school Read Naturally coordinator and began the process of selecting willing parents and capable kindergarten readers to get the program up and running. (See artifact #3)

     By the end of February, 2012 most of the parent volunteers were trained and I was able to set up a schedule for Read Naturally. (See artifact #4) The past 3 months have been productive in regards to student fluency practice. All participating students have shown improvement in their reading fluency (Example: artifact #5), they look forward to their reading sessions, and the parent community is actively engaged in improving student learning.


Here is a timeline to further define our work towards reading enrichment through Read Naturally:

                                                       (artifacts are noted in bold)

Date Action Resources
February 1-3, 2012 Contact parents to   garner interest in volunteering for the Read Naturally (RN) program.Submit parent names to   RN coordinator. (Artifact #3)
February 6-10, 2012 Identify students who   are at a reading level appropriate for the RN program.Submit student names to   RN coordinator. Reading assessments
February  15, 2012 Parent RN volunteer   training RN coordinator
February 20–24, 2012 Gather input for,   create, and distribute RN parent volunteer schedule. (Artifact #4) Parent volunteer input
February 27 – end of   year Conduct Read Naturally   sessions.Progress monitor.

Advance levels as   necessary.

Read Naturally   materialsStudent fluency data

RN coordinator

Parent volunteers



So far in this process, I am pleased with the progress students are making in reading fluency. Several students who were not at a level appropriate for participation expressed a desire to participate in reading with the parent volunteers like their peers. I discussed this with the RN volunteers and we set up a protocol where if the sessions for the day were finished and there was time left, the volunteers would pull interested readers who were at or below grade level and read with them at their level. This opens up considerations for further parent volunteer opportunities that address the 3rd guiding question referenced in our CIP –  What will we do when students don’t understand?


#3 – Parent training emails     #3 Parent Training Emails0001

#4 – Parent Read Naturally volunteer schedule     #4 RN Schedule

#5 – Student Fluency Graph/notes     #5Student RN graph-notes


Florida Center for Reading Research. (2003) Read naturally. Retrieved May 28, 2012 from http://www.fcrr.org/FCRRReports/PDF/read_naturally_final.pdf

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Northwest Regional Educational Library. (2005). Setting Objectives.  Focus on Effectiveness. Retrieved May 22, 2012, from http://www.netc.org/focus/strategies/sett.php

Sullo, B. (2007). Activating the desire to learn. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


Scenes of Educator Learning – Exhibit A May 17, 2012

C&I Program Standard 6 – Communication


School A is located in Sammamish, Washington and currently has 612 students enrolled. Our school has been named one of Washington State’s High Achieving Award Winning schools and this year has received the School of Distinction Award. Samantha Smith staff enjoys a high level of involvement from parents and our school consistently reports 100% PTSA membership. School A also houses the district’s QUEST program for highly capable students.

School A staff strives to meet and exceed district and community expectations as well as our own expectations. After participating in and reviewing the 9 Characteristics Survey, our staff identified characteristic #4, Collaboration and Communication, as an area of focus for our Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP). Specifically, we will continue to develop strong collaborative relationships through the Professional Learning Community Model (PLC) as developed by DuFour, Dufour, Eaker, and Many (2006). According to DuFour, et al., a PLC is defined as “… an ongoing process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve.”

In addition to furthering our work in the foundations of PLC collaboration, our CIP also states that teams will formulate “specific, appropriate, and attainable” grade level SMART goals with strategies that support these goals.

Our Kindergarten team consists of two all day teachers and one half day teacher. We have a total of 66 students, 22 in each class. This is the second consecutive year that we have maintained the same grade level team and we look forward to the continued growth of our collaborative practices. In support of our school CIP, our kindergarten team embraced the PLC model of collaboration and put several PLC components in place during the 2011-2012 school year.  We also developed a SMART goal that pertains to the Numbers and Operations strand of our district math standards. The artifacts included later in this exhibit illustrate some of our work in these 2 areas.

Below is a timeline illustrating a series of tasks that address the 2 CIP goals highlighted in these exhibits, as well as the resources needed to accomplish these tasks.

TIMELINE                             (* denotes that an artifact for this item is included in this exhibit)

Date Task Resources
August, 2011 Create team norms *
September,  week 1 2011;Weekly   thereafter Establish weekly PLC team meetings. Common weekly planning time
September, week 2, 2011 Assess all students on number sense.   Identify students who are not at standard. Identify “specific, appropriate,   and attainable grade level *SMART goal”.   Analyze student data. CDSA, Number Sense*Gradebook   event scores
October, week 1, 2011;Weekly   thereafter Establish grade level intervention   block. Begin weekly RTI groups. Common math instruction time for grade   level, remediation and enrichment lessons/activities, (*interactive technology)
November, week 1, 2011; Monthly    thereafter Progress monitor number sense skills.   Adjust groups as necessary Progress monitor formative assessments
January, week 1, 2012 Assess number sense skills. Compare to   SMART goal.  Adjust groups as   necessary. CDSA Number Sense, assessment data
April, week 1, 2012 Assess number sense skills. Compare to   SMART goal.  Adjust groups as   necessary. CDSA Number sense, assessment data
June, week 2, 2012 Assess number sense skills. Analyze   data and compare to SMART goal.  Reflect   on whether or not goal was met. What improvements can be made for next year? CDSA Number sense, assessment data


CIP Goal #1: PLC

Artifact: Team Norms

Our first step to establishing our grade level team as a PLC was to create a set of norms for our group meetings. DuFour, et al. states that clarification of team expectations promotes unity and collaboration within a team. To start this process, we simply discussed our “pet peeves” associated with meetings. Each of the 3 team members contributed to this list and, therefore, became invested in the process.

Artifact: Data Analysis

     As we met in our PLC group, my team and I would analyze data derived from student work. We share scores on common assessments, notice patterns amongst students and/or classes, and reflect on strategies we might have used to achieve positive results. Artifact #2 shows one format we would use when presenting data to the group. This screenshot comes from our online grade book which can display data in a variety of ways.

CIP Goal #2: SMART Goal/Interventions

Artifact: SMART Goal

As we moved forward with our PLC collaborations, our team developed goals in support of increased student learning in number sense. One particular SMART goal we developed states:

“We will use common assessment data to guide the content of our intervention times so that students that pass go from 62% at standard in Numbers and Operations in October 2011 (per CDSA  rubric, #1-3), to 97% at standard in June 2012.”

The goal sheet (link inserted above) includes a list of coded students who were identified as in need of remedial intervention, a list of intervention strategies, a timeline to administer the strategies and assess progress, and data sources used to track goal progress. This artifact our goal progress as of January, 2012.


Artifact: Number Fluency PPT

As we analyzed student data during our PLC meetings, we saw a need for student practice in number fluency and quantity. We used technology to offer practice that was both engaging and repetitive, such as the PowerPoint presentation featured in the above artifact. (To reduce the size of this attachment I only included a snapshot of 6 slides.)


We are still in the process of carrying out our interventions within the PLC framework. We are monitoring student progress towards our goal that 97% of students will be at or above standard in number sense by June 2012. As we analyze our progress so far, we realize that we are within reach of this goal.

We have encountered several obstacles along the way and we will continue to reflect on them and work on how to address them in the coming year. Some of these obstacles include:

  • Need for more than 30 minutes per week for PLC planning time
  • Team time constraints relating to half day teacher schedule
  • Inadequate use of building support and administrative personnel

We acknowledge that progress has been made both in our commitment to the PLC model of collaboration and, most importantly, to student learning. We look forward to continuing this improvement process throughout the 2012-13 school year.


Viewing the Big Picture Through Systems Thinking May 15, 2012

Viewing the Big Picture Through Systems Thinking

During week 7, we discussed how steps towards school reform need to be viewed from the perspective of all components of a school system. This is referred to as Systems Thinking.  Our discussions pointed out that there are multiple layers that will be impacted by change within a school system. These layers must be considered during the planning stages of any school reform in order to anticipate possible barriers along the way.

My interest in this issue was piqued so I researched the subject of systems thinking and came upon an informative article by the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (2000). The article, titled Asking the Right Questions: A Leader’s Guide to Systems Thinking about School Improvement, explored systems thinking in-depth and described three domains within the school system. The technical domain includes the nuts and bolts of instruction such as content, how instruction is delivered, and the assessment of knowledge and skills. Another domain is the personal domain and would include the attitudes and skills of the people within the system. Components of this domain would be professional development, internal communication, school leadership, and the climate and culture of the school. The third domain is the organizational domain. This domain involves the external environment, the stakeholders, resource allocation, technology, and accountability. Breaking a school system down into these 3 components makes for a somewhat simpler process when analyzing the impact of school reform.

It has been extremely helpful for me to view the big picture of school or district wide change through these lenses. I can appreciate the difficult task that everyone in a system must take on – be it a superintendent, a principal, a teacher, or a parent – when a plan for reform in underway. I think that teacher leaders are in a unique position to be close and personal to each of the domains listed above and therefore have much to offer when the “big picture” needs to be brought back into focus.

Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning. (2000). Asking the right questions: A leader’s guide to systems thinking about school improvement. Aurora, CO: Author.


Team Meetings as Professional Development May 1, 2012

As I read Zepeda’s chapter on Job-Embedded Learning (2012, Chapter 6), in  I was really struck by how much sense this concept makes for teachers. I consider the many times I have attended an offsite workshop and realize that, although I benefitted from interacting with colleagues and came back to campus with a notebook full of notes, I was then faced with the questions, How do I apply this to my classroom today? How will I know that students are learning more as a result of my training? Who can offer me support and help me be accountable?

With job embedded learning, teachers are applying new skills almost as soon as they are learning them. For example, the simple act of conferring with my grade level teachers about a formative assessment in creating patterns immediately revealed that my kindergarteners were weak in identifying similarities in patterns that are made up of different objects or pictures. My colleague shared a teaching strategy she uses that supports this skill. I used it that very day and noticed measurable improvement in student learning. This whole process took less than one hour and the application of my learning was almost immediate.

I think that we as teachers may need to see professional development in a whole new way. I will take seriously the collaboration meetings I engage in with my fellow teachers and strive to treat them as valuable opportunities for effective professional development. I know now, more than ever, that it is important to incorporate norms, agendas, action items, and data analysis to our team meetings in order to reap the benefits of this type of job-embedded learning.

Zepeda (2012, pp. 126-128) lists and describes seven positive outcomes from job embedded learning. They are: enhanced reflection, increased collegiality, less isolation, more relevant learning, increased transfer of learning, support of the refinement of practice, and a common lexicon. I can honestly say that even one effective and well executed team meeting accomplishes all of this. Imagine what meetings conducted in this manner on a weekly basis could do!


Zepeda, S.J. (2012) Professional development: What works. Larchmont, New York: Eye on Education.


Spreading the Wealth of Professional Development April 23, 2012

During week 4 we focused on content knowledge and content pedagogy. Our readings for this week included two case studies in which teacher leaders were experiencing difficulty in their leadership roles, both of which involved working collaboratively in one content area with a select group of teachers.  One such group of teachers had been working for two years refining their practice of teaching English through classroom based coaching, yielding positive results in student learning. When it was time to bring this new learning to the rest of the teachers in the school, the literacy coach experienced push back from the teachers that were not involved in the original coaching experience. Many of them were uncomfortable at the thought of classroom visits and felt that they would be at a disadvantage since they did not have the 2 years of coaching the other teachers had (Michelson, 2007).

The other case study involved a group of teachers who were invited to work collaboratively to refine and develop K-6 Math Power Standards for their district. The district math specialist is concerned that, out of the committee invitees, only a small number are the Math Teacher Leaders that are currently represented at each school. These teachers are already familiar with the math standards as well as the need for instructional change within the district. She is making presuppositions about the negative views and lack of experience of the chosen committee members as well as anticipating that the Math Teacher Leaders at the schools will feel underappreciated and undervalued (Kane, 2007).

Both of these cases underscore the need to spread the experience of unique professional development throughout the whole staff and not just to a select group of teachers. All teachers deserve and should be encouraged to participate in valuable professional development experiences such as coaching and working on committees at the district level. Each of these case studies had teachers who were feeling left out or undervalued. In one instance, this was due to a lack of professional development experiences. In the other instance it was because they were used to being the “experts” and they felt insulted when they were not included in the committee. Perhaps these conflicts could have been avoided, or at least lessened, if these specific professional development opportunities had been available to a wider range of staff at an earlier time.

Michelson, J, (2007) Filling a leadership vacuum. Leadership Cases 2007 School Level Reform, Retrieved from  https://learn.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-755044-dt-content-rid-671378_1/courses/EDU6600_45677201123/CSTP.FillingLeadershipVacuum.pdf

Kane, D., (2007) Considering all voices. Leadership Cases 2007 School Level Reform, Retrieved from https://learn.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-755044-dt-content-rid-671379_1/courses/EDU6600_45677201123/CSTP.ConsideringAllVoices.pdf


Peer Coaching in Support of New Teachers April 14, 2012

Our topic during this module centered on adult learners, how they learn differently, and what research says about the role of peer coaching. While this information definitely applies to learners in every stage of their teaching career, I have been particularly struck by how the research impacts the experiences of new teachers.

As I think back on my first years of teaching in 2000 and compare the new teacher support then (or lack thereof) with the new teacher support offered today, I see a huge discrepancy both in the support available as well as how that support is structured. I was assigned new teacher support person during my first two years of teaching but I had no idea as to what the structure of this support was supposed to look like or how to utilize the support resources that were offered. I was definitely in the survival stage and concerned primarily with basic survival and emotional safety as described in Zepeda’s Career Stages chart and the comparison chart of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Teacher Career Stages (Zepeda, 2012, pp.56, 59). I also had a unique first year situation in that I had graduated with my teaching degree 14 years earlier. During those interim 14 years my life took a different path that included working in a variety of environments – none of which were in education. I had no teaching experience, no substitute experience, and no teacher professional development whatsoever.

As I read and discussed Zepeda’s writings about authentic learning (2012, p. 60) I now realize that the learning I experienced during those first years was not authentic in regards to structure and appropriateness. I was not aware of any clear choices available to me in regards to what my learning should look like (structure) nor was my learning differentiated to accommodate my unique experiences (appropriateness). As a result, I believe that I experienced a first year learning curve that was unnecessarily stressful and nearly resulted in my decision to not continue on as a teacher. Considering how blessed I feel right now to be a teacher, this would truly have been a tragedy!

This module has allowed me to reflect on my own past learning as a new teacher in light of current research on adult learners. As I interact with new teachers today, I am able to see firsthand how the application of this research is beneficial and can result in teachers that are more confident, empowered, and better prepared to tackle the day to day challenges we encounter in the teaching profession. In this SPU cohort I am fortunate to interact with teachers that I respect and admire, several of whom are in their first couple years of teaching.  I hear comments regarding the tremendous support they have received from their mentor teachers and how this support extends into subsequent years. They also recognize that this support is not uniform across districts. Hopefully new research in this area will make the practice of mentoring new teachers more of a rule than the exception. I appreciate this opportunity to better define where my struggles were as a first year teacher so that I can, in turn, be a better support to my peer teachers who are in the formative years of their careers right now.

Zepeda, S.J. (2012) Professional development: What works. Larchmont, New York: Eye on Education